Big Island or Bust! How we booked our trip to Hawaii for $11 using points

Here we go again. Our entire family is once again headed back to Hawaii. This time, for a change, we are headed to the Big Island. We’ve all been to Oahu, Maui, and Kauai many times, but not all of us have been to the Big Island. It was only once, I believe it was in 2004 when we visited the BI, so that was 14 years ago. We only had two kids then. You could say that our lives have gotten busier since.

Arrived at LAX safe and sound

How we booked our $11 trip

I’ve written an entry as to how we booked our Fourth of July trip to Kauai last year. That was a a short getaway, and we booked via British Airways and flew American Airlines. It was a sweet spot booking. How so?

  • Used 25,000 Ultimate Rewards per person x 6 = 150,000 points
  • Paid $11.20 per person out of pocket x 6 = $67.20
  • Cash price was $967 per person or $5,798 for 6 passengers
  • Traveled during the heart of a major summer holiday – 4th of July

For this trip to the Big Island, I have some great news and not-so-great news. Let’s start with the not-so-great news:

I couldn’t find a 25,000 sweet spot booking, the travel days were around another popular vacation getaway, Spring Break and Easter.

The great news:

I found six available seats (four seats with Korean Airlines, and two with Hawaiian Airlines). No, we are not flying with two different airlines. You ready for this? I transferred my points earned with Chase Ultimate Rewards to Korean Airines which then got me tickets with Hawaiian Airlines. Lost yet?

  • 30,000 pts Chase Ultimate Reward points per person transferred to Korean Airlines (flying Hawaiian Air) x 4 = 120,000 pts

  • Plus, 40,000 pts per person with Hawaiian Airlines x 2 = 80,000
Images courtesy of Chase, Korean Airlines, and Hawaiian Airlines
  • Paid $11.20 per person out of pocket x 6 = $67.20
  • We are all on the same flight

It may seem like I used a lot more points using my HawaiianMiles, but the value of these miles are different when compared to using other points. HawaiianMiles tend to vary seasonally. There were some dates when one roundtrip ticket alone was going to cost over 80K points. So to get two tickets at 40K each, that was a great deal to me. Plus, I’ve been meaning to use these HawaiianMiles for three years now, and this was the perfect opportunity. If we paid for this trip out of pocket:

  • $1,749 per person x 6 =$10,494 with Hawaiian Airlines – OUCH! That’s insane. I would never pay that much. That price, obviously, may vary with different airlines, but I was not surprised. It is Spring Break after all.

Other airlines charged less, but it was difficult to find award availability. This trip was on another major vacation holiday in the US (Easter and Spring Break).

In any case, no matter the cash value of the airfare, it was a great feeling to know that we have the points and that we only paid $11 out of pocket.

Per ticket cost $11

Which credit cards made it possible to fly us for $11 each?

Image courtesy of Chase
Image courtesy of Chase

When I first started this points earning hobby, I had no guidance, so I grabbed the very first card that I thought made sense, a card linked to Hawaiian Airlines. I figured it was the card that would assure us of a trip to Hawaii. It gave me and and Nancy bonus points, but as we began to learn more about earning miles and points for travel, we realized that the Hawaiian Airlines points weren’t best suited for us. So to be honest, majority of the points we used were earned using our Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Sapphire Reserve. Each card currently gives out 50,000 bonus points which is good enough for two roundtrip tickets to Hawaii, or anywhere in the US, or could be used to travel outside the US. Click here for more info on my favorite travel credit cards, and how the others have used this for their trips to Hawaii, click here:

Iza’s $11 Trip to Hawaii

Brian and Emily’s Trip to Hawaii

So why the Big Island

It’s the island that we’ve visited only once, and with it being so huge, hence, Big Island, we didn’t get to explore the Hilo side, the side where there’s an active volcano. So we plan on splitting our stay in half, a few days on the Kona side (a side I’m familiar with), and the other half on the Hilo/Volcano side.

Another why? Well, we just got back as a family and vacationed in Washington DC and New York City. We were there for 11 days and had a great time. It was a hectic vacation, with lots of walking. And the weather, let’s just say it was frigid. But we enjoyed it nonetheless, it’s what you expect during the winter time.

Outside the Lincoln Memorial with the Reflecting Pool and Washington Monument, Dec 2018
Central Park 2018

Going to Hawaii is like being at home for us. We have a certain pace that we use as a family. When we get to the island, we let our cares go and just see where the day takes us. That’s what we look forward to during this trip.

This is all for now, thank you for following us at DaddyTravelsNow.

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