Traveling to Hawaii with points and miles for 2024


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For many travelers, a trip to Hawaii means a trip to paradise, where you can don a fragrant flower lei, catch a hula show and unwind at the beach. And they’re not wrong — I grew up on the island of Oʻahu and miss it every day.

While Hawaiian vacations have a reputation for being expensive, employing a few budget-friendly tricks, like traveling during the shoulder season or opting for public transportation, can help you save money on your trip. On a larger scale, saving up enough points and miles to cover your flights and hotels would free up more money for dining, tours and other fun activities.

Whether you’re into visiting volcanoes, learning about Hawaiian history and culture or vegging out by the pool, there’s no reason your island vacation has to break the bank. Here’s everything you need to know about traveling to Hawaii using points and miles, with top tips to help you get started on your rewards-earning journey and maximize credit card welcome bonuses.

How to get started with travel points and airline miles

Landing at Lihue Airport, Kauai
Landing at Lihue Airport, Kauai © Matthew Micah Wright / Getty

The cheapest award flights to Hawaii

Most visitors will fly to Honolulu (HNL) and focus all their energy on Oʻahu. If you’re planning to island-hop, it can sometimes be cheaper to fly into HNL and then snag a 30-minute flight to reach another island. 

That said, some cities do offer direct flights to Maui (OGG), Kauaʻi (LIH), and Hawaiʻi the Big Island (KOA), so check Google Flights to see all your options. Rates also tend to be lower from the West Coast or major US airline hubs.

Here’s a look at the cheapest award flights to Honolulu from the continental US, plus tips for earning the miles you’ll need by maximizing travel credit card welcome bonuses (rates based on flights to Honolulu from West Coast):

  • Cheapest economy class ticket to Hawaii: 15,000 Turkish Airlines miles round-trip
  • Cheapest business-class ticket to Hawaii: 25,000 Turkish Airlines miles round-trip
  • Cheapest first-class ticket to Hawaii: 45,000 Korean Air Skypass miles round-trip

There are two important things to remember: Most airlines are part of an alliance — Oneworld, Star Alliance or SkyTeam — so it’s worth checking how much points redemptions cost with a main carrier as well as its partners.

Secondly, signing up for travel credit cards with flexible rewards programs and lucrative welcome bonuses — Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou, Capital One Rewards, Marriott Bonvoy and Bilt Rewards — lets you transfer points to airline and hotel partners within those programs, so you’ll have even more options.

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: Earn 60,000 bonus points once you spend $4,000 within the first three months of opening your account. (See full review here.)
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve®: Earn 60,000 bonus points once you spend $4,000 within the first three months of opening your account.
  • American Express® Green Card*: Earn 40,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 within the first six months of opening your account.
  • American Express® Gold Card*: Earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $6,000 within the first six months of account opening. (See full review here.)
  • American Express® Business Gold Card: Earn 70,000 bonus points after spending $10,000 within the first three months of opening your account.
  • The Platinum Card® from American Express*: Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $8,000 within the first six months of opening your account.
  • The Business Platinum Card® from American Express*: Earn 120,000 bonus points after spending $15,000 within the first three months of account opening.
  • Citi Premier® Card: Earn 60,000 bonus miles once you spend $4,000 within the first three months of opening your account.
  • Capital One Venture Rewards Credit CardEarn 75,000 bonus miles after you spend $4,000 within the first three months of opening your account.
  • Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card: Earn 75,000 bonus miles after you spend $4,000 within the first three months of opening your account.
  • Bilt Mastercard®: No welcome bonus, but you can earn points on rent and transfer to a number of airline and hotel partners.

Here’s a look at some of the best ways to fly to Hawaii with points and miles.

American Airlines AAdvantage

Thanks to American Airlines’ nifty award chart, it’s easy to see how many AAdvantage miles you’ll need for a flight to Hawaii in your preferred class with the carrier or one of its Oneworld alliance partner airlines.

  • Economy Class: 40,000–45,000 miles round-trip 
  • Business Class: 110,000–120,000 miles round-trip
  • First Class: 160,000 miles round-trip

To earn AAdvantage miles in a hurry, consider signing up for one of the cobranded credit cards listed below. Otherwise, you can transfer Bilt Rewards points at a 1:1 ratio or Marriott Bonvoy points at a 3:1 ratio.

  • Barclaycard AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard: Earn 60,000 bonus miles after making your first purchase and paying the $99 annual fee within the first 90 days of account opening.
  • Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®: Earn 50,000 bonus miles after spending $2,500 within the first three months of opening your account.
  • CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®: Earn 65,000 bonus miles after spending $4,000 within the first four months of account opening.
  • Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®: Earn 70,000 bonus miles after spending $7,000 within the first three months of opening your account.

British Airways Avios

The real sweet spot of the Oneworld alliance is booking flights to Hawaii with British Airways Avios. Award rates are based on distance, which means you could score a one-way flight to Honolulu from the West Coast or Phoenix (PHX) for just 13,000 Avios since you’re only flying 2,001 to 3,000 miles.

  • Economy Class: 26,000 Avios round-trip
  • Business Class: 77,500 Avios round-trip
  • First Class: 103,000 Avios round-trip

You can earn British Airways Avios by transferring points from American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Capital One or Bilt Rewards at a 1:1 ratio or from Marriott Bonvoy at a ratio of 3:1. You could also sign up for its cobranded credit card to use the welcome bonus.

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan

Another Oneworld partner, Alaska Airlines, offers flights to Hawaii from Seattle (SEA), Portland (PDX), San Francisco (SFO), and San Diego (SAN).

  • Economy Class: 30,000 miles round-trip 
  • First Class: 80,000 miles round-trip

While you can’t transfer miles between Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan and American Airlines AAdvantage, you can still book flights on one carrier through the other one’s website since they are Oneworld alliance partners. 

Alaska Airlines is partnered with Marriott Bonvoy — you can transfer points to Alaska at a ratio of 3:1 — but the only other way to earn miles quickly is by maximizing the welcome bonus from its two cobranded credit cards.

  • Alaska Airlines Visa® credit card: Earn 60,000 bonus miles once you spend $3,000 within the first 90 days of account opening — and earn Alaska’s $99 Companion Fare, plus taxes and fees from $23, each year after you spend $6,000.
  • Alaska Airlines Visa® Business card: Earn 50,000 bonus miles, plus Alaska’s $99 Companion Fare, plus taxes and fees from $23, after spending $3,000 within the first 90 days of opening your account.
Travel on United to Hawaii for as little as 23,000 miles round-trip
Travel on United to Hawaii for as little as 23,000 miles round-trip © Kyle Olsen / The Points Guy

United Airlines MileagePlus

Since United Airlines uses dynamic pricing, rates can change based on the season and seat availability. A recent sample search revealed the following for a flight in February 2024 from Los Angeles (LAX) to Honolulu (HNL):

  • Economy Class: 23,000 miles round-trip
  • Business/First Class: 100,000 miles round-trip

United is a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards and Bilt Rewards, so you can transfer points at a 1:1 ratio. To earn United MileagePlus miles quickly, consider signing up for one of its cobranded credit cards.

  • United Gateway℠ Card: Earn 30,000 United MileagePlus Miles after spending $1,000 on qualifying purchases in the first three months of opening an account. Offer extended until March 13, 2024.
  • United℠ Explorer Card: Earn 60,000 United MileagePlus Miles after spending $3,000 on qualifying purchases in the first three months of opening an account. Offer extended until March 13, 2024.
  • United Quest℠ Card: Earn 70,000 United MileagePlus Miles and 500 PQP after spending $4,000 on qualifying purchases in the first three months of opening an account. Offer extended until March 13, 2024.
  • United Club℠ Infinite Card: Earn 80,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • United℠ Business Card: Earn 100,000 United MileagePlus Miles after you spend $5,000 on qualifying purchases in the first three months of opening an account. Offer ends April 3, 2024.
  • United Club Business Card: Earn 75,000 United MileagePlus Miles and 1,000 PQP after you spend $5,000 on qualifying purchases in the first three months of opening an account. Offer ends April 3, 2024.

Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles

While it is possible to book flights to Hawaii with other Star Alliance partners such as Air Canada Aeroplan and Singapore Airlines Krisflyer, the best redemptions come from booking through Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles. 

  • Economy Class: 15,000 miles round-trip
  • Business Class: 25,000 miles round-trip

Note that you may need to search for award availability on United’s website first, then through the Turkish Airlines site. If all else fails, call Turkish Airlines to locate the flight you found on the United site to reserve your seat.

While you’ll be booking your award flight with Turkish, you’ll be flying United aircraft since they’re partners. Check to see what availability there is to Hawaii from United hubs like Chicago (ORD), Denver (DEN), Newark (EWR), Houston (IAH), Washington, D.C. (IAD), Los Angeles (LAX) and San Francisco (SFO) to find the best rates.

Several flexible rewards programs, such as Capital One, Citi and Bilt Rewards, let you transfer points to Turkish Miles&Smiles at a 1:1 ratio, while Marriott Bonvoy’s transfer ratio is 1:3.

Delta SkyMiles

Delta also uses dynamic pricing, which makes it tricky to find the best rate since they vary. Here’s a sample search for a flight from Seattle (SEA) to Honolulu (HNL) in February 2024.

  • Economy Class: 56,000 miles round-trip
  • Business/First Class: 203,000 miles round-trip

Delta SkyMiles is a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards, so points can be transferred at a ratio of 1:1. To boost your points balance, consider the generous welcome bonuses by the American Express travel cards listed above or one of Delta’s cobranded cards, listed below.

  • Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card*: Earn 40,000 bonus miles after spending $2,000 within the first six months of opening your account.
  • Delta SkyMiles® Gold Business American Express Card*: Earn 50,000 bonus miles after spending $2,000 in purchases on your new card within the first three months of card membership.
  • Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card*: Earn 50,000 bonus miles once you spend $3,000 within the first six months of account opening.
  • Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card*: Earn 60,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 within the first three months of opening your account.
  • Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card*: Earn 60,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 within the first six months of opening your account.
  • Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card*: Earn 70,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 within the first three months of account opening.

Korean Air Skypass

It’s also possible to book flights to Hawaii through Delta’s SkyTeam partners.

To redeem miles with Korean Air Skypass — which lets you book award flights on SkyTeam carriers and partners like Hawaiian Airlines and Alaska Airlines in addition to Korean Air — you must book a round-trip flight, as one-way award redemptions aren’t allowed. 

  • Economy Class: 25,000 miles round-trip
  • Business Class: 45,000 miles round-trip

If you only need to book a one-way award flight, Air France/KLM’s FlyingBlue loyalty program has economy redemptions for 35,000 miles round-trip or 86,000 miles round-trip in premium cabins.

To earn Korean Air Skypass miles quickly, transfer Marriott Bonvoy points at a ratio of 3:1.

The side of one of Southwest's Boeing's 737
The side of one of Southwest’s Boeing’s 737 © Robyn Beck / AFP / Getty

Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards

Southwest bases its redemption rates on the ticket price, so you can use the low-fare calendar on its website to search for the cheapest available option.

Here’s a sample search for a flight from Oakland (OAK) to Kahului, Maui (OGG) in February 2024. Note that Southwest has its own version of business class, which has more to do with ticket refundability and boarding privileges than premium seats.

  • Economy Class: 15,432 points round-trip
  • Business Class: 40,322 points round-trip

While Southwest lacks airline alliance partners, it is part of Chase Ultimate Rewards, so you can switch your points over to Southwest at a 1:1 ratio. 

  • Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit CardEarn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card: Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card: Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 within the first three months of account opening.
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card: Earn 80,000 bonus points after spending $5,000 within the first three months of account opening.

Hawaii hotels you can book with points

You’ll find every major points hotel chain throughout the Hawaiian Islands, including World of Hyatt, Hilton Honors, Marriott Bonvoy, IHG One Rewards, Wyndham Rewards and Choice Privileges, which are all free to sign up for. 

Be aware that some properties charge resort fees on top of the usual taxes and fees for perks like local calls, pool towels, Wi-Fi and other activities not covered by your room rate. 

Certain credit cards, like the Chase Sapphire Reserve, offer a $300 annual travel credit so you can “erase” those fees, while others, like the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card*, offer $200 in statement credits toward resort fees and other purchases made at Hilton hotels twice a year as an included benefit.

No matter which island you visit, signing up for hotel credit cards or transferring flexible points from Chase Ultimate Rewards or American Express Membership Rewards will certainly help save you money.

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Surfboards lined up in the rack at famous Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, Hawaii
Surfboards lined up in the rack at famous Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, Hawaii © Eddy Galeotti / Shutterstock

Oʻahu

If you’re into hiking dormant volcanoes, watching the waves on the North Shore, learning about WWII history at the Pearl Harbor National Memorial or snacking on shave ice by the beach, start on Oʻahu. It’s Hawaii’s busiest island and likely where your flight came in anyway.

Base yourself near Hawaii’s most popular stretch of sand at one of three Hyatt hotels. Rooms at Hyatt Place Waikiki Beach start at 12,000 points per night, while the Hyatt Centric Waikiki Beach nearby has rates from 15,000 points per night. For a real treat, try the Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort and Spa, where rooms start at 20,000 points per night.

The welcome bonus from the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or the World of Hyatt Credit Card would be enough to cover at least three nights. You can also transfer Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt since it’s a hotel partner.

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ʻĪao Valley State Park Maui, Hawaii
ʻĪao Valley State Park Maui, Hawaii © MH Anderson Photography / Shutterstock

Maui

As of this writing, Lahaina is closed to the public, and West Maui is still recovering from devastating wildfires. That said, the rest of the island is open for business, with points hotels in Wailea, Kihei, Kahului and Hana — and even more in Ka’anapali and Kapalua when the West Coast recovers.

We recommend staying in Wailea or Kihei in South Maui, home to beautiful beaches and views of the neighboring islands of Lanai and Kaho’olawe. It’s also a great base for doing the famous road trip to Hana, lined with scenic beaches and waterfalls or driving to the summit of Mt. Haleakala, one of Maui’s most popular attractions at 10,023 feet.

Marriott Bonvoy loyalists can stay at the AC Hotel by Marriott Maui Wailea from 33,500 points per night, the Residence Inn Maui Wailea from 61,000 points per night or the Wailea Beach Resort from 65,500 points per night.

Since Marriot Bonvoy is a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards, you can switch points over from either loyalty program. 

Otherwise, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant welcome bonus of two free nights (up to 85,000 points per night) will knock two nights off your total. The card also offers a free night for your anniversary and up to $300 annually ($25 per month) in credits for dining at restaurants.

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Maniniowali Beach at Kua Bay; Big Island, Hawaii
Maniniowali Beach at Kua Bay; Big Island, Hawaii © instacruising / Shutterstock

Hawai’i Island (The Big Island)

While you’ll find the highest concentration of points hotels in and around Kona, there is a charming DoubleTree by Hilton property, the Grand Naniloa Hotel, in Hilo if you’re looking to stay on the east side of the island (from 50,000 Hilton Honors points per night). Consider staying here if you’ll be visiting Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park, as it’s just an hour’s drive away.

On the West Coast, rates at Hilton Waikoloa Village — a terrific kid-friendly option for families with multiple swimming pools, a lazy river and several water slides — start at 75,000 points per night.

Hilton Honors is an American Express Membership Rewards hotel partner, so you’ll earn two Hilton Honors points for every Amex MR point you transfer. 

As for welcome bonuses, The Platinum Card from American Express offers enough points to cover one night, while the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card* takes care of two nights. It also comes with Hilton Gold status, giving you access to extra benefits like daily dining credits or continental breakfast, complimentary room upgrades and a nifty fifth-night free perk.

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Nā Pali Coast, Kauai, Hawaii
Nā Pali Coast; Kauai, Hawaii © StevenGaertner / Getty

Kauaʻi

The Garden Isle is best known for its film locations. Kauaʻi was prominently featured throughout the “Jurassic Park” series, while the ever-popular Fern Grotto appeared in the Elvis classic “Blue Hawaii” and doubled as the Peruvian jungle in “Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark.”

Whether you choose to stay on the scenic North Shore or along the eastern or southern beaches, there’s a points property near you. The most notable are part of the World of Hyatt, Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors. 

To the south, the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa in Poipu (from 30,000 points per night) and the Koloa Landing Resort at Poipu, part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection (from 85,000 points per night) make excellent choices.

The Sheraton Kauai Coconut Beach Resort in Kapa’a also makes a great base if you’d prefer to stay on the East Coast (from 66,000 points per night), as does the Hilton Garden Inn Kauai Wailua Bay (from 60,000 points per night).

To earn loyalty points in a hurry, consider signing up for any of the Hyatt, Marriott, or Hilton credit cards mentioned above to maximize their respective welcome bonuses. 

You can also transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt or Marriott at a 1:1 ratio or Amex Membership Rewards points to Hilton (at a 1:2 ratio) or Marriott (at a 1 to 1.5 ratio). It all depends on which hotel brand you prefer.

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Exploring Hawaii by ATV
Exploring Hawaii by ATV © Michael Hanson / Getty Images

Activities and ground transportation

Getting around the islands is best done by rental car or on a guided tour if you’d rather not drive. There are a ton of activities, too — snorkel excursions in Maui, nature tours on the Big Island, guided trips to Kauai’s Na Pali Coast or a night out at Oʻahu’s famous Paradise Cove Luau, for instance.

While car rentals and attractions can really add up, there are a few ways to lower your travel budget. If you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you can use the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal to book tours and rental cars with points at a rate of 1.25 cents per point or 1.5 cents per point, respectively. 

Some credit cards, like the Capital One Venture Rewards and the Capital One Venture X Rewards, allow cardholders to “wipe” travel charges by redeeming miles, usually at a value of one cent per mile. It’s always worth checking to see if your preferred card offers something similar, as this is becoming more common.

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Bottom line

A trip to Hawaii doesn’t have to break the bank, especially if you plan ahead and make the most of airline and hotel loyalty programs. By strategically signing up for credit cards that offer lucrative welcome bonuses and being aware of points and miles opportunities through transfer partners and airline alliances, you’ll be able to cover all your necessities and focus on having fun.

*Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.

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.



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