A Maui Trip Using Credit Card Benefits

Pam

Using points and miles for a Maui trip is something we do quite often. This particular trip is one that my husband and I do each year with our grandchildren. A few years ago we decided to take a couple of grandchildren to Hawaii with us for a week every year. We have a few timeshares that we bought before we got into the points and miles game so we need to use them and the perfect time is these yearly trips. Although the lodging isn’t on points and miles, we are still able to use points for much of our Maui trip along with many benefits from credit cards.

 

Lodging for Early Morning Flight

Our flight was at 8:00 in the morning and that meant we would have to leave our house by 5:00 am. That sounded horrible so we opted to use a free night certificate to stay at the Westin Hotel at Denver International. This is one of my favorite uses of a free night 50K certificate because I love this hotel and the cash price is around $400.  I have also had really good results in getting a Suite Night Upgrade there. Sure enough, I received one again which made the stay a lot nicer because we had one grandson with us for our early morning flight to Seattle (where the other grandson lives). These rooms are massive and so much fun to stay in and watch the airplanes coming and going. I get this 50K certificate annually with my Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card.

Because I have hotel status with Marriott, I also get a free breakfast for two at the Grill and Vine restaurant. Unfortunately, it didn’t open till 6:00 am, which would cut our check-in time too close, so we couldn’t do that this time. My Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card does come with a $300 annual hotel or resort credit so we used part of that for a free dinner though. (This perk is changing to a $25 restaurant credit each month soon).

 

Hotel room with tv in center

Being upgraded to a suite with two bathrooms made it much more comfortable the night before our flight to Maui.

 

American Express Centurion Lounge

Luckily, the American Express Centurion Lounge did open at 5:00 a.m. so we were able to pop in there for a quick breakfast. This is one of my favorite benefits of my American Express Platinum card.  Currently, you can bring two people in with you (this is changing in 2023). Without a doubt, this card has the best benefits if you are an airport lounge geek like me!

 

Food at airport lounge

Flights

Years ago, before I started travel hacking, we opened up the Alaska Airlines card. These come with a companion pass and we have kept these cards because of that. We routinely use them to get to Hawaii with our grandkids as they save us a lot of money. We aren’t using points and miles to book these trips as you can only book with cash to use the companion fare. However, we do earn Alaska miles when we book these flights. In this instance, we are taking advantage of a great benefit on a particular card and earning more points for future travels.

 

Screenshot companion fare price

Price of a ticket for grandson from Denver to Maui with companion fare.

 

Other Points and Miles Tips

Because we stayed at a timeshare we bought before I started travel hacking, we didn’t need to use points and miles for lodging. Of course, I used a credit card that I am trying to complete the minimum spend on for our car rental.

I also bought Visa gift cards at Staples with my Chase Ink Business Cash when they had a special with no activation fees. I bought $2,000 worth of gift cards to use for eating out, groceries, and activities so that I earned 5x points or 10,000 Ultimate Rewards. This would give me a free night at a lower-category Hyatt Hotel or go towards a nicer stay. I’m all about getting more Ultimate Rewards.

 

Activity Recommendations

We recommend snorkeling at Honolua Bay if you stay on the island’s north side. It is a bit rocky but the snorkeling is really good there.

One activity we always book is a snorkeling trip on the Hula Girl. The staff is phenomenal and the food is amazing. We always have a great time with this activity.

 

2 boys sitting on sailboat

 

Hiking is a great (and free) activity. My husband and grandsons loved the Makamakaole Stream trail. The waterfall was a real treat to swim in.

 

3 men standing on big rock

 

3 men in front of waterfall

 

D.T. Fleming Beach is great for boogie boarding and body surfing. Luckily, there are some shady places for me. They also enjoyed renting surfboards for $30 a day and trying a little surfing.

 

two boys holding blue surfboards

We were able to earn points on our Maui trip by using gift certificates we bought with a credit card to book surfboards!

 

It happened that our grandson’s birthdays took place on our trip (they are one day apart). We booked an activity they were really excited to do – spearfishing! Lopaka’s Aloha Adventures was who we booked through and, although they didn’t get much in the way of fish, they had a great time.

 

Bottom Line

Sometimes almost all of my trip is paid for with points and miles. Sometimes it is just a flight and sometimes it is lodging. It all works and makes traveling so much more affordable. Our trip with points for a Maui trip with grandsons was done using the Alaska Companion Pass and gift cards that I bought with my Chase Ink Cash. We also used benefits from credit cards like airport lounge access, TSA PreCheck, and free checked bags! I love that there are always more ways to use credit cards than just points and miles!

Blue water and palm trees and white church

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