JetBlue Plus Card Essentials
If you count yourself as one of the many consumers who love to fly JetBlue – it has one of the highest rated rewards programs of any airline according to U.S. News & World Report – the arrival of a new co-branded airline credit card is something to celebrate.
But is it worth it for you?
We poked around at every detail behind the new JetBlue Plus Card and compared it to other cards likely to compete for space in your wallet, including the original JetBlue travel rewards card.
Here's what we found:
First, the JetBlue Plus Card contributes to the incredibly popular TrueBlue Rewards and its family pooling program, where any member of your family who flies JetBlue or uses a JetBlue reward card can contribute to the points pool, and then adds some key features that we think make it worth a closer look.
- Points you realistically attain. Any airline-branded card is worth investigating for frequent fliers and loyal brand customers, but what's most attractive about the JetBlue Plus Card is that opportunities to earn meaningful points and rewards are well-within the reach of the average flyer, not simply for those whose office is as much airport as corporate cubicle. Note, these are no-expiration, no-blackout points.
- Outstanding benefits while you fly. "Plus" card holders get 50 percent off all in-flight purchases, from food boxes to in-flight movies, while most travel rewards cards abandon you at the gate with a sub-standard flying experience. With this card, you can raise the level of your JetBlue experience inexpensively, which for all travelers already includes free (and unlimited) in-flight snacks and non-alcoholic drinks.
- A better product than the basic offering. Unlike most "Plus" cards, which seem little more than slightly improved, the new JetBlue Plus objectively offers a superior benefit than the base card – but only if you plan to fly with JetBlue at least once a year.
- MasterCard-level merchant acceptance. All JetBlue cards now carry the MasterCard logo, which is more ubiquitous than American Express, the former issuer of this card.
Here are some more specifics to consider with the JetBlue Plus Card:
- Six times the points on JetBlue purchases and two times the points on everyday purchases at grocery stores and restaurants. (All other purchases are one times).
- $95 annual fee. Steep, yes. But we'll tell you more about why we think it's worth it.
- 10 percent of your points back every time you redeem. So, for example, if you redeem 10,000 points, you get to keep 1,000 in your account.
- Unlimited points – really. According to JetBlue: "There is no limit to the total number of points you can earn with your JetBlue Plus Card, as long as the program continues and your account remains open, active and in good standing."
CardRatings Editor's Analysis: Pros & Cons
- If you often find yourself on JetBlue flights, you'll appreciate earning six times the points for all your purchases directly with the airline.
- Enjoy 50 percent off all your JetBlue in-flight purchases and a free checked bag for you and up to three of your traveling companions.
- Earn a $100 statement credit each calendar year you book a vacation package with JetBlue Vacations.
- The JetBlue market is limited. Even if JetBlue is your preferred airline, you may want to travel from time to time to a location JetBlue doesn't yet serve, which means you won't earn bonus points for your trip.
What Our Editors Like Most about the JetBlue Plus Card
The upfront rewards are what make this a major contender for your new travel rewards card. The value of the 30,000 points in the introductory offer, credited to you after you spend $1,000 on purchases within the first 90 days, should easily equal at least one round-trip flight based on our calculations, which would then cover you for the card's $99 annual fee.
Say you have your heart set on a fall sightseeing trip to New York City from San Francisco. At the time of this writing, that would take 21,400 points plus $11.20 for one ticket, according to the airline's website. That same round-trip flight in dollars would be $316.20.
There are plenty of other benefits to keep this card in rotation long after the initial sign-up. Cardholders can continue to earn points and perks this way:
- 5,000 points credited yearly after your account anniversary.
- Free checked bags, your first plus those of three companion travelers. It probably says more about the state of American flying than JetBlue that this was quite appealing to me. My wife and I travel with our three children between the East and West coasts at least once a year. By eliminating the $20 checked bag fee for four of us, we are already close to covering the annual fee at the check-in counter.
The card also covers all the basics:
- Chip plus PIN backup capability, making it more secure than a basic chip card.
- No foreign transaction fees.
- $0 fraud liability.
In addition, the JetBlue Plus Card offers a 0 percent APR for 12 billing cycles on balance transfers made within 45 days of opening your account, making this a decent choice if you're looking to consolidate some credit card debt.
This card even stretches a bit beyond the traditional miles-earning credit card by offering you an opportunity to earn $100 in statement credit each calendar year you purchase a JetBlue Vacations package on your card. Since this is a per calendar year benefit, you could actually collect this benefit twice within the first several months of opening your account. Let's say you book a Jetblue Vacations package over Thanksgiving; there's your first $100 credit. Then, come spring break time in March or April, you book a JetBlue Vacations trip to the beach; there's your second $100 credit.
Potential Downsides of the JetBlue Plus Card
JetBlue services nearly 100 cities in the U.S. and is growing, but it's not ubiquitous like larger airlines, so if you are too far from a JetBlue hub to take advantage of its average of 925 daily flights, this is not going to be a great card for you.
For more information, please visit the airline's "Where We Jet" list. There is also a disclaimer on some of these perks, such as with the free checked bags: "on JetBlue-operated flights only." Make sure you check the fine print and ask questions.
Likewise, if you aren't totally sure you will take at least one flight per year on JetBlue or you don't plan on using the "Plus" card very often, the math may not work out and you may not earn more than the annual fee, which in today's environment of competitive credit card offers, is like leaving money on the poker table – there is no reason for it. If that's the case, investigate some of the many cash-back credit cards out there.
Also good to know: The card is touting "TrueBlue Mosaic" benefits after one year, but you would have to spend $50,000 or more per year on your card in order to qualify. For folks like me who use several cards actively to maximize rewards, it's very unlikely I would reach this annual amount on one card – or even close to it. Mosaic benefits include zero JetBlue change and cancellation fees, several different upgrade options and a dedicated 24/7 customer service line.
How JetBlue Plus Compares to Other Travel Rewards Cards
JetBlue Plus Card vs. Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®
We decided to put the JetBlue Plus Card head-to-head with another popular travel card, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®, despite both being owned by the same parent company Barclays Bank Delaware since JetBlue cards ceased to be backed by American Express in early 2016.
Here are a few key differences:
- With the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®, you will earn more welcome bonus miles vs. JetBlue, at least on paper: 70,000 bonus miles when you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 90 days vs. 30,000 for JetBlue, but for those who may worry about reaching the $5,000 milestone in 90 days, JetBlue's bonus miles kick in after only spending $1,000 in purchases within the first 90 days.
- Annual fees are comparable, $99 for JetBlue Plus and $89 (waived first year) for the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® (See Rates and Fees).
JetBlue Plus Card vs. American Express® Gold Card
- The American Express® Gold Card is offering 35,000 points if you spend only $2,000 on eligible purchases with your new card within your first three months, which may give it the edge if you aren't a big spender on your credit cards. Terms apply. American Express is a CardRatings advertiser.
- Cardholders earn three times the points on any airfare they book directly with any airline (or via amextravel.com), which means that if your loyalty doesn't lie with one particular airline you could still be in a position to rack up some point with the American Express® Gold Card. Terms apply.
- Furthermore, this card also offers four times the points for U.S. restaurant purchases and U.S. supermarket purchases (up to $25,000 spent annually). For a foodie who likes to fly different airlines, this rewards structure might be a deciding factor in favor of the American Express® Gold Card. Terms apply.
JetBlue Plus Card vs. JetBlue Card (This card is not currently available on CardRatings)
- The upgrades with the "Plus" card are well worth it for most flyers who prefer JetBlue, even if you don't fly that often because of the fantastic sign-on bonus and the free check bag perk.
- The one box that goes to the original JetBlue Card is the $0 annual fee. Other than that, most consumers will be better off upgrading to the JetBlue Plus Card.
Who Should Get This Card?
This is a no-brainer for frequent JetBlue customers, even more so if you live in near a JetBlue hub city. The airline is expanding in several directions, with new Caribbean destinations, flights to Cuba now that the U.S. travel ban is over, and – particularly noteworthy for bi-coastal fans of the "Mint" experience – JetBlue is doubling down on the "lie-flat" experience with additional A321 aircraft to accommodate and more transcontinental flight frequency
To see the rates and fees for the American Express® Gold Card please visit the following link: See Rates and Fees.