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One of the United States' premier domestic (and regional international) carriers, JetBlue Airlines hosts a loyalty rewards program called TrueBlue. Like the Southwest Rapid Rewards Program, the TrueBlue program is perfect for the avid domestic (and a little beyond) flyer, and is an easy program to navigate. Members are never far from being able to travel all around North and South America without needing to break the bank, and get a fair and consistent price for their miles.
Redeeming TrueBlue Miles for Flights
The Value of a TrueBlue Mile
A reward mile is a form a currency, and as such, it has value. We calculate the value of a TrueBlue mile off of the number of miles needed to redeem a flight for free, divided by the monetary value of that flight. For JetBlue's TrueBlue program, that gets us an average value of 1.6 cents per mile. In the table below you can see several itineraries, both domestic and international, that show how the value of a TrueBlue mile changes between different flights.
|Blue||Blue Plus||Blue Flex|
For the most part, domestic flights consistently fetch between 1.4 and 1.6 cents per mile, while international flights (PUJ and BOG) seem to get a bit higher value of 1.6 to 1.9 cents. In the other frequent flyer programs we have reviewed(with the exception of Southwest), values may fluctuate between 0.5 cents per mile and 4 cents per mile making the JetBlue program very consistent in comparison. Essentially, if the mile value for any JetBlue flight you hope to book is less than 1.3 cents per mile, then you are getting a poor deal for your miles.
The good thing with JetBlue however is that there is much less worry about getting a poor deal compared to larger international carriers. Let's take a look at how much TrueBlue miles are worth compared to another carrier, such as United Airlines' MileagePlus miles.With large carriers, miles to different locations are fixed. Fare prices on the other hand are free to change throughout the year, meaning the value of the mile will also change throughout the year making it harder to know when you are getting a good deal. In the graph below, you can see how the number of MileagePlus miles needed to redeem free flights has a messy correlation with fare price while JetBlue has a near linear one.
For United, the only way to know if you are getting a good deal is if you divide the price by the miles and see if it higher than 1.2 cents per mile. JetBlue on the other hand, regardless of price, you will be getting a mile value between 1.3 and 1.8 cents per mile. The downside to all of this however is at least with international carriers, you can shop around until you get a really good deal. A flight from New York to Vancouver on United can be $600 but be redeemed for 25,000 miles-a 2.4 cent per mile value. Essentially, for the frequent flyer who wants to be able to redeem miles with minimal worry and effort, TrueBlue is the perfect program. If on the other hand you want to be able to maximize and play with rewards miles, a larger carrier would be the better option.
The Differences Between Blue, Blue Plus, Blue Flex, and Blue Mint
JetBlue, like Southwest has three (sometimes four) cabin classes. The first three can be found on every flight while Blue Mint can only be found on a handful of long-haul flights. There are essentially two main factors that separate each class with mile value not being one of them. The highest JetBlue cabin class, Blue Flex, can be redeemed for basically the same value as the lowest cabin class, Blue. Blue does have a slight advantage in most cases, but the difference is overall negligible. The two factors are checked bags and booking flexibility.
Blue fare does not grant a checked bag, while Blue Plus allows one and Blue Flex allows two. Deciding to bring a checked bag (or two) could mean a difference of over $200 or 14,800 miles-meaning you should always question the necessity of a checked bag when booking with JetBlue. The second factor is when it comes to cancellations and changes. Tickets in the Blue tier can charge you up to $135 for a cancellation while Blue Flex charges nothing. If your plans are tentative, going with the Blue Flex may be a viable option considering it could save you nearly the full price of your flight. On the other hand, if you are confident in your plans not changing, and can pack everything into just a carry on, Blue fare will end up saving you a lot of miles.
JetBlue has exactly one partnered airline in which TrueBlue members can book flights with their miles: Hawaiian Airlines. It may only be one, but that is still one more than Southwest, who has no partners that accept Rapid Rewards. TrueBlue members can use their miles to book flights on Hawaiian airline flights, making available several flights between the Hawaiian Islands, and of course, between Hawaii and mainland United States as well. To book a flight with your miles however, you will need to call 1-800-JETBLUE to make the reservation.
There are two credit cards that can earn extra TrueBlue points: the JetBlue Rewards Mastercard, meant for consumers, and the JetBlue Business Rewards Credit Card, intended for small business owners. The consumer card awards four points per dollar on JetBlue purchases – this is on top of three points per dollar you get when normally booking flights. Using the card to pay at restaurants and grocery stores gives an additional two points per dollar, and all other shopping nets one point. The cards come with some additional features, such as in-flight discounts and bonuses – all of which I cover in-depth in our review of the JetBlue Credit Card.
Membership Rewards (MR), earned through certain American Express credit cards, can also be transferred to TrueBlue points at a 5:4 ratio. We value a single MR point at $0.01, so as long as you can get the average TrueBlue value of 1.4 cents or better you will come out ahead by transferring. Given that American Express and JetBlue dissolved their partnership in 2015, it’s yet unclear whether the ability to transfer MR to TrueBlue will stick around much longer.
JetBlue is a great domestic alternative to Southwest. As long as you get a value above 1.3 cents per mile, which as we established is likely, you are getting a great deal for your miles. The three cabin classes also provide a lot of price flexibility, while JetBlue's extension across North America and some of South America will make this program perfect for any frequent domestic flyer whose boundaries go a bit further than the borders of the U.S.