Last updated on July 22nd, 2022 at 10:13 am
In 2022, I know many in Hawaii still carry the Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Mastercard as their default credit card. But why? There are better ones out there. So, today, I want to discuss what I consider to be the best airline credit cards for Hawaii residents.
Let me preface this post by stating that the Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Mastercard is a decent value if you fly Hawaiian often. The $99 annual fee includes perks such as an annual $100 companion credit and the first checked bag free for the primary cardholder. But those benefits are exceedingly weak compared to the cards I’ll cover in this post.
Best Airline Credit Cards for Hawaii Residents
What credit card works best for you is up to your own personal preferences. For example, do you travel primarily out-of-state or inter-island? Do you usually have a travel companion? How much are you willing to pay in annual fees? These are all things to consider while we go through this list.
The first card on my list of best airline credit cards for Hawaii residents is my personal favorite – the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature card. Much to Bank of America and Alaska Airlines’ credit, this card has remained stubbornly unchanged for years. So let’s break things down.
- Annual fee: $75
- Primary benefit: Annual $99 companion fare certificate – starting at $121 with taxes and fees (economy only)
- Checked bag benefit: First checked bag free for you and up to six companions on your itinerary
- Earning rate: 3x with Alaska, 1x for everything else
- Onboard benefit: 20% discount inflight purchases
- Other benefits: no foreign transaction fees
This card has saved me THOUSANDS of dollars since I first got it back in 2018. It’s my go-to card whenever I travel domestically with Mrs. Island Miler. And, no, Alaska doesn’t charge you a special fare that’s higher than normal when using the certificate – you pay the same base fare regardless of whether you use the certificate. Plus, with a $75 annual fee, this card is inexpensive to own. The checked bag fee credit alone can wipe out the annual fee after just four flight segments.
The second card on my list of best airline credit cards for Hawaii residents is similar to the Alaska Airlines one in that it offers a companion certificate, but how it works is quite different, as is the annual fee.
- Annual fee: $250
- Primary benefit: annual companion certificate – pay taxes and fees starting at $80 (economy only)
- Checked bag benefit: first free checked bag for yous and up to eight others traveling with you on your itinerary
- Earning rate: 3x with Delta and hotels, 2x at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets, 1x on everything else
- Onboard benefit: 20% statement credit for inflight purchases
- Other benefits: $100 Global Entry/$85 TSA Precheck credit every four years, earn 10,000 MQMs when you spend $25,000 up to twice per year, no foreign transaction fees, $39/person SkyClub access, Trip Delay Insurance, Lost Luggage Insurance
Now, Delta’s annual companion certificate only works within the contiguous U.S. However, residents of Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico can still use the certificate for domestic travel so long as your trip originates within your home state and the address associated with your account is in that state. For once, those of us outside of the lower 48 get a better benefit!
The third card on my list of best airline credit cards for Hawaii residents is a higher-end version of the second card on the list. With it, you get a better companion certificate, lounge membership, and a higher annual fee.
- Annual fee: $550
- Primary benefit: same as SkyMiles Platinum but adds Delta Comfort+ and First Class
- Checked bag benefit: same as SkyMiles Platinum
- Earning rate: 3x with Delta, 1x on everything else
- Onboard benefit: same as SkyMiles Platinum
- Other benefits: same as SkyMiles Platinum plus Delta SkyClub membership, Amex Centurion Lounge access, priority upgrades over others with the same Medallion status, MQD waive to attain Platinum/Gold/Silver status when you spend at least $25,000 per year, earn 15,000 MQMs when you spend $30,000 up to four times per year, enjoy complimentary upgrades even without status, Trip Cancellation insurance
This card is excellent for those that frequently travel with someone else on Delta. I would even choose this card over the Amex Platinum, as the benefits better match my needs. That said, I don’t think this card gets you access to Amex Concierges or Fine Hotels & Resorts.
Card four in my list of best airline credit cards for Hawaii residents is the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card. Sure, there’s a cheaper option, but this one is worth the extra $30 per year.
- Annual fee: $99
- Primary benefit: 6,000 points per year – enough for a roundtrip inter-island flight
- Checked bag benefit: n/a – everyone gets two free
- Earning rate: 3x with Southwest, 2x with Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partners, 2x on local transit (including ridesares), 2x on telco and streaming,1x on everything else
- Onboard benefits: 25% statement credit on inflight purchases
- Other benefits: 2 EarlyBird check-ins per year, earn 1,500 TQPS towards A-List status for every $10,000 you spend
If you travel inter-island frequently, this card is for you. However, I think the next one is even better.
Card five in my list of best airline credit cards for Hawaii residents is another one I carry thanks to its fantastic value proposition.
- Annual fee: $150
- Primary benefit: 7,500 points + $75 Southwest travel credit
- Checked bag benefit: n/a – everyone gets two free
- Earning rate: same as Premier
- Onboard benefits: same as Premier
- Other benefits: same as Premier, except you get 4 Upgraded Boardings per year rather than 2 Earlybird Check-Ins
Sure,at face value, this card is more expensive to own that the Premier version. However, when you factor in the $75 annual travel credit, it ends up being cheaper. Plus, you can use that credit to offset your travel purchases, in addition to the annual points you get. That’s why I carry this card over the Premier version.
Best Airline Credit Cards for Hawaii Residents, Final Thoughts
I hope this list of best airline credit cards for Hawaii residents proves useful to you. At minimum, it shows that there’s a lot of value available to you out there, far beyond what you can get from the Hawaiian Airlines Worle Elite Mastercard. So why not get one of these cards instead? There’s a reason why I got rid of my Hawaiian card and replaced it with a Southwest Priority card. And there’s a very good reason why I’ve had the Alaska Air Visa for years now.
True, the cards I have don’t get my first class travel – far from. But they do make travel more affordable for me. In fact, without them, I wouldn’t be able to travel anywhere near as much as I have and we’d likely have to cut back on other aspects of our travel to make it more affordable. So you owe it to yourself to evaluate your strategies and see if you can benefit from making a switch.