Your Guide to Using Transferable Points for Flights to Hawaii! This Week: Citi ThankYou Points!

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Your Guide to Using Transferable Points for Flights to Hawaii!  This Week:  Citi ThankYou Points!

Million Mile SecretsYour Guide to Using Transferable Points for Flights to Hawaii!  This Week:  Citi ThankYou Points!Million Mile Secrets Team

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Hawaii is an amazing travel destination, and the best part is that if you’re American, you don’t need a passport to go there!  It’s almost like visiting another country, but with a lot less hassle.  However, from the mainland US, flights can be long and expensive.

Luckily, there are easy and affordable ways to redeem miles and points from the best credit cards for travel to get to Hawaii.

Earning transferable points is a great way to start, because you’ll have many more options when it comes time to book your flights.  This can help you get around blackout dates that some airlines impose, or just general difficulty in finding available award seats.

Hawaii Is An Incredible Destination You Don’t Want to Miss! Here’s How to Get There With Your Miles

So we’re putting together a guide on how to use transferable points for flights to Hawaii!

How to Use Transferable Points for Flights to Hawaii

To give you options for your trip, we’ll cover flights to Hawaii and also flights within the Hawaiian Islands.  We won’t cover every option available, but rather just the best and most useful.

We’ll cover the basics that will help you make an informed decision like:

  • Transfer ratio:   How many points do you need to transfer to get the number of miles you need?
  • Transfer time:   How long does it usually take to transfer your points to the airline?  This is important because you don’t want to find an award only to see it disappear while you’re waiting for the miles to show up in your account.
  • Award Prices:   How many miles will it take to book a flight to Hawaii with a particular airline?
  • Partner Award Prices:   You can use most airline miles to book award flights on their partner airlines.  However, typically airlines have different award charts for their partner airlines.  And partner award seats are usually harder to find because in many cases, you’ll only be able to book the lowest priced (i.e. Saver level) awards.  Also, sometimes airlines don’t allow partner bookings for Business or First Class seats.
  • Fuel Surcharges:   When you book an award ticket, you’ll always have to pay for taxes and fees.  But some airlines also add fuel surcharges, in addition to the taxes and fees.  This can add $100s to the ticket cost.  So I’ll let you know whether or not you can expect these types of charges with each particular airline.
  • Pros:   What are the reasons you’d want to transfer points to an airline?
  • Cons:   What are the downsides of transferring points to an airline?
  • Other notes:   If there are any special rules, tips, or ticks you should know for the airline, they’ll be covered here.

How to Get to Hawaii With Chase Ultimate Rewards Points

You can earn transferable Chase Ultimate Rewards points with the following cards:

And the Chase Ultimate Rewards points you earn with the following no-annual-fee cards can be pooled onto the “premium” cards listed above, and then transferred to Chase’s travel partners:

British Airways

British Airways operates a distance-based award chart, so the usefulness of British Airways Avios points depends on where in the US you are starting from and whether you are taking a direct flight or a connecting flight.  With British Airways, you pay based on the distance of each flight segment, NOT the total flight distance.  So, short, non-stop flights can be a good deal, but longer flights and connecting flights generally aren’t.

Redeem Your British Airways Avios Points for Travel to Hawaii on American Airlines

Transfer ratio:   1:1

Transfer time:   Instant

Award Prices:   British Airways operates a distance-based award chart.  You can use the Great Circle Mapper to estimate the distance of each segment of your flight.

Note that Zone 1 pricing (flights from 0 to 649 miles), does not apply to flights within the US. Rather, those flights are priced at the Zone 2 level (flights from 650 to 1,149 miles).

 British Airways Avios Points Required for Each Flight
Travel DistanceCoach Premium EconomyBusiness ClassFirst Class
Off-PeakPeakOff-PeakPeakOff-PeakPeakOff-PeakPeak
0 to 649 miles4,0004,5005,7506,7507,7509,00015,50018,000
650 to 1,149 miles 6,5007,5009,50011,25012,75015,00025,50030,000
1,150 to 1,999 miles8,50010,00012,75015,00017,00020,00034,00040,000
2,000 to 2,999 miles10,00012,50020,00025,00031,25037,50042,50050,000
3,000 to 3,999 miles13,00020,00026,00040,00050,00060,00068,00080,000
4,000 to 5,499 miles16,25025,00032,50050,00062,50075,00085,000100,000
5,500 to 6,499 miles19,50030,00039,00060,00075,00090,000102,000120,000
6,500 to 6,999 miles22,75035,00045,50070,00087,500105,000119,000140,000
7,000+ miles32,50050,00065,000100,000125,000150,000170,000200,000

Partner Award Prices:   British Airways uses the same chart for their awards and partner awards unless you book a flight with 2+ or more partner airlines.  For travel to Hawaii from the US, this will never happen.

For flights from the US to Hawaii, you’ll want to focus on flights offered by American Airlines and Alaska Airlines, both British Airways partners.

British Airways Avios points are going to make the most sense for those of you that are taking a direct flight to Hawaii from the West Coast.  That’s because there are a number of flights that cost only 12,500 Avios points + taxes and fees in each direction.  A few examples of the flights that you’ll want to focus on if you want to redeem your British Airways Avios are:

  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Honolulu (HNL)
  • Oakland (OAK) – Honolulu (HNL)
  • Phoenix (PHX) – Honolulu (HNL)
  • Sacramento (SMF) – Honolulu (HNL)
  • Seattle (SEA) – Honolulu (HNL)

Fuel Surcharges:   None when you redeem British Airways Avios points for partner flights within the US.

Pros:   Great for booking direct flights from the West Coast

Cons:   Not good for folks who can’t fly non-stop or are flying from the East Coast

Other notes:

Flying Blue (Air France / KLM)

Flying Blue is the rewards program of both Air France and KLM, and you can use Flying Blue miles to book travel to Hawaii on Delta!

Flying Blue Miles Are Handy for Getting to Hawaii on Delta

Transfer Ratio:   1:1

Transfer Time:   Instant

Award Prices:

Flying Blue doesn’t publish an award chart anymore.  Rather, they offer a pricing calculator.  Unfortunately, the pricing calculator page often redirects to the home page, so for your reference, the following prices are typically the lowest available:

  • Coach – 30,000 Flying Blue miles round-trip
  • Business Class – 60,000 Flying Blue miles round-trip

Fuel Surcharges:   Flying Blue does pass on fuel surcharges on other flights, but this is not something you need to worry about on flights to Hawaii.

Pros:   Even though the Flying Blue price calculator can be hit or miss, their award search engine does a pretty good job.  The award calendar is a great bonus!

Cons:   Can be tough to find available award seats on Delta, especially if you need to connect in the contiguous US.

Iberia

Iberia operates a distance-based award chart, just like British Airways.  And you can even transfer Avios points between your Iberia & British Airways account.  But you’ll have to jump through a few hoops to do it.

Iberia is a member of the oneworld alliance, so you’ll be able to book partner awards flights with American Airlines to get to Hawaii.  Keep in mind, Iberia only allows you to book round-trip flights on partners like American Airlines, not one-way tickets.

Transfer ratio:   1:1

Transfer time:   Instant

Award Prices:   Here’s the Iberia award chart for American Airlines flights:

Iberia Has a Distance-Based Award Chart Much Like British Airways, but You Can Only Book Round-Trip Flights on Partners Like American Airlines

One advantage of using Iberia Avios points instead of British Airways Avios points is that Iberia charges you based on the total distance traveled instead of by segment.  So if you have a connection you could potentially pay fewer miles.

That said, their pricing to Hawaii from the West Coast isn’t as good as British Airways.  For example, a round-trip flight between Los Angeles and Maui has a total flight distance of ~4,970 miles, which puts it just inside the band for 28,000 Iberia Avios points in coach.  That’s 3,000 points more than what you’d pay with British Airways Avios points on the same route.

But looking at Los Angeles to Honolulu, the total flight distance is ~5,112 miles round-trip, so would cost 42,000 Iberia Avios points in coach.  That’s not nearly as good a deal!

Fuel Surcharges:   Minimal.  You’ll pay ~$20 round-trip in taxes and fees to Hawaii.

Pros:   You’ll be charged for the total distance flown, not by segment.

Cons:   Can be pricey especially from the East Coast due to distance-based award chart.  Only round-trip awards are permitted on American Airlines.

Other Notes:   You can book American Airlines partner awards online.

Singapore Airlines

One of the biggest advantages of Singapore Airlines miles is how easy they are to earn.  You can transfer points to Singapore Airlines from Citi ThankYou, Chase Ultimate RewardsAMEX Membership Rewards, and Marriott / Starwood.  So if you don’t have enough flexible points to get to Hawaii in any single program, you can easily combine points together and book award flights with Singapore Airlines miles.

Using Singapore Airlines Miles Is a Cheaper Way to Book United Airlines Flights to Hawaii

Transfer ratio:   1:1

Transfer time:   Up to 2 days

Award Prices:   Singapore Airlines offers the cheapest award prices for booking award flights on United Airlines to Hawaii.

  • Coach – 35,000 Singapore Airlines miles round-trip
  • Business Class – 60,000 Singapore Airlines miles round-trip

One-way partner awards are half the price of the round-trip partner awards.

Fuel Surcharges:   Singapore Airlines does not add fuel surcharges to their own flights.  But if you’re booking a partner award flight you’ll pay fuel surcharges when the airline you’re flying with has them.  Luckily, this doesn’t matter for flights to Hawaii, so redeem away!

Pros:   Some of the easiest airline miles to earn as they transfer from Chase Ultimate RewardsAMEX Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou, and Marriott / Starwood.

Cons:   Not the cheapest deal for flights from the West Coast.

Other notes:   N/A

United Airlines

United Airlines prices their awards as “Saver” awards and “Everyday” awards.  Saver awards are much cheaper, so those are what you’ll want to find and book.  Everyday awards can be absurdly expensive and are typically NOT a good deal.

Transfer ratio:   1:1

Transfer time:   Instant

Award Prices:   For flights from the contiguous US to the Hawaiian islands, you’ll pay:

  • Coach – 22,500 United Airlines miles for a one-way Saver Award, up to 45,000 United Airlines miles for a one-way Everyday Award
  • Business Class – 40,000 United Airlines miles for a one-way Saver Award, up to 90,000 United Airlines miles for a one-way Everyday Award
  • First Class – 50,000 United Airlines miles for a one-way Saver Award, up to 110,000 United Airlines miles for a one-way Everyday Award

If you want to visit a couple of different islands on your trip, redeeming United Airlines miles is a great choice for inter-island flights on partner Hawaiian Airlines!  You’ll pay the following prices:

  • Coach – 7,000 United Airlines miles for a one-way Saver Award, up to 14,000 United Airlines miles for a one-way Everyday Award
  • Business Class – 9,000 United Airlines miles for a one-way Saver Award, up to 18,000 United Airlines miles for a one-way Everyday Award.

Fuel Surcharges:   No, United Airlines does not add fuel surcharges for their award flights!

Pros:   United Airlines awards are easy to find and book and typically there are lots of available award seats. United Airlines miles are also a great option if you want to fly between the Hawaiian islands during your trip.

Available Award Seats from Phoenix to Honolulu in Coach for Travel in Late 2018 – It’s Pretty Open!

Cons:   Business & First Class awards and Everyday Awards are expensive for travel to Hawaii!

Other notes:

Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic miles are another great way to book Delta flights if they have the available award seats you need.  Better yet, you can use your Virgin Atlantic miles for flights on Hawaiian Airlines too!

But, you can’t fly both Delta and Hawaiian airlines on the same award ticket, only one partner is allowed.  Virgin Atlantic miles also transfer from other major transferable points currencies like AMEX Membership Rewards and Citi ThankYou points, so even if you don’t have enough Chase Ultimate Rewards points, you may be able to combine points for your flights to Hawaii.

Redeem Virgin Atlantic Miles for Hawaiian Airlines Flights

Transfer ratio:    1:1

Transfer time:    Instant

Award Prices:    For flights from the contiguous US to Hawaii, you’re looking at 40,000 Virgin Atlantic miles for a round-trip flight in coach, or 75,000 Virgin Atlantic miles in First Class if you want to fly Delta.

Depending on where you are flying from, flying Hawaiian Airlines may not be as good of a price.  Flights from the West Coast to Hawaii start at the same 40,000 miles in coach and 80,000 miles in Business Class.  But, if you want to fly from the East Coast on Hawaiian Airlines, you’re looking at 80,000 miles in coach and 130,000 miles in Business Class!  Flights from the East Coast on Hawaiian Airlines probably shouldn’t be booked with Virgin Atlantic miles.

You can book flights between the Hawaiian Islands on Hawaiian Airlines for 15,000 miles round-trip in coach and 30,000 miles round-trip in Business Class.

One-way bookings are permitted.

Fuel Surcharges:    Not something you need to worry about on flights to Hawaii.

Pros:   Can book flights on Delta and Hawaiian Airlines, sometimes more Delta award availability

Cons:   High prices for flights on Hawaiian Airlines from the East Coast.

Other notes:

  • One way bookings are permitted

When to Book Through the Chase Travel Portal Instead

Depending on how much your plane tickets cost, it doesn’t always make sense to transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to airline partners for award flights.  Instead, you might save points by booking a cheap fare through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal.

Whether or not it makes sense to book through Chase Travel will depend on a few things:  How much the ticket costs, what transfer partner you would be using, and which Chase card(s) you have.

Let’s start out with which Chase card you have.  Here’s what your points are worth through the portal with each Chase Ultimate Rewards card:

Chase Ultimate Rewards CardHow Much Are Points Worth Toward Travel?
Chase Freedom1 cent
Chase Freedom Unlimited1 cent
Chase Sapphire (no longer available)1 cent
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card1.25 cents
Chase Sapphire Reserve1.5 cents
Chase Ink Business Cash Credit Card1 cent
Chase Ink Business Unlimited Credit Card1 cent
Chase Ink Bold (no longer available)1.25 cents
Chase Ink Plus (no longer available)1.25 cents
Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card1.25 cents

Generally, the cheaper your plane ticket is, the more likely it makes sense to redeem points through Chase travel instead of through a transfer partner.

Let’s look at a quick example first.  Suppose you were going to transfer miles to United Airlines to book a coach ticket.  United Airlines charges 45,000 miles to fly to Hawaii and back in coach.  You would be better off redeeming through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal if your ticket cost less than the following:

Depending on what miles you are using, these numbers wouldn’t necessarily be the same.  To find out what the breakeven price would be, take the numbers required and multiply by the value of your Chase points.  For example, 45,000 United Airlines miles X 0.015 (for the Chase Sapphire Reserve) = $675.

Looked at another way, let’s say that your round-trip flight to Hawaii was going to cost $475.  This is how many points you would pay if you booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal:

In this case, you would be better off booking through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase Sapphire Preferred, or Chase Ink Business Preferred compared to transferring and paying 45,000 United Airlines miles for an award ticket.

Of course, if your alternative is booking with British Airways Avios points, that completely changes the equation.  If you could book an award flight from Phoenix to Honolulu for 25,000 British Airways Avios points round-trip, you would be better off doing that no matter what card you have assuming a ticket price of $475.

To find out how many points you need for a given ticket price when booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal, take the ticket price and divide by the value of your Chase points depending on what Chase card you have.  To use our example from above, $475 / 0.015 (for the Chase Sapphire Reserve) = ~31,667 Chase Ultimate Rewards points.

Two other benefits to redeeming your points through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal is that you don’t have to worry about finding available award seats or blackout dates.  As long as there’s a seat available for sale, you will be able to book it, and you’ll also earn frequent flyer miles and credit toward status for your airline ticket!

How to Get to Hawaii With American Express Membership Rewards Points

AMEX Membership Rewards points are very helpful for getting to Hawaii because they have lots of useful airline transfer partners.  And they are easy to earn!

Even better is that AMEX Membership Rewards points offer frequent transfer bonuses to their partner airlines, so you can get even more value out of your points!

You can earn transferable AMEX Membership Rewards points with these cards:

Personal CardsBusiness Cards
Premier Rewards Gold Card From American ExpressThe Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN
The Platinum Card® from American ExpressThe Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express
Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit CardThe Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN
AMEX EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express


Business Green Rewards Card from American Express OPEN

If you’re working with only AMEX Membership Rewards points, you have a lot of great options for flights to Hawaii!

Air Canada Aeroplan

Air Canada Aeroplan is part of the Star Alliance, so is useful for redemptions on Star Alliance member United Airlines for flights to Hawaii.  Aeroplan doesn’t have the best award prices to Hawaii, but they are still a good option if you want to fly United Airlines, especially if there is a transfer bonus.

Transfer ratio:   1:1

Transfer time:   Instant

Award Prices:   A round-trip flight to Hawaii costs 45,000 Aeroplan miles in coach, 80,000 Aeroplan miles in Business Class, and 110,000 Aeroplan miles in First Class.  One-way awards cost half of what a round-trip award costs.

Air Canada Awards to Hawaii Start at 45,000 Miles Round Trip in Economy

Fuel Surcharges:   Aeroplan does pass on fuel surcharges for some partners, but this isn’t something you’ll have to worry about on flights on United Airlines to Hawaii.

Pros:   Frequent transfer bonuses

Cons:   Not the best award prices to Hawaii

Other notes:

ANA

You can redeem ANA (All Nippon Airways) miles to book flights on United Airlines, just like Air Canada. ANA offers lower prices for the same flights as Air Canada in both coach and Business Class.  If you want to fly First Class, you’ll get a better deal with Air Canada, so it won’t usually make sense to use ANA to book First Class flights to Hawaii.  Unfortunately, ANA does not allow one-way bookings, so if you want to book one-way flights, you’ll need to turn elsewhere.

The biggest drawbacks to using ANA miles are that the award chart and routing rules are relatively complicated.

Transfer ratio:   1:1

Transfer time:   2 to 3 days

Award Prices:   As mentioned, ANA’s First Class price isn’t great, but they’re a good option for coach and Business Class flights to Hawaii.  ANA charges 40,000 miles round-trip for coach flights, 68,000 miles round-trip for Business Class flights, and 120,000 miles round-trip for First Class flights.  One-way flight bookings are not possible with ANA miles.

In the chart below, Y is coach, C is Business Class, and F is First Class.

ANA Award Prices for Flights from North America to Hawaii

Fuel Surcharges:   ANA does pass on fuel surcharges for some partners, but you won’t have to worry about this for flights to Hawaii.

Pros:   Cheaper prices for coach tickets that booking with Air Canada

Cons:   Business and First Class flights to Hawaii are expensive and you must book round-trip award flights

Other notes:

  • ANA miles expire after 36 months and cannot be extended

British Airways

It’s not uncommon for there to be an AMEX Membership Rewards transfer bonus to British Airways.  And they can be quite generous, which could make British Airways a useful option, especially if you have your eye on a direct flight from the West Coast.

Transfer ratio: 1:1

Transfer time: Instant

For more details on using British Airways Avios points to get to Hawaii, check the Chase Ultimate Rewards points section.

Cathay Pacific Asia Miles

Cathay Pacific operates a distance-based award chart.  And they are a member of the oneworld alliance, which includes American Airlines.  Cathay Pacific is also a partner of Alaska Airlines, so you can fly Alaska Airlines to get to Hawaii as well.

You Can Use Cathay Pacific Asia Miles to Book Flights to Hawaii on Alaska Airlines

Cathay Pacific does have good prices for certain flights to Hawaii, but understanding their award chart and booking rules will take some work and booking awards can present some challenges too.

One good thing about Cathay Pacific is that they are transfer partners of most flexible points programs, so it might be easier to accumulate the miles you need.

Transfer ratio:   1:1

Transfer time:   1 to 2 days

Award Prices:   As mentioned, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles has a distance-based award chart.  In fact, they have a couple of different distance-based award charts. Generally their prices for shorter flights are better than for longer flights.  Flights that fall into the Ultra-Short and Short categories are the only ones that will really make sense to book.

Here is the Cathay Pacific Asia Miles award chart for flights on Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon.  Unfortunately, you won’t exactly see these prices when looking at flights to Hawaii.  That’s because flights on a single partner airline cost 5,000 more miles for a one-way flight, but Cathay Pacific does not publish their partner award chart anymore.

Cathay Pacific’s Award Charts Are Based on Total Distance Flown

For example, a flight on Cathay Pacific that falls into the “Short” category in coach would cost 10,000 Asia Miles.  If a flight of the same length is on a partner airline, like American Airlines, it would cost 15,000 Asia Miles.

That means that Ultra-Short flights on a partner cost more than British Airways would charge for the same flight (but no flights to Hawaii are this short anyway).  And British Airways would charge less for Short flights (on a partner) as well.  Because Asia Miles is more complicated than British Airways, if you don’t need to connect, using British Airways Avios points is going to be a better bet.

However, if you need to make a connection, you might be better off redeeming Cathay Pacific Asia Miles.  This is because British Airways charges for each flight segment separately, but Cathay Pacific charges for the entire one-way flight distance.

You can use Great Circle Mapper to find out the approximate distance of your flight, and make sure to include any connections!  There aren’t that many flight options from the US to Hawaii that are going to fall into that 1,151 to 2,750 mileage band, however, but here are a few examples:

  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Honolulu (HNL):  2,556 miles each way
  • San Francisco (SFO) – Honolulu (HNL):  2,398 miles each way
  • Sacramento (SMF) – San Francisco (SFO) – Honolulu (HNL):  2,484 miles each way

All of these flight itineraries fall into the “Short” flight category, but only the flight from Sacramento to Honolulu with a connection in San Francisco would be a better use of Asia Miles than British Airways Avios points.

Flights that are longer than 2,750 miles would fall into the medium category and generally wouldn’t be a great use of Asia Miles unless they were the only option.

When booking an Asia Miles Standard Award, one-way bookings are permitted.  Additionally, a Standard Award round-trip award flight can have up to 3 stopovers and 1 open-jaw, but the rules are complicated and this doesn’t apply to all award flights.  You can read more about the stopover and open-jaw rules under #5 in the terms.

This award chart only applies to award bookings which include only 1 partner airline or 1 partner airline and Cathay Pacific or Cathay Dragon.  This will have you covered for flights to Hawaii, but for flights to other regions you may have to check out Cathay Pacific’s oneworld multi-carrier award chart.

Fuel Surcharges:   Yes, but not something you need to worry about on flights to Hawaii.

Pros:   Easy to earn – they transfer from AMEX Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou, and Marriott, useful for short-haul or one-way awards, potentially generous stopover and open-jaw policy

Cons:   Overly complicated, expensive for longer flights, and many partners can’t be booked online

Other notes:

  • You can book award flights online if you’re flying on Cathay Pacific, Cathay Dragon, Alaska Airlines, British Airways, Finnair, Iberia, Qantas, or Qatar Airways.  But for awards which include any other partner airline, including American Airlines flights to Hawaii, you’ll need to fill out a “Flight Award Request Form or call 866-892-2598 to book your award
  • Use this tool to figure out how much a specific award flight will cost
  • Sometimes you’ll get a phone agent that doesn’t completely understand Cathay Pacific’s convoluted award booking rules.  Don’t be afraid to hang up and call again.

Delta

Delta no longer publishes an official award chart.  So it’s a bit of a guessing game estimating how many Delta miles it will cost to get to Hawaii.  Nevertheless, Delta miles are worth considering if you want to fly Delta to Hawaii.

Additionally, Delta does have frequent award flight sales, and they could include flights to Hawaii!  This is a good option to keep in your mind in case a good deal pops up.

Transfer ratio:   1:1

Transfer time:   Instant

Award Prices:   Delta doesn’t publish an award chart anymore, but in general, you’ll be able to find award flights for as low as 22,500 Delta miles one-way in coach and 40,000 Delta miles one-way in Business Class.  Delta occasionally has award flash sales where prices can be even lower than this!  It’s also not uncommon to see much higher prices.

Get Up Close to Some Sea Life in Hawaii

Fuel Surcharges:   Yes, but not something you need to worry about on flights to Hawaii

Pros:   Potentially useful award sales

Cons:   No award chart

Other notes:

  • When you transfer AMEX points to US based carriers like Delta, you’ll be charged a small fee of 0.06 cents per point up to a maximum of $99. For example, if you transfer 45,000 AMEX points to Delta, you’ll be charged a fee of $27 (45,000 X 0.0006 = $27).

Flying Blue (Air France/KLM)

AMEX has offered transfer bonuses to Flying Blue in the past, which can make Flying Blue an even better option for flights to Hawaii.

Transfer ratio:   1:1

Transfer time:   Instant

For more information on using Flying Blue miles to get to Hawaii, check out the Chase Ultimate Rewards section.

Hawaiian Airlines

Hawaiian Airlines doesn’t offer the best prices to fly to Hawaii, but it’s always nice to have more options in case it’s the only award availability you can find.

Additionally, there have been transfer bonuses to Hawaiian Airlines in the past, so that could make this a more interesting opportunity, but only if you want to top up your Hawaiian Airlines account for an award flight.

Transfer ratio:   1:1

Transfer time:   Instant

Award Prices:   The prices listed in the chart below are for one-way tickets.

Flights to Hawaii Start at 20,000 Hawaiian Airlines Miles One-Way

Hawaiian Airlines doesn’t offer the cheapest prices for flights to Hawaii from North America.  However, flights to neighbor islands can be a great use of your miles.  You can book flights for the same price with other airlines, but Hawaiian Airlines offers more available award seats to people booking with their own miles.  If you can’t find award availability with another airlines, booking with Hawaiian Airlines miles can be a great way to snag a seat!

Fuel Surcharges:   None

Pros:   More award available on flights between Hawaiian Islands, another set of flight options for travel from the US

Cons:   Not the lowest prices available

Other notes:

  • This is really only a useful option if you already have a collection of Hawaiian Airlines miles and only need to transfer some AMEX Membership Rewards points over to top off your account, or if you can’t find availability or a schedule that works with other airlines.

Iberia

Iberia operates a distance-based award chart, just like British Airways.  You can even transfer your Avios points between your Iberia and British Airways accounts, but you’ll have to jump through a few hoops to do it.

Iberia is a member of the oneworld alliance, so you’ll be able to book partner award flights with American Airlines for flights to Hawaii.

Transfer ratio:   1:1

Transfer time:   1 to 2 days

Award Prices:   Iberia has a separate award chart for each of their partner airlines, although most are exactly the same.  You’ll pay based on the total distance of the flight.  And for most partners, you’re only allowed to book round-trip award flights.

To book a flight on American Airlines, you’ll use the award chart below.  Not relevant for flights from the US to Hawaii, but this is the same award chart for flights on Japan Airlines and for flights with more than one oneworld partner.

Flights from the US to Hawaii can vary significantly in length depending on where in the US you are starting from and how many connections you have.  For example, a non-stop flight from the West Coast might be as few as 5,000 miles round-trip, while a connecting flight from the East Coast could easily be over 10,000 miles round-trip!  In general, you’ll be looking at flights in those 2 distance bands.  The lower band is generally an okay (but not great) deal, and the higher band is not a good deal.

A few example flights include:

  • Sacramento (SMF) – San Francisco (SFO) – Honolulu (HNL):  4,968 miles round trip
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Honolulu (HNL):  5,112 miles round trip
  • Phoenix (PHX) – Honolulu (HNL):  5,834 miles round trip
  • Houston (IAH) – Dallas (DFW) – Honolulu (HNL):  8,017 miles round trip
The Price of Your Iberia Award Will Depend on How Far You’re Flying

Like with British Airways, the best deals are on the shortest flights, and unfortunately there aren’t any super short flights from the US to Hawaii.  It’s also important to know that Iberia award flights are completely non-refundable!  So make sure your travel plans are set in stone before you book.

Fuel Surcharges:   Yes, but not something you have to worry about for flights to Hawaii

Pros:   Easy to earn – they transfer from AMEX Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Marriott, and British Airways

Cons:   Partner awards are non-refundable, relatively high prices for flights to Hawaii

Other notes:

  • All Iberia partner awards are non-refundable!  So only book if you’re 100% certain of your travel plans because once you book, you can’t get your points back even for a fee!

Singapore Airlines

Singapore Airlines is a great option for flights to Hawaii and they are easy to earn!  You can transfer points from Citi ThankYou, Chase Ultimate Rewards, AMEX Membership Rewards, and Marriott to Singapore Airlines.  If you don’t have enough points with any one program, you can pool your points easily with Singapore Airlines miles!

Transfer ratio:   1:1

Transfer time:   Up to 24 hours

See the Singapore Airlines notes under the Chase Ultimate Rewards section for more details.

Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic miles are a good option for flights to Hawaii.  Like Singapore Airlines miles, you can transfer to Virgin Atlantic from Citi ThankYou, Chase Ultimate Rewards, AMEX Membership Rewards, and Marriott, so you have an opportunity to combine your miles if you need to.  Additionally, Virgin Atlantic sometimes has access to more Delta award seats than other airline partners do, so they’re worth a look even if you don’t think there are available award seats!

Transfer ratio:   1:1

Transfer time:   Instant

For more information, see the Virgin Atlantic information under the Chase Ultimate Rewards section.

When to Book Through the AMEX Travel Portal Instead

Depending on how much your plane tickets cost, it doesn’t always make sense to transfer AMEX Membership Rewards points to airline partners for award flights.  Instead, you might save points by booking a cheap fare through AMEX Travel.

Whether or not it makes sense to book through AMEX Travel will depend on a couple of things:  How much the ticket costs, what transfer partner you would be using, and possibly on what AMEX card you have.

For the most part, the AMEX card that you have won’t make a difference as to how much your points are worth.  For most cards, your Membership Rewards points are worth just 1 cent each when redeemed for airfare.  But, there’s one exception!

Don’t Forget the Sunscreen While You’re Enjoying Hawaii’s Beautiful Beaches!

If you have The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN, you’ll get 35% of your redeemed points back in 2 cases:  If you’re booking Business or First Class airfare on any airline, and if you’re booking coach on your airline of choice (the same airline that you’ve chosen to get the $200 airline fee credit reimbursement from).  In these cases, your AMEX points are worth ~1.54 cents each when you factor in the rebate.

Generally, the cheaper your plane ticket is, the more likely it makes sense to redeem points through AMEX Travel instead of through a transfer partner, but the scale doesn’t tip as easily as it does for some Chase cards.

For example, let’s assume that you are considering transferring AMEX points to Delta to book a coach ticket.  Delta charges 45,000 miles for a low-level award flight to Hawaii and back in coach.  Your breakeven price between transferring to Delta or using points as cash would be the following:

  • With most AMEX cards: 45,000 Delta miles X 0.01 = $450
  • With the Business Platinum Card from American Express AND Delta chosen as your airline: 45,000 Delta miles X ~0.0154 = ~$693

If your flight price is less than the price listed above (for this example), it would cost less for you to redeem your AMEX points as cash through American Express Travel instead of transferring to Delta.

Depending on what miles you are using, these numbers wouldn’t necessarily be the same.  To find out what the breakeven price would be, take the numbers required and multiply by the value of your AMEX points.

Looked at another way, let’s say that your round-trip coach flight to Hawaii was going to cost $400 on Delta.  This is how many points you would pay if you booked through AMEX Travel:

  • With most AMEX cards: 40,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points ($400 / 0.01)
  • With the Business Platinum Card from American Express AND Delta chosen as your airline: ~26,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points (Simply: $400 / 0.0154 = ~26,000, or to get the exact amount: $400 / 0.01 = 40,000; 40,000 – (40,000 X 0.35 Rebate) = 26,000 miles)

In this case, you would be better off booking through AMEX Travel with your AMEX points rather than transferring 45,000 Delta Airlines miles for an award ticket no matter which AMEX card you have.  If our example flight had been more expensive, that may not have been the case.

Note:   You’ll need the full number of AMEX Membership Rewards points in your account (in this case, 40,000 points) to book the ticket.  You’ll receive the 35% rebate from having the AMEX Business Platinum card in 8 to 10 weeks.

To find out how many points you need for a given ticket price when booked through AMEX Travel, take the ticket price and divide by the value of your AMEX points.

Two other benefits to redeeming your points through AMEX Travel is that you don’t have to worry about finding available award seats or blackout dates.  As long as there’s a seat available for sale, you will be able to book it, and you’ll also earn frequent flyer miles and credit toward status for your airline ticket!

How to Get to Hawaii With Citi ThankYou Points

Citi ThankYou points are another great option if you want to book award flights to Hawaii. Like Chase Ultimate Rewards and Membership Rewards points, they have a number of useful airline transfer partners (and some of the partners even overlap!).  You can earn Citi ThankYou points from cards like the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card.

Avianca LifeMiles

LifeMiles is the mileage program for Star Alliance member Avianca, and has made headlines in the past for miscategorizing airport codes into different regions.  This has led to some incredible redemptions, but there’s nothing sneaky you can do for Hawaii flights.  That said, Avianca’s rates are still pretty good for travel from the US to Hawaii.

Because United Airlines is also part of Star Alliance, you can redeem Avianca miles for travel on United Airlines.

Transfer ratio:   1:1

Transfer time:   Instant

Award Prices:   Avianca splits the US up into multiple regions:  United States 1, United States 2, and United States 3, plus Hawaii. However, for flights between the US and Hawaii, it doesn’t matter where you are flying from or to.  The prices are the same. If you want to fly in coach (X), it costs 22,500 Avianca miles each way, Business Class (I) costs 40,000 Avianca miles each way, and First Class (O) costs 50,000 Avianca miles each way.

The Business and First Class prices are not great with Avianca, but the coach price isn’t bad.

Avianca Prices to Hawaii Start at 22,500 Miles Each Way

Fuel Surcharges:   Not something you need to worry about on flights to Hawaii.

Pros:   Average coach prices for flights to Hawaii

Cons:   High award prices for Business and First Class

Other notes:   Avianca charges a $25 fee for all award bookings

Cathay Pacific Asia Miles

Cathay Pacific Asia Miles is also a transfer partner of AMEX Membership Rewards points.  They operate on a distance based award chart, and are a reasonable option for flights to Hawaii.

Transfer ratio:   1:1

Transfer time:   Instant

For more information on using Asia Miles to get to Hawaii, check out the AMEX Membership Rewards section of this post.

Etihad

Etihad has different award prices for each partner, which can make things pretty complicated.  Luckily, if you’re considering using Etihad miles to get to Hawaii, there’s only one partner that you care about – American Airlines.

Transfer ratio:   1:1

Transfer time:   Instant

Award Prices:   Etihad’s award prices between the US and Hawaii aren’t bad, but they’re not great either.  Business and First Class awards are quite expensive, but don’t cost as much as some other airlines charge.  Coach prices are average to good, especially during the off-peak travel time.

Etihad considers off-peak for Hawaii to be January 12 to March 8, August 22, and December 15.  So, you’re not really getting a ton of options for travel during off-peak dates!

Something that is intriguing is the inter-island Hawaii price at only 5,000 Etihad miles.  However, American Airlines doesn’t operate any inter-island Hawaii flights, so it doesn’t seem possible to actually book a flight for that price, but if American Airlines ever offers flights between the islands it could offer a good opportunity to redeem some Etihad miles.

An Award That Doesn’t Actually Exist on American Airlines – Inter-Island Hawaii Flights

Fuel Surcharges:   None on flights to Hawaii

Pros:   Reasonable coach and coach off-peak award prices

Cons:   Not many off-peak travel dates, high Business and First Class award prices

Other notes:   If American Airlines ever starts operating flights between the Hawaiian Islands, the price Etihad charges for inter-island flights is pretty good (but don’t hold your breath)

Flying Blue (KLM/Air France)

Flying Blue is a transfer partner of all of the major transferable point currencies, and is a good option for flights to Hawaii.

Transfer ratio:   1:1

Transfer time:   Instant

To find out more about using Flying Blue miles to get to Hawaii, reference the Chase Ultimate Rewards section of this post.

Qantas

Qantas isn’t a bad program to work with, and they have a really good award search engine.  Their prices for flights to Hawaii, in the right circumstances, aren’t bad either!

Transfer ratio:   1:1

Transfer time:   Instant

Award Prices:   Qantas has a distance based award chart.  If you’re flying from the US to Hawaii, most flights are going to be around 2,500 to 5,500 miles in length each way, depending on where in the US you are flying from and how many connections you need to make.  This means that your one-way flights are likely going to fall into Zone 4, 5, or 6.

Only Zone 4 pricing is really worth considering, and even then, only in coach.  In most cases, using British Airways Avios points is going to cost fewer points than Qantas if you are flying from the West Coast, but if you are making a connecting flight it could make sense to book with Qantas instead.

You can check the approximate distance of your flights on gcmap.com and compare the cost of booking with Qantas and booking with British Airways if you want to fly American Airlines.

For example, here are some one way flight distances to Hawaii:

  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Honolulu (HNL):  2,556 miles one way
  • Phoenix (PHX) – Honolulu (HNL):  2,917 miles one way
  • Dallas (DFW) – Honolulu (HNL):  3,784 miles one way
  • Albuquerque (ABQ) – Phoenix (PHX) – Honolulu (HNL):  3,246 miles one way
Qantas Has a Distance Based Award Chart for Flights to Hawaii on American Airlines

Fuel Surcharges:   None to worry about on flights to Hawaii.

Pros:   Great award search engine, okay award price in coach, in certain circumstances (for example, a connecting flight on American Airlines where the first leg is relatively short like the last example shown above)

Cons:   High prices for Business Class and First Class

Singapore Krisflyer

Singapore Airlines is a transfer partner of all of the major transferable point currencies and offers great prices for flights to Hawaii.

Transfer ratio:   1:1

Transfer time:   Instant

To find out more about using Singapore Airlines miles to fly to Hawaii, refer to the Chase Ultimate Rewards section of this post.

Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic is a transfer partner of all of the major transferable point currencies.  They sometimes have access to more Delta award seats than other partners, so they may be worth a look if you’re coming up short elsewhere!

Go on Some Great Hikes in Hawaii!

Transfer ratio:   1:1

Transfer time:   Instant

For more information on using Virgin Atlantic miles to fly to Hawaii, refer to the Chase Ultimate Rewards section of this post.

When to Book Through the Citi ThankYou Travel Portal Instead

Depending on how much your plane ticket costs, it doesn’t always make sense to transfer Citi ThankYou Points to airline partners for award flights.  Instead, you might save points by booking a cheap fare through the Citi ThankYou Travel Portal (and earn miles when you fly!).

Whether or not it makes sense to book through the Citi ThankYou Travel Portal will depend on a couple of things:  How much the ticket costs, what transfer partner you would be using (and the points cost of your potential award ticket), and which Citi card(s) you have.

Let’s start out with which Citi card you have.  Things are simpler here than for Chase and AMEX.  If you have the Citi Prestige (not currently available to new applications) or the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card, your ThankYou points are worth 1.25 cents each towards airfare.  If you have any other card that earns Citi ThankYou points, your points are worth 1 cent each.

Generally, the cheaper your plane ticket is, the more likely it makes sense to redeem points through the Citi ThankYou Travel Portal instead of through a transfer partner.

Let’s look at a quick example first.  Suppose you were going to transfer miles to Etihad to book an off-peak, round-trip coach ticket.  Etihad would charge 35,000 miles for this ticket.  You would be better off redeeming through the Citi Travel Center if your ticket cost less than the following:

  • With the Citi Prestige or Citi ThankYou Premier: $437.50 (35,000 X 0.0125)
  • With other Citi cards: $350 (35,000 X 0.01)

Depending on what miles you are using, these numbers wouldn’t necessarily be the same.  To find out what the breakeven price would be, take the number of miles required and multiply by the value of your Citi points.  For example, 35,000 Etihad miles X 0.0125 (for the Citi Prestige or Citi ThankYou Premier) = $437.50.

Looked at another way, let’s say that your round-trip flight to Hawaii was going to cost $375.  This is how many points you would pay if you booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal:

  • With the Citi Prestige or Citi ThankYou Premier:  30,000 Citi ThankYou points ($375 / 0.0125)
  • With other Citi cards:  37,500 Citi ThankYou points ($375 / 0.01)

In this case, you would be better off booking through the Citi Travel Portal if you have the Citi Prestige or Citi ThankYou Premier, compared to transferring and paying 35,000 Etihad miles for an award ticket.  If you have other Citi cards, it would still cost less to transfer.

Two other benefits to redeeming your points through the Citi ThankYou Travel Portal is that you don’t have to worry about finding available award seats or blackout dates.  As long as there’s a seat available for sale, you will be able to book it, and you’ll also earn frequent flyer miles and credit toward status for your airline ticket!

Bottom Line

Redeeming transferable points for award flights to Hawaii gives you the most flexibility and options to this popular bucket-list spot!  That way, your trip to paradise won’t have to cost an arm and a leg!

In the next installment, we’ll cover how to get to Hawaii using Marriott points.  Stay tuned!

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  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards

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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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