After a long-term co-branded relationship, JetBlue has made the switch from American Express to Barclaycard, forming a new partnership that now offers customers JetBlue Card, a no-annual-fee credit card with respectable perks and benefits.
JetBlue Card members no longer have to pay a $40 annual fee and they get to avoid a 2.7 percent foreign transaction fee that was a feature of the old card.
JetBlue Card's best features:
One of the things customers always worry about when credit cards leave co-branded partnerships is that they'll get the shaft and have to sacrifice the perks and benefits that initially attracted them to the card.
There are reasons for cardholders to make some of those complaints here, but JetBlue Card does offer some trade-offs cardholders can be satisfied with – the most attractive of which is no annual fee. This is a departure from the JetBlue Amex card, which charged a $40 annual fee that it waived for the first year. The card now also has no foreign transaction fees, which is great for JetBlue customers who frequently travel below the lower 48 to its flight destinations in the Caribbean and Colombia. But JetBlue is mostly known as a domestic carrier, so this card benefit may go unused by a majority of its customers.
JetBlue Card also has a tiered rewards structure that offers cardholders three points per dollar on purchases made via Jetblue.com (flights and vacation packages), two times the points on dining and groceries and one times the points on all other purchases. JetBlue's previous Amex card only offered one times the points on non-JetBlue purchases.
Cardholders also get 50 percent savings on eligible in-flight purchases, including drinks, food and in-flight movies. And, as is standard with most airline rewards cards, there aren't any blackout dates and your points never expire.
One of the key things that makes JetBlue Card a standout is its family pooling program, which allows families to earn and share points. This benefit is more common with international airlines like British Airways and Japan Airlines, but few domestic carriers offer it. If you travel with Southwest, you may understand the joys of a companion pass. Still, there's no way to pool together points for a great vacation or expensive cross-country flight. More domestic airlines need to follow JetBlue's path and add this perk for cardholders.
One of the biggest downsides of JetBlue Card is that the sign-up bonus doesn't offer much of an incentive to join. The card offers 10,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in the first three months, considerably less than what was offered with Amex (at one point the sign-up bonus was as high as 10,000 points). It's also less than competitors like the United MileagePlus® Explorer Card, which offers a sign-up bonus of 30,000 miles.
Also, customers previously earned eight times the points on JetBlue purchases with the old Amex card, far higher than the current three times the points offered with the new Barclaycard. Let's do the math: If you were to spend $1,000 on JetBlue flights with the old card, you'd earn 8,000 points – about enough for a one-way flight that would typically cost $111 (or 7,200 points), giving these points a value of a little more than a cent per point. Under the new rewards system, you'd earn just 3,000 points for the same purchase, not even enough for a one-way flight that's typically 3,600 points at minimum.
Other downsides include no anniversary bonus points, no free checked bag and no redemption bonus. However, all of these perks are offered with JetBlue Plus Card, which has a $99 annual fee but a larger sign-up bonus (30,000 points), six times the points on JetBlue flights, an anniversary bonus of 5,000 points and offers a 10 percent bonus when you redeem your points. Cardholders also get an annual $100 statement credit when they purchase a JetBlue Vacations package of at least $100. If you compare these two cards, it might be worth paying the $99 annual fee.
You also have to keep in mind JetBlue's limited markets. If you don't live near an airport serviced by JetBlue, this card won't do you much good, so be sure to thoroughly check the "Where We Jet" map before deciding to apply for this card.
JetBlue Card vs. Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express
With the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express (American Express is a CardRatings advertiser), you get 30,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 in the first three months – that's enough for a domestic round-trip flight – and you also can earn a $50 statement credit after you make a purchase with Delta within the first three months. Compare that to the 10,000 bonus points the JetBlue Card offers, which will just barely cover the cost of some of the airline's roundtrip flights.
Cardholders also get their first checked bag free on every flight, which can save a family of four $100; however, the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express waives the annual fee for the first year, but after that you'll pay a $95 annual fee. Neither card has a foreign transaction fee, but the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express comes with other perks such as car rental and travel accident insurance. With this card, you also earn two miles per dollar on Delta purchases, giving it a value of as much as 5 cents per point when redeemed for a 15,000-point award flight. Delta has many more international routes than JetBlue, so for those who travel internationally it's likely the better option, especially with no foreign transaction fees and free checked baggage.
JetBlue Card vs. Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card (This card is not currently available on CardRatings)
Southwest currently maintains the enviable status of being the only U.S. airline where two checked bags fly free. It's a budget airline like JetBlue, but the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card comes with more perks.
You get 40,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in the first three months; however, you get fewer everyday points with Southwest compared to JetBlue – two times the points on Southwest purchases and purchases with Rapid Rewards® hotel and car rental partners compared to three times the points on JetBlue. Southwest doesn't have a points category for dining and groceries, so you'll miss out on the two times the points JetBlue offers and instead have to settle for one times the points on all non-Southwest purchases. Still, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card has a slight edge with its 6,000 bonus points after your card member anniversary, which you won't get with the JetBlue Card.
Neither card charges foreign transaction fees, but Southwest does charge a $99 annual fee that Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card members will see on their first billing statement. The anniversary bonus largely offsets this fee, so long term the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card offers more incentives for cardholders.
JetBlue Card vs. Discover it® Miles
If flexibility is what you're looking for with a miles rewards card, the Discover it® Miles credit card will likely win out over the JetBlue Card since your miles can be redeemed with any airline and without any blackout dates.
Discover it® Miles cardholders also enjoy hefty bonus miles to the tune of Discover will match all the miles you earn in your first year of card membership. All purchases with Discover it® Miles earn 1.5 miles per dollar, so there's a good opportunity to earn miles with your everyday purchases and then watch those miles multiply at the end of your first year.
Discover it® Miles cardholders are also eligible for up to $30 annually in statement credit to cover your in-flight Wi-Fi costs, a unique feature that could certainly come in handy.
With no annual fee, no foreign transaction fees and the opportunity to redeem miles on any airline at any time, Discover it® Miles is likely a better option for people who want lots of choices when it comes to their flights.
JetBlue Card is a good option for JetBlue loyalists and domestic travelers who are OK with sacrificing some perks for no annual fee. If you use this card as an everyday card, including for dining and groceries, you could amass enough rewards for a flight more quickly than with another airline loyalty card that offers rewards solely for purchases made directly with the airline.
Still, make sure your flight destinations are part of the JetBlue service area before you apply; nobody likes to leave rewards on the table.