How to Redeem Points With the JetBlue TrueBlue Program
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JetBlue TrueBlue is a relative newcomer to the points and miles world (compared to the legacy carriers, at least). The program was originally launched when the New York-based airline debuted in 2000 but received a major overhaul in 2009. Nowadays, the TrueBlue program is largely the same as it was in its 2009 revamp: you’ll earn and redeem points based on how expensive a flight is.
However, the program is now back in the spotlight thanks to yesterday’s announcement of future London service from both New York-JFK and Boston, expected to start in 2021. We’ve already seen JetBlue shake up the transcontinental market with the introduction (and rapid expansion) of its Mint business class product, the inaugural TPG Award winner for best domestic premium class, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see a similar impact here. While details are still scant on these flights, they will hopefully represent a new way for you to redeem your points to get to Europe.
Whether you’re enticed by JetBlue’s entry into the transatlantic market or more focused on shorter flights within the carrier’s current route network, there are still a couple quirks and features you should be aware of when earning and redeeming with the TrueBlue program. After publishing the complete guide to earning JetBlue TrueBlue points, we’ll now shift gears and look at all of the ways to redeem points with the TrueBlue program.
Redeem on JetBlue Flights
Redeeming JetBlue TrueBlue points for the carrier’s own flights is simple: the more a flight costs in cash, the more points it’ll require. According to TPG’s most recent valuations, you can expect to get roughly 1.3 cents of value for every TrueBlue point you redeem. However, some flights may yield slightly better or worse value, especially for Mint award tickets, which were recently devalued by up to 30%. We also don’t know if the same pricing model will apply for flights to and from London, especially given the UK’s notoriously high departure taxes.
To put this into some concrete examples, I priced out five different TrueBlue award tickets on the following routes:
- New York-JFK to Chicago-O’Hare (ORD) on June 15, 2019
- Seattle (SEA) to Boston (BOS) on July 17, 2019
- New York-JFK to Los Angeles (LAX) in Mint on August 30, 2019
- Las Vegas (LAS) to Long Beach (LGB) on September 29, 2019
- Fort Lauderdale (FLL) to Cancun (CUN) on November 1, 2019
For each one, I compared the price of the flight in cash to the price in points and determined the value you’d get on each itinerary (cents per point). Here’s a table with that information:
|Route||Paid Ticket||Award Ticket||Redemption Value|
|JFK — ORD||$153||10,800 points + $5.60||1.36 cents/point|
|SEA — BOS||$259||21,300 points + $5.60||1.19 cents/point|
|JFK — LAX (Mint)||$699||68,400 points + $5.60||1.01 cents/point|
|LAS — LGB||$101||6,900 points + $5.60||1.38 cents/point|
|FLL — CUN||$182||10,000 points + $31.91||1.5 cents/point|
As you can see, JetBlue doesn’t add any unusual taxes or fees to its domestic award tickets either, so you’ll only pay the standard $5.60 security fee each way when flying within the US. However, as the flight to Mexico shows, taxes and fees to JetBlue’s international destinations can vary, so be sure to consider those out-of-pocket costs when searching for award tickets online.
Given the simple redemption scheme, the booking process is quite easy as well. Simply fire up JetBlue.com (or the carrier’s mobile app) and enter your search criteria. Be sure to check the “Use TrueBlue Points” box at the top, though you can also easily switch between paid and award flights on the results page. Select the flight(s) and fare class you want, and then follow the simple on-screen instructions to complete your booking.
If you want to extend the value of your points even further, consider opening the JetBlue Plus Card from Barclays. In addition to awarding bonus points and providing a free checked bag to cardholders plus up to three travel companions, it also gives you 10% of your points back when you redeem them on a JetBlue-operated flight. I’ll spare you the math, but this effectively boosts the value of your redemptions by 11.11%, so even just a couple of award flights per year can more than cover the card’s $99 annual fee.
Redeem on Partner Flights
JetBlue partners with a handful of different airlines, but at the time of writing this article, you can only redeem TrueBlue points on one of them: Hawaiian Airlines. Instead of using a revenue-based redemption model that ties the award rates to the price of an individual itinerary (like it does for JetBlue-operated flights), TrueBlue has a more standard, region-based award chart for these tickets:
Given these rates, JetBlue’s Hawaiian Airlines award chart has the potential to be quite lucrative. Business class flights from the West Coast to Hawaii run just 45,000 TrueBlue points one-way, making it a solid way to fly to the Aloha State in comfort and style. However, there’s no guarantee you’d be able to find award inventory for these itineraries.
If you decide to book a Hawaiian Airlines award using your JetBlue points, you’ll have to call JetBlue to book. To do this, just call 1-800-JETBLUE and tell the phone representative you’d like to book a Hawaiian Airlines award ticket. He or she will ask for your dates and help you find award space on a flight on or around your preferred travel dates.
Redeem for JetBlue Vacations
While you can’t redeem TrueBlue points for hotels or rental cars, you can redeem for discounts on JetBlue Vacations. This is JetBlue’s vacation booking portal where you just punch in your dates and destination and JetBlue will combine one of its flight itineraries with a hotel room for a discounted price. While you can’t redeem TrueBlue points for an entire JetBlue Vacations package, you can use them to discount one. This may not yield the best value for your TrueBlue points but can keep some cash in your pocket.
To check the value of these discounts, I priced out a three-night trip from New York-JFK to Boston. The cash price was $1,881 for a flight and three-night stay at the Fairmont Copley Plaza. On the other hand, Cash + Points brings the package down to 10,900 TrueBlue and $1,717. In this case, your TrueBlue points are worth 1.5 cents apiece, which puts it in the same ballpark as a JetBlue flight redemption, so it’s worth a look if you need a hotel room and a flight. Just note that you likely won’t earn hotel points on your stay, and you may want to price out booking the flight and hotel separately, as it’ll allow you to leverage other hotel discounts and potentially still earn points for your stay.
Other Redemption Options
If you’re not looking for travel-related awards, you can use TrueBlue points in two additional ways: for magazines and for donations to charities. I’d highly recommend steering clear of the magazine option unless you have a small number of points in your account, and it’s up to you to decide if you want to donate your points to one of the 15+ charities with which JetBlue partners, though most prefer to donate cash and use their points for award tickets.
TrueBlue points are largely restricted to redemptions on JetBlue-operated flights, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Given the fact that award tickets are tied directly to ticket prices, there’s no stress about squeezing every last ounce of value out of your redemptions. You’ll typically get at least 1.3 cents of value per TrueBlue point you redeem, and with hubs and focus cities across the country along with partnerships with the three major transferable point programs, JetBlue can be a great option for your next getaway.
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