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Ultimate Guide to Big Travel With AMEX Membership Rewards Points: Part 4 – Best Ways to Fly to Hawaii

Ultimate Guide to Big Travel With AMEX Membership Rewards Points: Part 4 – Best Ways to Fly to Hawaii

Million Mile SecretsUltimate Guide to Big Travel With AMEX Membership Rewards Points: Part 4 – Best Ways to Fly to HawaiiMillion Mile Secrets Team

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You get lots of travel flexibility with AMEX Membership Rewards points.  Because if you don’t have set travel plans for a future trip, these transferable points give you the option to choose from multiple airline partners when the time comes.

Folks in the miles & points hobby know earning transferable points, like AMEX Membership Rewards points, are the best way to get Big Travel.  

The AMEX Membership Rewards program has 20 direct airline and hotel partners.  Plus, you’ll get access to other indirect partners as well!  You can use AMEX points to book award flights on every airline that flies from the US to Hawaii!

Or you can keep it simple and use AMEX Pay With Points to book flights through the Membership Rewards travel portal and get a fixed amount per point.

American Express Membership Rewards Points For Hawaii Flights
AMEX Membership Rewards Points Are Extremely Versatile for Folks Looking to Fly to Hawaii!

I’ll show you the best ways to use American Express Membership Rewards Points for flights to Hawaii!

The Ultimate Guide to American Express Membership Rewards Points:

American Express Membership Rewards Points for Hawaii Flights

Link:   Which Miles & Points Should You Collect for Award Flights?

I’ll share a few airlines that are great for flights to Hawaii that you can book using AMEX Membership Rewards points.  Even though the airlines might not be direct AMEX transfer partners, you can still book award flights thanks to alliances and partnerships.

For example, in the past Emily and I used American Airlines miles and United Airlines miles for our vacation to Kauai.  But you could book the same exact flights by transferring AMEX Membership Rewards points to British Airways or Singapore Airlines.

The best transfer partner will depend on:

  • Available award seats
  • Hawaiian island you’d like to visit
  • Which airlines fly from your home airport
  • Your airline & alliance preferences

If you don’t have the time or don’t want to book your own award tickets, you can consider using an award booking service.

1.   Delta

Link:   Sweet Spot:  Flying Blue Miles to Hawaii

You can transfer AMEX Membership Rewards points directly to Delta or Flying Blue at a 1:1 ratio to book Delta flights to Hawaii.

For anyone who doesn’t live on the West Coast, using Flying Blue miles instead of Delta miles for Delta flights is a better deal.

There are non-stop Delta award flights to Hawaii from:

  • Atlanta
  • Los Angeles
  • Portland
  • Minneapolis
  • New York
  • Salt Lake City
  • San Francisco
  • Seattle

You can use the Flying Blue miles calculator tool to see how many miles you’ll need for your award flight to Hawaii.

For example, a one-way flight from Minneapolis to Honolulu on Delta will only cost 15,000 Flying Blue miles and ~$6 in taxes and fees.

American Express Membership Rewards Points For Hawaii Flights
Transferring AMEX Membership Rewards Points to Flying Blue Can be a Terrific Deal for Delta Award Flights to Hawaii

You can book Delta award tickets using Flying Blue miles online or by calling their customer service at 800-375-8723.  But they charge a phone booking fee of ~$22 per passenger.

Of course, you can also transfer AMEX Membership Rewards points directly to Delta to book award flights.  Delta doesn’t publish an award chart, but I’ve found the cheapest one-way award flights to Hawaii cost:

  • 22,500 Delta miles in coach
  • 65,000 Delta miles in Business Class

You might find more available award seats through Delta.  But if you can book through Flying Blue, you’ll get a better deal!

2.   United Airlines

Link:   How to Use AMEX Membership Rewards Points for United Airlines Award Tickets

Similar to award flights within the US, you can transfer AMEX Membership Rewards points to Air Canada or Singapore Airlines to book United Airlines award flights to Hawaii.

You’ll actually get a discount by using Singapore Airlines miles for United Airlines flights to Hawaii.

American Express Membership Rewards Points For Hawaii Flights
Book Discounted Award Flights to Hawaii. That’s Definitely a Way to Put a Smile on My Face!

Using Singapore Airlines miles to Hawaii, round-trip United Airlines award flights cost:

  • 35,000 Singapore Airlines miles in coach
  • 60,000 Singapore Airlines miles in Business Class

Compare that to using Air Canada Aeroplan or United Airlines miles for a round-trip award flight.  You’ll pay:

  • 45,000 Air Canada Aeroplan miles or United Airlines miles in coach
  • 80,000 Air Canada Aeroplan miles or United Airlines miles in Business Class

So you can use Singapore Airlines miles to book the exact same United Airlines flights with fewer miles

As an example, Million Mile Secrets team member Keith used 17,500 Singapore Airlines miles to book a one-way United Airlines award flight from Los Angeles to Maui.  He saved 5,000 miles this way instead of using United Airlines miles!

American Express Membership Rewards Points For Hawaii Flights
Team Member Keith Used Singapore Airlines to Book a Discounted United Airlines Award Flight to Maui!

After you find available award seats on the United Airlines website, you’ll have to call Singapore Airlines at 800-742-3333 to book the flight.

If you prefer to book online, you can transfer AMEX Membership Rewards points to Air Canada.  Then, book a United Airlines award flight to Hawaii through the Air Canada Aeroplan website!

3.   Alaska Airlines and American Airlines

Link:   British Airways Award Flight Calculator

Link:   How to Fly to Hawaii With British Airways Avios Points

You can transfer AMEX Membership Rewards points to British Airways to book American Airlines and Alaska Airlines award flights to Hawaii.

There are non-stop options available on American Airlines from these US cities:

  • Dallas
  • Los Angeles
  • Phoenix

And you can fly non-stop to Hawaii on Alaska Airlines from:

  • Anchorage
  • Bellingham (seasonal between November 12, 2016, and April 1, 2017)
  • Oakland
  • Portland
  • San Diego
  • San Jose
  • Seattle

On all of these routes (except for Dallas) one-way flights cost:

  • 12,500 British Airways Avios points in coach
  • 37,500 British Airways Avios points in Business Class

And for one-way flights from Dallas, you’ll pay:

  • 20,000 British Airways Avios points in coach
  • 60,000 British Airways Avios points in Business Class

While these prices are great, it’s extremely difficult to find available award seats in coach and Business Class, especially on American Airlines.

To find available award seats to Hawaii on American Airlines or Alaska Airlines, I recommend searching the American Airlines website for low-level “SAAver” seats.  For example, I searched Los Angeles to Honolulu.

American Express Membership Rewards Points For Hawaii Flights
Find Available “MileSAAver” Seats in the Calendar on the American Airlines Website Before Searching on British Airways

You’ll see there are only 3 dates in April 2017 with low-level award seats available.  You’d pay 22,500 American Airlines miles if you book directly.

Instead, you can transfer AMEX Membership Rewards points to British Airways.

Then, book the same flight on the British Airways website for 12,500 British Airways Avios points.

American Express Membership Rewards Points For Hawaii Flights
You’ll Get a Huge Discount by Using British Airways Points to Book American Airlines Award Flights to Hawaii

To book Alaska Airlines award flights using British Airways Avios points, you’ll have to call British Airways at 800-452-1201.

4.   Hawaiian Airlines

Link:   Hawaiian Airlines Award Chart

Hawaiian Airlines is a direct AMEX airline transfer partner.  You can transfer points to the airline at a 1:1 ratio.

Hawaiian Airlines offers non-stop award flights to Hawaii from these cities:

  • Las Vegas
  • Los Angeles
  • New York (JFK)
  • Oakland
  • Phoenix
  • Portland
  • Sacramento
  • San Diego
  • San Francisco
  • San Jose
  • Seattle
American Express Membership Rewards Points For Hawaii Flights
Hawaiian Airlines Offers Non-Stop Flights to Hawaii From 11 US Cities

The cheapest one-way award flights you can find from all these cities cost:

  • 20,000 Hawaiian Airlines miles in coach
  • 40,000 Hawaiian Airlines miles in Business Class

Available award seats at the low-level mileage prices can be limited.  There can still be award seats available, but the prices are double.

To search and book Hawaiian Airlines award flights, log-in to your frequent flyer account (free to sign-up).

Then, enter the desired departure city and destination.  For example, I searched a one-way award flight from Los Angeles to Maui.

American Express Membership Rewards Points For Hawaii Flights
Use 20,000 Hawaiian Airlines Miles for a One-Way Coach Award Flight From Los Angeles to Maui

The results show a coach award flight available for 20,000 Hawaiian Airline miles, which is a good deal!

You can also use redeem miles to book inter-island Hawaiian flights for 7,500 Hawaiian Airlines miles each way.

5.   Virgin America

You can transfer American Express Membership Rewards points directly to Virgin America.  But the transfer ratio is 2:1.  This means you’ll get 100 Virgin America points for every 200 AMEX Membership Rewards points you transfer.

Although this is not a favorable ratio, the price of Virgin America award flights are based on the cash price of the flight.  So if you can find cheap airfare, it can be worth it to transfer AMEX Membership Rewards points to Virgin America.

To estimate the number of Virgin America points required to book a Virgin America ticket, you can multiply the cost of a paid fare by 45.

For example, I found a $219 flight from San Francisco to Honolulu.  The same flight requires ~9,800 Virgin America points ($219 cash cost of flight x 45).

American Express Membership Rewards Points For Hawaii Flights
I Found a One-Way Award Flight From San Francisco to Honolulu That Costs Less Than 10,000 Virgin America Points

Because of the 2:1 ratio, you’d need to transfer 20,000 AMEX Membership Rewards to Virgin America to have enough points to book this award flight (20,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points = 10,000 Virgin America points).

This is roughly the same number of points you’d need to transfer to other AMEX partners like Air Canada, Delta, or Hawaiian Airlines to book a one-way award flight to Hawaii.

Remember, some time after January 9, 2017, you’ll be able to convert Virgin America points to Alaska Airlines miles at a  1 : 1.3 ratio.  This means you might be able to use fewer miles by converting and booking through Alaska Airlines miles.

But run the numbers and check all of your options to see what makes most sense for your situation!

 

Use AMEX Pay With Points to Avoid Blackout Dates

Link:   AMEX Pay With Points 

Instead of transferring AMEX Membership Rewards points to airline partners, you can redeem points for airfare using Pay With Points through the Membership Rewards travel portal.

When you use your AMEX Membership Rewards points towards air travel, you’ll get 1 cent per point towards your ticket.  And folks with The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN can get a 35% points rebate using the Pay With Points.  You’ll get:

This can come in handy if you’re looking to avoid award flight blackout dates.

For example, I searched the AMEX Travel Portal and found a one-way flight from Los Angeles to Kauai on a holiday weekend, when available award seats may be hard to find.

This flight costs $461 or ~46,100 AMEX Membership Rewards points.

American Express Membership Rewards Points For Hawaii FlightsThis method requires a lot more points than booking through a United Airlines partner airline.  But it might be the only option for peak travel dates, like holiday weekends.

Bottom Line

You can use AMEX Membership Rewards points to book award flights on all 6 US airlines that fly to Hawaii.  This includes Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta, Hawaiian Airlines, United Airlines, and Virgin America.

The best transfer partner depends on which airline has available award seats and the airline options you have from your home airport.

You’ll get the best deals by redeeming Singapore Airlines miles for United Airlines coach or Business Class award flights to Hawaii.  Or by using British Airways Avios points to book flights from the West Coast to Hawaii on American Airlines or Alaska Airlines.

During busy travel times (like holidays), you can also use AMEX Pay With Points through the Membership Rewards travel portal to book paid airfare to Hawaii.  You’ll get 1 cent per point towards your ticket on most AMEX cards.  But with the AMEX Business Platinum, you’ll get a 35% points rebate on all First or Business Class flights, or coach flights on your selected airline.

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Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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First time on your site…great info, but my head is spinning. I have 300,000 AmEx points. I’m planning a 3-week trip from Boston to Hawaii for a family of four August 6-24 (with some flexibility). We’ll be visiting 3 islands…preferably flying into one and out of another, with two inter-island hops in between. So if I understand correctly, I need to start by going to each airline – American, United, Delta, Hawaiian, Alaska – and seeing which offers the cheapest reward (and a good flight)? Anything else to consider?

If I use pay with points on Amex can I then use my aa points and cash to upgrade to business class?

How far out would you recommend searching for award fares? I notice you are looking roughly the 60 day range in your examples, but is there a sweet spot you’ve found from previous experience?

AS flies from SMF to OGG 🙂

Korean Air is 25,000 miles roundtrip to Hawaii from the U.S.

That’s a good suggestion for folks who collect Chase Ultimate Rewards points!

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