AmEx Membership Rewards Transfer Bonus To Hawaiian

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)


  1. “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.”

    If you do the math on the value per point it’s not obvious booking through Hawaiian and avoiding fuel surcharges is actually better in that scenario. Paying the surcharges you get a decent value buying back those points.

    And you don’t have to deal with Hawaiian’s call center…

  2. Any idea when a British airways transfer bonus will show up? Hasn’t been one for a while…

  3. @ John — I don’t have any inside knowledge on this, but I’d guess we’ll see one in the next couple of months. I could be wrong, though.

  4. Upper class is First / Biz ?

    If one were to do a SFO-LHR-BLR 130k is reasonable for biz and great for first.

  5. Hi Ben,

    I have 220,000 HA miles that I accumulated from credit card signups. I was planning to use them for Hilton until they devalued their program.

    After looking at the HA award chart, it seems that the best uses for me are:

    Two Busn Class to Europe on American Airlines at 120,000 miles each

    Two Busn Class on Virgin Atlantic at 125,000 miles each

    Three First Class JFK to Hawaii at 80,000 miles each

    What do you think would be the best value? Thanks!!!

  6. @ Craig — You’re correct, those are all among the best values depending on what you’re looking to do. Personally the business class tickets on Virgin Atlantic seem like the best value to me.

  7. @ BothofUs2 @ RNP — At 7,500 miles one-way it certainly can be a decent deal, though inter-island flying is often fairly inexpensive on paid tickets. So not necessarily, in my opinion.

  8. Lucky, any idea if you can book one-way Virgin America awards with HA miles? 16.6k for a JFK-SFO one-way wouldn’t be terrible for close-in awards when cash tickets are pricey.

  9. Interisland is still 5K on a direct flight if using AA (6K on United), and with an AA Citi card you get 10% back so 4,500. For a Jan 2015 LIH-OGG flight it’s been $107 for 1 way with no change for the last 3 months, so I think it’s a good use of miles on AA vs. here. However, if you have some bags, Hawaiian First Class Interisland is 15K (so 13K MR would work here) and gets you lounge access, first class seat, and 2 free bags, so that could be a good value.

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