WTM contributor John Mccall of Travel on Blue takes us through the basics of how TrueBlue points can be used to book JetBlue reward flights.

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Redeeming for One-Way Trips

JetBlue keeps booking very simple and that includes award flight booking as well. All one-way flights start at 5,000 points and go up from there. If you can manage to get a flight from Monday-Wednesday, you’ll have great odds of getting a coastal or coast to mid US flight for around the 5,000-9,000 point mark. There isn’t an award chart, so the value of points can vary – you’ll need to do some comparative research for the trip you’re planning.

The JetBlue Plus Card


Bonus: 30,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days.

Benefits:
-- 6X points per dollar spent on Jetblue purchases.
-- 2X points per dollar spent at restaurants and grocery stores.
-- 1X points per dollar spent on all other purchases.
-- Earn 5,000 bonus points every year after your account anniversary.
-- TrueBlue Mosaic benefits for one year when you spend $50,000 or more annually with your card.
-- 50% savings on eligible inflight purchases (including cocktails, food and movies).
-- Get 10% of your points back when you redeem your points.
-- No foreign transaction fees.

Annual fee: $99

Quick review: This card is great for JetBlue flyers and offers a valuable 2X points earning bonus at grocery and restaurants. You'll also earn 5,000 points each year you keep the card and get 10% points back when you redeem. Like other Barclaycards, this card is a chip+pin card which makes it a great choice for international travel where a pin is required (such as Europe).

Of course, booking on weekends and going from east to west or vice versa will be more, but the award rates are still very reasonable. And don’t forget that since there is no first class, all seats are the same price with cash or reward points on a JetBlue flight.

While weekday seats are the best deals, I’ll use a Friday in March, 2014 as an example to show that even weekend bookings can be a great deal using TrueBlue points:

  • JFK to Washington, DC – 6,900 points
  • Washington, DC to Tampa, FL – 11,400 points
  • Tampa, FL to Las Vegas – 24,900 points
  • Las Vegas to Rochester, NY – 24,300 points

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Redeeming for Round Trips

JetBlue’s price for round trip flights isn’t a whole lot different than booking one-ways: flights start at 10,000 points (5,000 x 2 trips) and go up from there.

Since the flights are based on value of the fare, it isn’t any more cost effective to book as a stopover. In fact, JetBlue just treats this as two separate flights whether booking a paid ticket or as an award ticket.

Open-jaw flights can also be booked if you’re flying from point A to B, then point B to C regardless of whether you’re paying cash or booking with TrueBlue points.

GetAway Vacations

The final use for JetBlue points comes in the form of points + cash for GetAway packages, which are vacation bundles that vary from a hotel and flight to all-inclusive packages including ground transportation. These packages feature a wide choice of hotels and accommodations in addition to the flight of your choice, and can be purchased in two main ways:

A choice to pay with straight cash and a cash + points option. The combination of money and points is pre-determined and cannot be changed to accommodate for more points and less cash or more money and less points—the rates are fixed.

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In the example above, I’ve booked a flight for two from JFK to Florida for a long weekend. By using 37,200 of my TrueBlue points it can make the entire weekend cost just over $500 while staying at the PGA National Resort and Spa. Not too shabby. One caveat is that this form of purchasing Getaways makes you ineligible to earn more TrueBlue points for the trip itself. Since the trip is a package however, the value per point varies more. It isn’t necessarily always a better deal to use cash + points over just a free flight, so you’ll have to see what works best for your trip.

This could be great paired with some Ultimate Rewards or Barclays Arrival miles to cut the remaining dollar cost of the trip, while allowing your TrueBlue miles to effectively act as a steep discount for both airfare and travel. So while you may not be earning additional TrueBlue points, you could still earn the bonus from your travel card when making the purchase.

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