Did someone say Hawaii beach vacation for 4 under $350?!? I am telling you, taking a Hawaii family vacation on a budget IS completely possible. You just need to get a little creative :). We are walking you through step by step exactly how to make that heavily discounted travel magic happen below 👇🏼
Strategically using points and credit card bonuses IS your answer. (RESPONSIBLY in a way that will not only leave your credit score in tact but potentially even HIGHER than I was before). And when done well, can earn you some epic, nearly, free travel ✨
For years and years, we used our credit card like a debit card and just erased purchases when we took a vacation, dollar for point. Although that is better than using a debit card, there IS a better way. A few years ago we started to *really* learn how to get the most out of our normal every day spending and points. This is what we are going to show you below 🙂
Now we go on multiple dreamy family trips a year AND both have credit scores in the “excellent” range….so hear me out here 🙂
Make sure to check out our Points/Miles 101 guide for families here to answer all your burning questions. Like what about all the annual fees? Isn’t this just going to kill my credit score? So you spend thousands of extra to get a “free” vacations…yeah right. Answering all your FAQ’s and giving you a basic overview of the points world there- it’s a MUST READ.
Hawaii Family Vacation on a Budget – START HERE
Here’s exactly how to get a trip to Hawaii for a family of 4 for only $320.80!
If you are skeptical of the points world (like we were), we encourage you to just try it one time. If it’s not for you, no problem, move on with your life. The worst you can get out of it is a heavily discounted vacation, and your credit score either staying level or potentially even going UP.
*If you’re in a season of life where all your financial ducks are not in a row or you are in a ton of debt, we do NOT recommend this means of discounted travel. Don’t worry we have all been there :). But take some time to get that sorted out, then you can come back to the points strategy later!
1. You (Player 1) apply for our favorite travel rewards card-
Once you’ve decided if points for Hawaii is the right path for you, you will apply for your first card. (For Hawaii specifically we recommend applying a full 9-12 months before you want to travel, because those Hawaiian properties are HOT!).
Our hands down favorite travel rewards card is the Chase Sapphire Preferred. It has TONS of travel partners and uses for your points, a low annual fee, and 4x points on dining and restaurants. The card provides just so much flexibility and value ongoing.
You will meet the minimum spend ($4,000 in 3 months) and then be rewarded with big ole’ pile of 60,000 bonus points. We wish we had enough normal everyday spending to rack up the amount of points needed for multiple vacations a year. The reality is most people don’t.
The bulk of our points are earned from credit card welcome bonuses. (Again, visit the FAQs here if that is a new and uncomfortable idea…we get it!)
*The key here is meeting the minimum spend with your normal everyday spending, NOT A DIME MORE! Making additional purchases you wouldn’t normally buy to get a welcome bonus, literally defeats the entire purpose of the “free” travel. 🙂 Set auto pay up to pay your statement balance in FULL as soon as you get your card. Interest fees = *not* free travel.
Apply for that golden card here. Even if you don’t want to go deep in the points world, it is absolutely something you want in your wallet if you travel at all.
2. You refer your spouse (Player 2) to that SAME card
….pocketing 15,000 referral points along the way. The next step is to refer your spouse to that very same card. Make sure to use your referral link, found either within your rewards section of your Chase account or using this link HERE.
Your spouse (or commonly called player 2) will meet the minimum spend on their card and will be rewarded with another pile of 60,000 points. That’s 135,000 points between both of you that you’ve now got in your pocket for H A W A I I 💃🏽.
If you are thinking wow that’s a whole lot of minimum spend to meet, we can’t do that, think again. 🙂 $4,000 in 3 months is only $1,333/month! Most families spend more than that on groceries, gas, and eating out for the month alone! We love this article here from Travel Freely on ideas to meet that amount without OVER spending.
3. You and spouse call into the Blue Bank to combine those points allllll together!
This is the really easy part! Sometimes you will already see your spouse’s card linked when you click “Combine Points” in the rewards section of your travel account, however more often it is not. Simply call into Chase customer service at 1-800-432-3117 and tell a representative you would like to combine you and your partner’s points.
You can combine points with anyone that you share a household with :).
Now you’ve got 60,000 (your bonus) + 15,000 (referral bonus) + 60,000 (your spouse’s bonus) = for a total of 135,000+ points to get you to Hawaii!
4. Player 1 will apply for their last card to get that Hawaii family vacation on a budget!
The last card you will apply for will be the Chase World of Hyatt card, to get you a few more nights at that dreamy Hawaiian hotel.
*The most important thing here is that player 1 does not apply for that card until 60-90 days after that first Chase Sapphire application!*
If done responsibly, “travel hacking” will most likely only increase your credit score. BUT if you don’t play by the rules, your credit WILL absolutely be very negatively impacted. Applying for multiple cards back to back to back will, without a doubt, do that.
Hyatt’s have the very best ongoing value when it comes to booking hotels on points, so this is a great card to have! It also offers a free night certificate every year to use on hotels valued at $300+/night…so more than worth hanging on to. (Although you don’t have to, more on that below :)).
Apply for the Chase World of Hyatt Card HERE– The final piece to your Hawaii family vacation on a budget puzzle!
(If the idea of applying for a 3rd card feels new and uncomfortable to you…just stop at card 2 and make it a kid free trip! The 135,000 points is enough to get a super cheap trip to Hawaii for just hubby and you :)).
5. Transfer Points to purchase your flights
There are a ton of ways to redeem your points for flights. The main thing you need to know is the power of TRANSFER PARTNERS. Transferring your points to a travel partner of a credit card will 9 times out of 10 get you the most value. Compared to just erasing a purchase on your card with those same points.
Southwest is a super easy transfer partner for beginners, so that is what we are going to use for this example. Southwest has flights to Hawaii for as low as 25,000-30,000 points RT if you can be a bit flexible on your dates. (even cheaper if you’re on the west coast!)
So if you don’t already have a rewards account with them, set one up! Check flight availability, and once confirmed you will transfer the needed points to SW for your Hawaii flights. **Keep in mind, once points are transferred, they can never be sent back!**
In your rewards section of your Chase account you will see a “Transfer your Points” option. Click that, find Southwest in the list and put in your SW loyalty number. Those points should show up instantly over in your SW account. When booking your Hawaii flights for your family, you will only now be responsible for paying the taxes on the flight. They are usually $11.20 per person for domestic flights!
The cash cost of these flights would be $1,500! …and that’s just to GET there.
6. Transfer Points to reserve your Hawaii Hotel
Lastly, that oh so dreamy Hawaiian resort. 🙂 SO you have probably about 35k points remaining in your Chase account and that 60,000 bonus sitting over at Hyatt.
Start by setting up a World of Hyatt membership account if you don’t already have one. Next, same drill as above, transfer those remaining Chase points over to your Hyatt account. You now will have 95,000 points+ (more with your points on your minimum spends) to spend on a hotel in Hawaii.
Hawaii for a family of 4 for $329.50! Bucket list trips ARE possible…let us show you how to take a Hawaii family vacation on a budget 🙂
*The BEST part is that Hyatt does not charge taxes or resort fees on award stays, so this is truly a FREE booking!*
The cash value for 4 nights at these luxury properties would be around $3,400! …I think I will choose the points 🙂
7. Enjoy magical (nearly) free Hawaiian family vacation
✨ BOOM Hawaii Family Vacation on a budget for a fraction of the normal cost! You did it! Do you see the power of points?! Just by signing up for 2-3 new cards, you earned yourself a nearly fully covered Hawaii family vacation on a budget for your entire fam!
So that total was 3 annual credit card fees ($95 x 3) + four sets of taxes on the flights ($44.50) = $329.50 ALL IN 🤯
Things to keep in mind…
✔️ Minimum Spend- you are ONLY making purchases you would normally make, not a dime more. (or it completely defeats the whole “free” travel part 😉)
✔️ After 1 year with the card, you have the option to downgrade to the no annual fee version of the card, ask for a retention offer, or cancel the card. This article on what to do with your cards after the vacation is SO helpful 🙂
✔️If you play by the rules and are RESPONSIBLY spending, paying your statement balance in FULL every single month, you will most likely only see your credit score go up!
Other Hawaii budget tips
If you want to extend your trip, but keep costs to a minimum, I would recommend booking a few additional nights at an Airbnb. Resort cash rates in Hawaii are just crazy high, so a vacation rental is the way to go for a longer stay.
A few other tips for keeping your Hawaii vacation costs to a minimum:
- Shoot for eating out only 1 meal a day, this always really helps to keep our family’s travel costs low. If we are staying in a resort, stopping at the grocery store to have breakfast items in the room on hand. The gets one of your meals covered at a MUCH lower cost.
- If you do eat out, don’t make every meal a fancy restaurant. The food trucks in Hawaii along the road are AMAZING
- Focus your time on nature and activities that don’t require a ton of entrance fees etc. Nature, hikes, and beautiful views are FREE!
- If you rent a car, we 100% recommend looking into Turo. If you haven’t heard of it, it is like the Airbnb of rental cars. This can save you HUNDREDS!
- Be FLEXIBLE in your dates! Sometimes changing your flights by even just a day or two can save you so many points. Those points can then be put towards additional days at the resort.
- We usually pick ONE “splurge” activity per trip that we all agree upon. This helps from those fun expenses snowballing and coming home with a massive unexpected bill!
We really hope this was helpful! Sending you all the Hawaii family vacation on a budget positive vibes! For more where this came from, FOLLOW us at @wayfarenco over on Instagram. We’ll show you how to take more dream family vacations for LESS! 👏🏻👏🏻