The jetBlue Plus credit card is tremendously valuable for smart travelers in the United States

I've had the jetBlue Plus Card in my wallet for about a year now, and this week received a letter reminding me of the 5,000 TrueBlue bonus points it awards every year on one's account anniversary. This is one of the best airline branded travel cards available, an essential for anyone who loves to travel because it more than pays for itself each year, and gives you a lot of value.

Apply here for the jetBlue Plus MasterCard. Wine:Thirty Flight has absolutely no affiliation with it and therefor receives no benefit from you doing this. We're just sharing the love. Word to the wise, don't even consider the basic jetBlue card as it's value pales in comparison to their Plus model.

The basic mechanics of the card are that you sign up with Barclaycard (the issuing bank), associate your jetBlue TrueBlue loyalty account number to your card, and then earn points on purchases that get dumped into your jetBlue account each statement cycle for you to use on booking free travel and other perks when flying. One point ends up netting you an average of 1.4 cents when you buy a ticket (could be more, could be less... but we'll use 1.4 for our math here). So, when you make purchases with the card, you get earn:

  • 6 points for every dollar spent purchasing things from jetBlue, meaning you automatically get 8.4 cents back for every dollar you spend on jetBlue products and services ($1 x 6 x 1.4)... or, put another way, all your jetBlue purchases are 8.4% off.
  • 2 points for every dollar spent on purchases at restaurants and grocery stores; you can do better on restaurants by using the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, but I've not seen many grocery store schemes that give you 2.8% of your purchases back to spend on travel.
  • 1 point for every dollar spent on everything else.

The figures above don't account for what you earn actually buying jetBlue tickets, though, i.e. when you use the card to buy a ticket on jetBlue, you earn 6 points per dollar via the card, but you also earn points for actually buying the ticket as you would regardless of which card you use. TrueBlue members earn 3 points for every dollar spent on a ticket, and at least 3 more for booking the ticket on (and who isn't booking online?). In simple numbers, this means that when you use your jetBlue Plus card (+6 points) to book a jetBlue ticket (+3 points) on (+3 points) you actually earn 12 points per dollar spent, which using our math above ($1 x 12 x 1.4) means you're actually getting an unbelievable 16.8% of every dollar spent on jetBlue tickets back to spend on future jetBlue tickets, or put another way, every jetBlue ticket you buy is at least 16.8% off. I know of no better value in air travel.

In addition, you also earn 30,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 on anything within the first 90 days of having the card, and you get a free checked bag on every jetBlue flight you book with the card, 50% off in-flight purchases such as food and alcohol, and 10% of your points back when you use those points to book a flight (meaning, for example, that when booking a flight with points, if the quoted point cost is 6500, you will effectively only use 5850 points). The 5,000 bonus points you get each year for just possessing the card are worth an average of $70 redeemed for travel (5,000 x 1.4 / 100), which nearly wipes away the entire $95 annual fee to make this, in effect, a card that costs you $15 per year to possess even before you take advantage of any other benefit.

Background Reading: Southwest's and jetBlue's reward programs offer simple ways to quickly earn free travel

jetBlue is also an absolutely excellent airline on which I have literally never had a bad experience. While they are not the best airline choice for anyone whose primary travel needs involve the western United States and overseas outside of the Caribbean, they are a particularly good choice if your primary airport is New York JFK, Boston Logan, Fort Lauderdale, Long Beach (their big west coast city), San Juan (Puerto Rico), and Orlando. jetBlue also is perhaps the strongest of all the big U.S. airlines for travel in the Caribbean, which is particularly valuable for anyone looking to escape the winter around their two biggest "hubs" of New York and Boston (jetBlue calls them "focus cities"... but they are hubs in practice).

So, yes, this card is a no brainer even if you only occasionally fly jetBlue. Try combining it with the airline's flight options from Boston and New York to San Francisco, Portland (OR), and Washington (DC) to see if you ever have to pay real money to get to some of America's best wine country ever again.