Yesterday I posted about two new Barclaycard JetBlue credit cards: Plus and Business. The cards are almost identical except that the JetBlue Plus card offers 2X points back at grocery stores, and the Business card – for business supplies.
In this follow-up post, I’m discussing the JetBlue Plus and/or the Business card, which have nearly identical features — and not the regular, no-annual-fee JetBlue credit card that has a smaller 10,000-point bonus and very few other benefits.
This is not the first time I’ve posted about JetBlue, but I’ve had a chance to play with the JetBlue chart a little more today, and I’ve found a few interesting tidbits.
I like JetBlue for 2 reasons. First, it has roomy seats. The JetBlue’s 32” pitch is probably the best or at least one of the best in domestic economy.
Second, it often flies nonstop from NYC while others either don’t or have terrible availability. I honestly don’t want to waste a few precious hours when I’m going on a short vacation. Finding a nonstop availability to Mexico or the Caribbean on AA or United, at least to places where I want to go, has always been a challenge to me.
Third, TrueBlue — the JetBlue frequent flyer program — allows free family pooling. Those of us who have always struggled trying to combine our miles with the miles of family and friends without paying exorbitant fees for it, know how valuable this is.
But the most important question still remains:
How much juice can you squeeze out of the sign-up bonus?
Fortunately, since TrueBlue is a revenue-based program, that’s an easy question. On average, you can get 1.4-1.7 points per every cent after taxes. In other words, your 30,000-point sign up bonus will get you $321-411 after deducting the $99 annual fee.
My threshold for applying for a credit card is $400. This card qualifies, but just barely. I’d have to be very careful about my redemptions if I wanted to get the best possible value out of it.
Here are a few examples
A non-stop flight between New York and Puerto Plata, DR is not easy to get. American flies via there via Miami. United does fly to POP from EWR, but trying to find availability is an adventure. Not so much with JetBlue. If you manage to get it at the lowest price, it’s less than 15,000 points roundtrip!
That means, of course, that the revenue fare is also low. In order to get to the true value, as we’re always striving here on this blog, we’ll have to deduct the airport taxes from the award ticket, because the cash ticket price is all-inclusive. So, the “real” cost of our ticket is $238.10, and your TrueBlue point value (hereinafter TBV) is 1.6 for a cent. Not too bad for a revenue-based program
The price won’t usually be favorable, especially if you’re booking a few months ahead, but you can still find a good deal. I’ve found a lot of flights in the fall for 17,600 points. Still not too shabby!
New York — Punta Cana: 13,800 points RT, TBV: 1.7.
Although, a earlier flight is 19,800, with TBV sliding down to 1.6.
Fort Lauderdale — Quito (Ecuador) is 11,980 points roundtrip, TBV: 1.7.
Here is the revenue fare if you want to chalenge my calculations. 🙂
New York — Quito is more expensive, and the TBV is lower: 1.5.
And finally, one of the two longest flights in the JetBlue network, New York — Lima. Just like Spirit, JetBlue routes it via Fort Lauderdale. The cheapest I found was 28,800 points, so you would have to spend your whole bonus on this flight. TBV: 1.5.
Out of curiosity, I also priced the most expensive flight to Lima I could find (I didn’t comb the whole schedule, though). It was 71,800 points. And the TBV was pretty bad, too: 1.4.
The fare was over $1,100.
JetBlue credit card soft benefits
No, it’s not an official term. I’m pretty hardcore (LOL) when it comes to sign-up bonuses, but there are other values, too. As I mentioned before, the sign-up bonus would only barely qualify this credit card for me, but it has an abundance of those, too.
As a reminder, here is the list of the JetBlue credit card benefits.
- 30,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days.
- six points for every $1 spent on JetBlue purchases
- two points for every $1 spent at restaurants and grocery stores (for the business card restaurants an office supply stores, thanks GEM!).
- one point for every $1 spent on all other purchases
- Free checked bag for the primary cardmember and up to three companions (must but tickets with the JetBlue Plus Card).
- 5,000 bonus points every year after your account anniversary.
- 50% savings on eligible inflight purchases including cocktails, food and movies.
- 10 percent of your points back every time you redeem to use toward your next redemption.
- Primary car rental collision coverage
- PIN-ready for international travel
- No FOREX fee
- SPECIAL MENTION: FAMILY POOLING
What this list means is what I’ve been saying all alone — it’s an excellent card! However, I’m especially interested in 2 benefits (after the sign up bonus, of course).
10% refund on redeemed points
This benefit is better than the same benefit from the Citi AAdvantage card. The JetBlue credit card gives you this refund immediately upon redemption, and not at the end of the year. If (and this is a big if) you can really use this benefit, it’s like getting a better TBV on every redemption. Your 1.5 TBV becomes 1.6, your 1.6 TBV becomes 1.8, and your 1.7 TBV becomes 1.9 — very close to the 2:1 value we seek on a coach redemptions with traditional frequent flyer programs.
The problem is, that your sign-up bonus won’t last long, unless you redeem your points for very short flights (a roundtrip between Las Vegas and San Francisco can cost 3,500 points one-way). But keep in mind that an ultra-short haul, like the LAS-SFO flight mentioned above can have a horrible TBV. This flight can cost as low as $34, so your TBV will be less than 1 point per cent. You will most probably want to pay cash for a flight like this.
On another hand — and this is why I really love the JetBlue TrueBlue program — it allows family pooling.
Technically speaking, family pooling is a TrueBlue program’s benefit, not a JetBlue credit card feature. But it’s so awesome, I just had to bring it up.
Let me just think aloud here. 30,000 points for the JetBlue Plus plus 30,000 points for the JetBlue Business, plus 30,000 points for the wife’s Plus plus 30,000 points for the wife’s Business. That’s 124,000 family TrueBlue points for $398 if you count the mandatory spend. Provided that both of us can get them all, of course.
Since TrueBlue points mostly interest me for travel to Mexico and the Caribbean, let’s say my average award would hover around 17,000 points, as I won’t always be able to get the lowest redemption rate. If we presume that I could manage taking advantage of all 10% refunds, then I would squeeze an extra trip out of the bonuses.
124,000 points would get me 7 roundtrip flights to the Caribbean.
136,000 points would get me eight!
Now, do I really need 8 flights to Mexico or the Caribbean? No, but you might. See, I usually fly to a beach destination once a year, and usually solo. To most of you, normal people, that would be just 2-3 family trips.
So, which sun-kissed destinations are the cheapest on JetBlue? Non-scientifically, I would say, Cancun, San Juan, DR, St. Lucia, Aruba, Grenada, and St. Maarten. They aren’t cheap 365 days a year, but if you’re after the sun, these can be your best shots.
Mint is an excellent, modern first class product with a lie-flat seat. But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t find more or less decent TBV on Mint. I know I haven’t combed the whole schedule and it’s quite possible I have missed something.
However, what I have found is a bunch of pretty bad values. If you want to fly in first, you’re better off buying your seat for cash, otherwise you’re getting around 1-1.1 TBV. Not a value proposition at all.
JFK-LAX Mint on Points
JFK-LAX Mint on cash
Since most flights in the JetBlue network (at least the ones I’m interested in) are less than 6 hours, I really don’t know. I try to be practical about premium class travel and usually save my miles for really long hauls. And besides, this generous JetBlue coach seat pitch makes a 3-4 hour flight … no, not pleasant, but … what’s the word … oh yeah! Perfectly tolerable.
You can redeem TrueBlue points for flights on Hawaiian Airlines, but you shouldn’t. TrueBlue doesn’t publish the chart of point redemptions, but that’s because there can be no chart. You can redeem the points on the same revenue-based scheme, only it’s going to be no more than 1 point per cent — if you’re lucky. So skip that.
JetBlue does have a bunch of international airline partners, but you can’t redeem miles on any of them. There was some chatter during the presentation that JetBlue was looking into that, so we’ll see. In any case, that’ll be then, and this is now.
JetBlue will remain the AMEX Membership Rewards partner
I was told by the JetBlue representative that this wouldn’t change, at least for the time being.
So where to apply and should you?
I’m still on the fence since I mostly travel internationally, but I’m likely to go for it. This is a really good product — much better than the AMEX card was, albeit more expensive, too. Folks who fly JetBlue often and who are into a long-term relationship with JetBlue shouldn’t think twice, IMHO, due to the long list of valuable features. Gamers will get their fix too, although the annual fee stings a bit. But if you do go for a JetBlue credit card, I’d recommend going for all the points you can get and pool them over after that (pun intended).