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JetBlue TrueBlue Rewards Program Review: Making the Most of Discount Air

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Cross-country travel is often expensive, but JetBlue Airways makes it a little more affordable. With hubs mostly located near the coasts, this low-cost airline generally charges less than larger airlines for long-haul domestic trips. Here’s what you should know before signing up for its TrueBlue loyalty program.

TrueBlue Points: The basics

NerdWallet values TrueBlue points at 1.4 cents each, when redeemed for flights. You can earn them by registering for TrueBlue for free on JetBlue’s website and booking flights online.

JetBlue offers two kinds of points: base points and bonus points. Both can be redeemed for award seats, but only base points will help you qualify for the airline’s Mosaic program, the carrier’s equivalent of elite status. You can earn more bonus points by booking more expensive fares. Here’s how many points you’ll earn with each fare level:

Blue – 3 base points + 3 bonus points per dollar spent

Blue Plus – 3 base points + 4 bonus points per dollar spent

Blue Flex – 3 base points + 5 bonus points per dollar spent

Mint – 3 base points + 3 bonus points per dollar spent

For the Blue fare, the least expensive, you’ll have to pay for checked bags, and canceling or changing your flight will come with steeper fees. The Mint fare, the most expensive fare, gets you a “lie-flat seat,” two free checked bags and complimentary movies, but isn’t available for all flights. Here’s more information about what is and isn’t included with each fare.

If you fly 30 segments — a segment counts as one arrival and one departure — and earn 12,000 base points, you’ll qualify for TrueBlue Mosaic status. That would require spending at least $4,000 on airline tickets. You can also qualify for Mosaic status with 15,000 base points ($5,000 in airline tickets).

Compared with other elite status perks, though, Mosaic’s offerings are modest, featuring waived baggage fees and no cancellation fees. Unless you fly exclusively on JetBlue, consider pursuing elite status on other airlines, instead, and getting more for your loyalty.

How to get more TrueBlue Points

You can earn more TrueBlue Points by purchasing more flights from the airline, applying for the co-branded credit card, purchasing points and earning bonuses and badges for your loyalty.

While TrueBlue’s bonuses are relatively small, they’re a nice perk for people who frequent the airline. You’ll get 5,000 bonus points when you purchase and fly on three round-trip flights in 2015; 7,000 for seven round-trip flights; and 10,000 for 10 one-way flights that are 1,600 miles or more.

You can also earn over 200 badges, which sometimes come with extra points, by doing smaller things, such as sharing posts on social media or flying with partner airlines.

Purchasing points is expensive, though. You can buy 1,000 points — worth $14 using NerdWallet’s calculations — for $37.63 on JetBlue’s website. Unless they’re being sold for 60% off or less, they probably aren’t worth the splurge.

How to redeem TrueBlue Points

You can redeem TrueBlue points by logging onto your TrueBlue account on JetBlue’s website, selecting the option to pay with points and searching for tickets. Whether you buy a Blue or Mint ticket, you’ll get about 1.4 cents per point upon redemption, according to NerdWallet’s valuation.

You can also purchase getaways, or flights bundled with hotel stays, for a combination of cash and points. This way, you can get 1.6 cents per point, according to NerdWallet’s valuation, making it a slightly more valuable redemption option.

If you’re interested in making smaller rewards purchases, you can also redeem your points for other items, such as magazines and newspapers, and get up to around 4 cents per point: a competitive deal.

Unlike other loyalty programs, TrueBlue doesn’t offer any redemption options that get less than 1 cent per point, so you’ll likely get a decent return on your rewards no matter how they’re spent.

Fine print

  • Points never expire, according to the JetBlue website.
  • Reserving rewards seats online is free, but if you purchase them at the airport or on the phone, you’ll have to pay a $25 fee per person.

›› MORE: Reviews of major rewards programs

Methodology

The calculated value of these points is based on an estimated redemption rate, not a credit card rewards earn rate. Therefore, you may notice that these numbers don’t match the rewards rates on our credit card finder tool.

For our calculations, we sampled five popular domestic airline routes for both Blue fares, and when applicable, Mint fares. For getaways, we used the same list of flights and found hotels in the destination cities. These are the routes we used:

  • LaGuardia Airport in New York City to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Florida
  • San Francisco International Airport to Long Beach Airport in California
  • O’Hare International Airport in Chicago to LaGuardia Airport in New York City
  • Los Angeles International Airport to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City
  • John F. Kennedy International Airport to Charlotte Douglas International Airport in North Carolina

For domestic flights, the points value ranged from 1.3 to 1.6 cents each.

To determine the value of your miles for specific flights, divide the cash value of the ticket (less any applicable taxes or fees if you redeem miles) by the number of miles required for the flight. So if the ticket would cost either $100, or 15,000 miles + $10 in taxes/fees, the math would be as follows:

($100 – $10) / 15,000 = 0.006, or 0.6 cents per mile

Last updated on September 11, 2015.

Claire Tsosie is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: claire@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @ideclaire7.


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