Want to Go to Hawaii for Free? Here?s How

Go to Hawaii

Go to HawaiiMy wife and I have been thinking over our travel hacking plans for next year and are in the middle of discussing some exciting options. One place we keep coming back to (well, at least my wife does) is Hawaii. I wouldn?t mind going to Hawaii at some point, but I?ve got other places I want to see first. Seeing as?the ?average? trip to Hawaii cost nearly $2,700 as of 2012, we?re of course looking for ways to be below average in this area.

In fact, if we do end up going, we want to go to Hawaii for free. We?d settle for cheap, but we?d love to be able to go to Hawaii for free. We?ve been able to take, or are set to take, a number of free trips thanks to credit card churning?over the past year or two and once you do that you quickly become spoiled. While it might be a challenge, on one level, to go to Hawaii for free I know numerous others who have done it, which means it?s certainly possible. You just need to find a way to take care of both airfare and lodging.

Go to Hawaii for Free With Free Airfare

In my completely unscientific testing, I found that plane tickets to Hawaii seem to cost around $800 for us to fly out of Omaha. I suppose we could also try and fly out of San Diego and leave our kids with the in-laws to get a cheaper price, but did not check on that. Going back to the article on the average cost, tickets to Hawaii were in the $600+ range. At any rate, those are costs I?m not willing to pay.

If we?re wanting to go to Hawaii for free then the first option will most definitely have to be the?Hawaiian Airlines World Elite MasterCard. Why should you be interested in the Hawaiian Airlines credit card? It?s quite simple really ? you can use it to earn a free ticket to Hawaii. Ok, you?ll likely have to pay the taxes and fees but that?s nothing compared to the cost of the ticket itself.

Here?s how the card works. You spend $1,000 within the first 90 days of signing up for the Hawaiian Airlines credit card and you get 35,000 bonus miles. A coach ticket to Hawaii requires 40,000 miles, but as a cardholder you get a 5,000 mile discount. If you want to use the credit card between different islands, you can do it for as little as 10,000 miles. There are some other nice benefits to having the Hawaiian Airlines card such as getting a one-time 50% off companion ticket as well as a complimentary checked bag. The card does have an $89 annual fee, but I personally would not let it hold me back from taking advantage of the benefits.

The other nice thing I like about the Hawaiian Airlines credit card is they offer both a personal and business version of the card. What that means is if you have a justifiable business you could apply for and use both cards and get double the miles. Not too bad in my opinion!

What About Lodging?

If you want to go to Hawaii for free, or for cheap then lodging is going to be the obvious second major cost. Going back to the same article, the average total cost of a hotel room in Hawaii is $233. Again, that is something I?m not willing to spend. The nice thing is there are several options to consider if you?re looking to go to Hawaii for free and spend nothing on lodging.

The first option I?d look at would be the?Barclaycard Arrival cards. Barclays has both a fee and no annual fee card. Don?t sweat it though as the annual fee of $89 is waived the first year. With the annual fee version you get $400 after spending $3,000 within the first 90 days of the card. You also get 10% points back when you redeem your points, which takes the value to at least $440. If you can combine that with your partner?s card that?s $880 right there. The no annual fee version gets you half the value, so $220 after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days. Beyond that the cards are the same and also offer 2% back on all purchases. The cards can also be used on virtually anything travel related, so it doesn?t just have to be used on hotels.

There are some other options if you want to go to Hawaii for free and you don?t want to deal with Barclays. The first thought would be a card from Chase ? like the Chase Ink which would get you enough Ultimate Rewards points to transfer out to different hotel programs to cover the lodging. There are also numerous other hotel cards you could consider, like the Starwood Preferred Guest card. Their properties do seem to be a little higher in Hawaii, but it could be an option that works for you. You can check out a listing of their properties?here.

If you want to go to Hawaii for free, it can most certainly be done. It just takes a little work and some planning. I?ve never been there, but my wife has and from what I hear it?s well worth the experience, so why not get it for free or cheap to boot?


Where was your last free trip? If you could travel anywhere, and cost wasn?t an issue, where would you go? Have you ever been to Hawaii?



Photo courtesy of: kenlund

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  1. Free travel is certainly the best travel! We went to Kauai a few years ago and had discounted flights and a free place to stay. It was glorious, but it is an expensive place. We bought most of our meals at the grocery store, but the food was still quite pricey. But, it’s beautiful!

    • John Schmoll says:

      That it is Mrs. FW! Very nice on the discounted trip there. We like to do the same thing when we travel anywhere a it can save so much on the overall cost of the trip, not to mention healthier as well. 🙂

  2. I would LOVE to go to Hawaii, and I have been motivated to look into travel hacking our way there ever since Kim’s blog about this. I just don’t know how I would survive the long flights to get there. I need to work on overcoming it, though, because Hawaii is definitely a bucket list location for us and this plan is an awesome way to get there!

    • John Schmoll says:

      I’m sort of the same way Shannon. I’m not afraid of flying, but it’s not my favorite thing in the world to do. If we were to go, I think we’d try to leave out of San Diego as my in-laws live there and it would help lessen the flight time a little.

  3. Going to Hawaii for free sounds pretty sweet. I might have to look into this.

  4. I have a similar post coming up on my blog- don’t think I’m copying you! LOL

    Yes, I think this is a great plan to pay for most of a trip to Hawaii!

  5. Kipp says:

    Very nice! I honestly need to start learning about churning for traveling, this is quite impressive. I guess my struggle is trying to get $3000 in 3 months. Sure last month I had $1,700 in expenses I could possibly charge, but about $1,000 of that was either a one-time expense or a bi-annual expense. Granted it seems there is always some sort of 1 time expense, usually those don’t add up to that much. But.. this is a pretty good introduction on how to travel hack for a specific goal.

    • John Schmoll says:

      I felt the same way at first and there are just times where you may not be spending that much. I think a lot of it comes down to planning your spending so as to maximize what you can get back from it. There are also a number of cards you can churn that may be a little lower, like the Hawaiian card, that have a $1,000 or $2,000 minimum spend.

  6. Michelle says:

    I discovered travel hacking about a year into personal finance blogging. I was very intimidated by it and just recently decided to give it a go. I am happy with the results so far!

  7. Kim says:

    We just did it, so it’s certainly possible. I really like Hawaiian airlines as well. They are nicer and give you a free meal on all flights.

  8. Melvin Bartholomew says:

    If I could vacation anywhere for free, I would love to go to Germany. I used to live in Hawaii, but I moved to Minnesota. (MAJOR WEATHER CHANGE) Ill be moving back to Hilo (the big island) in around 3 years.

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