Is the Hawaiian Airlines Mastercard Worth Its Annual Fee?

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For just about any travel rewards credit card, the biggest reason to hesitate before signing up is the annual fee. Over time, membership fees can make the “free” travel you earn expensive. The Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite Mastercard® has an annual fee of $0 intro for the first year, then $99.

So is it worth it? For travelers who plan to head to the Aloha State and can earn the welcome bonus without racking up interest charges, the answer is, probably so. For users who live in one of the markets Hawaiian Airlines serves, the answer looks more like a solid yes. The card features — especially the welcome bonus — are worth more than the annual fee for these travelers.

Here’s the current sign-up bonus: Limited Time Offer: Earn 60,000 bonus miles after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 90 days.

» Learn more: 5 things to know about the Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Mastercard

Miles required for a flight

West Coast to Hawaii flights on the airline start at 17,500 miles each way. So that welcome bonus from the Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite Mastercard® can go a long way.

Category bonuses

Bonus spending categories add to that value. Most purchases on the card earn 1 mile per $1 spent. But use the card at gas stations, grocery stores or restaurants and that doubles to 2 miles per $1. Use the card to make a purchase directly from Hawaiian Airlines and you’re up to 3 miles per $1 spent.

Companion discounts

The 50% off companion discount, good for 13 months, is another valuable perk. But that expiration date can pose a quandary: The discount doesn’t apply when all or part of the tickets are purchased with miles. You must book your ticket with cash only.

So do you book your next trip to Hawaii using the welcome bonus and risk running out of time to plan a second trip before your companion certificate expires? Or do you make your first booking in cash, apply the 50% companion discount and postpone using miles until your second Hawaii trip? For folks who can take only one Hawaiian vacation a year, it can be hard to get the most out of that discount.

Cardholders also receive an annual $100 companion fare discount every card anniversary.

Free checked bags

The Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite Mastercard® free checked bag benefit can also go a long way toward offsetting that annual fee. The first checked bag on Hawaiian costs $30 each way on flights between Hawaii and North America, making that perk worth $60 on a round-trip flight. Unfortunately, the free checked bag is for the primary cardmember only.

How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2019, including those best for:

Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice:
Airline credit cards that offer free checked bags
Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles: The complete guide
Find the best airline credit card for you

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