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Hawaiian Airlines Adds Spending Categories and Higher Sign-Up Bonuses to Its Credit Cards

July 10, 2018
7 min read
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On July 11, Hawaiian Airlines and Barclays are launching enhanced versions of the Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Mastercard and the Hawaiian Airlines Business Mastercard. The new cards include increased sign-up offers and new bonus spending categories, along with offering a few new benefits that have piqued my interest. Here's a rundown of the new features on each card.

The Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Mastercard

New to the personal version of the card — which will be issued by Barclays but serviced by Bank of Hawaii — is a 50,000-mile sign-up bonus after $3,000 in spending with the card in the first 90 days. The current version of the card has a public offer of 35,000 miles after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days, so obviously this is a significant increase in the sign-up bonus, though with a higher spend requirement as well.

When it comes to earning miles, Barclays is launching a new earning structure it calls the "Closer Every Day 3-2-1 Rewards Structure." The card will offer the following bonus categories:

  • 3x miles on Hawaiian Airlines purchases
  • 2x miles on gas, dining, and grocery purchases
  • 1x miles on all other purchases

The current version of the Hawaiian Airlines personal card only offers 2x miles on Hawaiian purchases and 1x miles on all other purchases, so you're getting one extra mile per dollar than before on gas, dining, grocery and Hawaiian Airlines purchases. The new card will also come with a $99 annual fee, which is a $10 increase over the current $89 fee.

The following benefits of the personal card remain unchanged:

  • One-time 50% off companion discount for round-trip coach travel between Hawaii and North America.
  • Receive a free checked bag on Hawaiian-operated flights when the card is used to purchase eligible tickets directly from Hawaiian Airlines.
  • Earn a $100 flight discount off one coach companion ticket after account anniversary.
  • Share miles for free between friends and family in the HawaiianMiles account online with a fee.
  • Access to discount award flights on Hawaiian Airlines.

The Hawaiian Airlines Business Mastercard

New to the business version of the co-branded credit card is a 50,000-mile sign-up bonus after your first purchase and an almost identical 3-2-1 rewards structure — the only difference is the business card will offer 2x miles on office supply store purchases instead of grocery stores. The current business card only offers 40,000 miles after the first purchase, along with 2x miles on Hawaiian purchases and 1x miles on all other purchases. The new card also carries a $99 annual fee, which matches the $10 increase on the personal card.

One other minor change is to the annual spend bonus. The Hawaiian business card is retaining the ability to earn 40,000 bonus miles after spending $100,000 on the card in your cardmembership year, but the ability to earn 20,000 bonus miles after spending $50,000-$99,999 in a member year will no longer be available.

The following benefits of the current business card remain unchanged:

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  • One-time 50% off companion discount for round-trip coach travel between Hawaii and North America.
  • Receive a free checked bag on Hawaiian-operated flights when the card is used to purchase eligible tickets directly from Hawaiian Airlines.
  • Share miles for free between friends and family in the HawaiianMiles account online with a fee.
  • Access to discount award flights on Hawaiian Airlines.

It's nice to see a rewards structure that encourages spending with the cards, but I still don't think it's worth shifting your purchases onto these cards. Hawaiian transfer partner American Express offers cards which can earn more points per dollar — and therefore more Hawaiian Miles — on gas and groceries (The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express) and airline spend (The Platinum Card® from American Express).

Redeem Hawaiian Miles

One-way coach supersaver tickets from Hawaii to North America start at 20,000 miles each. That means the new sign-up bonuses could get you a round-trip to Hawaii in coach, plus you'd have enough miles left to redeem an intra-island flight for 7,500 miles. One-way first class to Hawaii from North America is 40,000 miles, so you could fly one-way in the new A330 First Class and then fly intra-island for 7,500 miles.

Another good strategy is to convert your Hawaiian miles to Hilton Honors points, which is allowed at a 1:1.5 ratio. If you and your spouse each get a personal version of the card and you get a business version, you could pool the resulting Hilton points together for a total of 225,000 Hilton points from the three sign-up bonuses.

You can also use Hawaiian Miles to fly on partners JetBlue or Korean Air. JetBlue redemptions are based on the revenue cost of the ticket according to the following chart:

The only really worthwhile redemption on Korean Air-operated flights is a round-trip coach ticket within Asia, which is only 30,000 Hawaiian Miles (and Asia is rather large).

Get a Higher Bonus

On July 8 I flew Hawaiian Airlines from Los Angeles (LAX) to Hawaii. During our descent, flight attendants came around with a special inflight offer to apply for the current version of the credit card. Typically I roll my eyes as I know these are usually not special offers, but to my surprise, the flight attendants had applications for 60,000 bonus miles after spending $2,000 in the first 90 days of account opening.

I asked Dan Dougherty, Barclays' Managing Director of Airline Partnerships, if the issuer was going to keep these elevated inflight offers with the new cards, and he said yes. So if you've got a friend or family member flying Hawaiian Airlines any time soon, have them grab an application (or five) which can be mailed in after the flight and score the higher sign-up bonus of 60,000 miles — equivalent to 90,000 Hilton points.

Bottom Line

I believe the new 50,000 mile (or 60,000 mile) sign-up bonuses are competitive enough to consider picking up the personal and/or business versions of these cards for round-trip coach flights to Hawaii. If I lived in Hawaii or was going to be traveling a couple times on Hawaiian Airlines over the next year, the ancillary benefits of the cards are also attractive enough for me to consider applying.

And for us mainlanders who may not fly Hawaiian, transferring the miles to Hilton equates to a 75,000 or 90,000-point sign-up bonus, which is great if you're already limited by American Express' once-in-a-lifetime bonus rule for the Hilton co-branded cards.

This story has been corrected to note that the minimum spending requirement on both cards will be $3,000 in the first 90 days.

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Cons

  • Steep annual fee
  • Difficulty meeting $15,000 welcome offer for smaller businesses
  • Limited high-bonus categories outside of travel
  • The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
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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
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Rewards Rate

5XGet 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com
1.5XEarn 1.5X points on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year
1X1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Intro Offer
    The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.

    150,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $695
  • 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
    Good, Excellent

Why We Chose It

It's hard to find a card that competes with the mile-long list of benefits that come with the Amex Business Platinum. While it's certainly not the card for the average consumer, a business owner with tons of expenses -- especially related to travel -- will find this card incredibly valuable. This card is similar to the consumer version that Amex offers, but with more business-oriented perks around statement credits and earning rates that are a better fit for business owners.

Pros

  • An up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee every four to five years
  • Up to $400 annual credit for eligible U.S. Dell purchases (enrollment required)
  • Gold status at Marriott and Hilton hotels (enrollment required)
  • Access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts program and Hotel Collection
  • Extended warranty protection
  • International Airline Program and Cruise Privileges Program

Cons

  • Steep annual fee
  • Difficulty meeting $15,000 welcome offer for smaller businesses
  • Limited high-bonus categories outside of travel
  • The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Earn 1.5X points (that’s an extra half point per dollar) on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year.
  • Unlock over $1,000 in annual statement credits on a curation of business purchases, including select purchases made with Dell Technologies, Indeed, Adobe, and U.S. wireless service providers.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year for checked baggage fees, lounge day passes, and more at one selected airline.
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at more than 50 U.S. airports and stadiums.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more lounge location options than any other credit card on the market as of 9/2021.
  • $695 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.