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Sweet Spot Sunday: How to fly to Hawaii for just 15,000 miles round-trip

April 25, 2021
10 min read
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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.

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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.

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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.)

If you normally transfer Ultimate Rewards to United for award tickets to Hawaii, you can instead move them to your World of Hyatt account to cover hotel bookings and save even more on your trip.

Oahu. (Photo by Melanie Lieberman/The Points Guy)

Related: The best ways to get to Hawaii using points and miles

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.)

(Screenshot courtesy of turkishairlines.com)

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:

(Screenshot courtesy of turkishairlines.com)

So be sure to follow the steps outlined above and book through the Star Alliance award page.

Related: How to get to Hawaii: Fly nonstop from 27 mainland U.S. cities

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.

(Screenshot courtesy of turkishairlines.com)

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.

(Screenshot courtesy of turkishairlines.com)

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.

Related: 8 underrated airline and hotel loyalty programs you should know about

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.

Related: How to fly round-trip to Europe in business class for 88,000 miles

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

The Capital One Venture card is packed with features and a solid welcome bonus. (Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy)

The Capital One Venture card is offering a bonus of 75,000 bonus miles after you spend $4,000 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.

Citi Prestige® Card

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

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%.

You can transfer these points to Turkish Miles & Smiles at a 1:1 ratio. Occasionally, Citi will offer transfer bonuses, though these are historically limited to Avianca LifeMiles and Flying Blue.

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.

Related: How to book a family vacation to Maui for $330

Citi Premier® Card

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.

Related: Caution: You might only save $7 with the Citi Premier’s $100 hotel credit

Bottom line

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 image by Newly remodeled wing of the Hyatt Regency Maui. (Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

TPG featured card

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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

1 - 3X points
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Intro offer

Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points60,000 points
For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

Annual Fee

$95

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent, Good
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases
Best starter travel card
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

    Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points
    60,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $95
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent, Good

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases