Planning Travel to Hawaii – Which Card to Get Next?

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Emily and I love to help folks get Big Travel with Small Money!  So we’re starting a new series to help readers with their credit card strategy, so they can achieve their travel goals!

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Our first question is from Million Mile Secrets reader Chandra, who emailed:

I just got the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and United MileagePlus® Explorer Card and have more than 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points and 70,000 United Airlines miles.  My daughter and I want to travel to Honolulu, Hawaii, in June 2018.  I’ve been looking for available award seats on United Airlines and there are basically none.  Will more open up before then?  What’s your suggestion for my next cards?

Chandra is off to a fantastic start collecting miles and points.  And her goal to save money on 2 flights to Hawaii is within reach.

Save Money On Travel To Hawaii
Hawaii Is a Popular Destination for Lots of Folks. Miles & Points Can Make a Trip Much Cheaper!

I’ll share 3 cards Chandra might consider to help with her trip to Hawaii or other future vacations.

Collecting Flexible Points Is the Best Way to Save Money on Travel

Link:   How to Use Flexible Points With Different Banks to Book Multiple Airline Tickets on the Same Flight

Link:   The Trick to Travel Flexibility: Transferable Points

Reader Chandra got the Sapphire Preferred, which is the top card I recommend for beginners.  It earns my favorite, flexible Chase Ultimate Rewards points, which you can transfer directly to airline and hotel partners.

Between Chandra’s balance of United Airlines miles and Chase Ultimate Rewards points, she already has enough miles & points to book 2 round-trip United Airlines award flights to Hawaii.  Because low-level round-trip coach award tickets to Hawaii cost 45,000 United Airlines miles per person.  And remember, you can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points directly to United Airlines at a 1:1 ratio.

If you don’t see award seats available now, be patient.  Also, having flexibility with your travel dates can help you find more award seats.  You might consider using a tool like Expert Flyer to notify you if award seats become available.

Save Money On Travel To Hawaii
Having Patience and Flexibility Is Key for Folks Looking to Use Miles & Points to Book Award Travel

Another perk of collecting flexible points is you have the option to book multiple tickets on the same flight using miles from a different airline.

For example, you can transfer points to Singapore Airlines from any of the 4 major flexible points programs.  Then, book an award flight on United Airlines because both airlines are part of the Star Alliance.

You’ll actually use fewer Singapore Airlines miles to fly to Hawaii on United Airlines because a round-trip award flight costs 35,000 Singapore Airlines miles.  You can read my step-by-step guide to redeeming Singapore Airlines miles for a United Airlines award flight.  Team member Keith did this and loved that booking this way saved him miles!

Save Money On Travel To Hawaii
It’s Easy to Use Singapore Airlines to Book a Discounted United Airlines Award Flight to Hawaii!

Using this strategy, Chandra can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points (or other flexible points) to Singapore Airlines and book one award flight to Hawaii.  Then, use United Airlines miles to book a second ticket on the same flight!

Save on Flights, Hotels, or Travel Expenses With These 3 Cards!

Here are cards Chandra might consider to help with her travel goals!

1.   Citi ThankYou Premier

Link:   Citi ThankYou® Premier Card

Link:   My Review of the Citi ThankYou Premier Card

With the Citi ThankYou Premier card, you can earn 50,000 Citi ThankYou points when you sign-up and spend $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of opening your account.

You’ll also get these perks:

  • 3 Citi ThankYou points per $1 spent on travel
  • 2 Citi ThankYou points per $1 spent on dining and entertainment
  • No foreign transaction fees

The $95 annual fee is waived the first year.

Similar to the Sapphire Preferred, you can use Citi ThankYou points linked to the ThankYou Premier card to book $625 in paid travel (1.25 cents per point) with no blackout dates through the Citi travel portal.

Save Money On Travel To Hawaii
Use Points Linked to Your Citi ThankYou Premier Card to Save Money on Paid Hotel Stays Booked Through the Citi Travel Portal!

Or you can transfer Citi ThankYou points directly to airline and hotel transfer partners.  For example, Chandra could transfer points to Singapore Airlines and book a United Airlines award flight to Hawaii.  Then, use her Chase Ultimate Rewards points for a different trip.  Or another seat on the same flight!

2.   Chase Sapphire Reserve

Link:   My Review of the Chase Sapphire Reserve

With the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, you’ll earn 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Because Chandra already collects Chase Ultimate Rewards points, getting this card can help boost her points balance!

When you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase Ultimate Rewards points are worth 1.5 cents each toward travel booked through Chase!  So the Sapphire Reserve can increase the value of your existing Chase Ultimate Rewards points.  So Chandra could use her points to fly to Hawaii without having to worry about finding open award seats!

Save Money On Travel To Hawaii
Having the Sapphire Reserve Increases the Value of Your Existing Chase Ultimate Rewards Points for Paid Travel Booked Through the Chase Portal

The Chase Sapphire Reserve card also comes with:

  • 3X Chase Ultimate Rewards points on travel & dining
  • Up to $300 statement credit for travel purchases (like airfare, Airbnb, hotels, car rental, Uber, etc.) each calendar year
  • Priority Pass Select for access to airport lounges
  • $100 statement credit for Global Entry
  • No foreign transaction fees

The $450 annual fee is NOT waived the first year.  But it’s easily offset by perks like the $300 travel statement credit and airport lounge access.

Keep in mind, this card is impacted by Chase’s “5/24 rule.”

3.   Capital One Venture

Link:   Capital One® Venture® Card

Link:   My Review of the Capital One Venture Card

The Capital One Venture card offers 40,000 Venture miles (worth $400 in travel) after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months.

You’ll also get:

  • Venture miles per $1 you spend on all purchases
  • NO foreign transaction fees

The card’s $59 annual fee is waived the first year.

Folks love earning Venture miles because Capital One’s rewards program is so straightforward.  You can redeem the miles in any amount for any travel-related purchase, including airfare.

Read how team members Meghan and Keith would use the sign-up bonus on this card!

Bottom Line

Million Mile Secrets reader Chandra wants to travel to Hawaii using miles & points.  She recently earned sign-up bonuses on the Chase Sapphire Preferred and United MileagePlus Explorer cards.  So she has enough miles & points to book 2 low-level round-trip United Airlines award flights.

Remember, there are lots of advantages of collecting flexible points with programs like Chase Ultimate Rewards.  One perk is you can use points with different banks to book multiple airline tickets on the same flight.

For example, you can transfer points to Singapore Airlines from any of the 4 major flexible points programs.  Then, book a discounted United Airlines award flight to Hawaii.

To save money on hotels in Hawaii or for other future trips, reader Chandra might consider:

Feel free to leave a comment or send a message on Facebook or Twitter if you’d like help with your credit card strategy!

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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