I’m probably one of the most credit card-dependent members of the TPG team. I already have too many for most humans to keep track of, resulting in my need to use spreadsheets to keep up with all my benefits. In fact, at last count, I had more than 20 open cards.
Given how many cards I currently have, I haven’t really been in the market for another card … until Alaska Airlines announced it planned to buy Hawaiian Airlines back in December 2023.
While we have no idea if the merger will get approved, we do know that Alaska says it will continue operating Hawaiian Airlines as a separate brand but will combine Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan and HawaiianMiles into one loyalty program. That opens up the possibility that HawaiianMiles could eventually become valuable Mileage Plan miles … or something similar.
It’s admittedly a very speculative move on my part to open two credit cards based on a hypothetical situation. However, I place a lot of value in Alaska miles and feel confident there’s enough of a chance of this hypothetical becoming a reality.
So, I decided to act.
I’ve taken various trips to Hawaii in recent years, so once I knew I was ready to consider adding a Hawaiian Airlines credit card to my wallet, I turned to my work desk drawer to see what card applications from flight attendants I had stored away.
I decided the old adage “in for a penny, in for a pound” was appropriate here, so I applied for both the personal and business versions of the Hawaiian Airlines cards. That way, I could really maximize the sign-up bonuses that may eventually go away (or, at least, evolve away from their current state) if the loyalty programs did ultimately merge into one.
In my case, that meant an offer for 65,000 HawaiianMiles after making a purchase within 90 days of account opening for the Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite Mastercard®, as well as an offer for up to 70,000 HawaiianMiles after spending $2,000 and making a purchase with an employee card within the first 90 days of opening an account for the Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite Business Mastercard®.
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Know, though, that you don’t have to have a huge business for this strategy to work. If you have any type of small business — even one as small as an eBay store — you can apply for a business credit card with your name as the business and your social security number instead of an employer identification number.
While the personal card isn’t great for regular spending, it does award 3 miles for every dollar spent on Hawaiian Airlines purchases and 2 miles per dollar spent on groceries, gas and dining. It comes with a $99 fee, but that’s a small price to pay for all those miles, in my opinion.
The business version of the card has similar earning rates. Like the personal card, it provides 3 miles per dollar spent on Hawaiian Airlines purchases and 2 miles per dollar spent on groceries, gas and dining. It, too, comes with a $99 fee, which is not waived the first year.
As can happen with many credit card applications, once I submitted my applications for the two cards, I learned that I wasn’t approved instantly. Both online applications were flagged with “Thanks for your interest. Your application is being reviewed” messages.
Luckily, I received the first of two phone calls from Barclays just a few minutes later. Once I answered a few questions about my application, I was given verbal approval for the new account over the phone. The same happened a short time later for the other application.
Within a week, my two brand-new Hawaiian Airlines credit cards arrived in my mailbox ready to use.
I expect to get at least 138,000 HawaiianMiles from opening these two credit cards. If they end up converting 1:1 to Mileage Plan miles at some point, as I’m hoping they will, I’ll likely have more than enough miles to book a round-trip business-class trip similar to the one I took to Taipei, Taiwan, with Starlux last year. At the time, that itinerary only cost me 120,000 Mileage Plan miles, though the award rates have since gone up.
Even if the miles don’t convert, either because the merger isn’t approved or because the conversion rate isn’t as favorable as I’m hoping, I can still find plenty of ways to use my HawaiianMiles. One redemption I’ve had my eyes on is a business-class seat on Hawaiian Airlines’ flight from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) to Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL) in Honolulu. I’ve seen seats available for around 80,000 miles each way.
I look forward to seeing what happens with the proposed merger and the HawaiianMiles and Mileage Plan programs. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy having yet another stockpile of miles hitting my account in the near future.