The Best Ways to Earn Hawaiian Airlines Miles

Elina Geller
Alex Cramer
By Alex Cramer and  Elina Geller 
Edited by Mary M. Flory

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Sipping a mai tai on a white sand beach while watching the sun set into the Pacific Ocean might be the perfect fantasy. Yet for too many travelers, a luxurious Hawaiian vacation is tough to reach financially and remains merely a fantasy. But it doesn't have to be — if you can strategically take advantage of the Hawaiian Airlines rewards program.

Use these tricks to earn HawaiianMiles in the the Hawaiian Airlines rewards program, and the beach vacation of your dreams may be closer to think.

There are many ways to earn Hawaiian miles, ranging from spending on the Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite Mastercard®, shopping with partners and more. We've broken out all the ways to earn Hawaiian Airlines miles into five different categories:

Earn with Hawaiian Airlines credit cards

Earn Hawaiian Airlines miles via welcome bonuses

The fastest and easiest way to earn Hawaiian miles is to sign up for one of the two co-branded credit cards with the airline and earn the welcome offer, which has fluctuated between 50,000 to 70,000 miles. Currently, there are two credit cards available, one personal and one business card. Barclays is the issuer on both credit cards.

Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite Mastercard® (annual fee: $99): Earn 70,000 bonus miles after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 90 days.

Hawaiian Airlines® Business Mastercard® (annual fee: $99): Earn Earn 60,000 after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days, and earn an additional 10,000 miles when a purchase is made on an employee card.

Earn Hawaiian Airlines miles via credit card spending

Both Hawaiian cards offer 3 HawaiianMiles per $1 spent on eligible purchases made directly from Hawaiian Airlines. Though, Duty free purchases on flights do not count.

Outside of your travels, both cards earn 2 miles per $1 spent on gas and dining. The consumer version also earns 2x miles on grocery store purchases, while the business version instead offers 2x miles at office supply stores. Both earn 1x miles on all other purchases.

On top of that, Hawaiian Airlines® Business Mastercard® does offer one important way to earn miles that the Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite Mastercard® does not: In addition to the miles you earn from your regular spending, Hawaiian Airlines® Business Mastercard® will give you an additional 20,000 miles if you spend at least $50,000 annually. You’ll earn 40,000 miles if you spend $100,000 annually.

Which Hawaiian credit card is better? The best credit card for you really comes down to your spending. If you have a lot of business purchases, Hawaiian Airlines® Business Mastercard® is the logical choice for maximizing the office supply store bonus category. However, if groceries make up a larger portion of your credit card spend, then the Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite Mastercard® makes the most sense.

🤓Nerdy Tip

Save a note in your phone showing which credit cards earn bonus miles in specific categories, so that you can maximize the number of miles you earn from everyday purchases.

Earn points by transferring from American Express credit cards

Hawaiian Airlines is a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards, which means that you could transfer AmEx points that you’ve earned over to Hawaiian, as long as you hold a card that earns American Express Membership Rewards points.

Points transfer at a 1:1 ratio, so 1,000 Amex points equals 1,000 Hawaiian miles. Considering NerdWallet values one Hawaiian mile at 1 cent, this is a fine redemption if you'd otherwise get the same value from your Amex points (and Amex points are worth just about that when booked through the issuer's portal. That said, some transfer partners are even better (we're looking at you, Air Canada Aeroplan). Then again, would you rather be in Hawaii or Canada? If the former, then the transfer is likely worth it anyway.

When you're ready to transfer to Hawaiian, the process is pretty painless. Here's how to make it happen:

How to transfer from AmEx Membership Rewards to Hawaiian

When you’re ready to transfer points from American Express to Hawaiian Airlines, log in to your AmEx account and select “Rewards” from the menu across the top of the page.

Then, choose the “Transfer Points” option from the menu in the middle of the page, and then “view all” to see a list of all partners.

From the choices provided, select Hawaiian Airlines. If this is your first time doing a transfer, you will need to link your Hawaiian Airlines account to your American Express account. Have your AmEx credit card handy as you will need to input the four-digit code from the front of the card along with the three-digit code from the back of the card to verify your identity. Once the accounts are linked, you can proceed with a transfer.

AmEx points transfer to Hawaiian in increments of 1,000.

One more thing: Beyond being just a mediocre redemption, know that AmEx points are extremely valuable given their flexibility, so you would only want to transfer points when you have a Hawaiian Airlines redemption in mind and you’ve confirmed award availability.

Looking for a credit card from AmEx that earns Membership Rewards points? NerdWallet recommends the following American Express cards, listed here with their respective welcome offers:

American Express personal cards

The Platinum Card® from American Express
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The Platinum Card® from American Express (annual fee: $695): Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on the Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.

American Express® Gold Card (annual fee: $250): Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.

American Express® Green Card (annual fee: $150): Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Plus, earn 20% back on eligible travel and transit purchases made during your first 6 months of Card Membership, up to $200 back in the form of a statement credit.

The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express (annual fee: $95): Earn 15,000 Membership Reward® points after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. Terms Apply.

Amex EveryDay® Credit Card (annual fee: $0): Earn 10,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in purchases in your first 3 months. Terms Apply.

Transfer Marriott Bonvoy points

Although many hotel programs allow you to convert hotel points to airline miles, the conversion ratios are usually weak. In most situations, you’d be better off keeping hotel points in your account and using them for a future stay.

However, the transfer ratio from Marriott Bonvoy is unique.

Marriott Bonvoy points convert to Hawaiian Airlines miles at a 3:1 ratio. But for every 60,000 Bonvoy points transferred, you get a 5,000-mile bonus. So if you transfer 60,000 Marriott points to Hawaiian Airlines, you will have 25,000 Hawaiian miles.

Considering NerdWallet values 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points at $420 and it values 25,000 Hawaiian miles at $250, this isn't a stellar conversion. But if you have more Bonvoys than you know what to do with, and you want a free flight to Hawaii, then the value lost in the conversion may still be worth it.

There are several Marriott Bonvoy credit cards to choose from depending on your travel and spending preferences:

Regardless of which card you go with, if you’re using this method, always try to transfer Bonvoy points in increments of 60,000 so you can take advantage of the 5,000-mile bonus.

Use American Express to maximize the conversion rate

While the conversion sometimes doesn't make sense, you can leverage transfer bonus sales so it does. Marriott is a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards, which often runs transfer bonuses along the lines of "30% more when you transfer Amex points to Bonvoys."

If you have a Hawaiian redemption in mind and the timing aligns with a transfer bonus from AmEx to Marriott, you could end up walking away with significantly more Hawaiian miles after completing a three-way transfer (AmEx → Marriott → Hawaiian).

Transfer Wyndham points

If you have some Wyndham hotel points laying around, you can convert them to Hawaiian miles at the following ratios:

Wyndham points

Hawaiian Miles

6,000 points.

1,200 miles.

16,000 points.

3,200 miles.

30,000 points.

6,000 miles.

Again, this is not a great redemption if you value your Wyndham points, considering NerdWallet values 6,000 Wyndham points at about $54, but it values 1,200 Hawaiian miles at just $12. That said, converting points could make sense for if you've accumulated some Wyndham points that you don’t have an immediate use for.

Earn points while flying on Hawaiian Airlines

Consider this the most straightforward way to earn Hawaiian miles: actually fly on Hawaiian Airlines. When you do, you'll earn 1 mile for every mile flown, making this an especially valuable strategy for passengers coming from East Coast or international locations who've managed to find a discount airfare.

In addition to the miles, you can earn 3x points by charging your airfare to the Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite Mastercard®.

How to earn Hawaiian miles on flights

To earn Hawaiian miles, make sure that you register for a HawaiianMiles frequent flyer account and input your Hawaiian number on all your reservations.

The earn rate on Hawaiian flights is pretty straightforward. For tickets in coach, the number of miles earned corresponds to the number of miles flown. For first and business class, the earn rate is 50% higher than in coach.

Here's how many miles you'll fly between common routes:

So, a flight between Las Vegas and Honolulu in coach would earn you about $28 worth of miles each way, or $42 worth if you fly first class. Fly the 5,060 miles in coach between Sydney and Honolulu to earn $50 worth of miles each way (or $76 if you sit in first class).

Booking refundable fares on Hawaiian

The standard Hawaiian airlines fares are not refundable. That is — unless you pay more for the refundable fares. While both fares earn Hawaiian miles at the same rate, you'll likely earn far more miles with the refundable fares simply given how much more expensive they are.

So how much more expensive are Hawaiian's refundable fares, anyway? What’s annoying about Hawaiian is that the airline doesn’t make it easy to compare prices of the refundable versus nonrefundable fares.

To compare flight prices, you’ll have to go to the Flights tab of the Hawaiian Airlines website, input the dates and location of the flight you want, and check the box for “Refundable Fares Only.” Then, you’ll have to remember that price, go back and rerun the same search without that box checked in order to compare prices.

NerdWallet conducted an analysis of more than 50 airfares in 2023 to understand the average price difference in refundable versus nonrefundable tickets.

For main cabin fares, flights averaged 24% more expensive to get the full refund guarantee. But there was still fairly significant variation depending on the date and route. NerdWallet’s analysis found that some fares were as much as 36% more expensive than the non refundable fares, while others were just 12% more expensive.

In first class, the additional cost to guarantee a refund was far higher. Refundable first class fares averaged 145% more expensive than the non refundable first class fares. And while some flights were only 30% more expensive, others were close to 300% more expensive. At that pace, you could simply book three flights for the price of one — a bad deal considering you’ll owe the fare difference for more expensive flights anyway.

An additional service fee to get a cash refund

If you want the money returned to your original form of payment, then it’s not exactly fair to call these fares 100% refundable. Flights for fares within the state of Hawaii will incur a $25 service fee, and flights for fares within the continental U.S. or between the continental U.S. and Hawaii incur an $100 service fee.

You can avoid the service fee by electing to take a travel credit instead, but even that has limitations. The credit is only valid for one year from the date of issue.

Are Hawaiian refundable fares worth it?

Conduct your own price comparisons for your specific route to understand if paying extra for that peace of mind that you’ll get money back, should you need to cancel, is worth it for you. But accept that — especially in first class — Hawaiian’s refundable airfares tend to be a bad deal.

Hold elite status while flying on Hawaiian Airlines

Hold Hawaiian Airlines Pualani elite status and you'll earn even more. Pualani Platinum elites receive a 100% mile bonus, and Pualani Gold elites receive a 50% mile bonus on top of the miles earned.

Although all intra-Hawaiian flights are under 300 miles, all Hawaiian elite status members (Pualani Platinum, Pualani Gold and Premier Club), earn a minimum of 500 miles.

To illustrate the earn rate, consider a round-trip flight from San Francisco to Honolulu:

As you can see, the miles earned increases considerably if you have elite status with Hawaiian airlines.

Fly with Hawaiian's partner airlines

Although Hawaiian is not part of any alliance network, it has independent relationships with five airlines that are relevant to Hawaiian’s route network:

  • Japan Airlines.

  • JetBlue.

  • Korean Air.

  • Virgin Atlantic.

  • Virgin Australia.

The earn rate with each partner depends on the airline and cabin class flown. For more information, refer to Hawaiian’s partner chart.

Provide your HawaiianMiles number at check-in when booking Marriott stays as a Bonvoy member to earn up to 2 HawaiianMiles per $1 spent on your hotel stay. Photo of the Wailea Beach Resort — Maui courtesy of Marriott.

Stay at Hawaiian's partner hotels

At many hotels, you can earn Hawaiian miles instead of hotel points when staying. Usually, you’re not able to earn both hotel points and airline miles with these partners, so you will need to make a choice.

Earning rates vary by hotel, so check Hawaiian’s partner page for the latest information. Also check the special offers page, as you may find an even better limited time deal.

Current Hawaiian Airlines hotel partners include:

  • Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach: Earn up to 1,000 HawaiianMiles per stay.

  • Ambassador Hotel Waikiki: Earn 1,000 HawaiianMiles Per Night plus room upgrade.

  • Marriott Bonvoy: Earn up to 2 HawaiianMiles per $1 spent at Marriott locations worldwide.

  • Outrigger Hotels & Resorts: Earn 200 miles per night.

Book car rentals

Hawaiian has partnerships with three car rental agencies, allowing you to earn Hawaiian miles for car rentals. Participating companies include Avis, Budget and Payless.

Exact earn rates vary, but you can expect to earn 250 HawaiianMiles per rental — unless you have Hawaiian elite status.

Pualani Gold members earn 500 HawaiianMiles per rental, while Pualani Platinum members earn up to 750 HawaiianMiles per rental — and are eligible for membership to Avis’ invitation-only President’s Club.

HawaiianMiles grocery partnerships mean that you You receive one Maikai point for every dollar you spend at Foodland and Sack N Save stores.

Earn points by shopping

Shop at the HawaiianMiles Marketplace

Hawaiian allows you to earn miles when shopping and dining at its selection of merchants nationwide. A list of merchants can be found on the HawaiianMiles Marketplace. The marketplace includes a collection of hotels, dining establishments, clothing shops and more.

The HawaiianMiles Marketplace also has a mobile app that makes it even easier to find merchants near you.

Buy Hawaiian miles

Although this is a way to earn Hawaiian miles, it generally ought to be your last resort given how expensive they are. For example, currently it costs $300 to purchase 10,000 Hawaiian miles, which means that you’ll be buying miles at 3 cents a piece, which is about three times the NerdWallet valuation of 1 cent.

With Hawaiian, it only makes sense to purchase more miles if you need to top off your account to book an award seat — but you'll want to consider all the other points-earning options first.

More shopping options

Hawaiian Airlines has partnerships with a handful of major retailers — mostly online — that can earn you extra miles from your shopping. They include:

Buying flowers from Teleflora: You can earn 10 Hawaiian miles per $1 spent with Teleflora when you shop through Hawaiian's partner link. Check out the airline’s list of online flower partners for the latest offers.

Buying wine from Vinesse: You can earn up to 5,000 Hawaiian miles when you sign up for Vinesse, an online wine club. The bonus is paid over two shipments: 2,000 miles after your first shipment and 3,000 miles after your second shipment. For every shipment thereafter, you will earn 5 miles per $1 spent.

Buying Hawaiian-inspired gifts: Hawaiian Airlines also partners with many speciality gift shops — many of which are located in Hawaii. Better yet, you don't even need to be in Hawaii to earn miles for shopping with them. Order from Hawaii's gift partners online to earn bonus miles. They frequently change, but examples include:

  • Alii Kula Lavender: Earn 250 miles per $75 spent.

  • Island Princess: Earn 2 miles per $1 spent. Items for sale include world-famous Mele Macs Toffee Chocolates and Macadamia Popcorn Crunch.

  • Kona Natural Soap: Earn 200 miles per $50 spent.

  • Pacifica Island Art: Earn 5 miles per $1 spent, plus a bonus 500 miles if you spend at least $100. Items for sale include vintage world travel posters, postcards, greeting cards, jewelry, magnets and decals.

Shop locally in Hawaii

Buy groceries at select stores in Hawaii: You can earn miles when you purchase groceries at Foodland, Snack N Save and Foodland Farms in Hawaii.

To start earning, you will need to sign-up and link your Foodland Farms Maika‘i with your HawaiianMiles account. You will earn 1 Maika‘i point for each $1 you spend, and once you reach $250, you will receive a certificate that can be redeemed for 200 Hawaiian miles.

Home improvement services: Thinking about replacing the roof in your home? Well, you can now pick up some Hawaiian miles if you purchase those services through Hawaiian partners Murakami Roofing or Kapili Roofing and Painting. Points earned vary based on the amount you spend starting at 2,500 miles and topping out at 35,000 miles.

Repair your car at Lex Brodie's: Founded in Hawaii in 1961, Lex Brodie’s is a local tire shop that will allow you to earn 1 mile for every $2 spent on all your automotive needs. If you have a car and need work done, why not visit this shop and pick up some miles while you’re at it?

Purchase a subscription to the local newspaper Honolulu Star-Advertiser: When you buy a print or digital subscription to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, you can earn 1,000 Hawaiian miles. Mention the code HawaiianMiles to get the bonus. If you are already a subscriber and switch to EZPay, you will also earn the 1,000-mile bonus.

The bottom line

If soaking up the sun on the beaches of Lahaina or shredding gnarly waves on the North Shore of Oahu has always been on your vacation bucket list, then you should take advantage of all your options for earning in the HawaiianMiles program.

Whether you apply for a Hawaiian Airlines credit card, transfer from other cards or programs, or turn your hotel stays into miles, savvy rewards collectors have dozens of different choices for racking up HawaiianMiles.

All information about the Amex EveryDay® Credit Card has been collected independently by NerdWallet. The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card is no longer available through NerdWallet.
All information about The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express has been collected independently by NerdWallet. The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express is no longer available through NerdWallet.
To view rates and fees of the American Express® Green Card, see this page.

To view rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card, see this page. To view rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card, see this page.

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:

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