From the bustling city of Honolulu to the long, winding Hana Highway, Hawaii has something for everyone. Despite its reputation as a pricey tourist destination, you can use points and miles to get there cheaply.
Each Hawaiian island has a unique flair, pristine beaches and stunning natural beauty. Hawaii also removed its Safe Travels COVID-19 QR code system, so entering the islands is just as easy as it was in pre-pandemic times.
If you’re planning a trip to the Aloha State, you’ll want to know the best ways to get to Hawaii using points and miles. For this article, we focused on finding flights to Honolulu, but keep in mind that pricing is the same for all Hawaiian Islands unless otherwise noted.
Southwest Rapid Rewards
Southwest has served Hawaii for almost four years, offering interisland flights and options from the U.S. mainland. This is great for Southwest Companion Pass holders who can take a companion on all Southwest flights without paying for the second ticket (aside from the taxes). In other words, it’s BOGO for all flights.
Southwest Rapid Rewards is different from other programs on this list. Its award prices are tied to the cash price of a ticket. According to TPG’s valuations, Southwest points are generally worth 1.5 cents each toward flights, but it can slightly vary depending on the flight.
In this example, a round-trip flight from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL) costs 23,814 points and $11.20 in taxes or about $338 cash this September.
Earning Southwest points
Southwest Rapid Rewards points are relatively easy to earn. There are currently five Southwest credit cards offering the following welcome bonuses.
Three are personal cards:
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card: Earn 75,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card: Earn 75,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card: Earn 75,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
Two are small-business cards:
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card: 60,000 Southwest points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening your account.
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card: Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.
Remember, you can score the Southwest Companion Pass after earning 135,000 qualifying points in one calendar year. This includes miles earned with a credit card, so consider opening one to fast-track qualification.
You can also instantly transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards to Southwest at a 1:1 ratio. You’ll need a Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve, or Ink Business Preferred Credit Card to do so. Unfortunately, points transferred to Southwest don’t count toward Companion Pass qualification.
Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles
Are you based in a Star Alliance hub? Consider using Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles to score an excellent deal on your next trip to Hawaii.
Its partner, United Airlines, operates nonstop flights to Hawaii from all of its continental U.S. hubs, including Dulles International Airport (IAD), George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), O’Hare International Airport (ORD), Denver International Airport (DEN), Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) and San Francisco International Airport (SFO).
Here’s a look at one-way pricing:
- Economy: 7,500 miles in economy.
- Business class (United’s first class): 12,500 miles.
You can book Turkish Airlines partner award tickets online, but its website doesn’t always show all available flights.
I recommend using another Star Alliance search tool to find award space first. Call the airline to book your desired ticket if you don’t see it on the Turkish Airlines website.
Earning Turkish Airlines miles
You can earn Turkish Airlines miles by spending on cards that earn Bilt Rewards points, Citi ThankYou points or Capital One miles. These three programs transfer to Turkish Airlines at a 1:1 transfer ratio.
According to TPG test transfers, Capital One miles and Bilt Rewards points transfer to Turkish almost instantly, while Citi points may take up to a day.
If you want to earn Capital One miles to transfer to Turkish, consider opening a Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. The card earns 2 miles per dollar on all purchases, and you can earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening.
Thankfully, Turkish Airlines lets you hold award seats for two days if booking more than seven days in advance. Call the airline before transferring points to ensure the agent can confirm that award seats are available. Then, ask the agent to put the award on hold and immediately transfer your Bilt, Capital One or Citi points. Once the miles are in your account, you can call Turkish Airlines to confirm your flights.
British Airways Avios
British Airways Avios provide excellent value for domestic award tickets on American Airlines and Alaska Airlines, and flights to Hawaii are no exception.
The Oneworld duo flies to Hawaii from a handful of their U.S. hubs, including Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), LAX, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX), SFO and Seattle Tacoma International Airport (SEA), among others.
You can also fly nonstop to Hawaii for just 13,000 Avios each way in economy from the West Coast, thanks to British Airways’ distance-based award chart.
However, you’ll pay more for Midwest or East Coast flights. British Airways prices by segment, so connecting itineraries cost more, too.
For example, you can book a nonstop flight from Phoenix to Honolulu for 13,000 Avios one-way. At the same time, you’d pay 20,500 Avios round trip if you connect via Los Angeles. Here’s the price breakdown:
- Phoenix to Los Angeles: 7,500 Avios.
- Los Angeles to Honolulu: 13,000 Avios.
Earning British Airways Avios
There are plenty of ways to earn British Airways Avios.
You can open the British Airways Visa Signature Card and with this card, you can earn 75,000 Avios after you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.
Points also transfer from American Express Membership Rewards, Bilt Rewards, Capital One, Chase Ultimate Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy. This gives you a variety of ways to boost your Avios balance.
Related: The ultimate guide to Amex Membership Rewards
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan
Alternatively, you can book the same carriers (Alaska and American) through the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan.
The benefit here is that Alaska’s award chart is priced by region instead of distance, though changes in the Mileage Plan terms now allow Alaska to change awards rates immediately without notice as the program moves to award dynamic pricing.
Here’s how much flying one-way from the mainland to Hawaii costs with Alaska miles.
Continental U.S. to Hawaii:
- Economy: Starting at 15,000 miles.
- First class: Starting at 40,000 miles.
Thankfully, all flights are bookable on Alaska’s website. However, Alaska miles are among the most valuable airline miles and among the hardest to earn. You may want to book with another loyalty program whose miles are easier to earn.
Earning Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles
Now for the bad news. Earning Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles with a credit card is hard. The program doesn’t partner with any transferable point programs, but you can transfer Marriott points. These transfers process at a 3:1 ratio, with a 5,000-mile bonus awarded for 60,000-point transfers.
You may also consider opening an Alaska Airlines Visa® credit card. Using this card, you can earn a limited-time offer of 60,000 bonus miles plus Alaska’s Famous Companion Fare™ ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $23) with this offer. To qualify, make $3,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of opening your account.
Related: 6 things to know about Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
You can also book United tickets with KrisFlyer miles from partner Singapore Airlines.
Pricing isn’t as good as with Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles, and the KrisFlyer program was recently devalued. However, it’s still worth including since KrisFlyer miles are easy to earn.
Singapore Airlines also partners with Alaska Airlines. The Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer program has a separate award chart for Alaska redemptions with lower rates than United.
There is some bad news, though. You can’t book connecting Alaska itineraries with KrisFlyer, just nonstops, so you’re limited to departing from the airlines’ West Coast hubs.
Further, first-class Alaska tickets are expensive and better booked with other Alaska partners.
Here’s how much one-way tickets to Hawaii cost using Krisflyer miles:
Booking United Airlines flights with KrisFlyer
Continental U.S. to Hawaii (United Airlines):
- Economy: 19,500 miles.
- First class: 39,000 miles.
Booking Alaska Airlines flights with Krisflyer
West Coast to Hawaii (Alaska Airlines):
- Economy: 13,500 miles.
- First class: 50,500 miles.
You can book United awards on Singapore Airlines’ website, but you must call to book Alaska award tickets.
To speed up the process, find Alaska award space on American Airlines’ website first, and call Singapore Airlines with your dates and flight numbers in hand.
Earning Singapore Krisflyer miles
Singapore Airlines miles are some of the easiest miles to earn. Krisflyer is a transfer partner of all five transferrable points programs, including:
- American Express Membership Rewards.
- Chase Ultimate Rewards.
- Citi ThankYou Rewards.
- Capital One Rewards.
- Marriott Bonvoy.
Related: A guide to earning transferable points
American Airlines AAdvantage
You can redeem American Airlines miles for award flights to Hawaii on both American and Alaska. Economy prices are fair, but it’s not the cheapest way to get to paradise — especially in business class.
The program has dynamic pricing for all American-operated awards, but you can expect to pay the following on most dates with award space:
- Economy: 22,500 miles.
- First class: 55,000 miles (62,500 miles if the flight has lie-flat seats).
However, you may be able to find cheaper flights during low-demand and off-peak dates.
Earning American Airlines miles
Like Alaska, American has limited transfer opportunities. Bilt Rewards points transfer to American at a 1:1 transfer ratio. Marriott Bonvoy points also transfer to American at the standard 3:1 transfer ratio.
You can also earn American Airlines AAdvantage miles directly when you open an American Airlines credit card.
One of the best is the Citi®/AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® (see rates and fees). This card offers 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,500 in the first three months of account opening.
United Airlines MileagePlus
Prices to Hawaii are largely the same on most dates if saver award space is available. United MileagePlus award tickets from the U.S. mainland to Hawaii usually cost:
- Economy: 22,500 miles one-way.
- First class: 40,000 miles one-way.
That said, you can sometimes find very low-cost award flights from the U.S. to Hawaii due to United’s dynamic pricing structure. For example, this one-way flight from San Francisco to Honolulu is just 12,400 United miles.
United Airlines awards are easy to find thanks to its user-friendly website.
If you have a United cobranded credit card — or United Airlines elite status — you’ll have access to a more extensive inventory of award seats. Just go to United’s website and search for a ticket to find the most up-to-date pricing.
Earning United Airlines miles
Several credit cards can help you earn United Airlines MileagePlus miles quickly:
- United Explorer Card: Earn 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months your account is open.
- United Quest Card: Earn 70,000 bonus miles and 500 Premier qualifying points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months your account is open
- United Club Infinite Card: Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
You can also instantly transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards to United at a ratio of 1:1. If you’re just starting with points and miles, you may want to consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, which offers 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
Delta doesn’t publish an award chart, so award pricing is difficult to predict. You have to search for specific dates to see the price, which can change daily.
That said, you can find excellent deals on some dates.
For example, a one-way flight from Los Angeles to Honolulu will cost just 14,000 SkyMiles in basic economy this November. The price drops to just 11,900 SkyMiles one-way if you include the 15% discount included with most Delta cobranded credit cards.
Additionally, a flight from Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) to Kona International Airport (KOA) via Los Angeles costs 18,700 SkyMiles in basic economy and 22,500 in Main Cabin when factoring in the discount. First class, however, is a steep 91,300 SkyMiles one-way.
Earning Delta SkyMiles
You can open Delta credit cards and use welcome bonuses to earn miles quickly. The Delta SkyMiles® Gold Business American Express Card earns 50,000 Bonus Miles after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in your first three months of card membership.
You can also transfer American Express Membership Rewards to Delta at a 1:1 ratio.
Consider opening The Platinum Card® from American Express to stock up quickly. This card earns 80,000 Membership Rewards® Points after spending $8,000 on purchases on the card in your first six months of card membership. Additionally, the $695 annual fee (see rates & fees) is largely offset by Delta SkyClub lounge access, up to $200 annual airline fee credit and other benefits. Enrollment is required for select benefits.
Related: Book this, not that: Hawaii resorts edition
There are several ways you can redeem points and miles to fly to Hawaii from the U.S. mainland.
Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles is the cheapest option, though limited earning opportunities make it a tough redemption for many travelers.
For West Coast travelers, booking nonstop Alaska or American flights with British Airways Avios is a great value too, but you’ll pay more if you add a connection.
It’s also worth checking prices with Delta SkyMiles and United MileagePlus to see if any cheap dynamically-priced tickets are available.
For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum card, click here.
Additional reporting by Joseph Hostetler and Kyle Olsen.