Will JetBlue waive baggage fees for non-cardholders?
Dear Cashing In,
My JetBlue Plus credit card includes free bags for me plus three companions. I’m buying my parents’ flights for their anniversary but not going with them. Can they still get free bags if they have my card? – Joanne
When we think of airline reward cards, we usually think of the miles that come with them, and how we will use those miles for free trips.
But some of the other perks that come with airline cards can actually be worth more than miles, depending on how much you fly. That’s the case with the free checked bags that come with having an airline card. (It’s not really “free,9rdquo; of course – more like included in the cost of the card.)
Typically, checking a bag on a domestic flight on a U.S. airline will cost you $25. Airlines will waive that fee for certain elite frequent flyers, and for people who have the right credit cards affiliated with the airline. Note that Southwest is alone among major U.S. airlines in that it does not charge fees for the first two checked bags.
If you have an airline card that has the free-bag perk, you can receive a free checked bag. People traveling with you on the same reservation can receive free bags, too, so you can see that those savings can really add up if you travel and check bags a lot on one particular airline. Airline credit cards typically come with annual fees of less than $100, so you can quickly save more than that with just a couple of family vacations a year.
However, to receive the free checked bags, you have to follow the airline’s rules. A few years ago, most major airlines required you to buy the ticket (or pay the fees on an award ticket) with the airline credit card in order to receive the free checked bag. Now, though, many airlines only require you to enter your frequent flyer number. As they improve their computer systems, the airlines can tell who has the card and who does not. JetBlue, though, still wants you to buy the ticket with the Barclaycard JetBlue Plus card (annual fee: $99) to receive the free checked bag.
In addition, airlines typically require you to be one of the passengers. Among the benefits of the JetBlue Plus card is a “free first checked bag for you and up to three companions on JetBlue-operated flights when you use your JetBlue Plus card.” When you go to book the tickets, the reservation system will determine if you are eligible for free checked bags or not. In my experience, ticket agents are usually unwilling to waive baggage fees if the computer system tells them you owe the fees.
JetBlue confirms that your parents will have to pay for their bags, since the benefit is tied to the cardholder’s frequent flyer account. In an email to CreditCards.com, JetBlue spokeswoman Tamara Young wrote: “If the cardholder is not traveling/is not on the same itinerary as the customers that are traveling, then the free bag benefit does not apply. Cardholder must be on the same itinerary in order for the free bags to apply.”
That means that you are probably out of luck in trying to get free checked bags for your parents for a trip on which you are not flying. But it might be worth a shot. In some cases, there is a difference between the theoretical answer and the what-actually-happens answer.
But if I were your parents, I would show up at the airport with the expectation that JetBlue will not waive its baggage fees. Those fees add up to big money for the airline, and it probably won’t drop them for passengers who are not entitled to have them waived.
New Barclaycard JetBlue Credit Card with 30,000-Point Bonus – Part 2
Yesterday I posted about two new Barclaycard JetBlue credit cards: Plus and Business. The cards are almost identical except that the JetBlue Plus card offers 2X points back at grocery stores, and the Business card – for business supplies.
In this follow-up post, I’m discussing the JetBlue Plus and/or the Business card, which have nearly identical features — and not the regular, no-annual-fee JetBlue credit card that has a smaller 10,000-point bonus and very few other benefits.
This is not the first time I’ve posted about JetBlue, but I’ve had a chance to play with the JetBlue chart a little more today, and I’ve found a few interesting tidbits.
I like JetBlue for 2 reasons. First, it has roomy seats. The JetBlue’s 32” pitch is probably the best or at least one of the best in domestic economy.
Second, it often flies nonstop from NYC while others either don’t or have terrible availability. I honestly don’t want to waste a few precious hours when I’m going on a short vacation. Finding a nonstop availability to Mexico or the Caribbean on AA or United, at least to places where I want to go, has always been a challenge to me.
Third, TrueBlue — the JetBlue frequent flyer program — allows free family pooling. Those of us who have always struggled trying to combine our miles with the miles of family and friends without paying exorbitant fees for it, know how valuable this is.
But the most important question still remains:
How much juice can you squeeze out of the sign-up bonus?
Fortunately, since TrueBlue is a revenue-based program, that’s an easy question. On average, you can get 1.4-1.7 points per every cent after taxes. In other words, your 30,000-point sign up bonus will get you $321-411 after deducting the $99 annual fee.
My threshold for applying for a credit card is $400. This card qualifies, but just barely. I’d have to be very careful about my redemptions if I wanted to get the best possible value out of it.
A non-stop flight between New York and Puerto Plata, DR is not easy to get. American flies via there via Miami. United does fly to POP from EWR, but trying to find availability is an adventure. Not so much with JetBlue. If you manage to get it at the lowest price, it’s less than 15,000 points roundtrip!
That means, of course, that the revenue fare is also low. In order to get to the true value, as we’re always striving here on this blog, we’ll have to deduct the airport taxes from the award ticket, because the cash ticket price is all-inclusive. So, the “real” cost of our ticket is $238.10, and your TrueBlue point value (hereinafter TBV) is 1.6 for a cent. Not too bad for a revenue-based program
The price won’t usually be favorable, especially if you’re booking a few months ahead, but you can still find a good deal. I’ve found a lot of flights in the fall for 17,600 points. Still not too shabby!
New York — Punta Cana: 13,800 points RT, TBV: 1.7.
Although, a earlier flight is 19,800, with TBV sliding down to 1.6.
Fort Lauderdale — Quito (Ecuador) is 11,980 points roundtrip, TBV: 1.7.
Here is the revenue fare if you want to chalenge my calculations.
New York — Quito is more expensive, and the TBV is lower: 1.5.
And finally, one of the two longest flights in the JetBlue network, New York — Lima. Just like Spirit, JetBlue routes it via Fort Lauderdale. The cheapest I found was 28,800 points, so you would have to spend your whole bonus on this flight. TBV: 1.5.
Out of curiosity, I also priced the most expensive flight to Lima I could find (I didn’t comb the whole schedule, though). It was 71,800 points. And the TBV was pretty bad, too: 1.4.
The fare was over $1,100.
No, it’s not an official term. I’m pretty hardcore (LOL) when it comes to sign-up bonuses, but there are other values, too. As I mentioned before, the sign-up bonus would only barely qualify this credit card for me, but it has an abundance of those, too.
As a reminder, here is the list of the JetBlue credit card benefits.
- 30,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days.
- six points for every $1 spent on JetBlue purchases
- two points for every $1 spent at restaurants and grocery stores (for the business card restaurants an office supply stores, thanks GEM!).
- one point for every $1 spent on all other purchases
- Free checked bag for the primary cardmember and up to three companions (must but tickets with the JetBlue Plus Card).
- 5,000 bonus points every year after your account anniversary.
- 50% savings on eligible inflight purchases including cocktails, food and movies.
- 10 percent of your points back every time you redeem to use toward your next redemption.
- Primary car rental collision coverage
- PIN-ready for international travel
- No FOREX fee
- SPECIAL MENTION: FAMILY POOLING
What this list means is what I’ve been saying all alone — it’s an excellent card! However, I’m especially interested in 2 benefits (after the sign up bonus, of course).
10% refund on redeemed points
This benefit is better than the same benefit from the Citi AAdvantage card. The JetBlue credit card gives you this refund immediately upon redemption, and not at the end of the year. If (and this is a big if) you can really use this benefit, it’s like getting a better TBV on every redemption. Your 1.5 TBV becomes 1.6, your 1.6 TBV becomes 1.8, and your 1.7 TBV becomes 1.9 — very close to the 2:1 value we seek on a coach redemptions with traditional frequent flyer programs.
The problem is, that your sign-up bonus won’t last long, unless you redeem your points for very short flights (a roundtrip between Las Vegas and San Francisco can cost 3,500 points one-way). But keep in mind that an ultra-short haul, like the LAS-SFO flight mentioned above can have a horrible TBV. This flight can cost as low as $34, so your TBV will be less than 1 point per cent. You will most probably want to pay cash for a flight like this.
On another hand — and this is why I really love the JetBlue TrueBlue program — it allows family pooling.
Technically speaking, family pooling is a TrueBlue program’s benefit, not a JetBlue credit card feature. But it’s so awesome, I just had to bring it up.
Let me just think aloud here. 30,000 points for the JetBlue Plus plus 30,000 points for the JetBlue Business, plus 30,000 points for the wife’s Plus plus 30,000 points for the wife’s Business. That’s 124,000 family TrueBlue points for $398 if you count the mandatory spend. Provided that both of us can get them all, of course.
Since TrueBlue points mostly interest me for travel to Mexico and the Caribbean, let’s say my average award would hover around 17,000 points, as I won’t always be able to get the lowest redemption rate. If we presume that I could manage taking advantage of all 10% refunds, then I would squeeze an extra trip out of the bonuses.
124,000 points would get me 7 roundtrip flights to the Caribbean.
136,000 points would get me eight!
Now, do I really need 8 flights to Mexico or the Caribbean? No, but you might. See, I usually fly to a beach destination once a year, and usually solo. To most of you, normal people, that would be just 2-3 family trips.
So, which sun-kissed destinations are the cheapest on JetBlue? Non-scientifically, I would say, Cancun, San Juan, DR, St. Lucia, Aruba, Grenada, and St. Maarten. They aren’t cheap 365 days a year, but if you’re after the sun, these can be your best shots.
Yeah, um, no! Put it out of your head. Mint is awesome, but you’re better pay cash.
Mint is an excellent, modern first class product with a lie-flat seat. But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t find more or less decent TBV on Mint. I know I haven’t combed the whole schedule and it’s quite possible I have missed something.
However, what I have found is a bunch of pretty bad values. If you want to fly in first, you’re better off buying your seat for cash, otherwise you’re getting around 1-1.1 TBV. Not a value proposition at all.
JFK-LAX Mint on Points
JFK-LAX Mint on cash
Since most flights in the JetBlue network (at least the ones I’m interested in) are less than 6 hours, I really don’t know. I try to be practical about premium class travel and usually save my miles for really long hauls. And besides, this generous JetBlue coach seat pitch makes a 3-4 hour flight … no, not pleasant, but … what’s the word … oh yeah! Perfectly tolerable.
You can redeem TrueBlue points for flights on Hawaiian Airlines, but you shouldn’t. TrueBlue doesn’t publish the chart of point redemptions, but that’s because there can be no chart. You can redeem the points on the same revenue-based scheme, only it’s going to be no more than 1 point per cent — if you’re lucky. So skip that.
JetBlue does have a bunch of international airline partners, but you can’t redeem miles on any of them. There was some chatter during the presentation that JetBlue was looking into that, so we’ll see. In any case, that’ll be then, and this is now.
JetBlue will remain the AMEX Membership Rewards partner
I was told by the JetBlue representative that this wouldn’t change, at least for the time being.
I’m still on the fence since I mostly travel internationally, but I’m likely to go for it. This is a really good product — much better than the AMEX card was, albeit more expensive, too. Folks who fly JetBlue often and who are into a long-term relationship with JetBlue shouldn’t think twice, IMHO, due to the long list of valuable features. Gamers will get their fix too, although the annual fee stings a bit. But if you do go for a JetBlue credit card, I’d recommend going for all the points you can get and pool them over after that (pun intended).
Building a compelling co-branded credit card offer in a revenue-based loyalty program can be a challenge. Cash-back cards are more prevalent than ever and the loyalty proposition can be a difficult sell. JetBlue Airways stepped up to the challenge this week, unveiling its long-awaited portfolio of new cards in partnership with MasterCard and Barclaycard. The three new cards span a range of customer use cases and, in true JetBlue fashion, do things just a little bit differently than everyone else – to the customers’ benefit.
This approach fits with the company’s ethos. As VP marketing Jamie Perry explained during the product unveiling, “We go out of our way to do things not only differently than our competitors do them but also better. We believe that over the years the customer has been increasingly shortchanged by airlines and we see it as very much our mission to change that and redress the balance and give our customers more than the other guys give them.” Big words, but the new credit card lineup backs them up.
The new suite of JetBlue credit cards rolls out this week in partnership with Barclaycard and MasterCard
There are three versions of the new card launching this week:
- The JetBlue Card,
- The JetBlue Plus Card, and
- The JetBlue Business Card
Each targets a specific demographic. This is in line with JetBlue’s business model of providing a compelling offering at the entry-level and then offering additional features on top of that as customers are willing to buy up. Explaining the range of products, Perry says, “We’ve tried to find common elements which appeal to everybody, including the no foreign exchange fees and multiplier earnings on certain categories, and then layer on incremental benefits on top of that.” This is congruent with the way the company has approached other recent product rollouts, including offering free wifi to all passengers with an up-sell option for those who need VPN access or other special services.
Here’s how the card benefits stack up:
The entry-level card is fee-free, a significant move in the world of co-branded cards where annual fees are the norm. The sign up bonus offer is relatively weak at only 10,000 points for $1,000 in spend over the first 90 days but the card makes up for that in the suite of benefits it includes, a collection which outshines other cards at the free price point. Most significant is that there are no foreign transaction fees for using the card outside the United States, even on the free version. This is a benefit typically reserved for the higher cost cards in vendor portfolios and is a huge win for the value-conscious consumers. The card also includes double points earning (2/dollar spent) on restaurants and grocery stores and 3x earning on JetBlue purchases. Inflight purchases made with the card realize a 50% discount and it comes with the Barclaycard Chip + PIN capability, another feature beneficial to international travelers and one which is hard to find on many cards.
Moving up the product ladder, the Plus card offers 6x earning on JetBlue spend, a 10% rebate on all redemption activity and a free checked bag for the primary cardholder and up to three additional passengers on the same itinerary. There is a $100 statement credit against any JetBlue Getaways vacation package, offsetting the $99 annual fee the card carries. The Plus card also offers the ability to earn Mosaic status in the TrueBlue program with $50,000 in annual spend on the card. That’s a relatively high number for earning the status but it is one of the rare options which allows a customer to earn airline status wholly on credit card spend.
For a customer who has Mosaic status and who purchases JetBlue flights on the company website the earning proposition from carrying the Plus card is impressive. Buying online nets 6 points per dollar as does using the card. Add in the 3 bonus points for Mosaic status and that’s 15 points earnt per dollar spend on JetBlue tickets. With a current TrueBlue point valuation resting between 1.0-1.5 cents that becomes a roughly 20% yield on the ticket spend, plus a 10% rebate on awards when redeemed. That is a compelling set of numbers, far surpassing my expectations for the card.
The JetBlue Business Card
The Business card is similar to the Plus card in benefits and cost. The most notable difference is that rather than 2x points at grocery stores the Business card earns that multiplier for office supply purchases.
There are other features on all the cards, including limited travel insurance coverage, extended warranty on purchases and access to a global assist hotline. But, at the end of the day, the compelling feature, at least to me, is an offering which competes well with the cash-back card rates, depending on purchase patterns, and some advanced features even on the free version. For the die-hard TrueBlue customer the Plus card and its potential 20% yield is a very, very strong offering. This re-launch has been a long time coming and it appears to have been worth the wait.