Do you know how to get a trip to Hawaii for practically free? If you’ve ever wanted to take a trip to Hawaii, here’s how you can do it for almost free. Follow these easy travel hacking steps and you’ll be sunning on the beach.
Wyatt’s home from college for spring break and during dinner we were talking about where we might go for summer vacation. We’ve always taken a trip to Hawaii every summer since he and Zeke were little, except for the time we went to Belize.
We love Hawaii. After all, who doesn’t? And when you can travel hack a trip to Hawaii it’s even better. First Class flights and staying at a fancy beachfront hotel for practically free. Here’s how you can get cheap flights to Hawaii for $5.60.
How to Get a Trip to Hawaii for Practically Free
Our last trip to Hawaii was 8 days on the island of Kauai. The First Class plane tickets to Hawaii were only $5.60 each way per person.
Eight nights at the Grand Hyatt Kauai cost $0.00. Yep, our hotel, one of the many Hawaii hotels and resorts, was completely free.
We got an 8 day trip to Hawaii for $44.80.
How’d we do it?
By travel hacking. We used airline miles and credit card points. And you can do too! Here’s how.
You can read about our entire trip in future blog posts. But here’s a quick rundown and how it’s possible to take a trip to Hawaii for pennies.
Because everyone wants to visit, it can be hard to find cheap flights to Hawaii. But you can use airline miles to pay for your plane tickets to Hawaii.
You can use credit card points to pay for your Hawaii resorts. Making your entire trip to Hawaii practically free. Your only cost to get there is airline taxes of $5.60 per person.
Pro-tip: The $5.60 airline tax per person costs the same flying in coach or First Class.
Want to visit Maui, Oahu, or the Big Island? You can use these same tricks and techniques to get any trip to Hawaii for free!
Look for travel rewards cards.
Summer in Kauai
If you have school-aged kids, you have to travel during school breaks. This can be very expensive. But with a little creativity, you can travel well for less.
I love traveling but want to get the most value for my money. And if I can travel for free, that’s even better! That’s why travel hacking is so addictive. It’s a game I’ve been playing since 1994.
Jeff, the boys, and I flew roundtrip First Class to Hawaii in July. This was in the middle of summer when airline tickets cost a fortune. But we paid about the cost of a cup of coffee to fly to Hawaii.
We used 37,500 American Airlines miles each way flying to Kauai per person. Coach tickets cost 17,500 miles each way.
It made more sense to use miles for First Class tickets instead of coach because:
- You pay the same amount of taxes flying First Class or coach
- You get free checked bags (a savings of $25 per person)
- There were more flights to choose from
- We avoided flying overnight (I hate red-eye flights)
Although we used American Airlines miles we flew on Alaska Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines. You can use American Airlines miles on partner airlines like Alaska Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines.
Pro-tip: Flying in coach? You get one free checked bag (up to 6 people) if you have the Alaska Airlines credit card.
Note: American Airlines changed their award chart. Now, you’ll pay 40,000 American Airlines miles for First Class flights to Hawaii or 20,000 miles for coach seats.
- 4 First Class one-way tickets on Alaska Airlines from San Diego to Kauai
- 2 First Class one-way tickets on Alaska Airlines from Kauai to San Diego
- 2 First Class one-way tickets on Hawaiian Airlines from Kauai to San Diego
The total cost for airfare: $44.80
Pro-tip: Want to visit another Hawaii island? Here’s how to use Chase Ultimate Rewards points for Hawaii to pay for your airline tickets.
8 Nights Hotel
We stayed at the Grand Hyatt Kauai because it’s on the beach, has freshwater pools, and a 150-foot slide!
For our trip, it cost 22,000 points per night. Hyatt changed their award chart so now, you’ll pay 25,000 points per night.
The total cost to stay at one of the best Hawaiian resorts: $0.00
Pro-tip: Here’s how to use Chase Ultimate Rewards points get free hotels in Hawaii on Maui, Oahu, Kauai, and the Big Island.
How to Travel Hack Hawaii
In other trip report summaries like 2 weeks in Hong Kong and the luxury guide to Sydney, I included costs for transportation, food, and activities. But some readers emailed saying they prefer only seeing the flight and hotel costs. And they would like it broken down in a table.
Here’s a table of how you can travel hack Hawaii and get a free trip to Hawaii.
|Cost if We Paid Cash||What We Paid (Actual Cost)||Miles or Points Used|
|Four one-way First Class flights from San Diego to Kauai on Alaska Airlines||$3,640 ($910 per person)||$22.40 ($5.60 airline taxes and fees per person)||37,500 American Airlines miles per person (150,000 miles total)|
|8 nights at the Grand Hyatt Kauai||$6,683.18 ($709 per night)||$0 (FREE)||22,000 Hyatt points per night (176,000 Hyatt points)|
|Two one-way First Class flights from Kauai to San Diego on Hawaiian Airlines||$1,932 ($966 per person)||$11.20 ($5.60 airline taxes and fees per person)||37,500 American Airlines miles per person (70,000 American Airlines miles)|
|Two one-way First Class flights from Kauai to San Diego on Alaska Airlines||$1,858 ($929 per person)||$11.20 ($5.60 airline taxes and fees per person)||37,500 American Airlines miles per person (70,000 American Airlines miles)|
How to Earn the Miles and Points
Earning airline miles and credit card points is easy. Here’s exactly how you can earn the miles and points for a free trip to Hawaii.
The Alaska Airlines First Class award tickets, one-way SAAver awards, cost 37,500 American Airlines miles per person.
You can earn cheap tickets to Hawaii by applying for credit cards. You can get big signup bonuses from travel rewards cards. These are the best travel rewards cards.
Earning American Airlines Miles
Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®
You can earn 50,000 American Airlines miles when you spend $5,000 on purchases within 3 months of opening your Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®.
Citi American Airlines Cards
You can earn American Airlines miles with these Citi American Airlines cards:
- Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®: For a limited time, you can earn 50,000 miles after spending $2,500 on purchases in the first 3 months
- CitiBusiness(R) / AAdvantage(R) Platinum Select(R) World Mastercard(R): 65,000 miles after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 4 months
Earning Hyatt points
The World of Hyatt Business Credit Card
You can earn 60,000 points from The World of Hyatt Business Credit Card after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your card.
If both you and your partner apply for a card, that’s 60,000 points or 2 free nights at the Grand Hyatt Kauai or in Maui or up to 4 free nights in Oahu.
Pro-tip: You earn 5 elite qualifying nights for every $10,000 you spend on the Hyatt Business card.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
With the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, you can earn 60,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your Chase Sapphire Preferred card. The signup bonus is worth $750 of free travel when you book through the travel portal. Or $600 cash back!
Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer instantly to Hyatt on a 1:1 ratio. So 60,000 points gets you 4 free nights at the Grand Hyatt Kauai or at the Hyatt Regency Maui, or 5 free nights in Oahu. Here’s how to use Chase Ultimate Rewards points for Hawaii.
Want to stay at another hotel? Points also transfer to Marriott (includes Starwood hotels), IHG, and The Ritz-Carlton hotels. So you can use your Chase Ultimate Rewards points for hotels in Hawaii.
Ink Business Cash® Credit Card
You can earn a $750 bonus from the Ink Business Cash® Credit Card after spending $6,000 on purchases within 3 months of opening your Ink Cash card.
This card also earns 5% cash back (5X points) at office supply stores, cable, internet, and phone services on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases. You can transfer points to cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card, and Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card.
Here’s a table of all the cards that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points that transfer to Hyatt. You can also book hotels directly through the Chase Travel Portal. Here are step by step instructions on how to book hotels in the travel portal.
|Signup Bonus & Minimum Spending Requirements||Annual Fee||Value of Points Toward Travel||Why I Like This Card|
|Chase Freedom Unlimited®||3% cash back on up to $20,000 your first year, 6.5% cash back on travel booked through the Chase travel portal, and 4.5% cash back at drugstores and restaurants your first year||$0||1 cent||A no annual fee cash back card gives you freedom to redeem points as needed.|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card||60,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your account.||$95||1.25 cents||This is a great first card if you're getting started in travel rewards. You can earn up to 5X points on travel booked through the Chase Travel portal. You can earn 3X points on dining.|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card||60,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your account.||$550||1.5 cents||The $300 yearly travel credit, 10X points on hotels and car rentals booked through the portal (2X booked direct), 5X points on airfare, and 3X points on dining, plus the free airport lounge access is worth the high annual fee.|
|Ink Business Cash® Credit Card||$750 after spending $6,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your account||$0||1 cent||A no fee cash back cards lets you put more money into your business.|
|Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card||$750 after spending $6,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your account||$0||1 cent||When using this card to book rental cars, you get primary insurance coverage|
|Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card||100,000 points after spending $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your account||$95||1.25 cents||Great for businesses with travel expenses because you earn 3X points per $1 on travel on the first $150,000 spent|
Look for the latest travel rewards cards.
We enjoyed a fun summer vacation for 8 days in Kauai. And despite going during the peak season, it didn’t cost us a fortune. In fact, we hardly paid anything. Our trip was practically free.
Our First Class flights to and from Kauai costs $5.60 per person each way. And 8 days at the Grand Hyatt Kauai were free.
The entire trip was paid for using airline miles and credit card points. That’s why we love traveling for free with travel rewards cards. And you can too! Search for travel rewards cards.
You can use Chase Ultimate Rewards Points for rental cars.
Stay tuned for more posts on how to get a free trip to Hawaii.
How to Use Rewards Points for Cheap Travel
Read these posts on how to use airline miles and points to travel for cheap.
- How to Travel for Free With Travel Rewards Cards
- Review: Lufthansa 747-8 First Class Los Angeles to Frankfurt for $40
- Our First Class Hawaiian Airlines Honolulu to Sydney Flight for $63
- The How to Luxury Guide to Sydney on $85 a Day
- Two Weeks in Hong Kong & Australia on $93 a Day
- How to Fly Free for Two Years
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Featured image courtesy of Grand Hyatt Kauai
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Friday 26th of February 2021
Wow... that really blew my shoes off... what an amazing hack.
Friday 28th of December 2018
Wow that is incredible! I love how you added the spreadsheet to make this more understandable. Can one apply for these credit cards if not a US citizen?
Friday 13th of October 2017
Maybe I'm stupid but how do you get all those points? You needed 290,000 for the airfares and at least 88,000 if you get the four nights for free (which you say you didn't in the example) for getting a Hyatt credit card. That's a minimum total of 378,000 points if you do get the free nights. Now you say you can get various other Citi credit cards that will give you bonus points with a minimum spend in the first three months. If you get all 5 Citi cards listed you would have to spend at least $8750 in the first three months to get all the bonus points on offer: a total of 165,000 points. If you both get all 5 cards each you would have to spend $17,500 between the two of you in the first three months and this would get you a total of 330,000 points meaning you would still be 48,000 points short. At 2 points per dollar spent on your credit cards you would need to spend another $24,000 to get the remaining 48,000 points. So you would have to spend at least $41,500 on your cards to get your 'practically free' holiday. You would also have to hope that Citi is willing to give each one of you five new credit cards plus Hyatt giving you another one (which I think is highly unlikely). On top of this, you would have to ensure that you close all the credit card accounts within a year or you would also be up for their annual fees as they are only waived for the first year. Additionally, $17,500 in three months is the equivalent of putting $70,000 a year on your credit card - many people/families don't earn this much in a year before taxes let alone spend that much on their credit cards. In my opinion, unless you are a very high earner or are using the cards for a business most people would struggle to get anywhere near the points required for your trip and the people who could rack up that many points can probably afford to pay the airfares and accommodation anyway.
Elaine J Masters
Wednesday 27th of September 2017
Inspiring. Wish I had the discipline. I don't have the time but use miles cards for most purchases. They rack up nicely.
Wednesday 27th of September 2017
This is absolutely incredible! I love using travel rewards miles, but I never seem to rack them up quite fast enough for how much I want to travel :) I also really appreciate the chart breakdown - it lays the whole trip out so simply. Thanks for sharing!