Credit Card Showdown: Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Mastercard versus Hawaiian Airlines Business Mastercard

Dec 2, 2019

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Although it has a growing route network along the West Coast and flies not one but two of the longest domestic flights in the world (and serves some great mai tais), Hawaiian Airlines still gets short-changed in discussions of U.S. airlines.

Part of that is because the 90-year-old carrier is based out of Honolulu International Airport (HNL), which is a long way from most other U.S. hubs. Another is that it does not participate in any of the major airline alliances, which limits the usefulness of its miles. It does have partnerships with JetBlue, Korean Air and Virgin Atlantic.

Still, Hawaiian Airlines and its cobranded credit cards are worth a look. Not only does the carrier fly to over a dozen destinations in the mainland U.S, but it also operates flights to Australia, French Polynesia, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea. In short, it’s kind of a major international airline. Maybe we all just didn’t realize it.

For travelers based in Hawaii, the airline’s cobranded credit cards are well worth considering. But even if you only take a vacation there once every year or two, you can still get a lot of value from carrying either the Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Mastercard or the Hawaiian Airlines Business Mastercard. Both offer some great bonus spending categories and anniversary benefits, not to mention one-time companion deals and discounted awards.

Let’s take a closer look at both cards, compare their benefits, and discuss which one might be better for whom.

Here’s a snapshot of the two cards and how they stack up.

Card Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Mastercard Hawaiian Airlines Business Mastercard
Annual fee $99 $99
Welcome offer 60K miles after $2K of spending in the first 90 days 60K miles after $2K of spending in the first 90 days + 10K miles after opening free employee card in the first 30 days and putting one charge on it in first 90 days
Earning categories 3x on Hawaiian Airlines purchases

2x on gas, dining, grocery stores

1x everything else

3x on Hawaiian Airlines purchases

2x on gas, dining, office supply stores

1x everything else

Annual benefit $100 annual companion discount 20K miles for spending $50K annually, 40K miles for spending $100K
Travel benefits Free checked bags, one-time 50% companion discount, discount awards, share miles for free One-time 50% companion discount, access to discounted award flights, share miles for free
Other benefits No foreign exchange fees, World Elite Mastercard benefits No foreign exchange fees

The information for the Hawaiian Airlines Mastercard, Hawaiian Airlines Business Mastercard has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Now for the details on both products and how they differ.

In This Post

Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Barclay Card

Annual fee

Both cards have $99 annual fees, which are not waived the first year.

Sign-up bonus

The Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Mastercard is currently offering a welcome bonus of 60,000 miles when you spend $2,000 in the first 90 days. That’s worth about $540, based on TPG’s valuations.

The Hawaiian Airlines Business Mastercard offers a higher welcome bonus, but it is slightly complicated. New cardholders can earn up to 70,000 bonus miles. The first 60,000 bonus miles are for spending $2,000 in the first 90 days. But you can garner an additional 10,000 for opening an employee card (for free) within 30 days of opening the account and putting a purchase on it in the first 90 days of account opening. So basically, you must open both your own card and an employee card and spend $2,000 total with at least one purchase being on the employee card in order to earn the full bonus.

That’s a few extra hoops to jump through, but it is worth it to earn 10,000 bonus miles, valued at about $90. That puts the business card ahead in this category, although both bonuses are great deals, especially for such low spending requirements.

To give some more context, 60,000 HawaiianMiles is enough for three one-way economy award tickets between Hawaii and the U.S. West Coast, or two economy one-ways between Hawaii and the U.S. East Coast.

Earning categories

The two cards offer similar bonus categories with one important distinction. Both accrue 3x miles per dollar on Hawaiian Airlines purchases, which puts them ahead of many other airline cobranded credit cards.

Both also earn 2x on gas and dining purchases. However, the business card earns 2x at office supply stores while the personal version earns 2x at grocery stores instead. Both earn 1x everywhere else.

Both cards have broad bonus categories that should appeal to a lot of consumers: Gas and dining can make up a large part of your budget whether you are using a card for business or personal purposes.

The business card is definitely geared more for business use thanks to that office-supply category while the personal version rounds out its earning potential with a third major category, supermarkets. The fact that these cards have not one but four bonus spending areas make them exceptional potential earners. Which one is better for your needs will just come down to whether you spend more at office stores or grocery stores each year.

The annual benefits for each card can help you enjoy more free travel to Hawaii. (Photo by Wallace Cotton / The Points Guy.)

Annual benefit: Both cards offer them but they are quite different

The Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Mastercard gives cardholders a $100 discount for companion travel every cardmember year. This discount can be applied to one round-trip coach itinerary between Hawaii and North America booked directly with Hawaiian Airlines. It is not valid on inter-island flights or on partner flights. The primary cardmember must be one of the passengers and both must be on the same reservation.

The personal card’s benefit is automatic and easy to use with no spending requirement on the card. The $100 discount makes up for the card’s annual fee. You just have to make sure you will be flying between Hawaii and the U.S. at least once a year to make it worthwhile.

The business card rewards cardmembers who spend between $50,000-$99,999 on purchases within a cardmember year with 20,000 bonus HawaiianMiles. Those who spend over $100,000 earn 40,000 miles. That’s enough for one round-trip coach award from Hawaii to or from the West Coast or a one-way first-class award.

If you are spending this much on your card anyway, getting a free award ticket can be valuable, considering some airfares between the mainland and Hawaii are north of $500 round-trip. However, the fact that you have to hit such high thresholds and then find award seats to which you can apply your bonus miles might not be worth the extra effort.

Hawaiian Airlines benefits

Both cards offer a one-time companion travel discount of 50% off a round-trip coach fare between Hawaii and North America. This must be used within 13 months from the time of account opening and can be worth hundreds of dollars depending on the fare you find.

Those with either product can also share miles with friends and family members for free up to 10 times per year, which is a really great benefit for folks who can take advantage of account pooling. Cardholders also have access to discounted awards with savings of between 1,500-10,000 miles depending on the route.

Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Mastercard cardholders get a free checked bag on Hawaiian Airlines flights. No companions included. Those with Pualani Platinum or Gold elite status on Hawaiian or Premier Club membership also receive up to $100 in annual statement credits toward inflight purchases with a maximum of $10 per day. So you’ve got to fly at least 10 different days to take full advantage of this and it is only available to elites.

The business card does not come with either the inflight discount or, interestingly enough, a checked bag benefit.

(Photo by ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty Images)
The personal card is a World Elite Mastercard with benefits like Lyft credits. (Photo by ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty Images.)

Other benefits

The other major area of difference between the two cards is that the business one is simply a business Mastercard while the personal one is a World Elite Mastercard. World Elite Mastercards come with an impressive array of value-added benefits that regular Mastercards do not.

World Elite Mastercard members are eligible for a $10 Lyft credit after taking five or more rides each month and get a $5 discount on orders of $25 or more from Postmates.

More importantly, they receive cellphone protection against loss or damage when they use their card to pay their phone bill. This insurance is capped at $800 per claim up to two claims for a total of $1,000 per year and has a $50 deductible. This can be a real lifesaver if something happens to your phone.

World Elite cardholders can also book hotel stays through Mastercard’s World Luxury Hotels & Resorts.

None of these extra perks are available to Mastercard cardholders, though they can take advantage of certain features like price protection and savings at the pump with Fuel Rewards Network.

Personal versus business credit cards

Your final, and perhaps most important, consideration is whether you will get more use out of a personal or business credit card. Although your first inclination might be to apply for the personal version, there are several reasons to get a business card.

Even if you do not own your own business, you can still qualify for business credit cards since banks know employees and freelancers also sometimes require one for their own use.

Carrying a business credit card is especially helpful for separating your work purchases from personal expenses. Although you must guarantee a business account with your personal credit, once you open a card, the activity on it usually sits separately from your personal credit report. That means any large purchases or other unusual activity should not negatively impact your personal score. Nonetheless, if you use a business credit card irresponsibly, you will be held personally accountable for it.

Finally, opening a business credit card is also a possible way to get around the limits issuers place on the total number of personal credit cards any one consumer can have open, such as Chase’s 5/24 rule, or Bank of America’s rules.

Still, if you are considering the business card, you should have legitimate and verifiable reasons for opening and using it, so think about it carefully before applying.

(Photo by Isaac Ordaz/Unsplash)
Either card can help you take more vacations to Hawaii. (Photo by Isaac Ordaz/Unsplash.)

Bottom line

Both the Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Mastercard and the Hawaiian Airlines Business Mastercard are great options for travelers who fly Hawaiian Airlines, even if it’s only every year or two. Both cards offer impressive sign-up bonuses and bonus spending categories as well as companion discounts. However, neither offers impressive day-of-travel benefits.

When deciding between the two, think about whether a business or personal card will be better for your needs, which card’s bonus categories you can maximize more based on your spending habits and which card’s annual travel perk you will be able to take advantage of more easily.

You can read our full review of the Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Mastercard here.

Featured image courtesy of Hawaiian Airlines.

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