[Update: Some offers mentioned below have expired. You can view the current offers from our partners here —AAdvantage Platinum Select card from Citi and the American Express Gold Delta SkyMiles card. Disclosure: Cards from our partners are mentioned below.]
If you’re looking for a credit card to earn miles you typically have to pay an annual fee, which isn’t worth it for some infrequent travelers. And among the airline credit cards that do have an annual fee, cardholders are generally only rewarded with 2x points for airline purchases, which is no longer competitive with other cards.
But JetBlue just announced three new credit cards with its partner Barclaycard that turn this equation on its head by offering an entry-level card with no annual fee, and a premium card that offers 6x points for JetBlue purchases.
How These Cards Work
Previously, American Express offered a JetBlue card with a $40 annual fee. Like most frequent flier cards, it offered 2x points for airline purchases, and just 1x elsewhere. And while it did offer a 50% discount on in-flight purchases such as food and beverages, it also had a foreign transaction fee of 2.7% imposed on all charges processed outside of the U.S.
But when JetBlue announced last year that it would be partnering with Barclaycard, existing cardholders were offered a new JetBlue MasterCard that increased rewards to 4x on JetBlue purchases, 2x at restaurants and gas stations and 1x elsewhere. This card, which is not offered to new applicants, also has an annual fee of $40, but has no foreign transaction fees.
Now, new applicants are being offered a no-fee JetBlue MasterCard and a JetBlue Plus card with a $99 annual fee. The no-fee card offers 3x for JetBlue purchases, 2x at restaurant and grocery stores and 1x elsewhere. For a limited time, new customers also receive 10,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases within 90 days of account opening. This card also has no foreign transaction fees.
For more frequent fliers, the JetBlue Plus World Elite MasterCard features 6x for JetBlue purchases, 2x at restaurant and grocery stores and 1x elsewhere. In addition, cardholders receive a 5,000-point bonus each year on their cardholder anniversary, and a 10% rebate on points redeemed for JetBlue flights. Travelers also receive their first bag checked for free for themselves and up to three other companions. Customers can also earn Mosaic elite status in the TrueBlue program after spending $50,000 on their card annually, which offers benefits such as waived change and cancellation fees, complimentary alcoholic beverages, two free checked bags and bonus points. New applicants earn 30,000 points after spending $1,000 within 90 days of account opening. There is a $99 annual fee for this card, and no foreign transaction fees.
Finally, there is a JetBlue Plus business card that has terms that are similar to the personal version, but it earns 2x at office supply stores instead of grocery stores.
How They Compare to Other Airline Cards
Other airline cards tend tend to have very similar terms. For example, American Airlines offers the AAdvantage Platinum Select card from Citi, United has its MileagePlus Explorer card from Chase (reviewed here) and Delta has its Gold SkyMiles card from American Express (reviewed here). Each of these three cards offers 2x miles per dollar spent at their respective airlines, and 1x miles for all other purchases. Other common features include priority boarding, a free checked bag an annual fee of $95 and no foreign transaction fees. By offering 6x for airline purchases, the new JetBlue Plus card rewards travelers for their ticket purchases substantially more than most other airline cards. In addition, these Delta and American cards offer in-flight discounts of 20% and 25% respectively, while all of the JetBlue cards from Barclaycard up that to 50%. (Full Disclosure: Citibank, as well as American Express & Chase advertise on Credit.com, but that results in no preferential editorial treatment.)
On the other hand, JetBlue still lacks the intercontinental networks of the large legacy carriers, and cardholders will not benefit from being able to redeem their points for flights on carriers that are part of an international airline alliance. And while the legacy carriers have first-class sections on all of their aircraft, JetBlue only offers just an economy-class product on most of its flights, although it does offer its Mint premium-class seats on some transcontinental routes and some Caribbean destinations. By increasing the rewards and benefits offered by credit cards at these price points, JetBlue and Barclaycard are putting pressure on their competitors in a very crowded market.
Remember, not all rewards credit cards are created equal, but a good credit score will help you qualify for the best of them. It’s a good idea to check your credit before you fill out any applications. You can do so by viewing your two free credit scores each month on Credit.com.
It’s also important to read all of the terms and conditions associated with a card you are considering carefully. You’ll want to comparison-shop to find a card that’s right for you. You can check out our recent ranking of the Best Cash-Back Credit Cards in America here.
At publishing time, the AAdvantage Platinum Select card from Citi, the United Mileage PlusExplorer card and the Gold Delta SkyMiles card are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for this card. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.
Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms forcredit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.