What is JetBlue elite status worth in 2021?
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If you’ve ever held elite status with a travel provider, you know the included perks can positively impact your travel experience. But if you qualify for elite status with an airline, exactly how much value can you get in a year? And if you’re starting from scratch, is it worth going out of your way to earn elite status at all?
Today we’ll evaluate a small carrier that has pushed some of the larger airlines to up their games — and has its sights set on international expansion. We’ll dive deep into the benefits offered through elite status in the JetBlue TrueBlue program to help you determine if pursuing it in 2021 is worthwhile. Read on for full details on this analysis.
After you’re done here, make sure to read our other airline elite status breakdowns:
- American AAdvantage
- Delta SkyMiles
- United MileagePlus
- Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan
- Southwest Rapid Rewards
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How I developed these valuations
Before we get to the ins and outs of the TrueBlue program, a couple of quick reminders.
First, this analysis is just one way to peg a value to elite status, so you should adjust any of my assumptions or calculations based on your own travel patterns and considering what each perk is worth to you. You may not consume alcohol and don’t care about free drinks. Or, you could always check multiple bags and get a ton more value from that perk.
In other terms: make sure the numbers below are relevant to you.
Second, I’m basing this analysis on the assumption that you’ve already earned JetBlue status and will have a similar travel pattern in 2021. However, if you’re starting from scratch and plan to work your way up to JetBlue elite status, the numbers are a bit skewed. This is because you won’t enjoy any perks until crossing the qualification thresholds. If you’re in this position, you’ll find a link to an Excel spreadsheet later in this article that’ll give you an idea of the value you’d get from the TrueBlue program.
The third and final critical part of this analysis involves the underlying assumptions I’m making. To truly land on a value for a given level of elite status, I have to assume a certain amount of flying and a corresponding amount of spending. JetBlue follows a similar qualification formula as Southwest: using dollars spent (base points) rather than miles flown. For the sake of this analysis, I’m making the following assumptions:
- You earn 20% more base points than the minimum required for earning status (you earn 3 base points per dollar spent on airfare, except the new Blue Basic fares).
- You take at least seven round-trip paid flights during the year.
As always, you should adjust these assumptions based on the level of travel you expect to complete.
Further, as an elite member with JetBlue, you’ll earn bonus points when you fly. I’m basing the value of those points on TPG’s most recent valuations, which peg TrueBlue points at 1.3 cents apiece. In addition, I’m rounding all numbers below to the nearest $5 to make the calculations a little simpler.
Things to consider before chasing JetBlue status
There are a couple of things to keep in mind as you decide to chase JetBlue elite status in 2021. Here’s a look at some further considerations — these are especially important given 2021 is far from a normal travel year.
How much are you traveling during the coronavirus pandemic?
It’s impossible to talk about travel without discussing the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The pandemic has changed travel as we know it, and many of us are traveling less. Airlines have responded to the pandemic by extending elite status and making it easier to earn status in 2021.
JetBlue both extended elite status validity and lowered qualification requirements last year. 2020 elite status was extended through 2021 and qualification requirements were cut substantially for the 2021 status year. This year, you can qualify for JetBlue Mosaic status by meeting one of the following requirements:
- 7,500 Mosaic qualifying points (vs. the usual 15,000 points)
- 6,000 Mosaic qualifying points + 15 segments (vs. the usual 12,000 points and 30 segments)
- $50,000 spent on purchases with the JetBlue Plus Card or JetBlue Business Card during the calendar year (as before, more on this soon)
- $30,000 spent on purchases with the JetBlue Plus Card or JetBlue Business Card + 4,000 Mosaic qualifying points during the calendar year (new and exclusively for 2021)
The information for the JetBlue Plus and JetBlue Business 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.
These lower requirements are a huge help for elites working to requalify in 2021 and new JetBlue flyers who are moving their travel spend to JetBlue. But as the author, I can’t be sure of how much you travel, so I’m not reworking these valuations for 2021 to reflect the coronavirus impact on travel.
Plus, with the vaccine rollout making strides around the world, we’re getting closer to being able to travel frequently again. The status you earn this year will be valid through 2022 when travel hopefully returns to some normalcy.
Remember, you can edit the provided Excel sheet and make changes to my assumed valuations for a more accurate look at the value of elite status.
Does JetBlue have a large presence at your home airport?
JetBlue has a relatively limited route map. Its biggest hubs are in New York-JFK and Boston (BOS), with a large presence in Fort Lauderdale (FLL), Los Angeles (LAX) and Newark (EWR).
If you live near one of these airports, JetBlue status could be a great option. There’s a good chance you already fly Delta regularly, given the airline’s large presence in your airport. This is especially true for those in Boston, as JetBlue has the largest domestic route network from the city.
Alternatively, you may travel to JetBlue’s hubs often and like its experience or — if you live near a smaller airport — you may fly connecting JetBlue tickets often. For example, Portland, ME (PWM) is close to Boston (BOS) and has nonstop service to the airport. You may find yourself connecting to other destinations via Boston regularly.
That said, you’ll want to skip JetBlue elite status if you don’t fall into one of these categories. You’ll have better flight options on an airline with a larger presence at your home airport and be able to use your elite status benefits more frequently.
JetBlue has a limited international route network
JetBlue’s route network is largely domestic, with a handful of routes to South and Central America. With that in mind, you’ll want to skip JetBlue elite status if you frequently travel to Asia, Africa, the Middle East or Europe. You’ll have to fly another carrier when you fly these routes and not be able to earn TrueBlue points, qualify for elite status or — more importantly — use your elite status benefits.
This may change in the future, though. JetBlue is launching nonstop service from Boston (BOS) and New York-JFK to London next year. This will be a huge step forward for JetBlue as it positions itself as a major competitor to the “Big Three” U.S. carriers.
You can fast-track to JetBlue elite status with credit cards
JetBlue status is one of the easiest— if not the easiest — elite statuses to earn with a credit card.
Yes, you read that right: you can earn JetBlue elite status without stepping foot on a JetBlue plane.
As discussed earlier, JetBlue is also offering JetBlue Plus or JetBlue Business Card the ability to earn status by spending $30,000 on your card and earning 4,000 Mosaic qualifying points in a single calendar year. This hybrid approach is exclusive to the 2021 status year and was introduced as an option to more easily qualify for status during the coronavirus pandemic.
That said, keep the opportunity cost of spending on a JetBlue cobranded credit card in mind. You may earn more points by putting your expenses on a transferable points card that earns bonus points on dining, travel or other popular categories. American Express Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards are generally more valuable than JetBlue points due to their expansive list of transfer partners.
Related: 10 tips for flying JetBlue with kids
How much do you value TrueBlue points?
You’re going to walk away with a solid stash of JetBlue TrueBlue points when chasing status, so make sure you value them highly. Otherwise, you could be left with a stash of miles you can’t use.
JetBlue prices award tickets based on the cost of a paid ticket; the more expensive a ticket is, the more points you’ll pay. One nice thing about this is that you can stretch your points when booking low-cost award tickets. Likewise, the airline has no blackout dates or traditional award space. So you can redeem your TrueBlue points on any ticket you’d like.
On the contrary, you can’t maximize your points for high-end business class award tickets or expensive last-minute tickets without draining your mileage balance.
Again, TPG’s latest valuation of TrueBlue points is 1.3 cents per point. Some flights may get marginally more or less value than this, but you’ll generally stay around this value when redeeming for economy tickets. Unfortunately, JetBlue has a lower redemption rate for Mint business class tickets. You’ll generally get around 1.0 cents per point in value on these.
Keep all of this in mind before aiming for elite status with JetBlue. If you want to redeem your points for international first class, you’ll want to go with a different loyalty program. That said, TrueBlue can be great for domestic travelers who want easy-to-redeem points.
JetBlue has limited business class routes (with no elite upgrades)
JetBlue has arguably the best domestic business class product. Dubbed Mint, it offers a lie-flat seat, excellent onboard dining and great service. It’s well regarded as one of the best ways to travel transcontinental, which is a big win given there’s serious competition from American, Delta and United on these routes.
Unfortunately, JetBlue only offers Mint business class on a handful of its flights. Most of these are long-haul transcontinental routes and flights to the Caribbean. The rest of JetBlue’s route network is operated by economy-only planes.
Further, JetBlue doesn’t offer complimentary upgrades to Mint business class to its elite members. So if you value traveling in front with complimentary upgrades, JetBlue Mosaic elite status isn’t for you.
JetBlue is soon partnering with American Airlines
One last thing: JetBlue and American Airlines announced partnership plans last year. This partnership will let the airlines codeshare on routes in the Northeast and expand each other’s route networks. It will also bring reciprocal mileage earning/redemption and elite status benefits. The details aren’t yet clear, but this is slated to be a huge improvement for both JetBlue and American elites.
I’m not including this partnership in my 2021 valuation as details have yet to be finalized. But this could make JetBlue elite status significantly more valuable next year.
So, how does the JetBlue TrueBlue program and its sole elite-status tier stack up? Here’s what I found.
JetBlue Mosaic ($1,685)
The only elite status level in the TrueBlue program is Mosaic status. In a normal year, you can earn this in a calendar year by flying 30 segments and earning 12,000 base points ($4,000 in spending) or by earning 15,000 base points ($5,000 in spending). You can also earn this status by spending $50,000 in a calendar year on the JetBlue credit card.
The information for the JetBlue credit 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.
For this analysis, I’ll base my numbers on the latter of the two qualification criteria and assume that you earned 18,000 base points on non-Blue Basic fares, indicating a total spend of $6,000, and took at least seven round-trip flights.
Waived same-day confirmed changes ($150)
JetBlue Mosaic members and their companions can make free same-day changes to a different flight, even on Blue Basic fares.
Two free checked bags ($250)
JetBlue’s two lowest fares (Blue and Blue Basic) don’t include a checked bag, so you’d need to either bump up to the next fare type (Blue Extra) or pay a bag fee. This doesn’t apply if you’re a Mosaic member since you and others on your itinerary can check two bags for free, regardless of the ticket you book. This will save you $30 on the first bag and $40 on the second bag after the carrier raised its baggage fees in 2018.
If you (and your friends or family members) regularly need to check multiple bags on JetBlue flights, this benefit could be quite lucrative, though keep in mind that you can get one free checked bag for you and your travel companions with the JetBlue Plus Card, one of the many reasons why I find that card to be quite lucrative.
Take 3 and Lucky 7 bonus ($155)
JetBlue also offers a couple of tiered bonuses when you complete a certain number of paid flights on JetBlue (not partners). The Take 3 Bonus awards 5,000 bonus points when you fly three round-trip flights, while the Lucky 7 Bonus will give you 7,000 bonus points after flying seven round-trip flights. While not officially a perk of Mosaic status, it is something that you’d almost certainly earn during your qualification. These 12,000 bonus points are worth up to $156 based on TPG’s most recent valuation.
Qualification bonus ($195)
In addition to bonuses based on flight activity, you’ll also enjoy a one-time bonus of 15,000 points when you qualify for Mosaic status, worth $195.
Bonus points ($234)
As a Mosaic member, you’ll earn 3 extra bonus points for every dollar spent on JetBlue flights. Since I’m assuming $6,000 worth of spending, that will give you 18,000 bonus points, worth $234.
Priority check-in, security and boarding ($200)
Mosaic members have priority check-in and access to Even More Speed priority security lines at dozens of airports. They will be among the first to board, giving you early access to overhead bin space. This is a nice collection of benefits if you’re running late for a flight but isn’t the most valuable perk out there.
Dedicated customer service line ($100)
You’ll also have a priority phone line to call as a Mosaic member, which can be fantastic in the event of a large-scale weather event.
Complimentary alcoholic beverages ($150)
In 2016, JetBlue began offering complimentary drinks to Mosaic members. Unlike similar perks offer to elite flyers on other airlines, this isn’t a single drink but extends to the entire flight. These beverages regularly cost $6 – $9 (though they are available at a 50% discount for JetBlue credit cardholders). Depending on how many flights you take and how frequently you enjoy a drink at 38,000 feet, this could be a very valuable perk.
Free upgrades to Even More Space seats at the airport ($200)
JetBlue recently announced that Mosaic elites would be eligible for space-available upgrades to Even More Space seats at the airport.
Even More Space is JetBlue’s extra legroom seats that you generally have to pay up for. These seats are usually located at the front of the economy cabin and surrounding the exit row. This gives you more room to stretch out on the plane but doesn’t offer any additional perks.
To request an upgrade, Mosaics should speak to a customer service agent at the airport. Requests are honored in the order they are received and based on availability. It’s also worth noting that this benefit applies to those traveling on the same reservation as a Mosaic member.
As a Mosaic elite myself, I’ve taken two flights on JetBlue since this policy went into place and was upgraded to an Even More Space seat both times. This could be due to low passenger loads during the coronavirus pandemic, but I’d expect upgrades to remain likely for the foreseeable future. I’ll value this benefit at $200, but you could get significantly more value depending on how often you fly.
Even More Space redemptions ($50)
A final perk of JetBlue Mosaic status is the ability to redeem your points for Even More Space seats. I used to value this perk at $100 per year as you could redeem points for Even More Space seats for under 1,000 points on many routes. Unfortunately, the price has skyrocketed over the years, and you’ll now pay well over 1,000 points on most routes.
Nevertheless, this is a nice benefit to have if you want to secure an Even More Space seat before getting to the airport. I’ll value this perk at $50 for this valuation, though you may get more or less value depending on how often you upgrade.
What if I’m starting from scratch?
As I mentioned at the outset, these numbers are based on the benefits you’d enjoy by spending a full year with Mosaic status. However, if you’re starting from scratch, the calculations become a bit more complicated, since you won’t start to enjoy any benefits until you hit one of the qualification thresholds to earn that status. To help modify the analysis for those individuals, I’ve taken the above valuations and converted them to a value per elite-qualifying mile, as follows:
- $1,685 / 18,000 base points = 9.36 cents per base point
I then created an Excel spreadsheet that uses these numbers to calculate how much value you’d get from JetBlue Mosaic status given a certain amount of flying. All you need to do is change two numbers: Cell A2 (to represent how much you expect to spend on JetBlue flights in 2021) and Cell A5 (to represent what percentage of this spending will be done on Blue Basic fares, which will only earn 1 base point per dollar spent). The spreadsheet will then calculate the number of base points you’ll earn, and the calculations will update with the corresponding value.
For example, you’ll see that I have pre-loaded $8,000 in spending with 20% of that devoted to Blue Basic tickets. At this rate, you’d get no benefits from the first 15,000 base points and then enjoy Mosaic benefits for the remaining 5,800 points (at a rate of 9.36 cents per point). This means that if you’re starting from scratch and estimate that you’ll spend $8,000 on JetBlue in 2021 with 20% of your spending on Blue Basic tickets, you’d be able to get $542.94 worth of perks from the TrueBlue program.
As always, feel free to adjust the numbers above for Mosaic status (loaded into the “Base Data” tab of the spreadsheet) based on your own personal valuation.
Is it worth it?
So given these values, is it worth pursuing elite status with JetBlue? Like any analysis we undertake here at TPG, there isn’t an easy answer to this, as it depends entirely on your individual situation.
However, here are a few over-arching questions that can help you arrive at a decision now that you know the value of Mosaic status:
- How much will you travel in the future? If you qualify in 2021, your status will last until Dec. 31, 2022. It’s critical to think about how much you’ll be traveling in the future. If you push hard to earn Mosaic status, for example, the perks outlined above only apply when you actually travel.
- How well does JetBlue’s route map match your typical travel patterns? Again, there’s no point in pursuing elite status with an airline if you can’t fly the airline regularly. Be sure to consider JetBlue’s service from your home airport(s) and how easy it is to get to your desired destination(s).
- How sensitive are you to price and convenience? There are many tradeoffs in this hobby, and one of the most common is deciding whether to use your preferred airline or hotel chain when it’s not the most convenient or cheapest. Would you book a one-stop JetBlue flight if American had a cheaper nonstop option? If the answer is no, it may not be worth going out of your way to earn Mosaic status (or elite status with any airline, for that matter).
- Could you enjoy elite-like perks (or outright elite status) with a credit card? As noted above, the JetBlue Plus Card provides an array of perks for cardholders that may be enough for you, all for just a small annual fee. You could also earn Mosaic status outright simply by spending $50,000 on the card in a year. If you’re content with the “elite lite” perks from the card or plan to spend over $50,000, there’s no need to go out of your way to earn Mosaic status the hard way.
These questions are also not easy to answer, as many different factors come into play with each of them. Nevertheless, it’s a worthwhile exercise to evaluate your own situation to determine if JetBlue elite status is for you!
Nevertheless, for those of you in cities with a large JetBlue presence (especially one with existing or new Mint service, the back-to-back winner of the TPG award for best domestic premium class), having Mosaic status can be a nice boost to an already enjoyable travel experience. This is especially true with new benefits like upgrades to Even More Space seating.
Hopefully, this post has provided you a framework for determining if this status is right for you — safe travels!
This is The Points Guy’s permanent page about JetBlue elite status, so you can bookmark it and check back regularly for the latest information. Keep in mind you may see some reader comments referring to outdated information below.
Featured photo by Alberto Riva / The Points Guy
Additional reporting by Nick Ewen
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