How to Decide Where to Stay in Hawaii Using Hotel Points

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Million Mile Secrets reader Brian commented:

I’m totally new to miles.  My wife and I would like to go to Hawaii.  I have enough American Airlines miles to get us there, but need help with hotels.

Where should I start?  What’s a good chain or card to collect miles on for Hawaii?

Planning a trip to Hawaii is very exciting, Brian!  Congratulations on earning the American Airlines miles to get there!

How To Decide Where To Stay In Hawaii Using Hotel Points

Brian and His Wife Have Enough Airline Miles to Fly to Hawaii – but Where Should They Stay?

Let’s see what strategies Brian can use to get Big Hotels with Small Money in Hawaii!

1.   Where Do You Want to Go?

Before you decide on a hotel or chain, you’ll have to figure out which islands you want to visit!

Many folks who visit Hawaii for the 1st time choose to stay in Honolulu, on the island of Oahu.  There are a lot of popular tourist attractions there, including Pearl Harbor, the Polynesian Cultural Center, and Waikiki beach.

How To Decide Where To Stay In Hawaii Using Hotel Points

If You Stay in Honolulu, a Walk Along Waikiki Beach Is a Must!

But Honolulu is also big and crowded, so some folks prefer staying on quieter neighbor islands like Hawaii (The Big Island), Kauai, or Maui.

Emily and I have traveled to Maui and Kauai, and they’re both amazing!

Wherever you decide to go, there are plenty of hotel options!

2.   Use Online Tools to Narrow Down Hotel Choices

I like using Hotel Hustle to find hotels that can be booked using points.  It’s a great tool, because it shows you how many points you’ll need for your specific travel dates, and show you if award nights are available!

Another option is AwardMapper.  It shows similar information, but it’s not specific to travel dates and won’t search for available award rooms.

How To Decide Where To Stay In Hawaii Using Hotel Points

Hotel Hustle Shows You Available Award Rooms and Prices in Points and Dollars!

And whenever Emily and I are deciding on a hotel, we always check TripAdvisor for reviews and suggestions from other travelers!

You should also consider whether you want to make your points last longer by staying in lower-category hotels, or if you want a luxury stay at 1 of Hawaii’s top resorts.

The next step is earning the points for your stay.

3.   Where Will You Get the Points?

After deciding on a hotel or chain, you’ll have to figure out how you’ll earn the points!

There are many credit cards which earn hotel points directly.  And some of them have very substantial sign-up bonuses!

How To Decide Where To Stay In Hawaii Using Hotel Points

The Chase Hyatt Card Earns You 2 Free Nights at Any Hyatt, Including the Grand Hyatt Kauai

But remember, you can also transfer points from Citi ThankYou, American Express Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards to several hotel chains!  So you might consider signing-up for cards that earn points in these programs.

I prefer transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt because you can often get an excellent value!  We used Hyatt points to stay at the Grand Hyatt Kauai.

Chase Adds New Transfer Partner More Options To Europe

When You Have the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Ink Plus, or Ink Bold Card, You Can Transfer Your Chase Ultimate Rewards Points to Hyatt, Marriott, IHG, and The Ritz-Carlton

Here are some ways to earn points from each major hotel chain:

Best Western

Choice Hotels


How To Decide Where To Stay In Hawaii Using Hotel Points

We Used Hilton Points and the Weekend Nights From the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card to Stay at the Grand Wailea Resort in Maui



Marriott / Ritz-Carlton



How To Decide Where To Stay In Hawaii Using Hotel Points

It Only Costs 15,000 Points per Night to Stay at the Wyndham Koloa Landing at Poipu Beach Grand Resort in Kauai

You can read about all the ways to earn Hilton points and Hyatt points for more ideas!

And don’t forget, our Beginner’s Guide to Miles & Points has lots of great tips for folks who are just starting out!

Bottom Line

If you’re planning a trip to Hawaii but don’t know where to stay using points, there are lots of great tools that can help, like Hotel Hustle, AwardMapper, and TripAdvisor.

Once you’ve decided which hotels you’re interested in, you can earn lots of hotel points by applying for hotel credit cards with big sign-up bonuses.

Or you can transfer points from programs like American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, and Citi ThankYou.

Emily and I hope you and your wife have a wonderful trip to Hawaii, Brian!  Please let us know where you decide to stay!

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13 responses to “How to Decide Where to Stay in Hawaii Using Hotel Points

  1. Hotel Hustle is a work in progress. Good intention but amateurish in its functionality and execution. Should clearly state Beta. Not ready for Prime Time.

  2. @kent c
    Still better than awardmapper 90% of the time. And where else can you set alerts? That feature in of itself, got me another night at a certain coveted south pacific location.

  3. Great read. Thank you very much!

  4. Having twice been to Oahu, Maui and Kauai, my absolute favorite is Kauai, especially the Grand Hyatt. It’s amazing on every level, and considering that his and her Hyatt credit card bonuses can get you four nights there is terrific.

  5. Nice post but IHG hotel choices in Hawaii are very limited and last time I checked there are no club Carlson hotels in Hawaii.

  6. The Wyndham Koloa Landing at Poipu Beach turns out to not have any award nights in 2016 but seem to have plenty in 2015 up to 12/15, then nothing. Are they waiting to release 2016 at a later time or what. You can book other Wyndham properties in 2016 like the Ramada in Honolulu and I have heard others were able to book Poipu in 2016 when they first changed their award chart, but not that I can find now. Anyone know the reason?

  7. I enjoyed the Marriott Vacation Club and Disney resort on Oahu (both are good if you have kids).

  8. Very informative post! Thanks.

    My problem is the opposite. I am planning a trip to Belgium next year. I have selected the hotels I would like to stay in and have accumulated Marriott points for a 15 night stay. How should I go about accumulating airfare points? I’ll be flying from the East Coast of the USA to Brussels.

  9. is this a post about which hotels to stay at or a push for people to sign up for credit cards?

    this post doesn’t even recommend a hotel. it’s just a vague guideline of how to search for them

  10. My husband and I are planning our trip to Paris. Maybe you could do a post for that.

  11. Stayed at The Courtyard in Waikiki but it is not on the beach you have to walk a few blocks, so if you want to be on the beach make sure you check the distance from the hotel. Also stayed at Aulani but not sure how you would stay there on awards.

  12. @DaninMCI – a few years back at stayed at a Radisson in Waikiki not sure if it is still there.

  13. @reader Neither. It’s a post about How to Decide Where to Stay in Hawaii Using Hotel Points, and fulfills its purpose.