Why the Hawaiian Airlines World Elite MasterCard is a good deal

Posted on January 14, 2015 by in Travel Deals

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What is the Hawaiian Airlines World Elite MasterCard?

The Hawaiian Airlines World Elite MasterCard was born last year after the relationship between the Bank of America and Hawaiian Airlines ended.

This Barclay credit card comes with a 35,000 miles sign-up bonus (after $1,000 in spend in 90 days) and provides a fee waiver for the first checked bag on Hawaiian Airlines.

It also comes with a 50% off round-trip companion voucher. For each year that you renew the card, you will also get a $100 coach discount valid for a round-trip between North America (East or West Coast) booked directly with Hawaiian Airlines.

The 50% off voucher is good value since Hawaiian Airlines has no fuel surcharges (it is only valid on the fare part, not taxes and fees). However, you need to find a situation where Hawaiian Airlines has a good fare already.

Recently Hawaiian Airlines had $317 round-trip tickets from San Diego. You'd have paid ~$200 using the 50% off or $100 off voucher.

For this card, the annual fee is NOT waived in the first year and is $89.

What would I use it for?

To be frank, the Hawaiian Airlines award chart isn't the most valuable in the industry, but we'll help you unlock the value that is there!

1) Inter-island family travel between the islands

Imagine your task is to get the whole family of 5 from Kauai (Lihue) to Big Island (Hilo, Kona) for a vacation. Easy enough you think as you go to book one of those 'cheap' inter-island flights – just to discover that airfares can easily be $200 per person for the two short flights.

Once you complete your minimum spend with this card, you will have 36,000 points. If you transfer a few more points from American Express into your account (or actually fly on Hawaiian) you can use 37,500 Hawaiian airlines miles to get 5 people from one island to another in a good plane.

That is $1,000 saved with just one credit card approval!

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2) Venturing into the South Pacific

Getting to the South Pacific can be a bit tricky, with many mileage programs requiring a high amount of miles for the (rather short) trip.

Hawaiian Airlines can get you to Tahiti or Pago Pago for 'just' 27,500 miles one-way. This can be especially useful for round-the-world trips where it is rather tricky to go east from Tahiti. Once you are in Honolulu, you can connect to any other carrier or use 20,000 miles (see our next bullet point) to go on to the mainland.

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3) A mainland trip

The award chart also allows redemptions from/to Hawaii and the mainland for 20,000 miles. This isn't great value for West Coast destinations, but Hawaiian Airlines also flies to New York, Newark and Washington D.C. for the same price!

You will need 40,000 miles for the round trip – so, again, transfer the required 4,000 miles from American Express Membership Rewards.

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How can I complete the minimum spend?

Put all your regular spend on it and read our guide for 'manufactured spending'. $1,000 in 3 months should be really easy!

What if my application was denied?

Did you know that almost all my applications get initially denied and eventually approved when calling the right reconsideration numbers?

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Picture courtesy of TourismUpdates.

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