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The best ways to get to Hawaii using points & miles

The Points Guy logo The Points Guy 10/27/2021 The Points Guy
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From the bustling city of Honolulu to the long, winding Road to Hana, Hawaii truly has something for everyone. Each Hawaiian island has a unique flair, pristine beaches and stunning natural beauty. Plus, Hawaii will again welcome tourists in November, giving us all something to look forward to.

If you’re planning a trip to The Aloha State, you’ll want to know about the best ways to get to Hawaii using miles and points. We’ve focused on finding flights to Honolulu (HNL), but keep in mind that pricing is the same to all Hawaiian islands unless otherwise noted.

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In This Post

Southwest Rapid Rewards

a large passenger jet flying through a blue sky: Southwest launched an extensive Hawaii route network in 2019. (Photo by Phillip B. Espinasse / Shutterstock.com) © The Points Guy Southwest launched an extensive Hawaii route network in 2019. (Photo by Phillip B. Espinasse / Shutterstock.com)

Southwest debuted new routes to Hawaii in 2019, both intra-Island and from the mainland U.S. This was great news for Southwest Companion Pass holders who can take a companion on all Southwest flights for the price of just taxes on the second ticket. In other words: it’s BOGO for all flights.

Southwest Rapid Rewards is different from other programs on this list. Its award prices are tied to the cash price of a ticket. According to TPG’s valuations, Southwest points are generally worth 1.5 cents each toward flights, but it can slightly vary depending on the flight.

Below are a couple of example prices. Here, a round-trip flight from Los Angeles (LAX) to Honolulu in February costs 22,820 points and $11.20 in taxes or ~$323 cash.

(Screenshot courtesy of southwest.com) © The Points Guy (Screenshot courtesy of southwest.com)

Earning Southwest points

Southwest Rapid Rewards points are relatively easy to earn too. There are currently five Southwest credit cards offering big welcome bonuses. Three are personal cards:

  • Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card: Earn up to 100,000 bonus points. Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first three months your account is open, plus 50,000 more bonus points after spending $12,000 total on purchases in the first 12 months.
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card: Earn up to 100,000 bonus points. Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first three months your account is open, plus 50,000 more bonus points after spending $12,000 total on purchases in the first 12 months.
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card: Earn up to 100,000 bonus points. Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first three months your account is open, plus 50,000 more bonus points after spending $12,000 total on purchases in the first 12 months.

And two are small-business cards:

Remember, you can the Southwest Companion Pass after earning 125,000 qualifying points in one calendar year. This includes miles earned with a credit card, so consider opening one to fast-track qualification.

You can also transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards to Southwest instantly at a 1:1 ratio. That said, you’ll need a Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve, or Ink Business Preferred Credit Card to do this. Unfortunately, points transferred to Southwest don’t count toward Companion Pass qualification.

Further reading: How to quickly earn the Southwest Companion Pass

Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles

You can fly nonstop from Chicago or Newark to Hawaii with United Airlines. (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy) © The Points Guy You can fly nonstop from Chicago or Newark to Hawaii with United Airlines. (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Are you based in a Star Alliance hub? Consider using Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles to score an excellent deal on your next trip to Hawaii. Its partner, Untied Airlines, operates nonstop flights to Hawaii from most of its hubs, including Chicago-O’Hare (ORD), Denver (DEN), Los Angeles (LAX), Newark (EWR) and San Francisco (SFO).

Here’s a look at one-way pricing:

  • 7,500 miles one-way in economy
  • 12,500 miles one-way in business class (United Airlines first class)

You can book Turkish Airlines partner award tickets online, but its website doesn’t always show all available flights. I always recommend using another Star Alliance search tool to search for award space first. If you don’t see it on the Turkish Airlines website, call the airline to book.

(Screenshot courtesy of turkishairlines.com) © The Points Guy (Screenshot courtesy of turkishairlines.com)

Earning Turkish Airlines miles

You can earn Turkish miles by spending on cards that earn Citi ThankYou points or Capital One Rewards miles. Both programs transfer to Turkish Airlines at a 1:1 transfer ratio. According to TPG test transfers, Capital One miles transfer to Turkish instantly, while Citi points may take up to a day.

If you’re interested in earning Capital One miles to transfer to Turkish, consider opening a Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. The card earns 2 miles per dollar on all purchases, and you can earn 60,000 bonus miles when you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening.

Thankfully, Turkish Airlines lets you hold award seats for two days. Call the airline before you transfer points to make sure the agent can confirm award seats are available. Then, ask the agent to put the award on hold and immediately transfer your Capital One or Citi points. Once the miles are in your account, you can call Turkish Airlines to confirm your flights.

Related: Booking United first class to Hawaii with Turkish Miles & Smiles

British Airways Avios

a large passenger jet sitting on top of a runway: Your next American flight to Hawaii could be booked using British Airways Avios. (Photo by Juha Remes/Getty Images). © The Points Guy Your next American flight to Hawaii could be booked using British Airways Avios. (Photo by Juha Remes/Getty Images).

British Airways Avios provide excellent value for domestic award tickets on American Airlines and Alaska Airlines, and flights to Hawaii are no exception. The Oneworld duo flies to Hawaii from a handful of their U.S. hubs, including Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW), Los Angeles (LAX), Phoenix (PHX), San Francisco (SFO) and Seattle (SEA), among others.

Speaking of pricing, you can fly to Hawaii for just 13,000 Avios each way in economy nonstop from the West Coast thanks to British Airways’ distance-based award chart. However, you’ll pay more for flights from the Midwest or East Coast. British Airways prices by segment, so connecting itineraries cost more, too.

(Screenshot courtesy of britishairways.com) © The Points Guy (Screenshot courtesy of britishairways.com)

For example, you can book a nonstop flight from Phoenix to Honolulu for 13,000 Avios one-way. At the same time, you’d pay 20,500 Avios round-trip if you connect via Los Angeles. Here’s the price breakdown:

  • Phoenix to Los Angeles: 7,500 Avios
  • Los Angeles to Honolulu: 13,000 Avios

Earning British Airways Avios

There are plenty of different ways to earn British Airways Avios. You can open the British Airways Visa Signature Card and earn 100,000 bonus Avios after you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening.

Points also transfer from American Express Membership Rewards, Capital One Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy. This gives you a variety of ways to boost your Avios balance.

Further reading: The ultimate guide to Amex Membership Rewards

Alaska airlines  Mileage Plan

a large passenger jet sitting on top of a runway: You can book American and Alaska flights with your Mileage Plan miles. (Photo by Markus Mainka/Shutterstock.com) © The Points Guy You can book American and Alaska flights with your Mileage Plan miles. (Photo by Markus Mainka/Shutterstock.com)

Alternatively, you can book the same carriers (Alaska and American) through Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan. The benefit here is that Alaska’s award chart is priced by region instead of distance.

With that in mind, a connecting flight from the U.S. to Hawaii doesn’t cost more miles than a nonstop. This is especially useful for those flying from smaller gateways that “force” a connection in a more significant hub.

Here’s how much it costs to fly one way from the mainland to Hawaii with Alaska miles. Note that Alaska-operated flights are dynamically priced, but might be cheaper than American awards depending on when you book.

Continental U.S. to Hawaii (Alaska Airlines):  

  • Economy: 15,000 – 50,000 miles
  • First: 40,000 – 80,000 miles

Continental U.S. to Hawaii (American Airlines):  

  • Economy: 22,500 miles
  • First: 40,000 miles

Thankfully, all flights are bookable on Alaska’s website. Prices on American Airlines are decent but not the cheapest option. You can likely book a comparable ticket with another airline whose rewards are easier to earn.

(Screenshot courtesy of alaskaair.com) © The Points Guy (Screenshot courtesy of alaskaair.com)

Earning Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles

Now for the bad news. It’s hard to earn Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles with a credit card. The program doesn’t partner with any transferable point programs, but you can transfer Marriott points. These transfers process at a 3:1 ratio, with a 5,000-mile bonus awarded for 60,000 point transfers.

You may also consider opening an Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card. Using this card, you can earn 50,000 bonus miles plus Alaska’s Famous Companion Fare from $121 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from just $22) after spending $2,000 in purchases within the first 90 days of account opening.

Related: 5 things to know about Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan

Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer

You can also book United tickets with KrisFlyer miles from partner Singapore Airlines. Pricing isn’t as good as with Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles, but as you’ll see shortly, it’s far easier to earn Singapore miles.

On top of this, Singapore Airlines also partners with Alaska Airlines. The Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer program has a separate award chart for Alaska redemptions with lower rates than United. In some cases, the chart is even cheaper than British Airways.

There is some bad news, though. You can’t book connecting Alaska itineraries with KrisFlyer, just nonstops, so you’re limited to departing from the airlines’ West Coast hubs. Further, first-class Alaska tickets are expensive and better booked with other Alaska partners.

Here’s how much one-way tickets to Hawaii cost using Krisflyer miles:

Booking United Airlines flights with KrisFlyer

Continental U.S. to Hawaii (United Airlines):

  • Economy: 17,500 miles
  • First Class: 34,500 miles

Booking Alaska Airlines flights with Krisflyer

West Coast to Hawaii (Alaska Airlines):

  • Economy: 12,000 miles
  • First Class: 44,500 miles

You can book United awards on Singapore Airlines’ website, but you have to call to book Alaska award tickets. To speed up the process, find Alaska award space on American Airlines’ website first and call Singapore Airlines with your dates and flight numbers in hand.

Earning Singapore Krisflyer miles

Singapore Airlines miles are some of the easiest miles to earn. Krisflyer is a transfer partner of all five transferrable points programs, including:

Further reading: A guide to earning transferable points

American Airlines AAdvantage

a sandy beach next to a body of water: You could be strolling down Waikiki Beach on Oahu for your next trip, thanks to American Airlines miles. (Photo by 7maru/Getty Images) © The Points Guy You could be strolling down Waikiki Beach on Oahu for your next trip, thanks to American Airlines miles. (Photo by 7maru/Getty Images)

You can redeem American Airlines miles for award flights to Hawaii on both American and Alaska. Economy prices are fair, but it’s not the cheapest way to get to paradise — especially in business class. Here’s what you’ll pay for a one-way flight from the mainland U.S:

  • Economy: 22,500 miles
  • First class: 55,000 miles (62,500 miles if the flight has lie-flat seats)

American Airlines sells discounted award seats to Hawaii during their “off-peak” dates. Discounted prices are 20,000 miles one-way. Here are the dates:

  • To Hawaii: Dec. 29 – March 12, Aug,11 – Nov. 18, Nov. 24 – Dec. 10
  • From Hawaii: Jan. 7 – March 19, Aug. 18 – Nov. 27, Dec. 3 – Dec. 25

Better yet, you may also be able to score lower award pricing if you book Web Special award tickets. These awards offer lower pricing on select American-operated flights, so keep an eye out the next time you book. You can book American award tickets to Hawaii online.

Earning American Airlines miles

Like Alaska, American’s has limited transfer opportunities. Currently, you can transfer Citi ThankYou points from a card like the Citi Premier® Card to AAdvantage through Nov. 13, 2021.

Marriott Bonvoy points also transfer to American at the standard 3:1 transfer ratio. Further, Bilt Rewards points transfer to American at a 1:1 transfer ratio, and Citi ThankYou points temporarily transfer to American until Nov. 16, 2021.

(Editor’s note: TPG founder Brian Kelly is a Bilt advisor and investor.)

That said, you can earn American Airlines AAdvantage miles directly when you open an American Airlines credit card. One of the best is the AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard. This card offers 50,000 bonus miles after making your first purchase and paying the $95 annual fee within 90 days of account opening.

The information for the AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

United Airlines MileagePlus

You can sometimes find low-cost tickets to Hawaii with United MileagePlus. (Photo by EQRoy/Shutterstock.com) © The Points Guy You can sometimes find low-cost tickets to Hawaii with United MileagePlus. (Photo by EQRoy/Shutterstock.com)

United eliminated its award chart in mid-November, but prices to Hawaii are largely the same on most dates if saver award space is available. United MileagePlus award tickets from the U.S. mainland to Hawaii usually cost:

  • Economy: 22,500 miles one-way
  • First class: 40,000 miles one-way

That said, due to United’s dynamic pricing structure, you can sometimes find very low-cost award flights from the U.S. to Hawaii. For example, this one-way flight from San Francisco to Honolulu is just 9,500 United miles.

(Screenshot courtesy of united.com) © The Points Guy (Screenshot courtesy of united.com)

United Airlines awards are easy to find thanks to its user-friendly website. If you have a United cobranded credit card — or United Airlines elite status — you’ll have access to a more extensive inventory of award seats. Just go to United.com and search for a ticket to find the most up-to-date pricing.

Earning United Airlines miles

Several credit cards can help you earn United Airlines MileagePlus miles quickly:

  • United Explorer Card: 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.
  • United Quest℠ Card: 80,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.
  • United Club Infinite Card: 75,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.

You can also instantly transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards to United at a ratio of 1:1. If you’re just starting, you may want to consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, which offers 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.

Delta SkyMiles

Delta doesn’t publish an award chart, so award pricing is difficult to predict. You have to search for specific dates to see the price, and these can change day by day.

That said, you can find excellent deals on some dates. For example, a one-way flight from Los Angeles (LAX) to Honolulu (HNL) costs just 7,000 SkyMiles in basic economy next February.

(Screenshot courtesy of delta.com) © The Points Guy (Screenshot courtesy of delta.com)

Additionally, a flight from New York-JFK to Kona (KOA) via Seattle (SEA) costs 19,000 SkyMiles in basic economy and 22,500 in Main Cabin. First class, however, is a whopping 53,000 SkyMiles one-way.

(Screenshot courtesy of delta.com) © The Points Guy (Screenshot courtesy of delta.com)

Earning Delta SkyMiles

You can open Delta credit cards and earn their welcome bonuses to earn miles quickly. The Delta SkyMiles® Gold Business American Express Card offers 70,000 bonus miles, and a $50 statement credit after spending $2,000 in purchases the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.

You can transfer American Express Membership Rewards to Delta at a 1:1 ratio. Consider opening The Platinum Card® from American Express to stock up quickly. This card earns 100,000 Membership Rewards® Points after spending $6,000 on purchases on the Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Plus, the $695 annual fee (see rates & fees) is largely offset by Delta SkyClub lounge access, up to $200 annual airline fee credit and other benefits. Enrollment is required for select benefits. 

Related: Book this, not that: Hawaii resorts edition

Bottom line

You have several options for redeeming points and miles to fly to Hawaii from the mainland U.S.

Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles is the cheapest option, though limited earning opportunities make it a tough redemption for many travelers. For West Coast travelers, booking nonstop Alaska or American flights with British Airways Avios is a great value too, but you’ll pay more if you add a connection.

For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum card, click here.

Additional reporting by Joseph Hostetler

Featured photo of Kaanapali Beach, Maui by ejs9/Getty Images.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
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