Disclosure: We get a commission for links on the blog. You don’t have to use our links, but we’re very grateful when you do. American Express, Barclaycard, Chase, and US Bank are Million Mile Secrets advertising partners. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or endorsed by our partners. Here’s our Advertiser Disclosure.
Update: One or more card offers in this post are no longer available. Check our Hot Deals for the latest offers.
Emily Jablon: Daraius and I went to Maui, Hawaii in March 2013. We loved Hawaii so much that we decided to return, but this time to Kauai. Kauai is more laid back and less built-up than Maui.
We went to Kauai over Valentine’s Day week, which made for a very romantic getaway. Using our miles and points made it even better!
Winter Getaway to Kauai – Trip Report Index:
- Part 1 – Using Miles and Points to Get to Kauai
- Part 2 – Only $10 for 2 One-Way United Flights From Austin to Kauai
- Part 3 – Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa
- Part 4 – Grand Hyatt Garden Suite for 87% Off
- Part 5 – 3 Free Nights & a Partial Ocean View Upgrade at the Grand Hyatt Kauai
- Part 6 – Activities in Kauai
- Part 7 – Adopting a Little Girl
- Part 8 – The Many Pools of the Grand Hyatt Kauai and more…
- Part 9 – Southside Eats
- Part 10 – More South Kauai Eats!
- Part 11 – Shave Ice Bigger Than Your Face and More Yummy Meals!
- Part 12 – Flight From Kauai to Austin
- Part 13 – Conclusion and Blog Giveaway
We got 2 travel books to help plan our trip:
The Ultimate Guide to Kauai was much more detailed and had a much wider selection of restaurants. It became our preferred book on Kauai.
What to Pack
- Lots of sunscreen
- Shoes and clothes you don’t mind getting dirty or muddy
- Bug spray
- Clothes you can layer (I should have brought 2 sweaters)
- Alcohol (if you want to drink and don’t mind the extra weight)
Miles and Points
We flew coach to and from Hawaii. Flying in coach saves our miles for longer trips in First Class to places like Hong Kong, Paris, India, or Bora Bora. Daraius booked us on United Airlines using 20,000 miles each to Kauai. He transferred Chase Ultimate Rewards points to United Airlines.
We flew home from Kauai to Austin using 17,500 American Airlines miles per person.
We stayed at the Grand Hyatt Kauai, described in many guidebooks as the best hotel on the island. I’ll share my thoughts on that in a future post. We used 22,000 points (old Hyatt award chart rates) per night for 3 nights and used Points + Cash with a Diamond Suite upgrade for another 3 nights. Currently, you pay 25,000 points per night at the Grand Hyatt Kauai.
Retail Cost Our Cash Cost Miles And Points Used Sources of Miles & Points
Two 1-way coach tickets from Kauai to Austin on United Airlines $812 per person ($1,624 total) $5 taxes and fees per person ($10 total) 20,000 United Airlines Miles per person (40,000 United Airlines Miles total) - Transfers from Chase Ultimate Rewards
6 days car rental from Hertz ~$413 $0 41,295 Citi ThankYou Points - Citi ThankYou Premier card
3 nights at the Grand Hyatt Kauai
~$498 (~$1,494 total) $0 22,000 Hyatt Points per night (66,000 Hyatt Points total old Hyatt award chart rates) - Transfers from Chase Ultimate Rewards
3 nights at the Grand Hyatt Kauai in a Garden suite (Points + Cash) ~$1,468 (~$4,404 total) $150 a night + $25 resort fee plus ~13% tax (~$596 total)
12,500 Hyatt Points per night + Diamond Suite upgrade (37,500 Hyatt Points total)
- Transfers from Chase Ultimate Rewards
Two 1-way coach tickets from Kauai to Austin on American Airlines $640 per person ($1,280 total) $5 taxes and fees per person ($10 total) 17,500 American Airlines Miles per person (35,000 American Airlines Miles total) - American Airlines Credit Cards
Total ~$9,215 ~$616 40,000 United Airlines Miles, 41,295 Citi ThankYou Points, 103,500 Hyatt Points, 35,000 American Airlines Miles
United Airlines Coach Flight From Austin to Kauai
Daraius and I booked a 1-way flight from Austin to Kauai on United Airlines. We flew coach to save miles and because the flights weren’t long.
Hertz Rental Car
We used 41,295 Citi ThankYou Points to book an economy car. Usually we get upgraded to a larger car because they run out of economy cars. But not this time! Using Citi ThankYou points saved us $413, even though we got a small car!
Grand Hyatt Kauai
We stayed at the Grand Hyatt Kauai. We booked our room using a combination of points and Points + Cash. We used 22,000 points (currently 25,000 Hyatt points per night) for 3 nights in a standard Garden View room.
It rains a lot in Kauai. So they call it the “Garden Isle.”
It was a wonderful hotel with great swimming pools!
Canyons, Beaches, and a Dog?
We drove to Waimea Canyon. The weather didn’t cooperate so we didn’t go hiking.
The Kauai Humane Society has a neat program where you can adopt a dog for a day. The dogs get a “field trip” and you get canine companionship. We got to see if we’d like being dog owners, because we only have a cat. Although, she thinks she’s a dog.
We also enjoyed lots of shaved ice, especially from Jo-Jo’s!
And a stop at Puka Dog’s was a requirement!
Flight From Kauai to Austin
We used 20,000 American Airlines miles each to fly on American Airlines from Kauai to Austin.
On our way back, we visited the American Airlines lounge in Los Angeles to see if authorized users can enter an American Airlines lounge with a Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®.
We had another layover in Dallas and got free access to the American Express Centurion Lounge in Dallas with The Platinum Card from American Express. It’s nice to have cards that give airport lounge access.
How You Can Do It Too!
We redeemed 20,000 United Airlines miles each and 17,500 American Airlines miles each for 1-way flights in coach to and from Austin and Kauai, Hawaii. We could have redeemed our miles for First Class seats but we like saving those for longer flights.
We used 41,295 Citi ThankYou points to pay for our car rental.
Daraius transferred 103,500 Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt points for 3 nights in a Garden View room. And for 3 nights in a Garden View suite (using Cash & Points) at the Grand Hyatt Kauai.
How Many Miles And Points You Need:
- Coach: 40,000 United Airlines miles and 35,000 to 45,000 American Airlines miles
- First Class: 100,000 United Airlines miles and 95,000 American Airlines miles
The American Airlines coach award tickets were 1-way off-peak awards which cost 17,500 to 22,500 American Airlines miles per person.
How to Get the Miles and Points:
The easiest way to get miles and points for Kauai is by applying for credit cards.
Earning United Airlines Miles
1. United MileagePlus Explorer Card
You could get up to 50,000 United Airlines miles with the United MileagePlus Explorer card after completing the minimum spending.
Earning American Airlines Miles
1. Citi American Airlines Executive Card
You get 100,000 American Airlines miles when you spend $10,000 within 3 months using the Citi American Airlines Executive card. This is the fastest way to get a lot of American Airlines miles!
But spending $10,000 in 3 months might be tricky. So here are some tips to make your minimum spending.
2. Citi American Airlines Cards
The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® and CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard® each get you 50,000 miles after spending $3,000 within 3 months.
Note: You may be able to get 2 Citi personal cards within 65 days. But you can NOT apply for 2 Citi personal cards at a time. Apply for the regular Citi American Airlines card 1st. Then wait 8 days before applying for the Citi American Airlines Executive card.
Tip: If you do it in reverse, it will NOT work.
3. American Express Starwood Cards
The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express each get you 25,000 Starwood points when you spend $5,000 within 6 months. As always, terms and conditions apply.
Starwood points transfer to American Airlines at a 1:1 ratio. You’ll also get a 5,000 point bonus each time you transfer 20,000 points to American Airlines.
If you earn the bonus on both cards you will have 60,000 Starwood points (50,000 bonus points + 10,000
points from completing the minimum spending).
You can transfer Starwood hotel points to American Airlines miles. 60,000 Starwood hotel points transfers to 75,000 American Airlines miles (60,000 miles + 15,000 transfer bonus), more than enough miles to get to Kauai!
Earning Citi ThankYou Points
1. Citi ThankYou Preferred Card
You get 20,000 ThankYou points after spending $1,500 within 3 months on the Citi ThankYou Preferred card. So you’ll come up a little short on the ThankYou points you need for the car rental.
2. Citi ThankYou Premier Card
If you have time before your Kauai trip, the Citi ThankYou Premier card gets you 50,000 ThankYou points.
But it’s spread out over 2 years. You get 20,000 points after spending $2,000 within 3 months. And you get another 30,000 points after spending $3,000 within the 1st 3 months of the 2nd year (but you also have to pay the 2nd year annual fee).
You might be better off using Ultimate Rewards points for your rental car.
Earning Hyatt Points
1. Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
You get 40,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points when you spend $4,000 within 3 months on the Chase Sapphire Preferred.
Chase Ultimate Rewards points can be transferred to certain airlines and hotels at a 1:1 ratio. So 40,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points becomes 40,000 airline miles or 40,000 hotel points.
2. Chase Ink Cards
Do you know the 3 ways you may qualify for a business credit card?
Note: You can apply for 1 personal and 1 business card from Chase at the same time. But you do NOT have to wait 6 months between Chase applications.
3. Chase Hyatt Card
You can save some Chase Ultimate Rewards points and get 2 free nights at any Hyatt worldwide after you spend $1,000 within 3 months on the Chase Hyatt card.
Daraius outdid himself with a romantic getaway to Hawaii. Using our miles and points to get there and stay at the Grand Hyatt made it an unforgettable trip! And Daraius didn’t work as much so we got to do lots of activities which you can read about in upcoming posts.
Having a dog for a day was fun. Have you ever traveled with a dog?
* If you liked this post, why don’t you join the 16,000+ readers who have signed-up to receive free blog posts via email (only 1 email per day!) or in an RSS reader …because then you’ll never miss another trip report!