Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles

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Hawaiian Airlines' HawaiianMiles is a decent program for travelers who live in, or frequently visit, the region. Reduced-rate redemption options are available for flights to neighboring islands and elite status perks are OK but not outstanding. Flights to the mainland cost 20,000 miles, while flying with a partner airline in the continental United States costs more.

Folks dreaming of an island vacation may be tempted to sign up for Hawaiian Airlines' credit card, rack up some miles, and fly on over for free. That's not a terrible idea, but our HawaiianMiles review found that this frequent flyer program is really best suited for residents of, and frequent travelers to, the islands.

HawaiianMiles are earned in a variety of ways, the most basic being a trip booked on the carrier. One mile is earned for each mile flown regardless of the ticket class (other airlines vary the number of award miles between 25 percent and 150 percent, depending on the type of ticket). HawaiianMiles are earned at differing rates when flying with any of the eight partner airlines, including American Airlines and JetBlue Airways. Hawaiian Airlines additionally participates in other programs that generate miles when, for example, shopping online, using certain utility providers, lodging with partner hotels, dining at select restaurants, and the like. Limited-time promotions also afford opportunities to earn bonus miles on some flights.

Miles can be redeemed for travel at the starting rate of 7,500 miles for a one-way flight to a neighboring island. For trips to North America from Hawaii, redemption rates start at 20,000 miles for a one-way ticket, and trips to the South Pacific from Hawaii start at 27,500 miles. HawaiianMiles can also be redeemed for free flights on select partner airlines, but the trade-in rates vary and are higher than the carriers' own miles requirements. (A roundtrip flight within North America requires 30,000 HawaiianMiles, for example, but 25,000 AAdvantage miles from American Airlines.) The low redemption rate between islands is a plus for residents and frequent business travelers, but as a regional airline, Hawaiian might be a bust for everyone else.

HawaiianMiles offers two elite status levels -- Pualani Gold and Pualani Platinum -- that are earned after flying 20,000 miles or 30 segments and 40,000 miles or 60 segments, respectively. Benefits include more seat availability when booking a reservation online; access to the carrier's Club Lounge; and priority security, check-in, and boarding. Some elite perks are unique, such as the option of switching to an earlier flight to a neighboring island without paying a fee. Elite status entitles frequent flyers to up to three free checked bags, depending on level, and awards a minimum of 500 miles for inter-island flights. The airline also offers a fee-based Premier Club. Entry costs $299 or 40,000 miles and members receive many of the perks enjoyed by elite-status frequent flyers.

HawaiianMiles is a good program for a select few; would-be frequent flyers who don't live in or frequently visit Hawaii won't find it worthwhile. Despite partnerships with many larger airlines, travelers must spend an above-average amount of miles for an awards ticket to anywhere but one of the islands.

Louis DeNicola

Louis DeNicola is a freelance personal finance writer who specializes in credit, debt, and practical money-saving tips. He loves stacking savings opportunities to get amazing deals, traveling for free using credit card rewards, and teaching others how to do the same. Connect with Louis by visiting louisdenicola.com.

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