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JetBlue and American Express Reportedly Cutting Ties

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Today, TPG Contributor Richie Cardinale looks at the reported end of the relationship between JetBlue and Amex, and the future of JetBlue’s co-branded credit card.

It was recently announced that Costco and American Express will end their partnership next year (a relationship that equates to roughly 8% of total annual spending on Amex cards) and on the heels of that news, Bloomberg is reporting that JetBlue will also cut ties with Amex after a ten years partnership forged via the JetBlue Card from American Express.

Although no official announcement has been made, sources say that JetBlue has inked a deal with Barclays and MasterCard that will debut in the future. Details of the new card have not yet been released to the public, but a drastic remodeling of the product is not out of the question.

JetBlue set to end partnership with Amex. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock
JetBlue is set to end its partnership with Amex. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Changes Coming To JetBlue

This potential change in credit card partners should come as no surprise to frequent JetBlue flyers. As a TrueBlue member, I recently received a survey from JetBlue (as I’m sure many of you also did) full of hypothetical questions about my card experience and how likely I would be to continue my card agreement if a change in credit card company were to occur. The survey was a clear sign that JetBlue had something in the works, and it seems as though we’ll know the final outcome shortly.

The JetBlue Amex has gone downhill since I became a cardmember. Amex previously offered bonus categories (including gas and groceries) that allowed me to earn thousands of additional points per month. Those have since been removed, and the only remaining bonus is 2x points per dollar at JetBlue.com. The card earns just 1 point per dollar on all other purchases, which makes it challenging to earn enough for a meaningful redemption. As Nick Ewen pointed out in his review of the JetBlue Amex last fall, it’s mostly useful only to those who frequent JetBlue hubs.

Even though I fit in that category and am a frequent flyer, I’ve elected to forego the card for other more valuable rewards. With cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Citi ThankYou Premier offering large sign-up bonuses and flexible rewards programs, it’s not hard to find a better product. I’m hopeful that a shakeup can revitalize the product and make it worth using again.

JetBlue's T5 At JFK. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock
JetBlue’s Terminal 5 At JFK. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

What to Watch for:

JetBlue has announced other changes to its business model recently, including plans to add seats to its aircraft, and to implement checked bag fees and different fare categories (like the recently launched JetBlue Mint business class). I expect the new co-branded card to compliment these changes. In order to retain its current cardholders and attract interest from new ones, JetBlue will need to make this card more competitive by offering benefits in line with other current products, such as:

  • Large sign-up bonuses;
  • Return of bonus categories (gas, groceries, etc.);
  • Free checked bags;
  • Priority boarding;
  • Free alcoholic beverages (it’s a long shot, but Mosaic members were entitled to this perk last summer);
  • No foreign transaction fees (given JetBlue’s Caribbean network and airline partners).

What are your thoughts on the JetBlue Amex breakup?

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