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July 14, 2017 7:49 PM   Subscribe

Philly to Hawaii and back. How?

My wife and I are kicking around the idea of a Hawaiian vacation. Her father lives there so lodging and transportation are covered. We just have to get there. Somehow.

My main question involves getting airfare. I could put $1000-$1500 in bills on some kind of frequent flyer card (and pay it off each month). We are looking towards February or March next year so I could do this for around seven or eight months. Would that make any sense? If so, can anyone recommend a specific card? We have no loyalty towards any particular airline.

We live in Philadelphia and would like fly out of Philly International but we are willing to go to another airport if there’s a killer deal.
posted by Diskeater to Travel & Transportation around Hawaii (5 answers total)
Best answer: Alaska Airlines (which flies to Hawaii) has a credit card which offers a companion fare discount ($99 + taxes). It looks like they have a promotion which waives the $99 for the first year, so that's an instant ~$500 off.
posted by meowzilla at 8:24 PM on July 14, 2017 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Note that Virgin America is now Alaska Airlines and the companion fare is good on both, so if Alaska doesn't fly from anywhere near Philly, Virgin might. (Virgin America is becoming Alaska). Also note that you and your wife might both be able to get individual Alaska cards, and use two companion fares.
posted by cnc at 11:04 PM on July 14, 2017

Best answer: The cheapest way to get to Hawaii with miles is with Korean Airlines miles. You don't actually fly Korean. You use their miles to book what's called "partner awards" on Delta (Hawaii is 25k round trip in coach or 45k in first). Or you can use them to fly on Alaska or Hawaiian (30k in coach, 60k in first).

And the quickest way to get 50k+ Korean miles is to get Chase points. The route you take depends on whether you want to fly coach or first.

If you're fine with Coach, a Chase Sapphire Preferred will get it done. It has a 50k signup bonus if you spend $4k in the first three months. If you do that you'll have 54k Chase points. Transfer those to Korean and you've got enough for two people to fly round trip to Hawaii on Delta. Spend a few $k more and you can do it on Alaskan or Hawaiian, which might work better for you from Philadelphia. There's a $95 fee that is waived in the first year, so don't forget to close the card after the trip if you're not using it.

If you want to fly first class you have two options. The first is to open the Preferred and get the bonus by spending $4k (as described above). The then need to also open a Chase Sapphire Reserved. This has the same bonus, but a $450 fee that is not waived in the first year. You get a $300 credit toward travel expenses (e.g. your hotel or rental car), so it works out to be more like $150. And there are a bunch of other perks. The challenge is you now need to spend $8k fairly quickly to get both bonuses. If you're taking this route (which requires two cards), know that both cards must be opened by the same person (you can't get one for you and one for your wife).

The second option is to skip both the Sapphire Reserve and Sapphire Preferred and open Chase's business card, the Ink Business Preferred. This should be an option if you or your wife has a business (any 1099 income or a desire to separate expenses may count, just visit a Chase branch). The signup bonus on that is 80k Chase points after $5000 in 3 months. You get at least 5k points for the 5k you spend to get the bonus (more if you spend any of it on travel). Spend a few $k more to get up to 90k and you're done. The $95 fee on this one is not waived in the first year.

Bear in mind some bills (e.g. rent, mortgage) cannot easily be put on a credit card. Unless you have $1000+ in utilities, you may need to put some regular spend on the card. Restaurants and/or travel are "bonused" spend on all the cards mentioned above, i.e. double or triple points. Be sure to check the various restrictions on these options (see this post for the basics, and run your plan by the nerds on Flyer Talk before you spend any money). And finally, note that Chase has what they call the 5/24 rule: they won't give you a card if you've opened more than 5 cards (with any bank) in the past 24 months.
posted by caek at 9:00 PM on July 15, 2017 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks for the responses. You've given us a lot to consider.

caek - It seems like the Chase Sapphire Preferred signup bonus would be the way to go (we're fine with coach) but all the flights I've found are around 60-70k points per person. Can you show me where you're seeing the round trip flights for 25k?
posted by Diskeater at 5:10 PM on July 16, 2017

Full instructions here. It's a little involved, but for a saving of $1500-2000 it's worth it!
posted by caek at 7:26 PM on July 16, 2017

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