Membership Rewards announced a transfer bonus today if you want to move points to the TrueBlue loyalty program operated by JetBlue. You can get 25% more points when you transfer to your TrueBlue account by September 15. Although American Express has clamped down on people transferring points to other individuals’ accounts, this is still possible if you add that individual as an authorized cardholder.
250 Membership Rewards points will earn 200 TrueBlue points. Under the terms of the promotion, a 25% bonus means you’ll get 250 TrueBlue points for every 250 Membership Rewards points. Like Southwest Airlines, many of JetBlue’s flights are in economy class only, and though it has no blackout dates it does have a few different booking classes that mean different rates for redeeming TrueBlue points. You can expect to get between 1 and 1.3 cents per point, or up to 1.7 cents per point if you redeem for their new Mint class on transcontinental flights.
Is it a good deal to transfer Membership Rewards to JetBlue? Given how few flights have Mint service, I think it’s an unfair basis for evaluation. I’ll instead use 1.3 cents as the maximum value. A $200 flight that costs 15,385 TrueBlue points used to be 19,794 MR and is now only 15,385 MR — a 20% savings.
But what’s the opportunity cost? I could do a lot with ~15,000 MR. I can transfer them 1-to-1 with British Airways’ Avios program, a distance-based program that has capacity restrictions but doesn’t care how much the fare cost. Only 12,500 points would be needed to fly from the West Coast to Hawaii on Alaska Airlines or American Airlines. 15,000 points would be enough for a round-trip flight from Seattle to Las Vegas. These are both trips that often cost more than $200.
Singapore Airlines’ KrisFlyer is another good transfer partner if you like international flights in first class, though you’ll need much more than 15,000 points. Instead, take a look at some of its Star Alliance partners. You could still use KrisFlyer to book an award on United Airlines.
So while a bonus offer from JetBlue and Membership Rewards is nice, I don’t see this as a compelling reason to transfer your points. Fixed-value rewards currencies like TrueBlue force you to trade the flexibility of any seat, any flight in exchange for significantly less valuable points. I’d prefer to save my Membership Rewards for a future trip, one where I know award space is available and can extract far more value — with or without a transfer bonus.
Map generated by the Great Circle Mapper – copyright © Karl L. Swartz.