The US American Express Membership Rewards program is offering a 20% transfer bonus to HawaiianMiles through June 23, 2014.
The bonus is hard coded into the transfer ratio, meaning the bonus posts instantly and you can earn it as often as you’d like — 1,000 Membership Rewards points convert into 1,200 HawaiianMiles.
For what it’s worth, this promotion is almost identical to the one they ran last June, where they also offered a 20% transfer bonus.
Sadly HawaiianMiles isn’t a very lucrative frequent flyer program, so there are very few circumstances under which this represents a good value, in my opinion.
One case where it can make sense is for travel on Virgin Atlantic. Along with Delta, Hawaiian is Virgin Atlantic’s only other airline partner that doesn’t impose fuel surcharges for redemptions on them. Their award chart for travel on Virgin Atlantic used to be really lucrative, though in November of 2012 they devalued it with no advance notice. Now it’s 125,000 miles for business class between the east coast and Europe, so factoring in the 20% transfer bonus that’s ~105,000 Membership Rewards points.
The next best alternative is booking through ANA, which charges 63,000-68,000 miles for roundtrip Upper Class tickets on Virgin Atlantic between the east coast of the US and London, though you’ll be hit with $800+ in fuel surcharges. So in that case I’d say booking through Hawaiian represents a better value. Alternatively, Delta also partners with Virgin Atlantic and doesn’t impose fuel surcharges, though they charge 125,000 SkyMiles for a roundtrip Upper Class ticket between the US and Europe.
Other than that there really aren’t many good uses of Hawaiian miles. While they can be transferred at a 1:2 ratio to Hilton HHonors, that only applies to miles earned directly through the program, and not those transferred in. So if you want to transfer points from American Express Membership Rewards to Hilton HHonors, you’ll want to go through Virgin Atlantic, though even that transfer ratio has been devalued in the meantime.
For actual travel to Hawaii, you’re almost always better off booking through British Airways Avios if flying coach between the west coast and Hawaii, or booking through Singapore KrisFlyer for travel in first or business class or from the east coast.
Hawaiian does have random partnerships with JetBlue, Virgin America, and more, but I don’t find them to be all that valuable.
Bottom line on AmEx Hawaiian transfer bonus
Unless you have a specific use in mind, this probably isn’t worth taking advantage of. 20% isn’t a huge transfer bonus, and Hawaiian doesn’t have an especially good program to begin with.
(Tip of the hat to Ram)