Here’s How Much I Saved on a Last-Minute Trip to Hawaii Using Miles & Points

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Here's How Much I Saved on a Last-Minute Trip to Hawaii

Here’s How Much I Saved on a Last-Minute Trip to Hawaii

My wife and I recently took a last-minute trip to Hawaii, visited two islands, and stayed for a week. This trip was thrown together when my wife surprisingly had a week off before starting a new job. I wanted to do something to celebrate her new job, so went to Hawaii. Here’s a look at how we saved thousands of dollars on this last-minute trip to Hawaii and some things that helped pull it together


Delta Air Lines flight from Los Angeles (LAX) to Honolulu (HNL)

We paid 14,500 SkyMiles per person to book these flights 4 days in advance. The cash price was $179 each. That’s a redemption value of 1.2¢ per mile, which is right around the average for what Delta SkyMiles are worth. It’s a 5-hour flight.

We also set Delta as the preferred airline on one of my wife’s Amex cards, so we could get reimbursed for the checked bag fee.

RELATED: American Express Business Platinum Benefits Guide

Hawaiian Airlines flight from Honolulu (HNL) to Kona (KOA) 

For our flight from Oahu to Hawaii (“the big island”), we flew on Hawaiian Airlines. This 45-minute flight only costs $55. However, I was sitting on a mountain of Delta SkyMiles from a previous cancelation, so we decided to pay 7,500 SkyMiles each for the flight. That’s a value of 0.7¢ per mile in the redemption. Not great, but we were willing to do it to save money and use some of my SkyMiles.

Delta Air Lines flight from Kona (KOA) to Los Angeles (LAX) 

Cash prices for our return flight were $149 per person. We paid 13,000 SkyMiles each to book economy seats in Main Cabin. This is a redemption value of 1.1¢ each. It’s a bit below average for Delta SkyMiles, but we were happy to save nearly $300 by using miles.

Hotel Review: Sheraton Princess Kaiulani in Waikiki, Hawaii


Sheraton Princess Kaiulani in Waikiki – 3 nights

This is a Marriott Bonvoy property. We used three free night awards to stay here, since the property was charging 30,000 points per night and the free night certificates are worth up to 35,000 points each.

Cash price for the standard room we booked was $185 per night. The room we upgraded to during check-in costs $210 per night. We saved $555 and got a redemption value of 0.62¢ per point.

Hyatt Regency Waikiki – 1 night

We spent one night at this property, which is just 2 blocks from the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani. Thus, we walked over to check in.

The property is a category 5 hotel and charges 20,000 points per night. I had a category 1-7 free night award from reaching Globalist status last year with Hyatt. The cash price of a standard room was $234 per night. The room they upgraded us to would cost over $800 per night.

We saved $234 on the room and got resort fees waived from my Globalist status. Our redemption value was 1.2¢ against the standard room and 4¢ against the suite.

RELATED: Resort Fees On Award Stays – Which Hotels Charge Them? 

We stayed at the Hyatt Regency Waikiki on a last-minute trip to Hawaii; here is their front entrance
Hyatt Regency Waikiki

Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa – 2 nights

After flying to Hawaii, we stayed at this property in Waikoloa, not too far from the airport in Kona. Award pricing per night was 40,000 points. Cash prices for a standard room were $578 and $713 for the room we upgraded to at check-in. The property also waived the daily parking fees for us, due to my status with Marriott. That saved us $25 per day, plus tax.

I used a 50,000-point free night award from my Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ Credit Card from American Express and a 40,000-point free night award that I chose as my elite gift from Titanium status.

We saved over $1,150 dollars on this stay, just from the room rates. Our point redemption value on the standard room was 1.4¢.

Other Ways We Saved Money


Parking in Hawaii can be super expensive. And that doesn’t take into account the horrible prices I saw for last-minute rental car rates in Honolulu and the cost of gas there. We saved well over $500 by not renting a car in Honolulu.

RELATED: How to Visit Oahu without a Rental Car

We used The Bus (the city bus), which costs $5.50 for a day pass for adults. Google Maps is connected to the bus routes, so it was super easy to figure out what bus we needed, where it stopped, and what time it would arrive.


Every hotel we stayed at gave us free breakfast, so we didn’t spend any money on breakfast. We saved hundreds of dollars this way.

The Hyatt Regency provided us Club Lounge access. We ate dinner here to save money that night.

Since our stay spanned the end of February and beginning of March, we were able to use the monthly perks from my American Express Gold Card twice. The card offers $10 per month in statement credits at restaurants like Ruth’s Chris or Cheesecake Factory, as well as orders with Seamless and GrubHub (enrollment required in advance). GrubHub also sent me a “$5 off an order of $20 or more” coupon right before our stay. We used this card perk twice and requested pick-up to save on delivery fees. We ordered from restaurants close to our hotel and saved $25 on food this way.

We also visited a supermarket and bought inexpensive snacks like fruits and nuts to avoid purchasing expensive snacks in the touristy areas while walking around.

Image of walkway up to a Hawaiian Airlines plane

Being Flexible With Plans

I would be remiss to not point out that this was not our original itinerary plan. We wanted to do 3 nights in Honolulu and then go to Maui. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find anything available in Maui where we could use our points for a last-minute trip.

All of the hotels had one of two issues:

  • Points required per night were above the value of our free night certificates, or
  • The hotels weren’t accepting any more points bookings

I was able to find one night here…one night there…types of bookings. However, we weren’t willing to stay at 3 different hotels in 3 nights, all on completely different parts of the island. Being flexible with our itinerary allowed us to instead use points on a different island. Thus, we went to the big island.

Adding Up Our Savings for a Last-Minute Trip to Hawaii

So, how much did we save on a last-minute trip to Hawaii?

  • Flights: $766
  • Bag fees: $60
  • Taxes: $22.40*
  • Hotels: $1,945
  • No rental car in Honolulu: $500+
  • Free daily breakfast savings: $140+
  • Total: $3,433.40 at minimum

*Note about the taxes: my wife has Delta set as the preferred airline on one of her Amex cards. We paid the taxes on our award bookings with that card. It triggered the airline incidental credit, and we received credit for these fees.

RELATED: What Still Works for Amex Airline Incidental Credits in 2022

Image of a sunset in Honolulu

Final Thoughts

We had a great time in Hawaii. Full reviews on our hotels are coming soon, as well as a post about “what it’s like visiting Hawaii right now” for anyone who is curious.

With a little bit of flexibility on our itinerary, we were able to save over $3,400 on a last-minute trip to Hawaii.

Ryan Smith
Travel hacker in 2-player mode, intent on visiting every country in the world, and can say "hello" or "how much does this cost?" in a bunch of different languages.

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  1. We went last year, when it was too difficult to go anywhere else warm enough. American had round trip in first class for 45K per person.

    We used Barclaycard Advantage points to pay for 7 nights in a hotel a block from Waikiki beach, and for our rental car, as well.

    We did pay for our breakfasts, because they had suspended their free breakfasts. But the cost at the various places we went averaged about $25-30 for both of us, or about $200 for seven days.

    We ended up with a bonus day. A mechanical issue meant that our flight home was canceled, and the itinerary we ended up with was the next evening. AA took good care of us, though. We received vouchers for a taxi to and from the Waikiki Hilton, a night there, and $50 in food vouchers each, usable in the airport or at the hotel.

    Our total cost for 8 days on Oahu with lie flat seats each way ended up at under $1200.

  2. The Delta points at .7 were the biggest question mark since you can always redeem for at least 1 cent on Delta. I guess if you just wanted to use them.

    • Andrew – “you can always redeem for at least 1 cent on Delta” isn’t necessarily true. And I covered this: I had a huge stash and didn’t mind using them.

  3. Great illustration in real life terms of the way points and miles can help you out.

    On a side note, I’m not sure if it was intentional or not but you listed your last name.

  4. Nice trip, and great practices, that’s what this is all about. However, I’m left wondering why you didn’t include the $10,000 savings from not renting a super yacht for a few hours, that would have far surpassed the $500+ you saved by not renting a car and taken no more effort! Seriously, including what you didn’t do, amounting to nearly 15% of your savings breakdown – I thought only Congress budgeted that way.

      • It’ a good tip, but had nothing to do with points and miles saving you money. I think it’s a fair criticism, but it’s also a good point to make for visitors of Honolulu with the crazy rental car prices!

        • I disagree. It’s not a fair criticism, since it isn’t made in good faith and uses non-logical reasoning.

          • You should have left it at, “It’s a practical tip for others planning trips,” b/c that’s exactly what it was, and kept it out of the savings tally. Including it wasn’t a big deal, but nor was my post. My post was not intended to be criticism, nor was it intended to be a complement. And it was absolutely offered in good faith; a bit of humor, even at your expenditure, doesn’t render a post in bad faith. It was intended to be what it was, an observation that including a non-expenditure, a hypothetical cost, an item that didn’t exist any more than a luxury yacht rental existed, was at-best creative accounting, but perhaps more accurately, an embellishment of the total savings from the hobby. Perhaps bloggers are a bit too thin skinned, it doesn’t appear to take too much to set things off – now that’s a criticism.

          • You didn’t set me off. I called it bad faith because it intentionally uses bad logic, which I decided to point out. You’ve continued employing bad logic here. But thanks for reading!


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