More Amex alchemy: United award flights to Hawaii at a discount!

I wrote yesterday about how I’m crossing my fingers for another big sign-up bonus opportunity from Amex. These limited-time megabonus offers (50K, 75K, even 100K points!) have burst onto the scene a few times over the past few years, and it seems like it’s about time for another one to hit.

Since both Josh and I signed up for one of these great bonus offers last year (I got 100K, he got 75K points), we’ve got a big stash of Amex points in our account. I’ve been holding onto them because I thought we might need them for our big trip this summer, but it turns out that we don’t, so it’s time to book some travel!

Destination: Kauai. Since my cousin lives there, this is actually an affordable trip for us. We can stay with her, cook meals as a family, and get kama’aina deals.

Here’s how I did it, using our Amex points – on United, and at a discount!

(By the way – first, I tried to book our trip using Avios. Since we live on the West coast, this would have been the cheapest redemption option for us – and also bookable with an Amex points transfer. However, there was no Avios availability for the dates we wanted, so I turned to the next best option.)

Book United Airlines flights to Hawaii using Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles

Did you know that you can use Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles to fly to Hawaii on United? And did you know that by doing this, you can pay fewer miles for an award seat than with the United award chart?

If you’ve got Amex miles, you’ve got Krisflyer miles. Simply transfer the amount you’d like to use into your KrisFlyer account. Don’t have a KrisFlyer account? Amex makes it easy to create one, then link it to your Amex account for transfer purposes.

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With KrisFlyer miles, a round-trip award to Hawaii costs 35,000 miles in coach or 60,000 miles in business class. By comparison, United charges 40,000 miles in coach (5,000 more than KrisFlyer) or 80,000 miles in business class (20,000 more than KrisFlyer).

Note that KrisFlyer allows one-way award redemptions for just half the cost.

For reference, here is the Krisflyer Star Alliance partner award redemption chart:

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Before you transfer miles to KrisFlyer, it is a good idea to make sure that there is United award space available on the flights you want (at the “Saver Award” level – Standard awards won’t work here). You can do this easily on the United site; just make sure that you are not logged in when you search, as this sometimes results in the site displaying availability that is not bookable via Singapore Airlines.

Also, note that Singapore Airlines mileage transfers from Membership Rewards are not instant, and that it could potentially take up to 3 business days to complete the transfer; there is no way to hold award space while you are waiting. My experience is that it only takes a couple of hours, but this could be different for you.

Once you’ve confirmed availability and your mileage transfer is complete, you need to call the KrisFlyer service center to book over the phone (213-404-0301). They’re open 24 hours a day and are super nice. There is no booking fee for this transaction.

Using this option, we spent 140,000 Membership Rewards points for 4 round-trip tickets to Hawaii. Since this is less than the combined total of our 2 sign-up bonuses (and since we were flush with Amex points), I felt pretty good about this redemption. This is also something to keep in mind if you decide to go for the next big Amex bonus (whenever it happens).

Have you ever used this transfer option before?



  1. Good tip!
    Thank you.

  2. I did this exact thing in September for our trip to Hawaii. We loved going business class and saving 40,000 points for the two of us.

  3. Brilliant tip! Was not aware of this option. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Nice tip, thanks for sharing!

  5. Points Pixie says

    Slava – You’re welcome!

    Jane S. – Sounds AWESOME.

    Lakshmi – Glad you liked it!

    Food Wine and Miles – Sure 🙂

  6. I have to say thanks for this as well, As long as I can deal with the separate PNR, it’s a good way to supplement my United miles to get the whole family to Hawaii on points.

  7. justSaying says

    Very good idea……….the nuance of the game………..

  8. Interesting. One question though. Does UAL have to have Saver award space available or is this possible if just Standard space is available? Thanks.

  9. Just FYI: United does allow stopovers and open jaws on round trip HI, to make this an attractive deal for those redeeming UA points. Potentially if booking a roundtrip HI, you can book a domestic one way for free.

  10. If Hawaiian Airlines operates out of your origin, an even better option will be transferring your MR to Korean Airlines since they only charge 30k roundtrip to Hawaii on HA. Also, transferring MR to BA Avios is invaluable if you’re able to fly nonstop with Alaskan Air from the West Coast since it’ll only be 25k points. All depends on your routing though, and good to have so many options to Hawaii with MR.

  11. Christopher says

    Hi – When searching for award space on United that could be booked through Singapore Airlines, does it have to be Saver Awards or can the Standard Awards be booked? There are only Standard Awards available during the time I am looking to travel. Thanks!

  12. Points Pixie says

    omatravel – Yes!

    justSaying – we are all about the nuances 😉

    Kijo – You need to find Saver Award space.

    SJ – Great point, thank you.

    EC – Another great option!!

    Christopher – You do need to find Saver Space. I will clarify this in my post.

  13. I love this! great tip! It´s like my unusual find with LM a couple years ago…
    Depending on some of the routes or destinations, the mileage is different despite it being in the same region… Like travelling to SJO vs MGA…. or from SJO to MDE instead of MGA to MDE…
    So I´ve winded up leaving or arriving from different countries (in Latin America) :-p

  14. Are you sure this information is still valid? Singapore Air just published a new award chart on January 17. See . Which zone is Hawaii?

  15. Did you have to provide your passport number? I saw for their online redemption it was a required field. My husband and I have them, but our baby won’t unfortunately and we wanted to get her her own seat rather than travel with a lap infant.

  16. The non stop United flight from SFO to OGG has 3 seating categories: economy, economy plus and first/business first. Is first/business first same as business in this case to fly United on 60 K Singapore miles? I do see availability for saver first/business first on the day I want to fly. Does

  17. The non stop United flight from SFO to OGG has 3 seating categories: economy, economy plus and first/business first. Is first/business first same as business in this case to fly United on 60 K Singapore miles? I do see availability for saver first/business first on the day I want to fly.

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