Sweet Spot Sunday: How to fly to Hawaii for just 15,000 miles round-trip
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As one of the most popular beach destinations in the world, Hawaii can get expensive. During peak travel season, flights can easily cost over $500 round-trip from the mainland U.S. Even award tickets can be pricey due to demand, dynamic pricing and the mere fact that award tickets to Hawaii are often priced higher than domestic flights — even for programs that still have award charts.
That’s where the Turkish Airlines’ Miles & Smiles program comes in. You read that right — Turkish Airlines miles can get you to Hawaii from the Lower 48. At just 15,000 miles round-trip, the Star Alliance carrier most people associate with international travel happens to offer the lowest-priced award tickets on United Airlines-operated flights.
The best part about this sweet spot redemption is that you don’t need to fly Turkish Airlines to earn their miles and you don’t need to dial into a call center to book your award. It’s as easy as transferring miles from a popular credit card rewards program and booking your ticket online.
In fact, with the welcome bonus from the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, you’ll have enough miles for a round-trip ticket to Hawaii for a family of six. Think about all the poke and shaved ice you can buy with the money you save on airfare. If that sounds good to you, read on for all you need to know to book the incredible Turkish Airlines sweet spot award to Hawaii.
Why it’s special
Most domestic carriers charge at least 30,000 to 40,000 miles round-trip for an award ticket to Hawaii. This makes the 15,000-mile award from Turkish Airlines a downright bargain.
In fact, redeeming Turkish miles costs you about a third of what United charges. United’s saver economy awards, when available, price out at 45,000 miles round-trip and go as high as 90,000 miles on peak travel dates.
Why redeem 45,000 to 90,000 United miles when you can potentially score the same ticket on the same flight for just 15,000 Turkish miles? If you want to splurge on business class, that will set you back a mere 25,000 miles, which is about what United charges for a one-way economy award. (Though that availability is admittedly very rare.)
How to book this award
One of the things that often scares people off from utilizing international airline loyalty programs is the actual award booking process. There’s a misconception that partner awards will have to be booked over the phone. But that shouldn’t scare you off here, as you can book this Turkish Airlines award ticket to Hawaii online. Plain and simple.
The most difficult part of all this is signing up for a Turkish Miles & Smiles account. That can be an admittedly glitch-riddled process that is exacerbated by the fact that you can only set a numerical password. Your browser is not the problem here — for whatever reason, when you type letters into the password field, the text gets deleted.
It’s incredibly frustrating if you are not sure what is happening, but the workaround is to just set a numerical password. Once your account is set up, booking an award is simple.
Step 1: Sign in to your Turkish Miles & Smiles account
If you’re not already signed in to your Turkish Miles & Smiles account, you can do so on the homepage. The “sign in” box is on the upper right side of the page.
Step 2: Enter your trip information
Once you’re logged in, click on your name in the upper right corner. Then click on “miles transactions” and “Book now” under “Star Alliance award ticket.” On the Star Alliance award page, you’ll need to enter your trip information and the number of travelers you’re booking for. (Here’s our in-depth guide to Turkish Miles & Smiles if you hit trouble.)
You might wonder if the extra steps are even necessary and whether you can just book this trip on the homepage. Unfortunately, if you try to book this partner award on the Turkish Airlines homepage, you’ll get the following error:
So be sure to follow the steps outlined above and book through the Star Alliance award page.
Step 3: Pick your flight
You can pick your preferred flight option on the results page and see how many miles are required. United is the only Turkish Airlines partner flying from the mainland U.S. to Hawaii, so those are the flights you can choose from.
Step 4: Review the final cost of your award
Once you’ve picked your flight, you’ll get to a page that displays the total cost of your award, including taxes and fees. Luckily, the taxes on domestic awards are low, so you can expect to pay around $5.60 each way per person.
In this case, the account doesn’t have enough miles, so the page is grayed out and a message informs the account holder they need more miles to proceed. As discussed in more detail below, you can transfer Citi ThankYou points to Turkish Miles & Smiles at a 1:1 ratio.
Transfers can take a day to process, but Turkish Airlines allows free award ticket holds for up to 24 hours if you’re booking up to seven days before your flight, though there are reports of potentially longer hold times for travel dates that are further out.
How to earn points for this award
Turkish Airlines is a Citi ThankYou transfer partner, so earning enough points to book this sweet spot award is fairly easy. Citi offers generous sign-up bonuses for new cardholders, along with lucrative category bonuses so you can continue to earn points on everyday spending.
If you’re going to apply for a Citi card to book this Turkish Airlines sweet spot award to Hawaii, keep the Citi application rules in mind.
The Capital One Venture card is offering a bonus of 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.
Capital One recently introduced a slew of new perks and partnerships that are unheard of for a card with a $95 annual fee. For starters, cardholders now get access to airport lounges [DETAILS TBA]. Plenty of premium credit cards offer lounge access, but those cards have annual fees of $450 or higher. This is a groundbreaking benefit for a card at the $95 price point.
Additionally, Capital One is introducing two new transfer partners and increasing the transfer ratio for some programs from 2:1.5 to 1:1. One of those new partners is, you guessed it, Turkish Miles & Smiles. So if you were to apply for a Capital One Venture Card and complete the spending requirement, you would have enough miles for six Turkish sweet spot awards to Hawaii.
The Citi Prestige Card currently offers 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 within three months of account opening. The card also offers generous category bonuses, with 5x on dining at restaurants and air travel, 3x on hotels and cruises and 1x on everything else.
The $495 annual fee is easier to justify when you factor in the card’s $250 annual travel credit and Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee reimbursement every five years. The fourth-night-free benefit can also come in handy on Hawaii hotel bookings since it essentially cuts the cost by 25%.
The information for the Citi Prestige has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
The Citi Premier has a lower annual fee than the Citi Prestige and it offers a higher welcome bonus with a lower spending requirement: 80,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in purchases with your card within the first three months of account opening. With this bonus, you can cover up to four round-trip award tickets to Hawaii, making it especially ideal for families.
Aside from the sign-up bonus, the card also earns 3x points dining at restaurants, supermarkets and gas stations, and on air travel and hotels. All other purchases earn 1 point per $1 spent.
Even though the annual fee is just $95, the Premier Card does offer a travel perk that could save you money on hotel stays. Every calendar year, cardholders get $100 off a single hotel stay of $500 or more. The stay has to be booked through ThankYou.com and the discount applies after taxes, so your savings may be significantly less than $100.
Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles offers tremendous value and this sweet spot award to Hawaii is just one of the highlights of the program.
You can also book a round-trip domestic award ticket for the same 15,000 miles and if you’re planning a trip to Europe, you can get there for just 45,000 miles each way in business class. Thanks to the partnership with the Citi ThankYou program and the ability to book awards online, this sweet spot is not only an amazing value but very accessible.
Featured photo of Hyatt Regency Maui by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy
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