A Hawaiian vacation is high on the wish list for many Americans. However, here at FinanceBuzz, we don't just want to get you there — we also want to show you how to save money by flying to Hawaii with points. This way you can make that dream vacation a reality, no matter what your budget is.
Several airlines offer flights to Hawaii, which gives you plenty of options when it comes to redeeming miles and points for flights. In this piece, we’ll outline the basics of different airline rewards programs, so you can decide which option is best for you.
How many points you need for a free flight
The price of flying to Hawaii with points varies based on a number of factors, including your location, the class you choose to fly, your destination airport, and whether pricing is fixed or dynamic. As you would expect, flying from the West Coast will be cheaper, in most cases, than flying from the East Coast because of the extra distance. Traveling during peak periods like spring break, summertime, and over Thanksgiving and Christmas, will also result in higher cash or point prices.
The class you select will also affect the number of miles or points required for a flight to Hawaii. Economy flights will almost always be the cheapest, while First Class tickets will generally be the most expensive.
Hawaii also has several airports you can choose to fly into. If you are having difficulty finding award space for your preferred airport when flying to Hawaii with points, consider flying to a different airport. Finding inter-island flights using miles, points, or cash is very easy to do.
It’s also important to keep in mind that some flight redemptions are a fixed price while others are dynamic. Understanding the different options will help you determine which miles and points offer the best value for booking your flights to Hawaii.
Award chart for flying to Hawaii with points
The award chart below highlights the mileage requirements for one-way flights to Hawaii with points. Double the required miles to determine the cost for a round-trip flight.
|Airline||Domestic flights||International flights|
Flying to Hawaii using Alaska Airlines miles
Alaska Airlines is one of the best options for flights to Hawaii, whether you are using cash or points. If you plan to use cash, look into the Companion Pass that comes with the Bank of America Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Credit Card. With the Companion Pass, your guest's ticket will cost $99 plus taxes, which is an absolute steal. Cardholders receive one Companion Pass every year after renewing the credit card and paying the $75 annual fee.
Using Alaska Airlines miles to book your flight to Hawaii also has its advantages. Because Alaska Airlines is not part of an alliance, it offers flexibility with its partner flights to Hawaii. You can redeem your miles on Alaska or American Airlines. In some cases, it may even be cheaper to book flights on American Airlines using your Alaska miles than booking on Alaska.
The price to book a flight to Hawaii using Alaska miles is fixed based upon your home airport and the carrier you choose. Prices vary depending on whether your ticket is refundable or not. However, the actual cash price of the ticket does not factor into the equation.
The fastest way to earn Alaska Airlines miles
The best way to earn Alaska miles is to get an Alaska credit card. Bank of America offers both a personal and a business version of the card. With the personal card, new cardmembers can earn a $100 statement credit and 40,000 bonus miles (+ round-trip coach companion fare) after spending $2,000 in the first 90 days. You'll also receive free checked bags and an annual Companion Pass. Alaska Airlines Visa Signature cardholders earn 3X miles on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases and 1X miles on every $1 spent on other purchases, and the card offers a relatively low annual fee of $75.
Flying to Hawaii using American Airlines AAdvantage miles
The American Airlines award chart makes it simple to determine the cheapest time to fly to Hawaii. If your travel days are flexible, I suggest looking at the monthly view to easily find the cheapest days to fly.
American Airlines offers static prices on its award flights to Hawaii. However, the price you pay will vary based on the type of ticket you buy and the available seats remaining for that flight. Gone are the days of 25,000 miles for a round-trip domestic Economy ticket on most airlines.
You'll save a lot of AAdvantage miles on flights to Hawaii if you can book MileSAAver tickets. These award flights are discounted from the normal price of Main Cabin Awards. And "Web Specials" can cost even less, offering tremendous value for travelers.
Just remember that booking within 21 days of departure results in a $75 close-in booking fee. This fee is waived if you are a Gold, Platinum, Platinum Pro, or Executive Platinum member of the American Airlines AAdvantage airline loyalty program.
The fastest way to earn American Airlines miles
Earning American Airlines AAdvantage miles is easy with credit cards offered by both Barclays and Citibank. The Barclays® AAdvantage Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard® is a great credit card because it offers free checked bags, priority boarding, and inflight discounts on food and drinks. The Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard offers similar benefits.
Personally, I like the Barclays version better because of its Flight Cents round up feature. Barclays will round up your purchases to the next dollar, and you can purchase AAdvantage miles for just 0.5 cents each. This is a great way to build your mileage balance quickly and cheaply.
Flying to Hawaii using Delta SkyMiles
Delta Airlines no longer offers an award chart. Instead, all of their award flights are dynamically priced based on demand, time of year, capacity, and the cash price of the ticket.
The good news is that there are no blackout dates when you redeem Delta SkyMiles for flights. Plus, you can still find great deals if your travel dates are flexible. Because Delta award flights are dynamically priced, you are not charged close-in booking fees when redeeming SkyMiles for flights.
The fastest way to earn Delta miles
There are many ways to earn Delta SkyMiles you can use to book flights to Hawaii. American Express offers seven Delta credit cards for personal and small business use. The Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card is a great option for most travelers. Cardholders get some great perks, like no checked bag fees and priority boarding, which can help offset the $99 (waived first year) (See rates and fees) annual fee.
Alternatively, frequent travelers may want to consider The Platinum Card® from American Express for its lounge access and 5X points per dollar spent on eligible airfare (on up to $500,000 per calendar year, after that 1X) and eligible hotel purchases, and 1X points per dollar on all other eligible purchases. These and other benefits can help offset the $695 (See rates and fees) annual fee. Select benefits require enrollment.
Delta is also a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards. You can transfer your Membership Rewards points on a 1:1 basis from American Express to Delta SkyMiles to redeem miles for flights. One of the most popular cards for earning Membership Rewards is the American Express® Gold Card.
It earns 4X Membership Rewards points at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per year, after that 1X) and at restaurants, 3X on flights booked directly with airlines or on Amextravel.com, and 1X on all other eligible purchases. This card also offers $120 in annual dining credits and up to $120 in Uber credits each year, which easily offset the $250 (See rates and fees) annual fee. Select benefits require enrollment.
Flying to Hawaii using Hawaiian Airlines miles
Hawaiian Airlines also offers a fixed price award chart with no blackout dates. Domestic flights vary in price depending on whether you are flying from the West Coast or East Coast. As more tickets are sold for a flight, the price goes up based on remaining availability in each tier, so it’s good to book early. There are seven tiers of tickets in Economy and two tiers in First Class.
With Hawaiian Airlines, travelers can enjoy discounted award flights to save on miles when flying to Hawaii. This airline offers flight award discounts for Pualani Elite members, Premier Club members, and Hawaiian Airlines Mastercard cardmembers.
The fastest way to earn Hawaiian Airlines miles
To earn Hawaiian Airlines miles, your best bet is the Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite Mastercard®. Cardholders can earn 3X miles on eligible Hawaiian Airlines purchases; 2X miles on gas, dining, and grocery store purchases; 1X miles on all other purchases. Plus, this card comes with a one-time 50% discount on a companion ticket, and every year you'll receive a $100 companion discount. You can also send and receive Hawaiian miles from friends and family without a fee for easier redemption of awards.
Flying to Hawaii using Southwest Airlines miles
For many years, whenever someone asked "does Southwest fly to Hawaii?" the answer was a resounding no. However, in 2017, Southwest announced its decision to begin flying to Hawaii, though those flights didn't become a reality until March 2019.
Promotional fares on Southwest flights to Hawaii started out at $49 (or about 3400 points) per person each way. Now that the dust has settled, prices on Southwest flights to Hawaii vary by season and your home airport.
The amount of Southwest points you’ll need to book your flight varies based on the type of ticket that you buy. All of the seats are Economy, and the three ticket classes offer different benefits:
- Wanna Get Away tickets are the cheapest and usually require a 21-day advance purchase
- Anytime tickets are fully refundable
- Business Select tickets receive priority boarding and a premium drink during flight
Southwest points are generally worth about 1.5 cents per point when booking flights. You won't receive outsized value for your points such as booking First Class with other loyalty programs. But the value of Southwest points is consistent and awards flights are very easy to book. These are some of the best airline credit card options if you're concerned about consistency or blackout dates from some other carriers.
The fastest way to earn Southwest Airlines miles
You can earn Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards points through the airline's five co-branded credit cards. My favorite is the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card because of the extra points upon renewal, four priority boarding passes, and the annual $75 credit.
Points can also be transferred to Southwest from Chase Ultimate Rewards on a 1:1 ratio. So if you prefer the flexibility of Chase Ultimate Rewards, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great travel rewards credit card. It earns 5X points on Lyft rides (through March 2022) and travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards; 3X points on eligible dining, select streaming services, and online grocery purchases; 2X points on travel; and 1X points per $1 on all other eligible purchases.
Flying to Hawaii using United Airlines miles
United Airlines has offered a fixed price award system for many years. However, effective November 15, 2019, United will no longer publish a chart stating the cost of award tickets. Prices for award tickets will vary based on a variety of factors, including demand. The good thing is that United will no longer charge a $75 close-in booking fee for flights booked within 21 days of departure.
With this new change, flights to Hawaii on United will be cheapest during off-peak travel times. Flights during high seasons like summer break and the holidays will most likely be much more expensive.
The fastest way to earn United Airlines miles
Getting one of United's credit cards is the best way to earn miles. My favorite is the Chase United Explorer Card. With this card, you earn 2X miles on dining, hotel stays, and United purchases and 1X miles on everything else. You'll also receive priority boarding, a free checked bag for you and a companion on the same reservation, and a TSA Precheck or Global Entry credit every four years. Plus, you get two United Club passes each year you renew the card.
Redeem rewards from cards that can cover any flight
Using airline miles can save you a lot of money on flights to Hawaii, however, those miles generally restrict you to one airline (or that airline's alliance partners). Alternatively, flexible points are a great option because they allow you to take advantage of multiple programs.
With the best travel credit cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase Sapphire Preferred, and Capital One Venture Rewards Card, you have options. You can transfer your rewards to airline partners and redeem them for flights, or you can pay cash for flights using the points that you've earned.
For instance, here’s how to fly to Hawaii with Chase points. With the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you can transfer rewards to any of Chase's airline partners, including British Airways and United Airlines. From the West Coast, my favorite choice is British Airways. With its distance-based awards, you can fly to Hawaii from Los Angeles for 13,000 Avios each way. You'll also be flying with British Airways' partner American Airlines, even though American is not a transfer partner of Chase. Best of all, if you fly using British Airways Avios, you avoid the $75 close-in booking fee that American Airlines charges.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve also lets you book flights using points like cash. Points are worth 1.5 cents each towards travel when booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. So when you find a great deal on a flight from an airline's newsletter, Google Flights, or a flight deal service, you can book that cash fare with confidence.
How to make your flights completely free
Even if you decide to use miles or points to pay for your flight, you'll still owe the required taxes and fees for your award ticket. You can eliminate these charges by using the Capital One Venture Rewards Card to pay for the taxes and fees.
The charges will post to your account, and then you can use the Purchase Eraser to "erase" those travel purchases if you’ve earned enough rewards. You can do the same thing with any other travel fees that you incur along the way, such as overweight bags, checked bag fees, and change or cancellation fees.
The final word on flying to Hawaii with points
A trip to Hawaii is at the top of many travelers’ bucket lists. Because the lush landscape is so different than the rest of the United States, people often wonder ‘do you need a passport to fly to Hawaii?’ Luckily, Hawaii is part of the U.S., so there is no need for a passport, even if the flight over the Pacific to get there makes you feel like you're on an international vacation.
There are many options for flying to Hawaii with points and miles. You can book directly with an airline, redeem your rewards with one of their partners, or use flexible points like Chase Ultimate Rewards to book your flight. Before you make your choice, research flights to figure out which airline offers the lowest price and most convenient travel times for you. Once you've narrowed down your selection, choose a credit card that will help you earn rewards you can use to reduce the cost of your flight.