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One piece of news that has been in the news lately is the re-introduction of the Hawaiian Airlines Visa card. This was actually one of the first cards I applied for when I started travel hacking. Actually it was TWO of the first cards that I applied for 😀
Last year, there were 2 different Hawaiian Airlines cards, one issued by Bank of America, and one issued by Bank of Hawaii. I applied for both of them, and for the annual fees ($79 + $79), I earned 70,000 Hawaiian Miles.
Later on in the year, they took those cards off the market, and they just now re-introduced them, but this time it is issued by Barclays bank, and there’s only one of them. I note also that the annual fee is now $89.
So… what can 35,000 Hawaiian Miles do for us and our “crew”? Actually, not a whole lot. While flying to Hawaii is always nice, there are IMO better ways to get there using miles. A “super-saver” flight from the mainland to Hawaii is 20,000 miles, and the availability of those isn’t great (so it might take 30,000 or even 40,000). One perk of this credit card is a 50% “companion fare”, but you can’t use miles on the companion fare ticket (so you’d have to pay for one to get one 50% off).
One option for using miles might be if you are already in Hawaii (or planning to go there), these miles can be used for intra-island flights (7500 miles one-way). Though there are better redemptions for those too.
My suggestion would be if you wanted to take advantage of this card would be to use their transfer to Hilton HHonors points. Hawaiian miles transfer to Hilton points 1:2, which means that those 35,000 miles turn into 70,000 Hilton HHonors points. This was a more attractive deal before Hilton did a huge devaluation of their points in early 2013, but it’s still not a bad way to acquire Hilton points.
So what did we do with our 140,000 Hilton points that we acquired?
Well one thing we did was spend 50,000 points for one night at the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort (regularly $329/night). This was part of a weekend getaway for just Carolyn and I back in October – a nice treat.
So maybe that’s not a great family redemption (remember we’re focusing on points with “a crew”), but one example is that most recently we spent 20,000 points for a 2 bedroom suite at the Homewood Suites Dublin. That would be Dublin, Ohio, not Dublin, Ireland 😀 . Actually technically the 20,000 points were enough for a 1 bedroom suite, but because all these points have qualified me as a “Gold” member, I received a complimentary upgrade to a 2 bedroom suite. The Homewood Suites are nice because Mon-Thurs they have a “manager’s reception” which is code for “free dinner” 😀
So for 20,000 points (which based on the rate I got them from the Hawaiian Airlines cards cost me about $20), we got dinner for 8 (Cheese Ravioli), a night’s stay in a hotel, plus hot breakfast in the morning. Kids loved the pool too. I’ll make a further post with some more details about that trip, but definitely good value.
If you followed travel blogs back in March of 2013, you would have seen (heard? read?) everyone decrying the gashing of the Hilton HHonors award chart, and it is true, that (especially on the top end of the chart) there was a devaluation. It is a lot harder (though still possible!) to get free nights at aspirational hotels like the Hilton London or the Conrad Bali. But I hope the example I just gave about our trip to the Homewood Suites Dublin goes to show that there is still value in Hilton for us “regular people”