The addition of another way to redeem points to book flights is usually a good thing. I think that JetBlue’s TrueBlue loyalty program, along with Southwest Rapid Rewards, are good for those just getting started to learn about points and miles. It’s true that these programs set a value for redemptions so there’s no chance of getting oversized value but there are also no blocked flights. If you find a flight bookable with cash, you can use your miles.
There are some times you find that flight you want but just don’t have enough miles in your account. I’ve gone over several ways to top off your JetBlue account if that’s the case. With multiple transfer partners and the ability to pool points, hopefully, you can get the points you need for your flight.
The last option to get those last few points was to purchase them. This was usually an awful idea and here’s why. Buying JetBlue TrueBlue points would cost anywhere between 2.75 to 3.5 cents per point. When redeeming them, you’d only get 1.3 cents of value for those same points. The only time this would ever make sense is if you were only a few points short of the points needed for a reward.
You no longer have to pay ransom prices for JetBlue points as the airline has just introduced Cash + Points bookings. To find out the value you can get from this type of reservation, I ran a test booking for next February, which is the end of JetBlue’s schedule. for a flight from Orlando to New York.
My baseline was a cash booking, which cost $128.10.
If I booked a reward ticket, I’d have to pay 9,100 TrueBlue points and $5.60 in taxes. That would give me a value of 1.3 cents per point, which is the average for a JetBlue point.
For a Cash + Points booking, JetBlue has instituted a system very similar to the Hilton Honors program. You move a slider to say how many points you want to use and it tells you the cash copay required.
If I wanted to use about half the points for the booking, I’d have to pay 4,100 points and $91.20 in cash.
Some napkin-back math shows that you’d save $36.90 for your 4,100 points. That’s a value of 0.9 cents per point.
If you pull the slider to the other side and redeem the minimum of 500 points, you’d have to pay an additional $123.60.
You’re saving $4.50 for 500 points, or getting the same 0.9 cents value per point.
I haven’t run multiple scenarios but it looks like if you’re using a Cash + Points booking, you’ll get a value of 0.9 cents per TrueBlue point. That’s not as good as the 1.3 cents point that you’ll get when making an award reservation using only points.
The problem is that no matter how many points you use for your booking, you’ll only get 0.9 cents per point. This means that in some way, the more points you use, the worse value you get. If you’re only a few points short, here’s what your redemption will look like.
That means this new option is best for those who have only a few TrueBlue points. Redeeming a few thousand points for 0.9 cents each might not be a bad deal but losing 0.4 cents a point value on a 20,000 redemption can cost you $80.
While you’d think this new option is best for those who only need a few extra points, it turns out that the ones who will get the best are those who only have a few points in their account.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary