- Shutterstock / Chris Howey
- Hawaii is one of the most popular vacation destinations, but it’s not always the most budget-friendly.
- Thankfully, there are several options for using points and miles to book award flights and hotel stays.
- Using cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, American Express® Gold Card, and Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card can help you earn enough rewards to book flights and hotels.
- You can also use points from cards like the Sapphire Preferred and Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card to cover activities like snorkeling tours.
Hawaii is one of those destinations that’s perfect for everyone: Couples looking for a honeymoon, adventurous single travelers, and families alike can find the perfect vacation spot in the Aloha State.
Vacationing in Hawaii can also get expensive, especially for families of four or more. Three’s the cost of airfare, hotels, activities, and meals. It can add up substantially and make it difficult to afford for the average family. Luckily, there are ways to substantially reduce the cost of a Hawaii vacation for families. Here are the cheapest ways to get a family to Hawaii on points and miles.
Flying to Hawaii has gotten much cheaper in recent years, especially on points. The last time I flew to Maui, I redeemed 45,000 United miles for a round-trip flight. Now, the same ticket can be booked for just 15,000 Turkish Airlines miles.
If you’re confused as to how to get ahold of Turkish Airlines miles, it’s actually pretty easy. Pick up a Citi Premier℠ Card, and complete $4,000 in spending within three months to earn the 60,000-point sign-up bonus.
Then, transfer the Citi points to Turkish Airlines at a 1:1 ratio to book award flights on its Star Alliance partner, United. With that 60,000-point sign-up bonus, you can fly a family of four to Hawaii.
2. American Airlines flights booked with Avios
If you live on the West Coast, British Airways Avios are a great option for getting you to Hawaii. The distance-based program partners with American Airlines. You can book a one-way flight within a distance of 2,001-3,000 miles for just 12,500 Avios. Travel during off-peak dates will set you back just 10,000 miles each way. The great thing about this program is that the points are easy to earn.
British Airways is a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards and Amex Membership Rewards. You can transfer points earned from Chase Sapphire Reserve or American Express® Gold Card to top off your Avios account.
The British Airways Visa Signature Card is currently offering up to 100,000 Avios to new applicants: Earn 50,000 Avios after spending $3,000 in three months and another 50,000 after spending $20,000 total within the first year. If you’re planning your trip far in advance, this is a bonus worth picking up.
3. Southwest Airlines
Southwest Airlines operates flights to Honolulu, Maui, and Kona out of Oakland (OAK) and San Jose International Airport (SJC). Redemption rates depend on the cost of paid fares, but you can book a Wanna Get Away Fare between Oakland and Maui for as little as 8,0967 points one-way. At this rate, you could book at least two round-trip tickets with the 40,000 point sign-up bonus (after you spend $1,000 in the first three months) from the Southwest personal credit cards:
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card – $69 annual fee
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card – $99 annual fee
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card – $149 annual fee
Southwest is an especially great option for Hawaii flights if you have the Southwest Companion Pass. You can book yourself a flight on points and your companion will fly for free, minus taxes and fees. I know couples who each earn the Companion Pass and then designate their children as their companions. As a result, they save 50% on airfare when traveling as a family.
Hotel credit cards that cover hotels for four
Hyatt, Hilton and Wyndham are the best options when it comes to booking free family hotel stays in Hawaii. Their redemption rates, paired with credit card sign-up bonuses, make them attractive options.
The World of Hyatt Credit Card currently offers 25,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 in the first three months, plus another 25,000 points after you spend $6,000 total within the first six months. That’s enough for up to four nights at a Hyatt Hawaii hotel.
- Hyatt Residence Club Maui, Ka’anapali Beach – 30,000 points per night
- Andaz Maui Wailea – 30,000 points per night
- Hyatt Regency Maui – 25,000 points per night
- Grand Hyatt Kauai – 25,000 points per night
- HR Waikiki Beach – 20,000 points per night
- Hyatt Centric Waikiki – 15,000 points per night
- Hyatt Place Waikiki – 12,000 points per night
If you’re looking for a bigger bonus, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is currently offering 60,000 points after $4,000 spent within three months. With this bonus, you can book two nights at a high-end Hyatt hotel or up to five nights at the Hyatt Place Waikiki. The great thing about Hyatt Place hotels is that they tend to have spacious rooms with sofa beds and free breakfast for everyone – a great value for families looking to maximize points and save on meals.
For the highest Hilton credit card welcome bonus, look no further than the Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express. It pays out 150,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in eligible purchases within the first three months. That’s enough for two to three nights at one of Hilton’s many Hawaiian resorts:
- Hilton Garden Inn Kauai Wailua Bay – 50,000 points per night
- Hilton Waikoloa Village – 60,000 points per night
- Hilton Waikiki Beach – 60,000 points per night
- Hilton Garden Inn Waikiki Beach – 50,000 points per night
- Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort – 60,000 points per night
The card comes with Hilton Diamond elite status, entitling you to space-available room upgrades, free breakfast, and executive lounge access (where available). If the card’s $450 annual fee is out of your budget, consider the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card instead. It offers a free weekend night and 130,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 within four months. (This offer is available until August 28.)
The Surpass Card does come with free Hilton Honors Gold elite status, so you’ll qualify for free breakfast. If you manage to spend $40,000 on the card in a year, you’ll get upgraded to Diamond elite status.
Wyndham Rewards is probably the best rewards program for families. Free nights range from just 7,500 to 15,000 for standard award nights. Best of all, most of their resorts are actually condos. That’s ideal for families looking for amenities like an extra bedroom, full kitchen, and washer/dryer.
Unfortunately, the Wyndham Rewards Visa currently only offers 15,000 points after first purchase or balance transfer. However, a couple could apply for one card each and cover two nights at the following resorts where each room sleeps up to four people:
- Kona Coast Resort
- Holua Resort at Mauna Loa Village
- Wyndham Kona Hawaiian Resort
How to redeem points for activities in Hawaii
Hawaii can be a pricey destination, and activities on the islands are no exception. Whether you’re looking to go on a family diving excursion or parasail outside your resort, it can get expensive for families. There are many ways to off-set these expenses using credit cards. My favorite? The Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal, which offers some really great deals on activities.
I often book tours and activities using Chase Ultimate Rewards points. In addition to competitive rates, you get pretty good value for your points. If you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve, your points are worth 1.5 cents each while the Sapphire Preferred gets you 1.25 cents per point in value.
You can also utilize miles from the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card to cover the cost of activities. Points can be redeemed for 1 cent each as a statement credit.
One final tip for activities: If you’re traveling to Maui, I highly recommend getting the Shaka Gold Card. Membership costs just $30 and covers up to four people. In turn, you’ll receive discounts of up to 50% on activities like jet skiing, snorkeling tours and everything in between.
Credit cards that help you cover incidentals, meals, and resort fees
Airfare, hotels, and activities may be the biggest expenses for most people, but once you step foot in the hotel, there are other costs that can add up. There are daily resort fees to contend with, not to mention meals and incidentals. Luckily, there are ways to offset these expenses with the right credit cards.
My favorite option? Pay these rewards with your Capital One Venture card and redeem miles toward statement credits. If you have the Hilton Aspire Card, you won’t even have to worry about many of these charges to begin with. For starters, the card offers a $250 annual Hilton resort fee credit that you can use toward dining, spa purchases, and more. Additionally, if you’re paying for a 2-night minimum stay at HiltonHonors.com/aspirecard, you’ll receive up to $100 in credits at participating Waldorf Astoria and Conrad Hotels.
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card offers $300 in annual statement credits that can be used to cover extra charges at Marriott resorts. The $300 annual travel credit from the Sapphire Reserve is probably the best option, since it can be applied toward any travel purchase. Whether it’s resort fees at a Hilton hotel, car rental charges, or a SNUBA diving adventures – if it’s coded as a travel purchase, the credit will be automatically applied.