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Editor's note: Travel to Maui has been significantly impacted due to recent wildfires in the region. Visit the Hawaii Tourism Authority website for up-to-date information.
What’s better than flying to Hawaii? Doing so for nearly free using points and miles — that's what. But there’s a trick to booking award flights to Hawaii for cheaper.
The best ways to redeem miles to go to Hawaii usually involve booking award flights through an international airline mileage program. This isn’t as complicated as it sounds. If you have American Express Membership Rewards points or Chase Ultimate Rewards® points, you can book some of the cheapest award flights to Hawaii. Citi ThankYou points, Capital One miles and even Marriott Bonvoy points can also be transferred to international mileage programs to get you great rates to Hawaii.
Here’s a look at some of the best award flights to Hawaii — all of which are bookable for 20,000 miles or less — and how you can use major transferable points to book.
» Learn more: The best AmEx transfer partners — and ones to avoid
7,500 points in economy or 12,500 in first class with Turkish Airlines
The best sweet spot from the U.S. mainland to Hawaii right now is through Turkish Airlines’ Miles&Smiles program. You’ll only need to pay 7,500 miles each way for an economy award ticket or just 12,500 miles each way to fly in business class.
Of course, Turkish Airlines doesn’t fly between the U.S. mainland and Hawaii. Instead, you’ll be redeeming Miles&Smiles for award flights on Turkish’s Star Alliance partner, United Airlines.
The best place to check for award availability is directly on United’s website. If you use a flexible date search, you can check the award calendar to see which dates have availability:
To confirm award availability and book on Turkish’s website, log into your Miles&Smiles account and go to the Star Award Ticket page. Enter your origin/destination, date and number of passengers and click search to see availability:
You don’t have to fly Turkish Airlines to earn Miles&Smiles miles. Turkish Airlines is a transfer partner of Citi ThankYou Points (1:1 transfer rate). You can transfer just 15,000 Citi ThankYou Points to Turkish to have enough for a round-trip economy award.
You can also transfer Marriott Bonvoy points to Turkish Miles&Smiles at a rate of 3 points to 1 mile. Plus, you’ll get a 5,000-mile bonus for every transfer of at least 60,000 Bonvoy points.
Based on our most recent analysis, NerdWallet values Turkish Airlines miles at 1.1 cents each.
12,500 points in economy or 25,000 points in first class with Air Canada
Another Star Alliance member, Air Canada’s Aeroplan, also offers sweet spot redemptions to Hawaii.
You don’t have to fly Air Canada to get Aeroplan points either. Aeroplan is a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards (1:1 transfer ratio), Capital One Miles (4:3 ratio) and Marriott Bonvoy (3:1 ratio with a 5,000-mile bonus for transferring 60,000 points). Plus, Chase Ultimate Rewards® will add Aeroplan as a partner in late 2021.
Under Aeroplan’s new award chart, partner award flights within North America between 1,501 and 2,750 miles in distance cost 12,500 points one-way in economy or 25,000 points one-way in business class.
That’s just enough to cover United flights from the U.S. West Coast to Hawaii. United operates flights from San Francisco and Los Angeles to five Hawaiian destinations:
Kona, Big Island.
Hilo, Big Island.
And you’re not limited to nonstop flights. As long as the combined flight distance is under 2,750 miles, you’ll pay just 12,500 points each way. For example, you can fly from Santa Barbara to Maui, with a stop in San Francisco, for just 12,500 points each way:
The downside of Aeroplan is that it charges a “partner booking fee” of about $30 in addition to taxes and government fees on the award flight. Together, these fees can really increase the out-of-pocket cost of award flights on United and other partners. In the example above, you'll end up spending about $46 extra one-way.
Since Air Canada's partner booking fee is the same whether you’re booking round-trip or one-way, redeem your Aeroplan points for round-trip flights whenever possible to avoid paying it twice.
» Learn more: Chase Ultimate Rewards®: How to earn and use them
13,000 Avios in economy through British Airways Executive Club
As shown above, the two cheapest award flight options to Hawaii are on United. But the next-cheapest option is available for either American Airlines or Alaska flights.
British Airways’ Executive Club charges just 13,000 Avios each way for nonstop award flights between 2,001 and 3,000 miles in distance. That’s far enough to cover dozens of American and Alaska routes from nine different airports to four Hawaiian destinations:
To search and book flights, log in to your Executive Club account and browse to the Book Flights With Avios page. Enter your origin, destination, departure date, class of service and number of passengers. Click “Get Flights” to find award availability.
British Airways is a 1:1 transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Or transfer Marriott Bonvoy points to British Airways at a 3:1 transfer ratio with a 5,000-Avios bonus for each transfer of 60,000 points.
You can also transfer Avios from Aer Lingus AerClub or Iberia Plus to British Airways Executive Club at a 1:1 rate to book these sweet spots.
17,500 miles in economy through Air France/KLM Flying Blue
If you’re looking to fly Delta to Hawaii, Air France’s Flying Blue loyalty program is probably going to be your best option. One-way economy awards cost just 17,500 miles each way. Or, you can fly in first class for a fairly reasonable 43,000 miles each way — if you can find award availability.
If you’re less than 3,000 miles from Hawaii, Air France redemptions are not the cheapest award flights to Hawaii on Delta. You’ll do better flying from the West Coast to Hawaii on Delta by using the 15,000-point Virgin Atlantic Flying Club option below. But if you’re departing from a U.S. mainland airport more than 3,000 miles from your Hawaiian destination, the Flying Blue rate can be a great deal.
For example, this 10-plus-hour nonstop flights from Atlanta to Honolulu is just 17,500 Flying Blue miles each way in economy:
And you’re likely to find lots of award availability at this rate no matter where you’re leaving:
The 17,500 mile rate each way is a steal compared to the rates that Delta charges on nonstop flights to Hawaii. For example, nonstop flights from Atlanta to Honolulu often cost around 39,000 SkyMiles each way in Main Cabin:
Best of all, Flying Blue is a transfer partner of all five major transferable points currencies:
American Express Membership Rewards (1:1 transfer rate).
Capital One Miles (4:3).
Chase Ultimate Rewards® (1:1).
Citi ThankYou Points (1:1).
Marriott Bonvoy (3:1).
Best of the rest
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club: 15,000 points each way for nonstop Delta award flights under 3,000 miles in distance. That covers Delta’s nonstop flights from Los Angeles, Seattle and even Salt Lake City to Delta’s Hawaiian destinations. Points transfer from AmEx, Chase, Citi or Marriott to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club.
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer: 17,500 miles each way in economy or 34,500 miles in business class on United award flights between mainland U.S. and Hawaii. Turkish Miles&Smiles or Air Canada Aeroplan is going to be a better option for most cases, but KrisFlyer is a great backup option. It's a transfer partner of all five major transferable points currencies.
Southwest Rapid Rewards: Southwest bases the number of points you need on the cash fare, so there’s no set award price to Hawaii. That means there’s never really a “sweet spot” on Southwest. However, Southwest can, at times, offer the cheapest award flights to Hawaii — such as 5,849-point one-way options:
The bottom line
Don't overlook using transferable points for award flights to Hawaii; there are plenty of ways to score cheap flights if you know where to look. As you can see, it rarely involves booking through a U.S.-based airline mileage program. Instead, you’ll get the best rate by transferring bank points and booking through an international airline mileage program.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2023, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card