American Express Membership Rewards offering a 20% transfer bonus to HawaiianMiles through June 27, 2013

Through June 27, 2013, American Express Membership Rewards in the US is offering a 20% bonus on transfers to HawaiianMiles. 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.

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. Hawaiian is Virgin Atlantic’s only airline partner that doesn’t impose fuel surcharges for redemptions on them. Hawaiian’s award chart for travel on Virgin Atlantic used to be extremely lucrative, as they charged 140,000 miles for Upper Class to anywhere in the world, meaning you could do a roundtrip from San Francisco to London to Hong Kong to Sydney and back, for example. Then in November of last year they devalued their award chart for travel on Virgin Atlantic 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 tickets on Virgin Atlantic between the east coast of the US and London, though you’ll be hit with ~$820 in fuel surcharges. So in that case I’d say booking through Hawaiian represents a better value.

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.

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. You can find more tips for redeeming Membership Rewards points for travel to Hawaii in this post.

Hawaiian does have random partnerships with JetBlue, Virgin America, and more, but I don’t find them to be all that valuable.

Can anyone think of any other uses of HawaiianMiles that would be worthwhile with this transfer bonus?


  1. Agreeing with Daniel. Just redeemed 35k each for round trip flights JFK-HNL-OGG. Economy isn’t awful on HA (at least according to Seth at WA) and I value the non-stop from JFK.

  2. 17.5k is for cardholders, is it true of everybody? i think it might be 20k. anyway, it’s good for me. Mostly this is for new yorkers and those able to reposition cheaply, i think it’s the best use of the miles. 28k MR for RT to Maui? That’s not much worse than 25k Avios, though I might value MR more than Avios. When I did this last, I had booked OGG as a free one-way, OGG-HNL-JFK for 17.5k, and a $60 jetblue ticket to DC.

  3. can you redeem a delta partner award for 17.500 miles between the u.s. and mexico? or does it have to be roundtrip?

  4. @ Michael — That costs 95,000 miles. If you live in Hawaii I suppose it’s a pretty good deal, but there are better deals for getting to Tahiti if you plan on otherwise positioning to Hawaii.

  5. So I do live in Hawaii, and I earn and burn quite a few Hawaiian miles, but I can’t see this making sense unless you needed a few more miles to top off for an award or you had so many MR points that you were OK with mediocre redemption values for the sake of HA’s above-average coach product.

  6. @lucky 95K in F is very expensive. But who needs for a 6hr flight? 27K super saver in economy is pretty decent imo

  7. If you’re looking at ~105k MR or 63k MR + ~$820, I think an argument could be made for booking through ANA… Any valuation of MR at higher than 2 cents would allow it just depends on your finances and Amex balance…

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