Are JetBlue’s New Cash + Points Awards Worth It?

Filed Under: JetBlue

JetBlue’s TrueBlue program has today launched a new Cash + Points feature. With this, members can redeem points to pay for part of the cost of a flight, rather than having to redeem points for the entire cost. Is this a good use of points, though?

JetBlue Cash + Points basics

With JetBlue Cash + Points, members can redeem almost any combination of points and dollars towards the cost of a flight, starting at just 500 points:

  • Cash + Points can be used for any JetBlue flight
  • Cash + Points is valid for Blue, Blue Plus, Blue Extra, and Mint fares, but isn’t valid for Blue Basic fares; it also can’t be used for extras, like Even More Space seating
  • You can’t make changes to any portion of a ticket booked with Cash + Points (short of canceling), so it’s recommended to book Cash + Points tickets as one-ways whenever possible
  • The cash portion of your ticket will be eligible to earn points and will count towards Mosaic status, while the portion paid with points won’t be eligible for points accrual or count towards Mosaic

How to book JetBlue Cash + Points

The process of booking a JetBlue Cash + Points ticket is simple. When you’re on JetBlue’s homepage, just do an award search as you usually would, by checking the “Use TrueBlue points” box.

On the next page you’ll see the flight options, with the award pricing listed.

After you select a specific flight, scroll down a bit and you’ll see a counter that lets you customize how much you want to pay in cash, and how much you want to pay in points.

Is TrueBlue Cash + Points a good deal?

Is redeeming JetBlue points with Cash + Points a good deal, though? Let’s take a look at a specific example.

Let’s use a one-way flight from Boston to Tampa that ordinarily costs $224, or 16,000 points plus $5.60 when booking as an award. That means you’re getting ~1.36 points of value per TrueBlue point when outright booking an award (personally I value TrueBlue points at ~1.3 cents each).

With Cash + Points you could alternatively pay:

  • 14,100 points plus $96.19 (pay $90.59 to save 1,900 points, which is like buying TrueBlue points for 4.8 cents each)
  • 12,399 points plus $111.51 (pay $105.91 to save 3,600 points, which is like buying TrueBlue points for 2.3 cents each)
  • 10,700 points plus $126.80 (pay $121.20 to save 5,300 points, which is like buying TrueBlue points for 2.3 cents each)
  • 9,000 points plus $142.10 (pay $136.50 to save 7,000 points, which is like buying TrueBlue points for 2.0 cents each)
  • 7,299 points plus $157.41 (pay $151.81 to save 8,701 points, which is like buying TrueBlue points for 1.7 cents each)
  • 5,600 points plus $172.70 (pay $167.10 to save 10,400 points, which is like buying TrueBlue points for 1.6 cents each)
  • 3,900 points plus $188.00 (pay $182.40 to save 14,100 points, which is like buying TrueBlue points for 1.3 cents each)
  • 2,199 points plus $203.31 (pay $197.71 to save 13,801 points, which is like buying TrueBlue points for 1.4 cents each)
  • 499 points plus $218.61 (pay $213.01 to save 15,501 points, which is like buying TrueBlue points for 1.4 cents each)

I’m seeing similar general patterns when doing other award searches, so based on that it appears:

  • The value you’re getting per point with Cash + Points isn’t linear
  • With most programs offering Cash + Points, you get better value the more points you redeem, while here the opposite is true; redeeming fewer points gives you best rate, with the sweet spot being redeeming points for at most 25% of the cost of a flight
  • The value of Cash + Points ranges from terrible, all the way to roughly in line with the best redemption rates if outright redeeming for an award

Bottom line

The JetBlue TrueBlue program has introduced Cash + Points redemptions. This gives members a lot of flexibility, since it allows them to redeem even small quantities of points towards the cost of a flight.

It would appear that the sweet spot here is redeeming fewer points towards the cost of a flight, in which case it’s the equivalent of buying TrueBlue points at the rate of ~1.3-1.4 cents each.

Personally I’d still prefer to outright redeem TrueBlue points towards the cost of a ticket, but some may find this useful.

What do you make of JetBlue’s new Cash + Points redemption option?

Comments
  1. I guess the target audience here is members who almost have points to make an award booking. The premium is charged for being able to use (all of) their points.

  2. I think it’s important to note that the flight segment booked on C&P will not count towards Mosaic (if you’re trying to qualify via the segments route). Seems like an underwhelming add by B6.

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