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The best cards for booking private jet travel

Oct. 10, 2020
14 min read
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Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new card details and information.

While it's no secret that flying private is almost always much more expensive than going commercial, you don't necessarily have to be ultra rich to do so. Sometimes, you can book heavily discounted empty-leg flights or find deals with industry players looking to make luxury flying more affordable. With the recent surge of charters due to COVID-19, there’s been an increase of last-minute deals available, especially on popular leisure routes.

Just about every points-savvy traveler knows that the best card for airfare purchases is The Platinum Card® from American Express, with its 5x (equal to a 10% return based on TPG valuations) on eligible airfare booked direct or via Amex Travel (which will be capped at $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year starting on Jan. 1, 2021) and the recent addition of travel protection benefits. But what about those flights that aren't operated by a major airline, including private flights? Can you earn valuable rewards for jet setting aboard a Gulfstream G500?

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Often times, private jet services do not code as travel purchases and won't earn bonus points with credit cards such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve. However, that doesn't mean that you have to forego rewards completely. There are credit cards that pay rewards as valuable as 4 cents per dollar spent on these types of transactions.

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(Photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy)

The best credit cards for flying private

Comparing the best credit cards for flying private

Here's an overall look at the six best possibilities for maximizing private jet flights that don't code as travel expenses, ranked by value on spend:

Earning rate on private jet travelValue of points (based on TPG valuations)Total value per dollar spent
The Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express2x2 cents each4 cents
Chase Freedom Unlimited1.5x2 cents (when paired with a UR card) each3 cents
The Amex EveryDay Preferred Credit Card from American Express1x, plus a 50% bonus when you use the card 30 times a month. Terms Apply.2 cents each3 cents
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card2x1.4 cents each2.8 cents
Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card2.625x (for Tier 3 cardholders in the Preferred Rewards program)N/A2.625 cents

The information for the Amex EveryDay Preferred has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

While the Blue Business Plus card appears to be the clear winner from a purely numerical standpoint, it's important to break these options down one by one, taking a look at how these returns are calculated and which cards are right for you personally.

Related: How travelers are using private jets to avoid coronavirus exposure

The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express

Earning rates: Earn 2x points per dollar on the first $50,000 in purchases each calendar year, then 1x

Welcome offer: Earn 15,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months of account opening.

Annual fee: $0 (see rates and fees)

Analysis: As you can see from the table above, The Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express offers the greatest rewards-earning potential for private jet spending. The no-annual-fee card earns 2x Membership Rewards per dollar, amounting to a 4% return based on TPG's valuation of 2 cents per point. The only bummer is that the 2x points bonus only applies to the first $50,000 spent each calendar year -- then drops to 1x. While that's still solid earning potential for a no-annual-fee card (100,000 Membership Rewards points are enough for two round-trip A321T premium transcontinental business class flights or a round-trip business class ticket to Japan), in most cases, you'll be spending more than $50,000 a year on private flights and will want to use another card after you reach that cap.

Also keep in mind that this is a business credit card, so you'll need to have some sort of small business (even if it's just a side hustle or freelance gig) to apply.

APPLY HERE: The Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express

Chase Freedom Unlimited

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Earning rates: Earn 5% back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% back on dining, 3% back at drugstores and an unlimited 1.5% cash back on everything else.

Sign-up bonus:Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back!

Annual fee: $0

Analysis: The Chase Freedom Unlimited is a no-annual-fee card that earns a flat 1.5% cash back on general spending with no cap. While that's a solid return on its own, you could potentially double the value of your rewards by pairing the Freedom Unlimited with a Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or Ink Business Preferred Credit Card. By doing so, you'll be able to redeem your cash-back as full-fledged transferable Ultimate Rewards points, amounting to a return of 3% per dollar spent based on our valuation of 2 cents per point.

While this won't necessarily help with your private jet bookings, the card was refreshed in September and now also offers a generous 5% back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% back on dining and 3% back at drugstores.

Related: Why Chase Sapphire Preferred and Freedom Unlimited are the perfect beginner combo

Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card

(Photo by The Points Guy)

Earning rates: Earn 3x points at U.S. supermarkets up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1x), 2x points at U.S. gas stations and 1x points on other purchases. If you use your card 30 or more times on purchases in a billing period, you’ll earn 50% more points on those purchases (less returns and credits).

Welcome offer: You can earn 15,000 Membership Rewards points after you make $1,000 in purchases in your first three months — though be sure to check the CardMatch Tool to see if you’re targeted for a higher welcome offer (targeted offer subject to change at any time).

Annual fee: $95

Analysis: The Amex EveryDay Preferred can be a lucrative option, but only if you’re willing to commit to it. The card earns 3x points at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 in purchases per year), 2x points at U.S. gas stations and 1x point on everything else. Now, 1 point per dollar on private airfare isn't a great return, but if you make 30 or more purchases in a billing cycle, you’ll earn a 50% point bonus. If you’re able to do this, you’ll effectively be earning 1.5x Membership Rewards points, or a 3% return on all your private jet bookings. As an added bonus, you'll earn 15,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $1,000 in the first three months.

The card comes somewhat short of the Blue Business Plus, but could still be a good choice for those who don't qualify for a business card or expect to max out the other card's $50,000 cap.

Related: Is it better to earn bonus points or cash back during the pandemic?

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

(Photo by Wyatt Smith / The Points Guy)

Earning rates: Earn 2x miles on every purchase.

Sign-up bonus: Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.

Annual fee: $95

Analysis: The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card offers a simple way to earn and redeem miles without sacrificing value. All purchases earn a flat 2 miles per dollar, so there's no need to worry about how your private jet bookings will code. Miles could be redeemed at a fixed rate of 1 cent each as statement credits to “pay” for travel purchases you’ve made in the last 90 days or they could be transferred to a selection of airline partners. Based on TPG valuations (and not provided by the issuer), transferring to these partners could get you about 1.4 cents per mile in value, meaning the 2x earning rate on this card equals a 2.8% return. This card has an annual fee of $95.

APPLY HERE: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card

Earning rates: Earn at least 2x points on travel and dining, 1.5x points on all other purchases.

Sign-up bonus: 50,000 points after you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening

Annual fee: $95

Analysis: If it's cash-back you're after and want a card that'll continue providing significant value after the first year, your best bet might be the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card. Anyone who holds considerable assets in a BofA or Merrill account — including retirement or investment accounts — is eligible for the Bank of America’s Preferred Rewards program and will get increased rewards when spending with this card. If you maintain $100,000 or more in your accounts, you'll qualify for Platinum Honors status and earn 3.5% back on purchases that code as travel or dining and an unparalleled 2.625% on everything else.

Spend CategoriesRegular CardholderTier 1 – Gold ($20,000 – $50,000)Tier 2 – Platinum ($50,000 – $100,000)Tier 3 – Platinum Honors ($100,000+)
Travel/Dining Earnings2x points2.5x points3x points3.5x points
Other Earnings1.5x points1.875x points2.25x points 2.625x points

The card offers a 50,000-point ($500) sign-up bonus after spending $3,000 in the first 90 days of account opening. It has a modest annual fee of $95, but it's more than offset by perks such as an annual up to $100 airline incidental statement credit and an up to $100 Global Entry application fee credit. Members of the Preferred Rewards program also get a host of banking benefits such as waived ATM fees and discounted auto loans, depending on the tier.

Related: The best Bank of America credit cards of 2020

Saving on your private jet flights

There are a number of services that offer charter subscriptions and private jet-like experiences for less than you might think.You can score significant savings by booking empty leg specials — when an aircraft is scheduled to fly without any passengers — and "by the seat" on scheduled charter flights. Some World Elite Mastercards also offer discounts from private jet charter operators. For instance, eligible cardholders can get up to $1,000 off a round-trip private air charter from Vitesse Worldwide, plus a $500 credit toward ground transportation.

“With more companies and individuals buying private aircraft, there are more jets flying under capacity so they look for different ways to offset their cost of ownership. That has resulted in an increase in the accessibility to flying private through different digital platforms that connect the consumer to a private aircraft,” Andres Morales, executive vice president of global operations of aviation consultation company Skyline Group MC, told The Points Guy.

Related: The cheapest ways to get the private jet experience

Blade lets you book by-the-seat on flights to popular vacation spots like Miami and Aspen. (Photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy)

Bottom line

Ordinarily, the Chase Sapphire Reserve and American Express® Green Card are two of the best cards for travel purchases, as they earn 3x points on travel, amounting to a 6% return. However, since private jet spending doesn't always code as travel, you'll want to look into cards that have a high return on everyday spending.

The information for the Amex Green Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Ultimately, there’s no one-size-fits-all model when it comes to picking credit cards. The best strategy for you will depend on your typical spending habits, which type of rewards you're chasing and how complicated of a redemption scheme you want. For instance, if you value Ultimate Rewards points more than Membership Rewards points based on your redemption patterns, the Freedom Unlimited might be a better fit for you personally than the Blue Business Plus. You'll also need to consider other factors, such as whether you even qualify for business credit cards and whether you're willing to move assets to a new bank to maximize your rewards-earning potential.

For more on private jet travel, see:

Related guides

For rates and fees of the Blue Business Plus Card, please click here.

Updated on 5/3/21.

Featured image by (Photo courtesy of Andres Morales/Ajetsetter)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

TPG featured card

Best starter travel card
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

1 - 3X points
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Intro offer

Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points60,000 points
For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

Annual Fee

$95

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent, Good
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases
Best starter travel card
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

    Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points
    60,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $95
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent, Good

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases