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Two of the new JetBlue credit cards available through Barclaycard are offering 30,000-point sign-up bonuses. To help you get the most out of those points, TPG Senior Points & Miles Contributor Jason Steele shares some of the top destinations you can fly to using the sign-up bonus alone.
JetBlue recently introduced three credit cards from its new partner, Barclaycard. In particular, the JetBlue Plus Card and the JetBlue Business Card offer some innovative upgrades over the previous TrueBlue card from Amex, including 6x points for JetBlue purchases, a free checked bag and the ability to earn Mosaic elite status through spending alone.
The JetBlue Plus and the JetBlue Business Card are each currently offering new applicants 30,000 bonus points after spending just $1,000 within 90 days of account opening. In today’s post, I want to take a look at some of the cool places you can travel to on JetBlue with that sign-up bonus.
About JetBlue’s TrueBlue Program
JetBlue’s TrueBlue is a revenue-based program, but the value of point redemptions varies significantly. According to TPG’s current valuations, points are worth 1.1-1.4 cents each. When I looked at the value of points for various awards, I was often able to get on the higher side of those valuations, and occasionally even better. However, there wasn’t any logic that I could find that determines when and where you get the most value from your points, so the best strategy is just to use them to get to your destination of choice. Here are a few ideas:
1. Costa Rica
TPG and I recently had a chance to fly from New York-JFK to Liberia, Costa Rica on JetBlue. In the dead of America’s winter, Costa Rica feels a bit like summer in San Diego, with a surprisingly dry climate and daytime temperatures in the 90s. JetBlue offers nonstop service to Liberia from both JFK and Boston, and to San Jose, Costa Rica from Orlando and Fort Lauderdale.
One thing that makes this such an attractive destination for award travel is the nearby Andaz Peninsula Papagayo Resort, which features stunning architecture, great beaches and plenty of monkeys playing in the trees overhead. As a Category 4 Hyatt property, it requires just 15,000 points for an award night — a bargain considering that rooms will often sell for well over $500 a night. You can also redeem your annual free night from the Hyatt Credit Card at this property, along with the two free nights you get with the current sign-up bonus.
2. Quito, Ecuador
One of JetBlue’s most recently added destinations is Quito, Ecuador, a historic center and culinary destination in its own right, as well as a great jumping-off point for the Andes Mountains, the Amazon rain forest and even the Galapagos Islands. Only an hour from downtown, you can enjoy hot springs, horseback riding and hiking in the cloud forest.
JetBlue offers nonstop service to Quito from Fort Lauderdale, and I found several dates with awards available for 6,600 points one-way, so you can easily redeem your 30,000 points for two round-trip tickets. And from Boston, I found many dates this summer with round-trip award tickets priced below 30,000 points.
3. Anchorage, Alaska
Did you know that JetBlue flies to Alaska from Seattle, Portland and even Long Beach, California? Alaska is an outdoor paradise, with summer activities ranging from hiking, camping and fishing to viewing whales, bears and bald eagles.
Even during the peak summer season, I was able to find plenty of dates where you could fly nonstop from Long Beach to Anchorage for under 30,000 points round-trip. From Seattle, it’s even possible to redeem 30,000 points for two round-trip tickets.
4. Mexico City
Mexico’s capital is emerging as a destination full of history, culture and fantastic food. It’s also rich in hotels where you can earn and spend your loyalty points, making it a great all-around destination for award travelers.
JetBlue offers nonstop service to Mexico City from both Orlando and Fort Lauderdale, and I was able to find plenty of dates this summer with flights from New York for 9,000 points each way. For a more complete guide to sightseeing in Mexico City, check out TPG contributor Diego Szteinhendler’s Flight-Deal Guide to Mexico City.
5. Grand Cayman
The Cayman Islands are a spectacular destination for scuba divers and beachgoers alike, and JetBlue offers nonstop service from New York-JFK and seasonal service from Boston.
There’s a handful of hotels where you can earn or redeem points, ranging from the Ritz-Carlton to Comfort Suites. Other options include a Wyndham, a Westin and a Holiday Inn. I found plenty of dates this summer where you can book a round-trip award flight for well under 30,000 points.
6. Transcontinental Flights
JetBlue has made a name for itself by offering frequent transcontinental flights between major cities like New York, Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco, and there are many dates when award tickets cost less than 30,000 points round-trip. So if you need to spend some time on the other coast, you’ll have just enough points to do so.
Other Options for Spending TrueBlue Points
Don’t forget that you can top off your TrueBlue account by transferring American Express Membership Rewards points to JetBlue. 250 Membership Rewards points equal 200 TrueBlue points, and while the transfer rate could be better, this is an option if you need to reach a certain number of points for an award.
You could also use the points from these sign-up bonuses toward JetBlue Getaways, vacation packages that include a hotel. I found that points were worth significantly more when used to help pay for one of these packages using a Points + Cash rate. I sampled a few vacation packages at the cash rate versus the Points + Cash rate, and found that points were worth 1.7 -1.9 cents each, which is quite a bit more value than you’d normally receive. So if you’re planning on booking a hotel with cash, consider taking a look at the options available through JetBlue Getaways to see if you can stretch your points a bit further.
Another fantastic value is the upgrades to Even More Space that are made available to JetBlue’s Mosaic members starting at 200 miles each way. Considering that these upgrades often cost $60 or more, this can be a great way to use your points. You can become a Mosaic elite by earning 15,000 base flight points, or by flying 30 segments and earning 12,000 points. Holders of the JetBlue Plus Card and the JetBlue Business Card can also reach Mosaic by spending $50,000 on their card within a calendar year.
What’s your favorite use of 30,000 TrueBlue points?