Credit Card Review: JetBlue Plus Card

Credit Card Review: JetBlue Plus Card

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As you might expect, the JetBlue Plus Card is a rewards credit card that's focused primarily on travel. When you make purchases, you'll earn extra points on JetBlue expenses, dining and groceries, and you can redeem those points for JetBlue airfare. But the value of those points somewhat varies depending on the flight. So, as with any credit card, there are pros and cons you'll need to consider before applying.

JetBlue Plus Card review: Good rewards, unclear points system

Solid travel rewards

With the JetBlue Plus Card, you earn 6 points per dollar spent on JetBlue purchases, 2 points per dollar at restaurants and grocery stores, and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. Points don't expire as long as your account is open, there's no cap on the amount you can earn and there are no blackout dates when you redeem points for JetBlue flights. Plus, you earn 5,000 bonus points each year after your account anniversary.

Cardholders also get one free checked bag per flight, save 50% on in-flight cocktail and food purchases, and can pool points with friends and family members. This card charges no foreign transaction fees, which makes it more traveler-friendly, particularly for those who take frequent international trips.

Unclear points value system

Although points are relatively easy to earn, particularly if you're an avid traveler, JetBlue's rewards points do not have a static value and therefore will not be the same from one flight to the next. That makes it difficult to understand their value.

To help you get a better idea of values, here's a breakdown of five domestic one-way flights with the airline:

FlightMinimum cost ($)Minimum points requiredApproximate redemption value
SFO (San Francisco) to JFK (New York City)$1197,900 points plus $5.60 in taxes/fees1.4 cents per point
MSP (Minneapolis) to FLL (Fort Lauderdale, Florida)$1298,000 points plus $5.60 in taxes/fees1.5 cents per point
BWI (Baltimore) to SEA (Seattle)$1429,000 points plus $5.60 in taxes/fees1.5 cents per point
PHL (Philadelphia) to LAS (Las Vegas)$17211,500 points plus $5.60 in taxes/fees1.4 cents per point
AUS (Austin, Texas) to SLC (Salt Lake City)$33025,000 points plus $5.60 in taxes/fees1.3 cents per point

Flight Minimum cost ($) Minimum points required Approximate redemption value SFO (San Francisco) to JFK (New York City) $119 7,900 points plus $5.60 in taxes/fees 1.4 cents per point MSP (Minneapolis) to FLL (Fort Lauderdale, Florida) $129 8,000 points plus $5.60 in taxes/fees 1.5 cents per point BWI (Baltimore) to SEA (Seattle) $142 9,000 points plus $5.60 in taxes/fees 1.5 cents per point PHL (Philadelphia) to LAS (Las Vegas) $172 11,500 points plus $5.60 in taxes/fees 1.4 cents per point AUS (Austin, Texas) to SLC (Salt Lake City) $330 25,000 points plus $5.60 in taxes/fees 1.3 cents per point

Minimum costs and minimum points required as of Oct. 14, 2019.

Attainable bonus

New cardholders can earn up to 100,000 bonus points: Cardholders earn 50,000 points after spending $1,000 on purchases and paying the annual fee in full, both within the first 90 days. Cardholders can earn an additional 50,000 points after spending a total of $6,000 on purchases within the first 12 months. That breaks down to about $500 in credit card spend a month, which can be doable for many, especially if you tend to charge a lot of your regular expenses each month. If the points you redeem are worth 1.4 cents each, that bonus would amount to $1,400 in value.

If you spend $50,000 a calendar year with the card, you'll earn Mosaic benefits for the rest of that year and the next. As a Mosaic member, you'll earn an extra 3 TrueBlue points per dollar spent (on top of your credit card points and the points you already earn as a TrueBlue member); get free access to the Even More Speed program, which helps you get through the security checkpoint faster (where available); redeem points for seats with more space; and get a second free checked bag.

Fees

The JetBlue Plus Card comes with a few fees. For example, you may pay up to $39 for late or returned payments.

Cardholders also pay a $99 annual fee, which is unavoidable. To recoup the annual fee, you'd have to spend almost $1,200 a year on JetBlue purchases, such as flights. That's assuming you only earned points through those purchases and were able to redeem them at 1.4 cents per point. That figure would change if, for example, you used the card for groceries or dining and redeemed for a higher-price flight.

0% introductory APR for balance transfers

The JetBlue Plus Card offers a 0% introductory APR for 12 months on balance transfers made within 45 days of account opening. After that, the balance transfer APR is 15.99%, 19.99% 24.99% Variable, depending on your creditworthiness.

Balance transfers also come with a fee, which is $5 or 3% of the transfer (whichever is greater). So while you can temporarily avoid paying interest on transferred balances, you'll want to make sure you can pay off the balance before the introductory period ends.

ValuePenguin's verdict: Solid rewards for the JetBlue enthusiast

The JetBlue Plus Card provides a good option for avid travelers who want to capitalize on their adventures with the airline. The card gives you the opportunity for other savings with JetBlue, such as a free checked bag on each flight — which saves you $30 each time — and 50% off in-flight cocktail and food purchases.

In general, the card is best for those who plan on spending more than $1,200 a year in flights or who earn enough points via other purchases to access rewards and recoup the annual fee. And even for those who aren't big travel spenders, there are ample opportunities to increase your overall rewards just by using the card, especially if you can take advantage of the bonus.

Alternatives to the JetBlue Plus Card

If you're looking for a card that doesn't have an annual fee, you prefer a less airline-dependent way to redeem travel rewards or you want a more general rewards system, there are other options you may want to consider.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

  • On Chase's Secure Website
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Those interested in using rewards for multiple airlines might consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, which can be redeemed with multiple airline and hotel rewards programs, including JetBlue, British Airways, United Airlines, Hyatt and Marriott.

The purchase APR is 15.99% - 22.99% Variable, and there is a $0 foreign transaction fee. You'll earn 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants, eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases worldwide. But your points are worth 25% more if you redeem them for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. Also, you'd Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. That is valued at $750 when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

There is, however, a $95 annual fee with this card.

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

  • On Capital One's Secure Website
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Earn 2 miles per dollar spent on every purchase, every day. You can also earn 10 points per dollar on certain hotel purchases through January 2020. The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card waives the annual fee its first year: it's $95. There is a None foreign transaction fee for this card, and the purchase APR is 17.24% - 24.49% (Variable), depending on your credit.

However, you'll need good to excellent credit to qualify for this card, which can leave out some applicants. As Capital One defines excellent credit, you should have no loan defaults and bankruptcies on your credit reports, and credit card and medical bill payments can't be more than 60 days late. You also should have had at least one loan or credit card for at least three years with a credit limit over $5,000.

American Express® Gold Card

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Compared to the JetBlue Plus Card the American Express® Gold Card puts slightly more emphasis on dining out and groceries than it does on travel spending.

You earn 3 Membership Rewards® points for every dollar spent on flights booked directly with airlines or on Amextravel.com and Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points on Restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery. Additionally, earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X), and 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com. Also, you can earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months. And, like the JetBlue Plus Card, there is a $0 foreign transaction fee.

But unlike the JetBlue Plus Card, the American Express® Gold Card works as a charge card, meaning you must pay off the balance in full each month. However, AmEx does offer a flexible payment option called Pay Over Time. For eligible purchases over $100, you can choose to carry them as a balance and pay interest on them, similar to a credit card.

If you miss a payment on your Pay Over Time balance, AmEx charges a variable 29.99% penalty APR, which would be in place for at least six months. Another major drawback to this card is the $250 annual fee. That said, the card comes with up to $100 in airline fee credits each year and up to $10 in monthly dining credits at participating restaurants, which can help you negate the annual fee a bit, if redeemed.

For rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, please click here.

Devon is a San Francisco-based freelance writer covering all things personal finance. Her work has been featured in publications such as the L.A. Times, Marketwatch, CNBC and USA Today, among others.

These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Example of how we calculate the rewards rates: When redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred points are worth $0.0125 each. The card awards 2 points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. Therefore, we say the card has a 2.5% rewards rate on dining and travel (2 x $0.0125) and a 1.25% rewards rate on everything else (1 x $0.0125).