The most rewarding airline credit card: JetBlue Plus Card review
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JetBlue Plus Card Overview
The JetBlue Plus Card offers a terrific return on airfare spending and comes with a 5,000-point anniversary bonus that covers nearly two-thirds of the card’s $99 annual fee. Benefits such as a free checked baggage allowance, 10% rebate on award redemptions and annual JetBlue Vacations statement credit make this card worthwhile, even for occasional travelers. Card Rating*: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
*Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG’s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
JetBlue’s loyalty program, TrueBlue, tends to fly under the radar, as redemptions are largely restricted to flights operated by JetBlue and Hawaiian Airlines. However, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing if JetBlue is your airline of choice. After all, it has long been known for its customer-friendly experience, superior (and TPG Award-winning) Mint business class and an extensive East Coast and Caribbean route network. The ability to use TrueBlue points on Hawaiian Airlines is definitely a good thing. Plus despite the ongoing pandemic, the airline still plans to launch flights to London in 2021. The information for the JetBlue Plus 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.
If you are a JetBlue flyer and want to boost your TrueBlue balance or elevate your flying experience with the airline, it makes sense for you to pick up the JetBlue Plus Card. The card has a solid sign-up bonus, given its low spending requirement, and offers a number of valuable perks that help justify its $99 annual fee.
Who is this card for?
This card is ideal for those who fly JetBlue regularly. An annual points bonus, free checked bag, a 50% discount on inflight purchases (including cocktails and food) and a rebate on award bookings make it easy for frequent flyers to get value from the card. If you’re a frequent JetBlue flyer but don’t fly enough to get elite status, the card offers a fast track JetBlue Mosaic status.
This card is also great for families. In addition to the savings the card provides on award flights, bag fees and onboard purchases, JetBlue offers many family-friendly programs and policies that aren’t specific to the card. For instance, it offers complimentary assigned seats (aside from Blue Basic fares), the most economy legroom among U.S. airlines, a free snack basket, free DirecTV and complimentary, gate-to-gate FlyFi Wi-Fi for all passengers. The JetBlue TrueBlue program is also unique in that it permits family members to pool their miles to earn award flights faster.
Sign-up bonus: As much as $1,300 in value
The JetBlue Plus Card is currently offering new cardholders up to 100,000 bonus points. You’ll earn 50,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days and paying the annual fee, plus an additional 50,000 points after spending a total of $6,000 on purchases within the first 12 months. That’s worth a whopping $1,300 based on our valuations, which is the best offer this card has seen.
Even if you just go for the 50,000-point bonus, the spending requirement is lower than on most travel rewards cards. Also, in reality, the welcome bonus is worth slightly more, as the card offers a rebate on all award bookings, stretching your points further.
Main benefits and perks
In addition to the high return on JetBlue spending, there’s a ton of value in the benefits offered by the JetBlue Plus Card. Although the perks mostly revolve around JetBlue, even occasional flyers should be able to take full advantage of them.
- Free first checked bag — Get a first checked bag free for you and up to three companions on the same reservation when you purchase a ticket with your card.
- 5,000-point anniversary bonus — Get 5,000 points on every account anniversary. These points are worth about $65, so without setting foot on a JetBlue plane, you’re covering nearly two-thirds of the card’s $99 annual fee.
- 50% inflight savings — Get 50% back on eligible inflight purchases on JetBlue-operated flights, including alcoholic drinks and Eat Up snack boxes. This discount is applied automatically, generally on the day the charge posts to your card account.
- Fast-track Mosaic status — Get automatic Mosaic status after spending $50,000 on the card in a calendar year.
- 10% rebate on award flights — When you redeem TrueBlue points for a JetBlue flight, you’ll earn 10% of those points back after you take the flight — which can be used toward your next redemption.
- Annual JetBlue Vacations statement credit — Get a $100 statement credit every year with your purchase of a JetBlue Vacations package of $100 or more with your card.
- No foreign transaction fees
- Trip delay protection — Get up to $300 per trip if your flight is delayed more than six hours (maximum of twice in a 12-month period)
- Trip cancellation and interruption coverage — Get up to $5,000 back in nonrefundable expenses per trip ($10,000 maximum per 12-month period) if you need to cancel or interrupt a trip for a covered reason.
- Lyft credits — Take five rides in a month and get a $10 credit once a month.
- Cell phone insurance — When you charge your monthly telephone bill to your card, your cell phone will be covered against damage or theft up to $800 — with a $50 deductible — up to $1,000 per 12-month period.
How to earn points
On the earning side, this card outdoes most cobranded cards from other airlines and even some cards that earn transferable points. With this card, you’ll earn 6x points per dollar on JetBlue purchases, 2x points at restaurants and grocery stores and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases.
Based on our valuations, that is equal to a 7.8% return on JetBlue spending, 2.6% on dining and groceries and 1.3% on everything else. As a point of comparison, the no-annual-fee version of this card offers half as many points on JetBlue purchases.
It’s also worth noting that as a TrueBlue member, you’ll earn at least 2 base points per dollar on JetBlue flights booked directly on top of the 6x points you’ll earn through the card, so you’ll really be walking away with a minimum 10.4% return on JetBlue airfare spending — or 15.6% for tickets booked on non-Blue Basic tickets.
How to redeem points
The TrueBlue loyalty program is revenue-based, so redemptions are very straightforward. You can redeem points for any seat, including JetBlue Mint seats, on any JetBlue flight across its entire route network and get a fairly consistent value from your points. The more a flight costs in cash, the more it costs in points and vice versa.
For instance, whenever JetBlue offers one of its somewhat frequent flash sales with flights starting at $20 one-way, they can usually also be booked for a measly 400 points. The positive to this is that you won’t have to worry about scouring for saver award availability, although it also means that there aren’t any major sweet spots for long-haul international first class.
Although JetBlue partners with a handful of airlines, you can currently only redeem TrueBlue points on Hawaiian Airlines. Instead of using the revenue-based redemption model that ties the award rates to the price of an individual itinerary, TrueBlue has a more standard, region-based award chart for these tickets.
To give you a general idea, one-way flights to Hawaii cost 22,000 points from the West Coast and 30,000 points from the East Coast in coach or 45,000 points and 70,000 points, respectively, in first class.
In mid-July 2020, JetBlue announced plans for a codeshare partnership with American Airlines. While there are still a lot of unknowns, the pact might eventually include the ability to earn and redeem miles across both airlines.
Which cards compete with the JetBlue Plus Card?
Being a transfer partner of all of the major transferable points programs — American Express, Capital One, Chase and Citi — the card’s competition goes well beyond just the no-annual-fee and business versions of the card. Here’s a side-by-side look at the card’s three direct competitors:
|Card||Annual Fee||Sign-up Bonus||Earning Categories*||Best Benefits|
|Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card||$95||Earn 100,000 bonus miles when you spend $20,000 on purchases in the first 12 months from account opening, or still earn 50,000 miles if you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months||2x miles (2.8%) on all other purchases||Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit (up to $100)|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred Card||$95||80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months from account opening. Plus earn a $50 statement credit on grocery purchases in the first year of account opening.||2x points (4%) on travel and dining; 1x point (2%) on all other purchases||Decent travel and purchase protections, including primary rental car coverage, trip delay insurance and baggage delay insurance. Get 25% more value for points when spent on travel in the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal|
|Citi Premier® Card||$95||60,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.||3x ThankYou points per dollar (5.1%) on airfare, hotels, gas stations, restaurants and supermarkets and 1x ThankYou point (1.7%) on all other purchases||Extended warranty; $100 hotel benefit (on a single hotel stay of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, when booked through thankyou.com per calendar year); Citi Entertainment|
*Return percentages (%) are based on TPG valuations and not provided by the issuers
Although there’s plenty of value to be had for other types of spending, none of the other mid-tier cards come close to the JetBlue Plus Card when it comes to return on JetBlue spending or benefits.
There is also The Platinum Card® from American Express, which technically gets you a 10% back on airfare booked directly with the airline or through Amex Travel — 5x Membership Rewards points, worth 2 cents apiece per TPG’s valuations. Starting Jan. 1, 2021, earn 5x points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year. However, that valuation is assuming you can get more value from your points through other transfer partners. If your end goal is to transfer your Amex points to JetBlue, then you’ll really be getting a lower return on JetBlue spending than with the JetBlue Plus Card.
The Amex Platinum card also comes with a much heftier $550 annual fee (see rates and fees). So, no matter which type of ticket you’re booking — award or cash — you’re going to come out ahead using the JetBlue Plus Card compared to using another card
Between the 6x earning on JetBlue flights, free checked baggage allowance, 10% rebate on award redemptions and 50% savings off inflight purchases, the JetBlue Plus Card is a no-brainer if you regularly fly JetBlue. Even if you’re just an occasional traveler, the 5,000-point anniversary bonus alone makes up for two-thirds of the annual fee, and then checking a bag on one round-trip a year will bring you ahead. And that’s all before factoring in the card’s best-ever 100,000-point sign-up bonus.
If you don’t think you could benefit from the higher earning rate or perks such as the free checked baggage allowance, then you might want to stick to the no-annual-fee JetBlue Card.
APPLY for the JetBlue Plus Card here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum Card, please click here.
Additional reporting by Benét J. Wilson
Featured image by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy
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