If you love JetBlue as much as I do and you want to experience JetBlue’s new MINT product, then you should take advantage of this promotion from American Express Membership Rewards. From now until September 15, 2014, you can receive a 25% bonus on your Membership Rewards points transfers to JetBlue TrueBlue points. The promotion link can be found here.
American Express Membership Rewards points normally transfer to JetBlue TrueBlue points at a 250:200 (5 Membership Rewards points = 4 JetBlue TrueBlue points) ratio but with this promotion, it works out to be a 1:1 transfer ratio. In comparison, American Express Membership Rewards points also transfer to Air Canada, British Airways and Delta at a 1:1 ratio. I’ll talk about these other programs further in a little bit.
In general, transferring American Express Membership Rewards points to JetBlue is not the best use of your points but with this promotion, it’s good if you really want to fly JetBlue’s new MINT product (only offered on the JFK – LAX route and soon on the JFK – SFO route) or if you have last minute travel plans and need to travel on specific dates. Because JetBlue is a revenue based rewards program, there are no blackout dates or limited availability for award redemptions. If there’s a seat available, you can redeem TrueBlue points for it. The only catch though is that the more expensive the revenue ticket is, the more TrueBlue points you will need to redeem for that flight.
For example, looking at the LAX – JFK MINT flights, I found plenty of seats available at the lowest level of 34,900 TrueBlue points. Roundtrip would cost you 69,800 points.
Comparison to American, Delta and United:
Now, let’s compare this redemption to the big three legacy carriers that also fly the LAX – JFK route.
Air Canada is a Star Alliance partner for United Airlines and American Express Membership Rewards points transfer to Air Canada Aeroplan at a 1:1 ratio. Redeeming on Air Canada, you can fly LAX – JFK on United Airlines business class for 25,000 miles (50,000 miles roundtrip). But that’s if you can find it.
Looking at several dates, United Airlines saver awards were pretty much non-existent. So technically, you can save 19,800 Membership Rewards points by flying United Airlines instead but that’s if you can find available seats. In the entire month of October, I found one day with availability on the LAX – JFK non-stop flight at the saver award level.
British Airways is a oneworld partner for American Airlines and American Express Membership Rewards points transfer to British Airways Avios at a 1:1 ratio. Redeeming on British Airways, you can fly LAX – JFK on American’s new Airbus 321T business class for 25,000 Avios (50,000 Avios roundtrip).
Finding availability for American Airlines business class at MilesSAAver rates was much easier than United but there was only one problem. 99% of the available flights were all connections and the direct flights on American’s A321T were harder to find. Of the three, American had the best availability for the saver award levels but that’s not really saying much.
And lastly, Delta is a direct American Express Membership Rewards partner and points also transfer at a 1:1 ratio. However, transferring American Express Membership Rewards points to Delta incurs an Airline Excise Tax Offset Fee. The fee is .06 cents per 1 point transferred so 50,000 points transfer would equal a $30 fee.
In theory, Delta charges 50,000 miles for business class awards from LAX – JFK at the low saver level. But similar to United, the low saver awards are so hard to come by that you might as well not even bother looking. You’re more likely to find non-stop business class awards from LAX – JFK at the standard award level and those start at 100,000 SkyMiles roundtrip.
So as you can see, JetBlue may charge more points to redeem for that coveted business class flight from LAX – JFK but in reality, it comes out as the clear winner because you can actually redeem your points for seats. Whereas, the three legacy airlines may charge less for the saver awards, the saver fares are so hard to come by that you won’t be able to redeem for any flights.
Doing the math, transferring American Express Membership Rewards points to redeem on JetBlue MINT flights at the low level equates to be 1.7 cents per point. Some would argue that Membership Rewards points are worth more than 1.7 cents and I would tend to agree if you would rather use your points for long-haul, first class awards on airlines such as Cathay Pacific or Singapore Airlines.
But points and miles are different for different people. Some people may care less about international travel and would rather redeem their points and miles for short hops or transcon flights. It all depends on what you want to use your points and miles for and how much you value them. It’s definitely a personal decision.
So is this promotion great for everyone? I don’t think so. But if you want to experience JetBlue’s new MINT product or need to use points for specific dates of travel, I think this promotion is a good deal and you should take advantage of it.
What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments section below.