Credit Card Review: The JetBlue Plus Card
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JetBlue’s loyalty program, TrueBlue, tends to fly under the radar, as redemptions are largely restricted to JetBlue-operated flights. 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. Plus, the airline recently announced plans to fly to London starting in 2021.
If you consider yourself a JetBlue flyer and are looking to boost your TrueBlue balance or elevate your flying experience with the airline, it could make sense for you to pick up the JetBlue Plus Card. The card has a solid welcome 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?
In case you didn’t get the message, this card is ideal for those that fly JetBlue regularly. Perks like an annual points bonus, free checked bag, discount on inflight purchases and rebate on award bookings make it easy for frequent flyers to get value from the card year after year. If you’re a more frequent JetBlue flyer, but don’t fly enough to get elite status, the card could also be great for you as it offers an opportunity to fast-track JetBlue Mosaic status.
Finally, this card is great for families. In addition to the savings the card can provide 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, the most economy legroom among US airlines, a free snack basket and both free DirecTV and gate to gate Wi-Fi for all passengers. The JetBlue TrueBlue program is also unique in that it permits family members to pool their miles together in order to earn award flights faster.
The JetBlue Plus Card is currently offering new cardholders 40,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days and paying the annual fee. That’s worth $520 based on our valuations, which is not bad considering the spending requirement is a lot lower than on most travel rewards cards, though the card has offered higher bonuses in the past. In reality, the welcome bonus is worth slightly more as the card offers a rebate on all award bookings that technically increases the value of your points by roughly 11% (more on that soon).
On the earning side, this card actually outdoes most cobranded cards from other airlines and even some transferable point-earning cards. With this card, you’ll earn six points per dollar on JetBlue purchases, two points per dollar at restaurants and grocery stores and one point per dollar on all other purchases. Based on our valuations, that is equal to a 7.8% return on JetBlue spending, which is fantastic, and 2.6% on dining and groceries and 1.3% on everything else. As a point of comparison, the no-fee version of this card offers half as many points on JetBlue purchases.
It’s also worth noting that as JetBlue TrueBlue member, you’ll earn at least 6 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 15.6% return on your flights.
The TrueBlue loyalty program is revenue-based, so redemptions are very straightforward. You can redeem points for any seat, including 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 each way. The positive to this is that you won’t have to worry about scouring for saver award availability, though it does also mean that there aren’t any major sweet spots, such as for long-haul international first class.
Although JetBlue partners with a handful of different 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 addition to the high return on JetBlue spending, there’s a ton of value to be had in the perks the JetBlue Plus Card offers. Although they mostly all 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 Blue fare with your card.
- 5,000-Point Anniversary Bonus — Get 5,000 points every account anniversary. These points are worth about $65, so without even setting foot on a JetBlue plane, you’re already covering nearly two-thirds of the card’s $99 annual fee.
- 50% Inflight Savings — Very straightforward, 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 — Any time you redeem your TrueBlue points for a JetBlue flight, you’ll earn 10% of those points back that can be used toward your next redemption.
- Annual JetBlue Vacations Statement Credit — Get a $100 statement credit every year you purchase a JetBlue Vacations package of $100 or more with your card.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees — Use the card anywhere around the globe without incurring extra charges.
Aside from the JetBlue-specific perks, there are several general travel and purchase protections, as well as other everyday perks, the card offers as a World Elite Mastercard. Here are a few that stand out:
- Trip Delay Protection — Get up to $300 per trip if your flight is delayed more than 6 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 5 rides in a month and get a $10 credit once a month.
- Postmates Discount — Get $5 off every order of $25 or more.
- 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.
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-fee and business versions of the card. Here’s a side-by-side look at the card’s three most direct competitors:
|Card||Annual Fee||Welcome Bonus||Earning Categories||Best Benefits|
|Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card||$95 (waived the first year)||50,000 miles after you spend $3,000 within the first three months||10x miles (14%) on Hotels.com purchases at Hotels.com/Venture; 2x miles (2.8%) on all other purchases||Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred Card||$95||60,000 points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months||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 he Chase Ultimate Rewards portal|
|Citi Premier Card||$95||60,000 points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months||3x points (5.1%) on travel (including gas stations), 2x points (3.4%) on restaurants and entertainment and 1x point (1.7%) on all other purchases||Extended warranty|
While there’s plenty of value to be had in them for other types of spending, as you can see, 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 The Platinum Card® from American Express, which technically gets you 10% back on airfare in our book — 5x Membership Rewards points, worth two cents apiece, per dollar spent on airfare. 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 card also comes with a much heftier $550 annual fee (see rates and fees) and doesn’t offer any of travel protections JetBlue card covers. 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 to book the same travel.
Between the 6x earning on JetBlue flights, free checked baggage allowance, 10% rebate on award redemptions and 50% savings off in-flight 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. If you don’t think you could benefit from the higher earning rate or perks like the free checked baggage allowance then you might want to stick to the no-fee version of the card.
For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum Card, please click here.
Featured image by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy.