Note: the offers mentioned below are subject to change at any time and some may no longer be available.
Update: This offer expires on September 4, after which the welcome bonus is expected to drop from 60,000 miles to 50,000, so apply now, and pick the island you want to visit.
Hawaiian Airlines’ HawaiianMiles loyalty program might not be very compelling on its face, but with a boosted welcome offer and a really compelling new member perk, the airline’s World Elite Mastercard is worth considering if a trip to America’s most beautiful state is in your future.
The Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite Mastercard® earns three points per dollar on Hawaiian Airlines purchases; two points on gas, dining, and grocery store purchases; and one point on all other purchases. Unfortunately, these points aren’t as valuable as many other airlines’.
Hawaiian Airlines’ HawaiianMiles loyalty program does have a few partner airlines, including American Airlines and JetBlue, but the redemption rates for HawaiianMiles on these partners are usually pretty bad. Your best bet is probably to use your miles on flights between the mainland U.S. and Hawaii.
Rates start at 20,000 miles one way from the west coast, or 30,000 miles from the east coast, though those rates can go up considerably during peak season and holidays. You can also use your miles to fly all the way to various destinations in Asia (connecting in Honolulu) starting at 47,500 one way to Pago Pago and Papeete from the west coast, or 60,000 miles to get to the likes of Japan and Australia.
Note: These are the base rates, but cardholders have access to discounted rates as well through their cardmember portal, though availability varies.
A more interesting use of miles might be for first class upgrades on flights between the U.S. and Hawaii that you purchased with cash (more on that later). Upgrade rates start at 25,000 miles one way from both the west and east coasts, and are subject to availability, but for such a long flight, it could be worth it for a lie-flat bed.
Of course, once you’re in Hawaii, you could also use miles to book inter-island flights to see more of the sights, starting at 7,500 miles one way.
If you need to top off your account to fund a specific redemption, Hawaiian is also a 1:1 transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards, so you could make up the difference with miles you earned on your American Express® Gold Card or The Platinum Card® from American Express.
The Points Guy only values HawaiianMiles at 0.9 cents each, so there are definitely better currencies to invest in, but with a little flexibility in your schedule, you should be able to put the Hawaiian Airlines Mastercard’s welcome bonus to good use on your next vacation.
For a limited time, you’ll earn 60,000 HawaiianMiles after spending $2,000 in your first 90 days. If you find SuperSaver availability from the east coast, that would be enough for a full roundtrip flight to Hawaii, or a roundtrip and an extra one-way from the west coast. Granted, that’s a big “if,” but going by TPG’s aforementioned valuation, this bonus is worth $540, which is solid, if not spectacular for only $2,000 in spend.
The card does carry a $99 annual fee, but as part of this limited time offer, it’s waived in the first year.
For what Hawaiian Airlines lacks in a compelling rewards program, it makes up for with cardmember perks. Most notably, new cardmembers will receive a one-time 50% roundtrip companion discount on a paid flight between the U.S. mainland and Hawaii. That means if you pay full price for one ticket, you can get an identical ticket for half off.
That benefit is only valid for coach travel, and it’s only valid for 13 months after you apply for the card, but still, it should easily be worth hundreds of dollars. It could also leave you with more points to spend on inter-island flights once you arrive, or on first class upgrades.
On every account anniversary thereafter, you’ll instead receive a $100 companion ticket discount, which works the same way, but is obviously not as lucrative. But even so, if you go to Hawaii every year and fly on Hawaiian, this should cover your annual fee.
Cardmembers will also receive a free checked bag, and won’t pay any foreign transaction fees. Cardmembers can also send and receive HawaiianMiles from friends and family without a transaction fee, which could help you consolidate your miles to fund a certain redemption.
The Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Mastercard shouldn’t be anyone’s primary credit card, but its generous welcome bonus and companion ticket benefit make it a tempting card for anyone planning a trip to Hawaii in the next year or so. I’d just recommend checking Hawaiian’s schedule and award availability (as well as competitors’ rates) from your local airport to determine if it makes sense for you.
Gizmodo Media Commerce has partnered with The Points Guy Affiliate Network for our coverage of credit products. Gizmodo Media Group and The Points Guy may receive a commission from card issuers.