Traveling to Hawaii is a bucket list dream for nearly everyone, whether it’s a honeymoon, retirement trip, or just an exotic excursion to one of the most beautiful places in the world. Yet the price tag prohibits most people from ever experiencing Hawaii. A quick search shows that flights alone can easily cost $1,000+ per person! Instead of paying cash, you can find cheap flights to Hawaii using rewards points.
Traveling with rewards points has several unique advantages that can cut down a travel budget to free (see here). Note: before we begin remember that flexibility is key when using rewards, don’t bind yourself to specific dates, but let the free travel set your itinerary.
Let’s compare 3 airline rewards programs for how many points they say we will need to fly to Hawaii:
- United: 45,000 miles round trip + $11 fees
- Delta: 45,000 miles round trip + $11 fees
- American: 45,000 miles round trip + $11 fees
*All these are lowest fare prices, point costs can vary, especially at peak travel times
As we’ve already discussed, 50,000 points(miles) can be easily redeemed after meeting sign-up bonuses for one card, meaning all you need for a free round trip flight for one is to sign up for a card (like the Chase Sapphire Preferred).
Now let’s cut the price in half:
I’m sure at this point you’ll say, “That’s great, but I don’t want to go to Hawaii alone.” Let’s see how you can get 2 round trip flights for the cost of one.
The trick is booking your flight through Korean Airlines, who happens to be a part of the SkyPass partnership of airlines. Delta airline is also in this same partnership, meaning that you can book a Delta flight with Delta airline points, or Korean Airline points (among others).
Why does this matter? Korean Airlines, being it’s own company, sets its own pricing structures. How much less does Korean charge?
- Delta Airlines: 45,000 miles per person roundtrip
- Korean Airlines: 25,000 miles per person roundtrip
To be clear: this is the exact same flight, the same Delta plane, and itinerary that you would get through Delta, but you can book and pay for it in Korean Airline miles, rather than Delta’s. So now, using the exact same flight, you can redeem two round trip flights for just 50,000 points. That’s equivalent to signing up for just one credit-card bonus. Our flight budget has dropped from $2,000+ to $22. What’s also great: the 25,000 points is per person, and you can book as many flights at this rate that are available, so a family of four could potentially travel to Hawaii for just $44 (+100,000 points).
How do I do this?
Because you’ll want to plan ahead, apply for your credit card and get the points first, then plan your booking. I recommend the Chase Sapphire Preferred, as it offers 50,000 bonus points, and can easily be transferred 1:1 to Korean Airline miles.
Create a Korean airlines rewards account (you’ll need one to search for the flight in Step 4, and will also need one to transfer your points to).
Go to Delta’s website, and search for flights from your city to Hawaii (HNL) and select “show price in miles”. Also, remember to use the “flexible dates” option to see a calendar view of flight costs (in miles). Search through for the lowest fare dates, with a cost range of 45,000-60,00 miles. If you select dates or find flights that are more expensive than this, the low fare Korean redemption (Step 4), will NOT work.
With the dates you found in Step 3, go to Korean airlines website, and search for the same flight, with the same dates. Important: Make sure you select the following options, “International”, “Redeem Miles”, and then “SkyTeam Award”. This will allow you to book a Delta airlines flight through Korean Airlines website.
Note: At this point you’ll want to transfer your points to Korean Airlines so you can book. I recommend waiting to transfer until you have gone through these steps and have a firm itinerary. In this case, using Chase Ultimate rewards you can access their online portal to transfer the points to your Korean Airlines account.
Once you hit search, you’ll see your flight cost has changed to 25,000 miles (per person) and you can then go and book your flight.
So there you have it! Round trip flights for two from anywhere in the US to Hawaii for only $20.