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Maximizing JetBlue Redemptions on New Mint Business Class

by on June 25, 2014 · 8 comments

in American Express, JetBlue, Los Angeles, Membership Rewards, Mile and Point Value Series, New York

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Last week I released the June installment of my monthly point valuations, which included a significant boost to the value of points in JetBlue’s frequent flyer program TrueBlue. Like Southwest Airlines, JetBlue uses a fare-based redemption system, so the number of points required for an award flight corresponds to the going cash price. This means that TrueBlue points typically have a fixed value of 1-1.3 cents apiece. However, with the recent launch of JetBlue’s new business class service Mint, the upper limit of that range has improved by over 30% to 1.7 cents apiece.

Seats in Mint are available at a standard rate of $799 or 61,100 TrueBlue points each way, which corresponds to the regular value of 1.3 cents. However, JetBlue has priced several restricted fare seats on each flight (for which Mint is available) at the lower rate of $599 or 35,000 points. Here’s a sample itinerary from LAX to JFK on September 17, 2014.

Jetblue Mint fares

TrueBlue redemptions in Mint are going for as low as 35,000 points each way.

Not only is the cash price discounted for these seats, but the cost in TrueBlue points is disproportionately lower, yielding the higher redemption value of 1.7 cents each.

Mint is currently available only on flights between JFK and LAX, but service between JFK and SFO will begin in October. I tried pricing flights on the latter route for early 2015 with the same result. Here’s an itinerary from JFK to SFO for January 6, 2015.

SFO

While service to SFO hasn’t begun, you can already book discounted Mint fares into 2015.

At 70,000 points round-trip, these discounted Mint fares cost a bit more than business class on other carriers at the lowest redemption levels (typically 50,000 miles), but are significantly less than, say, a United Standard Award (100,000 miles) or an AAnytime fare on American (at least 90,000 miles). Mint stacks up well against the competition with regard to quality of product as well, featuring 16 lie-flat beds with 4 private door closed suites. Seats are 6’8″ long and 22.3″ wide, both tops in the US domestic market.

With the so-far limited routing, Mint can’t make a big enough splash to sway pricing on other carriers or force them to match the quality of service. However, JetBlue has set a high bar, and in the long run Mint could be a game changer.

Mint’s lie-flat seats are 80 inches long when fully extended.

If you want to give your TrueBlue point balance a boost, you can sign up for the JetBlue Card from American Express which currently offers 20,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months. On top of that you’ll earn up to 8 points per dollar on eligible purchases of JetBlue flights and Getaways vacation packages on jetblue.com, and 1 point per dollar spent on other eligible purchases. The $49 annual fee is waived for the first year, and you can earn a $50 statement credit each year you purchase a JetBlue Getaways vacation package with your card. 

Alternately, you can transfer Amex Membership Rewards points to JetBlue at a ratio of 5:4, so you could trade 87,500 MR points for 70,000 TrueBlue points and redeem for one of the discounted round-trip fares in Mint. That gives you a value of about 1.37 cents per Membership Rewards point. You can do better with your Membership Rewards, but that rate isn’t horrible.

Have you flown (or do you plan to fly) Mint? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Mike

    Your Membership Rewards : True Blue ratio is incorrect. It’s 4:5, not 5:4. It takes 87,500 MR points to get 70,000 True Blue points.

  • mikeb

    The Amex point to Trueblue transfer ratio is not correct:

  • http://www.thepointsguy.com PR@TPG

    Thanks, the ratio was inverted and has been fixed.

  • LAKnight

    Do you suggest us to bank TrueBlue Points (thru AMEX Jetblue card) starting today for Mint Business Class? Or, should we bank all points thru Membership Rewards?

  • http://www.thepointsguy.com PR@TPG

    Generally you should bank MRs before TrueBlue points because they’re much more flexible (and thus more valuable). If you had the option of using either 70k TrueBlue points or 87.5k MRs for a Mint flight, better to use TrueBlue for the same reason.

  • Kim

    I will be flying Mint in early August JFK to LAX for business. Paying the fare difference of $599 vs. $320 to sit in JetBlue economy was worthwhile vs. paying 20,000 miles + $75 to upgrade on similar route on United’s 757-200.

  • U S

    Would it be a correct analysis to say that the most efficient way to accumulate Trueblue points is through the Amex Jetblue card over Amex platinum card since $1 spent on the Amex JB card = 1 TB point, but $1 spent on Platinum equal 4/5 a TB point, so less bang for the buck? This is assuming I only want TB points and don’t care about the flexibility of MR points. Is there a more efficient way to get TB points via another card? TIA

  • Anon

    Flew Mint LAX to JFK in late June and it was awesome. Got a fare for $599. I had recently flown American First class LAX to JFK and thought the food, amenity kit and wine selections were much better on Mint than on American. Only downside compared to American First Class is two by two seating (Mint does have 4 one seats, but these seem impossible to book) compared to American First Class which is all single seating. On Mint, if you are at the window seat and the person next to you is reclining, you have to step over them.

    That being said, I would never spend my own money on American First Class (I used miles to fly First Class). American First Class is aimed at corporate travelers whose companies pay the freight. I am Jet Blue’s target audience for Mint — a self employed professional who actually has to pay my own airfare.

    From JFK to LAX, Mint is only offered on the early morning flights. I flew back to LAX on an afternoon flight and was quite disappointed to have to downgrade to regular Jet Blue (and a middle seat to boot). Also, all the Mint flights have WiFi. My non Mint flight, much to my annoyance, was without WiFi.

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