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Many of us have fantasized about sipping a mai tai on a white sand beach while watching the sun set into the Pacific Ocean. But for too many travelers, a luxurious Hawaiian vacation can feel out of reach financially. By taking advantage of the Hawaiian Airlines rewards program, you can earn the HawaiianMiles you need to take the beach vacation of your dreams.
In this post, we’ll discuss the different ways you can earn Hawaiian Airlines miles so you can maximize your earning and be one step closer to your Hawaiian vacation. We’ll cover these ways to earn in five different categories:
Earn with credit cards
Earn Hawaiian Airlines miles on co-branded credit card 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: $0 intro for the first year, then $99): Limited Time Offer: Earn 60,000 bonus miles after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 90 days.
The Hawaiian Airlines® Business MasterCard® (annual fee: $89): Earn 35,000 Hawaiian Airlines Miles Bonus after first purchase.
Bonus category miles
While there are many similarities between these two cards, The 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, The 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.
The best offer
The Hawaiian Airlines® Business MasterCard® has a solid welcome offer, and it is particularly useful to those who have more than one employee (given that the last 10,000 miles of the bonus is paid when an employee uses the card).
If you're a business owner who wants to fly to Hawaii or other islands in the Pacific, then this is a good card to consider as the welcome bonus provides a solid amount of miles. A one-way ticket from the West Coast to Hawaii can be booked for as little as 17,500 miles, so this welcome bonus provides incredible value for cardholders.
Use credit card bonus categories
Once you’ve qualified for your welcome bonus, the next best way to earn Hawaiian miles is to maximize your bonus spending categories on your credit card. The highest category bonus for both of these cards is for money spent directly through Hawaiian Airlines: 3 miles per $1 spent. Duty free purchases on flights do not count.
For your everyday spending, the Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite Mastercard® offers 2 miles per $1 spent on gas, dining and grocery store purchases.
The Hawaiian Airlines® Business MasterCard® offers 2x miles on gas, dining and office supply stores. All other spending on both cards earns you 1 mile per $1 spent.
The best value for you depends on the type of customer you are. If you have a lot of business purchases, The 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.
» Learn More: Why I love my Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Mastercard
Nerd 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
American Express to Hawaiian
Hawaiian Airlines is a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards, which means that you could transfer AmEx points that you’ve earned to Hawaiian. 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. Points transfer at a 1:1 ratio, and the process is pretty painless. You do need a credit card from AmEx that earns Membership Rewards points. NerdWallet recommends the following American Express cards, listed here with their respective welcome offers:
Personal credit cards
The Platinum Card® from American Express (annual fee: $550): Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months. Terms Apply.
American Express® Gold Card (annual fee: $250): Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 3 months. Terms Apply.
American Express® Green Card (annual fee: $150): Earn 30,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $2,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Terms Apply.
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.
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. Although AmEx usually charges excise tax offset fees on point transfers to domestic airlines, in light of the coronavirus pandemic and the CARES Act, these fees have been waived through Dec. 31, 2020.
Hawaiian Airlines isn’t known for its sweet spots. However, if you complete a transfer while AmEx is running a transfer bonus, you’ll be able to extract a better value out of your Hawaiian miles. American Express often runs transfer bonuses to hotels and airlines, so if you’ve got a Hawaiian Airlines redemption in mind for the future, pay attention to what transfer bonuses are going on at the moment. Most recently, AmEx ran a 25% transfer bonus to Hawaiian Airlines in September 2019 and a 50% bonus to Hilton in April 2020.
Marriott to Hawaiian
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.
There are several Marriott Bonvoy credit cards to choose from depending on your travel and spending preferences:
Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ Credit Card (annual fee: $0): Limited Time Offer! Earn 50,000 Bonus Points after spending $1,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card (annual fee: $95): Limited Time Offer! Earn 100,000 Bonus Points after spending $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening with the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card!
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card (annual fee: $450): Earn 75,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card (annual fee: $125): Earn 75,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. Terms Apply.
» Learn more: Which Marriott Bonvoy credit card should I choose?
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.
When a transfer makes sense
NerdWallet values Marriott points at 1 cent each, making 60,000 Marriott points worth $600. Based on our 0.9 cent valuation of Hawaiian miles, 25,000 miles are worth $225. Considering this math, a conversion of Marriott points to Hawaiian miles does not make a ton of sense.
However, it’s important to think about this hotel point transfer in the context of your travel goals. Prospectively transferring Marriott points to Hawaiian is probably not a good idea. However, if you need to top off your Hawaiian balance so you can book an award — specifically one in a premium cabin, which often yields a higher redemption value — the transfer may make sense.
Remember that all our valuations reflect a baseline value, drawn from real-world data on hundreds of economy routes, not a maximized value. Hawaiian miles may be worth more if redeemed for premium cabin seats.
Use American Express to maximize the conversion rate
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).
Hilton to Hawaiian
Although the transfer ratio is pretty paltry, it still bears mentioning that you could transfer Hilton Honors points to Hawaiian, at a ratio of 10,000 points to 1,500 miles. NerdWallet values Hilton points at 0.5 cent each and Hawaiian miles at 0.9 cent each. Incorporating the valuation and transfer ratios, 10,000 Hilton points are worth $50, while 1,500 Hawaiian miles are worth $13.50. So unless you need a small amount of points to finalize a Hawaiian award booking, this is not a great option.
Wyndham to Hawaiian
If you have some Wyndham hotel points laying around, you can convert them to Hawaiian miles at the following ratios. 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 traveling
Earning Hawaiian miles by flying the friendly skies
While a travel rewards card will help boost your mile earnings, Hawaiian Airlines will also reward you with 1 mile for every mile flown. In addition to the miles, you can earn 3x points by charging your airfare to the Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite Mastercard®.
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. Pualani Platinum elites will receive a 100% mile bonus, and Pualani Gold elites will receive a 50% mile bonus on top of the miles earned.
Although all intra-Hawaiian flights are under 300 miles, if you have elite status with Hawaiian (Pualani Platinum, Pualani Gold and Premier Club), you will 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.
Earning miles on partner airlines
Although Hawaiian is not part of any alliance network, it has independent relationships with six airlines that are relevant to Hawaiian’s route network:
The earn rate with each partner depends on the airline and cabin class flown. For more information, refer to Hawaiian’s partner chart.
» Learn more: The complete guide to Hawaiian Airlines partners
Earn Hawaiian miles for staying at hotels
Hawaiian’s hotel partners
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. There’s no right or wrong answer; it really depends on your preferences and how relevant hotel points may be to your travels. Earning rates vary by hotel, so check Hawaiian’s partner page for the latest information.
Rocketmiles and PointsHound
You can also earn Hawaiian miles by booking hotels through PointsHound and Rocketmiles. These two booking sites allow you to earn from 1,000 to 10,000 points per night depending on the hotel. Generally, the more expensive the hotel, the more points you can earn per night.
However, it’s important to note that the cost of a stay booked with either of these sites can be more expensive than with other online travel agencies (likely due to a premium charged for earning more miles). So keep this in mind when shopping around for a hotel.
Book car rentals
Hawaiian has partnerships with three car rental agencies, allowing you to earn Hawaiian miles for rentals. Participating companies include Avis, Budget and Payless.
More travel options
Go on a cruise through Hawaiian Airlines Cruise Vacations: If you love cruises, Hawaiian has a cruise booking platform that lets you earn Hawaiian miles for taking a cruise. Currently, you can earn 1 mile per $1 spent on cruise purchases. This is not a spectacularly good rate, so if you’re planning a cruise, it might be a good idea to check back for a better promotional offer.
Enjoy a tour with Safari Helicopter Tours: If you’re heading to Kauai (or live there) and want to explore the island from above, consider doing a helicopter tour. You can earn 1,500 Hawaiian miles when you purchase certain tours.
Take sailing lessons with Sail Hawaii: Sail Hawaii offers beginner to advanced sailing lessons on Oahu. When you sign up for group or private lessons, you will earn 5 miles for every $1 spent. This could be a really fun activity to do on vacation, especially if you’ve always wanted to learn how to sail.
Order travel documents from VisaCentral: If you need to order travel documents such as a passport or visa for an international trip, you can do so with VisaCentral and earn up to 1,000 Hawaiian miles.
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 more than three times the NerdWallet valuation of 0.9 cent.
» Learn more: Four times it makes sense to buy airline miles
More shopping options
Buy flowers from Teleflora: You can earn Hawaiian miles when you purchase flowers from Teleflora. Although Hawaiian also lists 1-800-Flowers and FTD as partners, we didn't see any currently available offers. Check out the airline’s list of online flower partners for the latest offers.
Buy wine from Vinesse: You can earn 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.
Taking out a loan: You can earn Hawaiian miles when you take out a personal loan from two partner companies:
If you’re considering taking out a loan or refinancing your home, shop around to find the best rate available. Earning miles for such an important financial decision is a cherry on top, not the main factor.
Purchase auto insurance: Hawaiian has partnered with three auto insurance companies, allowing customers to earn miles when purchasing a car insurance policy. Details can be found on their Speciality Partners page. If you have a car, and want to earn some Hawaiian miles, it couldn’t hurt to get a quote from one of these three providers. As with any important decision, you’ll want to compare your options before committing financially.
Get solar panels for your home: Thinking about switching to renewable energy? Earn miles with two suppliers who sell and lease solar panels for your home including Akamai Energy (888 miles per panel) and SunPower (50,000 miles per panel system).
Use Wag! doggy daycare: Need to hire a dog walker or send your dog to doggy daycare? When you sign-up for a new account with Wag!, you will earn 5,000 miles after your first dog walk, boarding or sitting service. Thereafter, you will earn 3 miles for every $1 spent.
Shop local Hawaii vendors
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.
Buy gifts: Hawaiian has partnered with a selection of specialty merchants selling local goods, allowing you to pick up some Hawaiian miles when purchasing gifts to take home with you. Earn rates vary by merchant.
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 Platinum Card® from American Express, American Express® Green Card, The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express, Amex EveryDay® Credit Card and Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card has been collected independently by NerdWallet. The Platinum Card® from American Express, American Express® Green Card, The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express, Amex EveryDay® Credit Card and Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card is no longer available through NerdWallet.
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 2020, including those best for:
Airline miles and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card
Flat-rate rewards with no annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Premium travel rewards: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card