Tuesday Travel Tip: You can book a family vacation to Maui for $330
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.
To help you plan your future travels while we’re all stuck on the ground, we’re launching “Tuesday Travel Tips.” Check back for a new travel tip every week!
Editor’s note: The team at The Points Guy loves to travel, but now is not the time for unnecessary trips. Health officials say the fastest way to return to normalcy is to stop coming in contact with others. That includes ceasing travel. We are publishing travel guides because we should all use this time to think about and plan our next adventures. Hawaii is currently under a 14-day quarantine for new arrivals to the islands and asks visitors to stay away for now. TPG doesn’t advise booking trips for travel until later this year — and even then, be mindful of cancellation policies.
Unless you've been isolating on an island resort courtesy of the Maldivian government, quarantine life probably hasn't been easy. You're probably isolated at home with your family, teaching the kids between your own work assignments, working 87 different Zoom calls (and passwords), have cooked every recipe in your repertoire, ran out of interesting projects to do weeks ago and are fantasizing about the day when you can all check into a resort and relax on a lounger while the kids build sandcastles on the beach. No Zooms allowed.
But, budgets are tight for many families during this crisis, and likely will be even as life resumes. This makes future planning a post-crisis trip to Maui for less even more appealing: Right now, you can pull off a four-night trip for as little as $330 out of pocket, including airfare, ground transportation, lodging and activities.
If you are starting from scratch without any of these points and miles in the bank, it can be done with three credit card sign-up bonuses. After that, here comes paradise with the kids in tow. Sounds a lot better than thousands of dollars out of pocket. Here's how to do it:
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Airfare and ground transportation
Points needed: 60,000 Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles
Cards: Citi Premier
Out-of-pocket cost: $139.80
One of the cheapest ways to fly to Hawaii on points and miles is through the Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles program. A round-trip economy class ticket on United Airlines costs just 15,000 miles plus $11.20, which is a bargain considering United charges 22,500 miles each way for the same award.
Earning Turkish miles is fairly easy, thanks to Turkish Airlines' partnership with the Citi ThankYou program. Points transfer instantly to Miles & Smiles at a 1:1 ratio. That means the 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening from the Citi Premier® Card offers enough miles for four round-trip economy class tickets to Maui.
The earning rate as follows:
- 3x per dollar on air travel and hotels
- 3x per dollar at restaurants
- 3x per dollar at supermarkets
- 3x per dollar at gas stations
Additionally, cardholders will receive a $100 statement credit when charging a single hotel stay of $500 or more through Citi ThankYou travel once a calendar year. This can be as much as a 20% discount and offsets the $95 annual fee entirely. While that's a nice saving, we can do even better on the hotel discount front when it comes to Maui family vacations.
Related Reading: The best ways to get to Hawaii using points and miles
Points needed: 100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards or 50,000 Capital One Venture miles
Cards: Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card or Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Out-of-pocket cost: $95 - $190
Families have more options than ever when it comes to affordable accommodations in Maui. While there are lots of great hotels in Maui you can book with points, you may want a little more space if you have kids in tow. Booking a suite or two rooms can get expensive quick – even using points. Luckily, Hyatt partners with several Destination Residences properties in Maui to offer affordable condo rentals.
For just 25,000 points per night, you can book a one-bedroom condo with ocean views, two bathrooms and a full kitchen at the Wailea Ekolu Village. These condos provide all the convenient amenities of a resort (i.e. housekeeping and pool access) along with the comforts of home (i.e. an in-room washer and dryer). The fully equipped kitchen is especially great for families looking to save on meals.
Guests at Wailea Ekolu Village also get a host of money-saving amenities like free parking, grocery discount cards and free rides throughout Wailea in the resort's Tesla Model X shuttle. All of this can offer tremendous savings for families looking to travel to Maui on a budget.
With the 100,000-point sign-up bonus from the Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card after spending $15,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening, you can cover at least four nights at this resort. If you can't qualify for a business card, then the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is a great alternative, with a 60,000-point bonus (after spending $4,000 in the first three months of account opening) that will cover two nights. Add on the first tier of the 25,000-point welcome bonus (after spending $3,000 in the first three months) from The World of Hyatt Credit Card and you'll have four nights for $190 out of pocket (in the form of annual fees).
A lot of condo and timeshare owners rent out their properties on Airbnb, making it a great place to score a bargain and save some points. For example, you can book a beachfront Maui condo in late August for as little as $99 per night. The 50,000 mile sign-up bonus (after spending $3,000 in the first three months) from the Capital One Venture Card can cover up to five nights for a Maui condo rental for a family of four. The card is also offering the opportunity to earn 100,000 bonus miles after you spend $20,000 on purchases in the first 12 months of account opening (for a limited time).
Related Reading: Best ways to use credit card award night certificates in Hawaii
Points needed: Varies
Cards: Capital One Venture Card
Out-of-pocket cost: $95
Maui is all about water activities, and those can be expensive for a family of four. There are a few ways around this. For starters, you can save up to 50% on activities with the Shaka Gold Card. It costs just $30 and gets you discounts of 10-25% year-round. Once a month, tour operators increase discounts to 50% on activities like jet ski rental, diving excursions and more.
You can easily get more than $30 in savings off a single booking, so it's well worth the investment. Depending on whether the activity is processed as a travel purchase, you may be able to charge it to your Capital One Venture card and offset the charge with the 50,000-mile welcome bonus.
If you'd rather not apply for a new credit card, you can take advantage of the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal – many TPG readers have an Ultimate Rewards-earning credit card. The Ultimate Rewards portal is not just great for airfare deals and cheap hotels. You can get great value out of your points by redeeming them for activities in Maui.
For example, a quick search for Maui activities in late August turned up a guided dive in Lahaina for just $1.10 or 88 points. This may well be an error (or a response to slow tourism) but it's just an example of what's out there.
Whether you're looking to cover the cost of a biking adventure or a snorkeling expedition, you can put your Ultimate Rewards to good use by booking activities. Points are worth 1.25 cents each for Sapphire Preferred cardholders and 1.5 cents for those who have a Chase Sapphire Reserve account.
While this is less than the 2 cents per point you can get by transferring them to partners for premium awards, keep in mind that points are there to save you money. If you'd rather save cash on a family vacation in Maui than book a business class ticket to Europe, then do what makes sense for you.
Related Reading: How we used points for a family vacation to Hawaii
A family vacation in Maui doesn't have to be that dream that never arrives. It also doesn't have to be budget-busting expensive or require serious sacrifices of comfort to make it happen. For less than the cost of the groceries and toilet paper stockpiled in some people's garages, you can plan a relaxing family vacation in Maui by leaning on your points and miles.
While we may not know exactly when that trip might be possible again, there's no harm in saving up points now so you can book your dream vacation when it's the right time.