Here we are at the fourth and probably last entry in my airline credit card series! Whoo fucking hoo. Previous posts have been about the cards offered by United, Delta, and American. That’s where we’re gonna stop, because I rarely, if ever, fly Alaska, Southwest, Frontier, Allegiant, Spirit, Hawaiian, or Sun Country, much less Elite, Silver, or Great Lakes, and definitely not Ravn Alaska, Boutique, Cape, Mokulele, the many Contour/Public Charter dba’s, or any of the other tiny domestic airlines I didn’t know existed before today. No, I did not make those up. They are actual US airlines. I bet they don’t have credit cards, though. I only just discovered Boutique by accident, right now, when Googling route maps for the others. They make money when no one flies them because they service federally subsidized routes. I can’t even find a single list of every airline that exists, but weirdo airlines come up just the same when you search in Google Flights or whatever if you type in the right city pair. (Also, Southwest, maybe consider listing your fucking prices in search engines, huh, and I’ll at least consider you for short flights? Until then, you’re dead to me.)
Anyway, I digress, pretty substantially, as it turns out. What about the JetBlue cards? As airline cards go, they’re probably the best of the bunch if you fly a lot of JetBlue, which is a very plausible circumstance if you live in NYC. Man, their terminal needs a real lounge, though. That Airspace Lounge is a piece of shit.
Most airline cards offer a mile per buck, and two miles when spent on the airline, which just ain’t that good, both in terms of accumulation speed, and your miles being trapped at one airline. TrueBlue points certainly are trapped at one airline, and one without many partners, at that. But the accumulation is really good with their cards, so if you fly JetBlue a lot, their card could be a winner for you.
Rather than having an award chart with award prices, JetBlue award tickets more or less directly track to the cash price. That’s good when the price is cheap or medium, and less good when the price is expensive. The Blogerati seem to say a TrueBlue point is worth about 1.4 cents, and my math says that’s about right, so we’ll roll with that. Since the points have a more or less fixed value, I can mention what they’re worth in cash as I go. The bummer is that since JetBlue doesn’t offer a cash+points purchase option, if you want an award ticket, you’re gonna need enough total points to get it.
Both Amex Membership Rewards points and Citi
FuckYou ThankYou points transfer to JetBlue, but usually at a crap ratio of 1 point for 0.8 TrueBlue points. Still, that can be useful if you don’t have quite enough for an award ticket, and need to top up. If you got 2 Membership Rewards per dollar spent by using the Amex Blue Business Plus, you’d have earned 2.24% towards JetBlue, which is nothing to be ashamed of. (You can also transfer from SPG/Marriott, but it’s a really bad ratio of 1 SPG to 0.53 TrueBlue, so let’s not talk about that any more.) And since JetBlue awards have an equivalent cash value, you might be better off in some cases just paying for points with Chase Ultimate Rewards or Amex Membership Rewards or some other kinds of points, especially if you’re chasing Mosaic elite status. I’ll get into all that in another post, but when I say it’s worth spending on or not, let’s just say that’s in contrast to spending on cards that earn at least 1.5 Chase or Amex points per dollar spent, like the Chase Freedom Unlimited + Chase Sapphire Reserve combo, or the Amex Blue Business Plus + Amex Business Platinum combo.
Anyway, what’s in the cards?
Barclays JetBlue: No annual fee. Signup is 10,000 TrueBlue points after spending $1,000, which is worth $140 towards an award ticket, which, for free, is certainly better than stubbing your toe in the dark. You get 6 points (8.4%) per dollar spent on JetBlue ticket (I’m counting the 3 point web booking bonus), 2 points (2.8%) on grocery stores and restaurants, and 1 point (1.4%) on everything else. Bleh, but you don’t get blowjobs/eatouts on a no annual fee card, so what do you expect? Also, you get 50% off inflight purchases, so if you’re a lush, this card could save you some actual money. Not really worth having compared to the JetBlue Plus card below; stupid to spend on except for JetBlue tickets and JetBlue airplane drinks.
Barclays JetBlue Plus: Things start to get good here. $99/year (first year not waived). You normally get 40,000 points for signup after spending $1,000, so that’s directly worth $560 in JetBlue flights, but it’s sometimes 50,000 or 60,000, which is pretty great, especially if you wanna try out their rad Mint (business) class for only a hunny. Be sure to sit in row 2 or 4! Anyway, this card gets you fan-fucking-tastic 9 points (12.6%) on JetBlue purchases (when you include the 3 point web booking bonus), 2 points (2.8%) for groceries and restaurants, and 1 point (1.4%) for everything else. Considering that your average fixed value rewards or cash back card is around 2%, That’s a decent all around card if you are gonna use those JetBlue awards. It’s certainly worth buying JetBlue tickets with. Plus, the Plus card has other treats: free checked bag, 5,000 bonus points (worth around $70) every year, unlimited 10% points rebate on award tickets, Mosaic elite status if you spend $50,000 in a year, and 50% off in-flight purchases. (There is also the Barclays JetBlue Business card, which is identical except that it earns 2 points per dollar spent on office supply stores instead of grocery stores. And it appears you get a 20% rebate on award tickets if you have both cards.) That all makes this a significantly better card than the equivalently priced offerings from United, American, and Delta — but TrueBlue points are not good for much besides flying on JetBlue, so you gotta fly a lot of JetBlue to get the benefit. Worth having if you fly JetBlue a lot; well worth spending on for JetBlue tickets, or if you’re going after Mosaic elite status, or want cheap inflight drinks, you drunk.
Since JetBlue points actually largely correlate to the cash price, I’m curious as to whether you can still come out well using Chase or Amex points to pay for JetBlue flights instead of earning TrueBlue points on a JetBlue card. I’m gonna think about that in some other dumb post.