On March 21, 2016, JetBlue will officially end its relationship with American Express (a CreditCardForum advertising partner) and begin a new one with Barclaycard.
Under Barclaycard, four new versions of the JetBlue credit card will be available (three are open to anyone and one is available only to current AmEx JetBlue cardholders).
Our review will help you understand the new products – and decide which is best for you.
Four new cards
The old version of the card (the JetBlue card from American Express) ceased to exist on March 21, 2016.
Here’s how this transition played out for existing and potential JetBlue card holders.
Existing American Express cardholders automatically rolled over to the JetBlue Rewards MasterCard ($40 annual fee) and received their new cards in the mail by March 21, 2016. This unique version of the card was not made available to new cardholders.
New cardholders who wanted to apply for a JetBlue credit card after the transition to Barclaycard (and existing AmEx cardholders who wanted to apply for a different product) were able to choose between the JetBlue Credit Card ($0 annual fee), the JetBlue Plus card ($99 annual fee) and the JetBlue Business Card ($99 annual fee).
To compare the notable benefits and features of the new cards (with each other and with the original AmEx version) please see below:
|Original American Express |
JetBlue card (discontinued)
|JetBlue Rewards MasterCard (available only for AmEx JetBlue cardholders)||JetBlue Card||JetBlue Plus Card||JetBlue Business Card|
|Points earned on JetBlue purchases||2 points per dollar||4 points per dollar||3 points per dollar||6 points per dollar||6 points per dollar|
|Points earned at restaurants & grocery stores||N/A||2 points per dollar||2 points per dollar||2 points per dollar||2 points per dollar|
|Points earned on other purchases||1 point per dollar||1 point per dollar||1 point per dollar||1 point per dollar||1 point per dollar|
|Redemption bonus||N/A||5 percent of your points back when you redeem||N/A||10 percent of your points back when you redeem||10 percent of your points back when you redeem|
|Checked bag benefits||N/A||N/A||N/A||First bag free for you and up to 3 companions||First bag free for you and up to 3 companions|
|Sign-up bonus||No longer available||$100 companion discount after you spend $500 on card by June 30, 2016||5,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 in first 90 days||30,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 in first 90 days||30,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 in first 90 days|
|Anniversary bonus||N/A||N/A||N/A||5,000 bonus points every year for accounts in good standing||5,000 bonus points every year for accounts in good standing|
|In-flight discount||50 percent discount on movies, drinks food||50 percent discount on movies, drinks food||50 percent discount on movies, drinks food||50 percent discount on movies, drinks food||50 percent discount on movies, drinks food|
|Statement credit||$50 statement credit after purchasing JetBlue Getaways vacation package worth $50 or more (1 per calendar year)||$50 statement credit after purchasing JetBlue Getaways vacation package worth $50 or more (1 per calendar year)||N/A||$100 statement credit after purchasing JetBlue Getaways vacation package worth $100 or more (1 per calendar year)||$100 statement credit after purchasing JetBlue Getaways vacation package worth $100 or more (1 per calendar year)|
|Elite benefits||N/A||N/A||N/A||Earn Mosaic benefits after spending $50,000 in calendar year||Earn Mosaic benefits after spending $50,000 in calendar year|
Improvement on – or step down from – the original AmEx?
It can be frustrating when a card switches issuers and downgrades in the process. Luckily, this was not the case with the new JetBlue products from Barclaycard. The new cards all add a “grocery and restaurants” bonus category, meaning you can earn extra rewards without traveling. And they all increase the number of points per dollar earned on JetBlue purchases. These bonus earnings are on top of what you earn from JetBlue’s TrueBlue loyalty program, which will reward additional points based on ticket price and fare type.
If you go for one of the higher-annual-fee cards (the JetBlue Plus and the Business card), you open up some additional premium benefits that simply weren’t available on the AmEx, such as the ability to achieve Mosaic status (which includes benefits like two free checked bags, waived change fees and complimentary alcohol onboard) and anniversary bonuses.
JetBlue perks aside, though, there are some advantages unique to AmEx that rollover cardholders may end up missing when Barclaycard took over. For example, American Express offered a free-shipping service for online purchases called ShopRunner and a popular card-linked offers program called Amex Offers (which can get you discounts on eligible purchases).
Which version should you choose?
If you frequently fly JetBlue, any one of these cards could boost your rewards and get you benefits when you fly. Which one you should choose depends on just how frequently you fly – and whether you were rolled over from the AmEx JetBlue card.
If you got rolled over from an existing AmEx card, the JetBlue Rewards MasterCard is probably worth sticking with. It has a relatively low annual fee (compared with other Airline cards), boosts your earnings on JetBlue spending and provides some nice-to-have benefits. Keep in mind, though, that by rolling over (instead of applying for a new card), you’re foregoing the sign-up bonus.
Barclaycard threw new cardmembers a minor bone in Q2 of this year — offering a companion ticket credit worth $100 if you had spent $500 by June 30, 2016. However, going forward, getting traditional sign-up bonuses (ie, pure points) is certainly more flexible, as you can use points for yourself or for someone else. If you value JetBlue points at a little over 1 cent each (as The Point Guy does), the sign-up bonus on the no-annual-fee JetBlue card is worth about as much as the companion ticket credit and is more flexible. On the other hand, though, the rollover-only Rewards card gets you a 5 percent redemption bonus, which could make the card more valuable in the long term.
If you’re an extreme JetBlue loyalist you’ll want to consider the Plus or Business versions of the card. You’ll pay a higher annual fee ($99), but you’ll get some notable benefits, including free checked bags, an anniversary bonus and a bigger (10 percent) redemption bonus – things that can save you real money throughout the life of the card.
Whichever card you pick, rest assured that the benefits on the new JetBlue cards are competitive among other co-branded airline cards, even though JetBlue’s points are often valued lower than other airlines’ miles. The no-annual-fee version is especially compelling, as it’s rare for airlines to offer no-annual-fee cards that have bonus categories.
Other options to consider
These cards are for JetBlue frequent fliers – as are all frequent flier cards.
If you aren’t sure you qualify as a “frequent” flier, but still want the option to take the occasional JetBlue rewards flight, consider one of the Membership Rewards (MR) cards from American Express. These allow you to transfer your MR points directly to JetBlue, albeit at a less-than-ideal rate of 5 MR points to 4 JetBlue points. You could also transfer to a number of other partner airlines. If you’re considering this route, here is a no-annual-fee MR card and a premium one to consider: