The Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Mastercard is only worth it if you plan to travel to Hawaii in year one
Hawaii is known for its swaying palm trees, pristine beaches, epic surfing, and beautiful mountain scenery.
It's also known as a notoriously expensive travel destination.
If you're planning to take a trip to Hawaii this year, it could be worthwhile to apply for a Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Mastercard.
A solid 50,000 HawaiianMiles sign-up bonus and a one-time opportunity to bring a companion for half price are enticing reasons to get the Hawaiian Airlines credit card.
After the first year, a possible 5,000 HawaiianMiles annual bonus and $100 off a companion ticket each year hardly make up for the $89 annual fee.
Hawaii is a wonderful holiday destination, without a doubt.
Everyone should visit its islands at least once in their lives, and the Hawaiian Airlines credit card could help make it happen.
But if you're looking for a good long-term credit card with more flexibility and more lucrative travel rewards, there are better options available.
What Makes the Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Mastercard So Special?
Two can travel to Hawaii for the price of half a plane ticket
The Hawaiian Airlines credit card wouldn't be special at all if it weren't for its awesome introductory offer.
If you play your cards right to qualify for the sign-up bonus, you and a companion can fly to Hawaii for a fraction of the usual airline ticket cost.
Here's how to get to Hawaii for a quarter of the normal flight cost. The first thing you need to do is sign up and get approved for the Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Mastercard.
Once your account is active, spend $3,000 on the card in the first 90 days and you'll earn 50,000 bonus HawaiianMiles.
Maximize the massive sign-up bonus. 50,000 HawaiianMiles happens to be the exact number you need to redeem for a free round-trip Hawaiian Airlines CoachSuperSaver ticket to Oahu or Maui.
CoachSuperSaver tickets are discounted award flights offered by Hawaiian Airlines to cardholders.
Hawaii would be lonely without a companion. Book the flight using your 50,000 bonus points, then redeem your other sign-up bonus: a one-time 50% discount for companion travel.
You've now booked flights for you and a companion to one of the most beautiful travel destinations in the world, and you only had to pay half of one fare (plus taxes, etc.).
You even get a free checked bag. As the primary cardholder you'll also get one bag checked for free, on your first trip and every other trip you take with Hawaiian Airlines.
Why People Love the Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Mastercard
Annual visitors to Hawaii can make the most of the card's limited benefits
The people who love the Hawaiian Airlines credit card the most are those who fly to Hawaii every year since they can take full advantage of earnings and offers.
Earn 2X miles with the airline and bonus miles with partners. Frequent travelers to Hawaii can take full advantage of the opportunity to earn double HawaiianMiles when they buy airfare and in-flight purchases with Hawaiian Airlines.
They can also earn up to 5 miles per dollar spent with partners listed in the HawaiianMiles Marketplace.
Partners include Hawaiian gas stations, tour companies, restaurants, hotels, and even 7-Elevens.
Obviously, if you don't travel to Hawaii a lot, you can't earn these bonuses, which is one of the big limitations of this card, especially when compared to other airline and travel rewards cards.
No limit on miles. You can earn as many miles as you like at the bonus levels, unlike many credit cards where a cap is placed on the miles you can earn through the high-reward bonus categories.
Discounted award travel offers amazing value. The CoachSuperSaver program we mentioned above offers cardholders the chance to use their points for majorly discounted flights from North America to Hawaii.
Cardholders access available discounted-flight offers through their online member's account and must book online to redeem their points.
You can get a ticket to Oahu, Maui, Kauai, or Hawaii Island for 50,000 HawaiianMiles, or to Lanai or Molokai for 40,000.
Get annual bonuses after paying the annual fee. Once you've paid your $89 annual fee (which, it should be mentioned, is not waived for the first year), you are entitled to two bonuses each year.
The first is a $100 discount on companion travel for the upcoming year, which barely covers the annual fee.
The second is a 5,000 HawaiianMiles annual bonus (which is only worth $50 at face value but could be stretched if redeemed for a CoachSuperSaver ticket).
The only thing is, you have to spend $10,000 on the card over each year to get the bonus.
What are the Downfalls of the Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Mastercard?
The low earning potential doesn't justify the annual fee
The $89 annual fee is a big disadvantage for the Hawaiian Airlines credit card.
If you went a whole year without traveling to Hawaii, you'd feel like you paid an annual fee for nothing (since your $100 companion travel voucher expires after a year).
Earning on everyday spending is very low. Earning one HawaiianMile for every dollar spent outside of Hawaiian Airlines purchases is pretty underwhelming.
If you spent $8,000 on non-Hawaiian Airlines purchases with the card you'd only get $80 worth of HawaiianMiles.
Which is another reason people who don't plan to fly to Hawaii every year on Hawaiian Airlines would be wise to take a pass on this card.
Alaska Airlines Visa Signature offers free round-trip companion fare every year
If you like the Hawaiian Airlines credit card because of the half-off companion fare in year one, or the annual $100 companion fare voucher, you can do better.
Alaska Airlines flies to Hawaii too. Although the name might fool you, Alaska Airlines actually has the most nonstop flights to Hawaii from the West Coast.
Alaska Airlines Visa Signature cardholders get a free companion flight in year one and a voucher for one $99 companion fare (plus taxes and fees) every year thereafter.
You could redeem the free or the $99 companion fare for a trip to Hawaii (or any of the other 900 destinations Alaska Airlines flies).
Flexible redemption options. You can also redeem miles with any of Alaska Airlines' 15 partner airlines, including British Airways, Qantas, and Aer Lingus.
Pay less with a lower annual fee. The annual fee for Alaska Airlines is $75, which is not that small, but is still lower than the $89 you would have to pay for the Hawaiian Airlines credit card each year.
How Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Mastercard compares to Alaska Airlines Visa Signature
|Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Mastercard||Alaska Airlines Visa Signature|
|How high of a credit score do you need?|
|How big of a sign-up bonus do you get?|
|How much do you need to spend to get the bonus?|
$3,000 in first 90 days
$1,000 in first 90 days
|How many points do you get for every dollar?|
2 miles for purchases from Hawaiian Airlines
1 mile everywhere else
Bonus miles (up to 5 miles per dollar spent) with HawaiianMiles partners
3 miles for purchases with Alaska Airlines and partner airlines
1 mile for all other purchases
Bonus miles (up to 5 miles per dollar spent) at Alaska Airlines partner restaurants
HawaiianMiles are only redeemable for purchases with Hawaiian Airlines or its airline partners
Only redeemable for purchases with Alaska Airlines or its airline partners
|If you spent $100 on the card, then how much would the points be worth in dollars?|
$2 (if spent on Hawaiian Airlines purchases)
$1 (everywhere else)
$3 (if spent on Alaska Airlines purchases)
$1 (everywhere else)
|How much would you need to spend on the card to make up for the fees (excluding APR/rates)?|
$4,450 (if spent on Hawaiian Airlines purchases)
$8,900 (everywhere else)
$2,500 (if spent on Alaska Airlines purchases)
$7,500 (everywhere else)
Here are two other non-airline travel rewards credit cards to consider
The problem with rewards cards tied to specific airlines is your redemption options are always going to be limited to the airline and its partners.
Instead of going all-in with one airline or airline network, consider a travel rewards credit card where you can earn points for travel with no limits on carriers.
These two cards also have the extra advantages, such as not charging an annual fee and earning decent miles no matter what you're spending on.
Discover it Miles card is a versatile miles-earner. The Discover it Miles card doesn't charge an annual fee, and it lets you earn 1.5 miles per dollar spent on absolutely everything.
Then at the end of year one, all the miles you've earned are matched.
If you spent $10,000 on the Discover it Miles card in the first year you'd earn 15,000 miles, then it would be doubled to 30,000 miles (worth $300).
Bank of America Travel Rewards lets you book travel how and where you want. Another benefit with both the Discover it Miles card and the Bank of America Travel Rewards card is that you can book travel through whatever company you want.
Hotels, rental cars, and flights all qualify for redeeming travel points, and there are no blackout dates.
Like Discover it Miles, the Bank of America Travel Rewards card also charges no annual fee and lets you earn 1.5 points for every dollar spent on absolutely anything.
Keep your sign-up bonus. Bank of America Travel Rewards offers a 20,000-point bonus for signing up, which is worth $200 toward travel (and it's not clawed back by an annual fee!).
The Question Everyone's Asking
What is Pualani Elite status and how do I get it?
In the Hawaiian language "Pualani" means "royal offspring."
You'll feel like a princess or a prince if you qualify for either the HawaiianMiles Pualani Gold or Pualani Platinum status.
Frequent flying is rewarded. To get approved for Pualani Gold membership, you need to fly 30 flight legs or 20,000 miles in the air in one year.
For Pualani Platinum, it's 60 legs or 40,000 flight miles.
Upgrades, lounges, and priority boarding and security lines. Both Pualani Platinum and Gold members get access to the Premier Lounges operated by Hawaiian Airlines in the Honolulu, Hilo, Kona, Kahului, and Lihue airports.
When Gold and Platinum members fly between neighboring Hawaiian islands, they are automatically upgraded to First Class seating.
Priority baggage handling, security lines, and priority seating are included for all Hawaiian Airlines' flights with both Pualani membership tiers.
Have a drink on the house. Pualani Gold and Platinum members are eligible for $10 in in-flight purchase credits per flight (to a max of $100 a year).
Platinum is first-class all the way. The main difference between Pualani Gold and Pualani Platinum status is that Platinum members get upgrades to first class seating twice a year between Hawaii and North America.
Platinum members are also guaranteed an economy seat on any flight between neighboring islands as long as it's booked at least 72 hours ahead.
Here one year, gone the next. One thing that won't make you feel like a prince or princess is losing your Pualani Gold or Platinum status.
You have to achieve the minimum flight miles or legs qualifications every single year to maintain your membership at Gold or Platinum levels.
How It All Works
If you have good credit, you can get a reasonable interest rate
To get approved for a Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Mastercard you're going to need a credit score of at least "Good" (700 or higher).
If your credit score is "Excellent" you'll qualify for the card's best possible Annual Percentage Rate (APR), which is 17.49% (variable).
Slightly higher than average APR.The average APR for a travel rewards card is 15.99%, which means the low-end APR is higher than average, but still reasonable for the Hawaiian Airlines credit card.
If you only have a "Good" credit score, you'll probably be offered the Hawaiian Airlines card's highest APR interest rate, which is 26.49% (variable).
No foreign transaction fees. Hawaii is in the United States so there are no foreign transaction fees when you travel there and use a U.S. credit card.
But if you're traveling abroad elsewhere you won't be dinged with foreign transaction fees either when you use your Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Mastercard.
Sweet balance transfer intro offer. Another reason someone could benefit from signing up for the Hawaiian Airlines credit card is the balance transfer intro offer.
New cardholders pay 0% APR for the next 15 billing cycles following each balance transfer you make in the first 45 days after opening the account.
If you have an existing unpaid balance on a high-interest credit card, you could move it over to your Hawaiian Airlines card and have over a year to pay it back with no interest.
- How do I get started?
The best way to get started is to go to the Hawaiian Airlines homepage and click the box saying, "Credit Card Offer: Earn 50,000 bonus miles."
You'll be taken to Hawaiian Airlines' main credit card info page, where you can click "Apply" and fill out the application.
The best time to apply is a few months before you'd like to book a trip to Hawaii.
You'll need the time to spend the $3,000 necessary within the first 90 days to get the 50,000 points.
- How do I cancel?
On the back of each Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Mastercard, there is a customer service number, which you need to call to cancel your account.
- How can I talk to a real human being?
The Hawaiian Airlines customer service line can be accessed by calling 1-800-367-5320.
You can also shoot them a text at 1-855-808-1717.
- Can I earn HawaiianMiles when flying with partner airlines?
Yes, you can earn HawaiianMiles when you're flying with one of Hawaiian Airlines' partner carriers (China Airlines, Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia, Korean Air, Japan Airlines, and Jet Blue).
When you're booking your flight, provide your HawaiianMiles membership number and you'll earn miles.
- Can I redeem HawaiianMiles with partner airlines?
Yes, any of Hawaiian Airlines' partner airlines (China Airlines, Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia, Korean Air, Japan Airlines, and Jet Blue) all accept HawaiianMiles.
The main restriction is you can only redeem HawaiianMiles for round-trip partner flights.
Partner flights are subject to availability and the redemption value of HawaiianMiles depends on the partner carrier.
- Can HawaiianMiles be transferred or shared?
Through the HawaiianMiles ShareMiles program, friends and family can gift you their miles through the online rewards portal.
There are no minimums or maximums on the number of miles you can receive from someone else, and there are no fees, service charges, or percentages deducted.
The only restriction is you can only receive ShareMiles 10 times each year.
- Are there penalties for late or returned payments?
Yes, in most states the penalties for being late or having a payment returned can be up to $37 (although in Iowa the max penalty is legally set at $15).
- Do cardholders get charged transaction fees?
Although there are no foreign transaction fees, there are fees for balance transfers and cash advances.
Balance transfers are charged a fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount transferred, whichever is greater.
While cash advances are charged either $10 or 5% of the amount advanced, whichever is greater.
- What is the APR charged on cash advances?
Interest is charged from the moment the cash advance is taken out and is charged at a rate of 26.75%.
- What bank issues the Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Mastercard?
The bank that issues the card is Barclays Bank Delaware.
The Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Mastercard can help get you to Hawaii in year one but runs out of steam after that
If you've always dreamed of flying off to visit Hawaii but it's always seemed just slightly out of your financial reach, the Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Mastercard can help make it a reality.
The 50,000-mile intro bonus gets you a flight to Hawaii for free, then you get to bring a companion for half-price.
Unless you travel to Hawaii a lot, you might end up putting the Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Mastercard at the back of your wallet after the first year.
The price you'll pay to keep it will be $89 a year, so choose carefully or you might find yourself paying an annual fee for benefits you can't take advantage of.
Do you use the Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Mastercard?
How has it worked for you?
Any great tips (or nightmares) to share with the rest of us?
Let us know in the comments below!