Maximizing Chase Ultimate Rewards Value With JetBlue
by Lyle Daly | Jan. 16, 2019
In August of 2018, JetBlue became the third U.S. carrier in the Chase Ultimate Rewards lineup. Although JetBlue isn't the largest airline, it offers reasonably priced flights and easy-to-find award tickets. The inflight experience is particularly impressive, featuring leather seats throughout the plane, above-average legroom, and free Wi-Fi.
There are a couple different ways you can use your Ultimate Rewards points to book JetBlue flights. I'm going to explain your options and how you can make sure you're getting the best deal when you book.
What you need
The minimum amount of points you can transfer is 1,000, so you'll need at least that many and an account in the JetBlue TrueBlue program. To access Chase Ultimate Rewards, you must have at least one of the program's credit cards. The current options are:
How much are JetBlue points worth?
The typical value of JetBlue points is around $0.014 to $0.017 per point, although it can sometimes be a bit higher or lower.
JetBlue uses the cash price of a ticket as the basis for the cost in points, just like Southwest. This means that the value you get for your points won't fluctuate too much by the flight and seat you book.
You won't find tickets that get you $0.03 or more per point, but you can rest assured that you're never going to get a low value, either. And since JetBlue prices its tickets this way, any ticket you could book in cash, you can also book in points.
Deciding whether to transfer points or use the Ultimate Rewards travel portal
When you have a travel rewards card with Chase, transferring points to a partner isn't the only option. There's also the Ultimate Rewards travel portal, where you're able to redeem points towards purchases at a fixed rate. Your rate depends on what Chase card you have:
- $0.015 -- Chase Sapphire Reserve®
- $0.0125 -- Chase Sapphire Preferred® and Chase Ink Business Preferred®
If you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred® or the Chase Ink Business Preferred®, you will usually get a better value by transferring your points to JetBlue. With the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, it could go either way.
Here's my recommendation -- before you do anything else, go to JetBlue and search for the flight you want. Check the price in both cash and points, and then divide the cash price by the number of points an award ticket would cost. That will tell you exactly how much value you'd get for your points with an award ticket, and you can choose your booking method accordingly to max out your Ultimate Rewards points.
How to transfer Ultimate Rewards points to JetBlue
You can complete the entire Ultimate Rewards to JetBlue transfer process online, and transfers typically go through instantly. Transfers are non-refundable, and you get a 1:1 ratio on your points, which is better than what you'd get with American Express Membership Rewards® or Citi ThankYou® transfers to JetBlue
The transfer process goes as follows:
1. Access your Ultimate Rewards account.
The most direct way to do this is to log in through Chase's Ultimate Rewards site. If you have multiple Ultimate Rewards cards, you must select the one with the points you'd like to transfer.
Another option is to visit the Ultimate Rewards site from your Chase credit card account. When you've selected a credit card, choose "See Balance" right under the heading for "Ultimate Rewards." A "Redeem Rewards" link will appear. Click that to go to the Ultimate Rewards home screen.
2. On the Ultimate Rewards site, select the "Transfer to Travel Partners" option.
3. Under the "Airlines" heading, go to the listing for JetBlue TrueBlue and click "Transfer Points."
4. Select your transfer recipient.
The rules of the Ultimate Rewards program only allow you to send your points to your own JetBlue account or the account of someone who is both an authorized user on your credit card and a member of your household.
After selecting the recipient name, input the JetBlue TrueBlue account number.
5. Set the transfer amount.
Transfers must be in 1,000-point increments.
6. Confirm your transfer.
There will be a review screen where you can verify everything about your transfer before you put it through. If you're satisfied with it, submit it, and you should have the points in your JetBlue TrueBlue account shortly.
How to book an award ticket with JetBlue
To book a JetBlue award ticket, go to the airline's site and enter your trip details. The only difference between searching for a cash ticket and an award ticket is checking "Use TrueBlue Points" in the upper-right corner of the flight search box.
On the search results page, you can toggle between prices in cash and points under the "Select Fare" heading. This helps when you want to check how much value you're getting per point with an award ticket.
After you've chosen your flight and seat, JetBlue will prompt you to log in if you haven't already done so. You can then go through the checkout process to book your ticket.
Where you can fly with JetBlue
There are over 100 destinations where you can fly with JetBlue, and while the majority of its routes are in the United States, it also flies to cities all over South, Central, and North America. The airline's routes to the Caribbean are popular, and it's also a good option if you want to visit Cuba.
Maximizing the value of your points
The most important part of maximizing the value of your points is comparing what you'd get through the Ultimate Rewards portal and with a JetBlue award ticket, especially if you're a Chase Sapphire Reserve® cardholder and can redeem points at that $0.015 fixed rate.
As far as JetBlue award tickets are concerned, the best values tend to be available in the lower fare types. JetBlue has four types of fares available:
- Blue Plus
- Blue Flex
The Mint fare type is available on select transcontinental flights. It's an impressive product with a lie-flat seat, which is rare on domestic flights, but it usually gets you less value per point. Still, you may want to get it anyway for a more relaxing traveling experience.
Blue is the lowest-priced fare type with the same seat and legroom as Blue Plus and Blue Flex, so it's usually the best choice. The only exceptions are when you need to check a bag or when you may need to change or cancel your flight.
JetBlue's international routes are often a better value for award tickets than domestic routes. Some of the airline's premier destinations include:
- Cuba (flights from Florida to Cuba are among JetBlue's best award ticket values)
- Costa Rica
- The Caribbean Islands
JetBlue credit cards
If you're interested in an airline credit card with JetBlue, the airline has two available through Barclaycard.
|Card||JetBlue Card||JetBlue Plus Card|
|Sign-up bonus||10,000 points for spending $1,000 within first 90 days||40,000 bonus points for spending $1,000 within first 90 days|
|Rewards rate||3 points per $1 on JetBlue purchases, 2 points per $1 at restaurants and grocery stores, 1 point per $1 on all other spending||6 points per $1 on JetBlue purchases, 2 points per $1 at restaurants and grocery stores, 1 point per $1 on all other spending|
|Free checked bags||N/A||First checked bag is free for you and up to three companions on your reservation when you book with your JetBlue Plus Card|
|Account anniversary bonus||N/A||Earn 5,000 points after your account anniversary each year|
|Inflight savings||50% off eligible inflight purchases||50% off eligible inflight purchases|
|Foreign transaction fees||None||None|
|Other perks||N/A||TrueBlue Mosaic status benefits after you’ve spent at least $50,000 using your card in the calendar year; receive an annual $100 statement credit after you buy a JetBlue vacation package for at least $100|
Data source: Chase.
You should only get a JetBlue credit card if you fly often with the airline, and if that's the case, the JetBlue Plus Card will likely better suit your needs. The rewards rate is higher, it offers a much larger sign-up bonus, and it has free checked baggage.
For travelers who aren't loyal to JetBlue or any particular airline, I'd recommend a more all-purpose travel rewards card. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® is one option to consider, as it's almost the same price as the JetBlue Plus Card (with an annual fee that's waived the first year) and earns Ultimate Rewards points, which you could transfer to JetBlue or the program's many other transfer partners.
JetBlue flights are an excellent way to use your Ultimate Rewards points, whether you transfer those points or book through the Ultimate Rewards portal. Any booking will provide a good value, and you'll get to enjoy all the amenities the airline offers.
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