DENVER – A free trip to Hawaii would sound good to anyone.
Turquoise water, lush greenery and the Aloha spirit. For so many people Hawaii is the ultimate dream destination. But, the tropical paradise can be a nightmare on the wallet.
“Hawaii is a difficult destination but it’s one I’ve been to many times,” Jason Steele told FOX31.
Jason is a credit card and travel rewards expert. He is the senior contributor to the popular travel blog “The Points Guy” which teaches readers how to travel nearly for free.
“It’s actually easier than you might think,” he said.
The trick is, you don’t pay for flights and hotels with money. You pay for them using credit card points.
“I do not recommend that people use credit cards when they are going to carry a balance or get into debt,” Jason said.
However, you can use them to rack up large amounts of points for purchases that you already budget for.
“We put our auto insurance on our credit card. I find ways to pay the electric bill and other bills on our credit cards to help meet those minimum spend and earn more rewards,” he said.
For travelers from Denver, one of the best ways to fly to Hawaii is going to be on Southwest Airlines.
“Here in Denver one of my favorite credit cards is the southwest card from Chase,” he said. “Southwest has said by the end of the year they will be selling tickets to Hawaii.”
Right now, you can score 40,000 bonus point just for opening the card. Those points will get you $600 worth of travel on Southwest Airlines.
Another option for travelers, which is a little more complicated, is to use the Chase Ultimate Rewards points. The points are earned through cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Sapphire Preferred. You can transfer the points to a number of airline partners to score valuable redemptions.
For example, you can transfer points to Korean Air, which is a partner with Delta Airlines. A roundtrip ticket from Denver to Honolulu booked through Korean Air will cost you 25,000 points. The same flight booked through Delta Airlines will cost you at least 42,000 points.
Now that you have a flight, it’s time to start working on hotels.
Hyatt has the most generous redemption options in Hawaii. The Hyatt Regency Maui, which easily costs $300 or more per night, requires just 20,000 points per night. The more economical Hyatt Place Waikiki on Oahu comes with free breakfast and will set you back 12,000 points per night. There are Hyatt properties on Oahu, Maui and Kauai.
Jason has another redemption option for families who want kitchens and laundry facilities.
“This is something very few people have written about but I really enjoy a card called the Wyndham Rewards card,” he said.
Wyndham operates several budget chains like Ramada and Super 8. However, they also have a large portfolio of condos and luxury vacation properties that cost just 15,000 points per night.
“So what I’m doing on my family’s next trip to Hawaii is we are redeeming our Wyndham Rewards points for a condo in Hawaii,” Jason said.
With just one or two cards, you could book a trip that is easily worth thousands of dollars. And there are countless redemption options.
We found an itinerary in June including two roundtrip flights from Denver and 12 nights in luxury resorts that would normally cost $9639.67. Using a little more than 240,000 points, you could take the same trip for $44.80. The only cost would be the unavoidable airline surcharges.
“It’s been about five years since I can remember paying for any airfare or hotel,” Jason said.
With a little practice, and a lot of research, you can take that dream vacation too.
“You’ve spend a significant amount of time, but you’ve saved far more than you would have if you stayed home and clipped coupons,” he said.