How A Stupid Mistake Cost Me Thousands of Points

You live and you learn. That’s what we’re told whenever we make a mistake. It still doesn’t make the error any easier to swallow. Fortunately, most mistakes you make when dealing with points and miles will cost you extra points or prevent you from maximizing your earnings. In the big picture, not a huge deal but you still regret the mistake.

So when I realized I made a mistake when booking a flight with JetBlue which cost me 3,000 points, I beat myself up for about 10 minutes.

Triple Facepalm

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How To Top Up Your JetBlue TrueBlue Points To Make An Award Booking

Using your points to book an award ticket is the payoff for all the hard work you put in to earn those points. Redeeming JetBlue points for flights is relatively easy. The price of an award ticket is based on the cash price of the ticket. As long as there is a flight available, you can book it but you’ll burn through points faster booking expensive flights. JetBlue does also allow you to redeem points to fly in their Mint First Class cabin, when available, but none of those routes leave from Orlando so we’ve never seen a plane with the fancy seats.

All of my JetBlue redemptions have been for flights in the back of the plane. I’ve almost run through the 60,000 points I earned when I signed up for the JetBlue Plus card but I have enough points for one more trip. Or should I say I ALMOST have enough points for one more trip.

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When You Should(n’t) Use Airline Co-Brand Credit Cards To Pay For Airfare

All of the larger airlines in the U.S. offer co-brand credit cards. These cards, which provide extra benefits to cardholders, range from ones with no annual fee to premium cards costing up to $450 per year. While you’d think that using a co-branded card would be the best choice for earning points with your flight purchase, that’s usually not the case. For most airlines, you don’t earn any extra points for airfare purchases for having a more expensive card either.

In most cases, instead of using a co-brand card, it’s better to use a card that earns flexible points like Membership Rewards, Thank You Points or Ultimate Rewards. These cards provide the opportunity to earn more points as well as the flexibility to use points on multiple airlines. You’re able to transfer points from these programs into your airline mileage account when you need them.

Here are the earnings multiples on airfare for the main flexible points cards from each bank:

American Express (Membership Rewards)

  • Platinum card ($550 annual fee) – 5x points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel
  • Gold card ($250 annual fee) – 3x points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel

Chase (Ultimate Rewards)

  • Sapphire Reserve ($450 annual fee) – 3x points on travel worldwide (including airfares purchased from airlines or travel agencies/websites)
  • Sapphire Preferred ($95 annual fee) – 2x points on travel worldwide (including airfares purchased from airlines or travel agencies/websites)

Citi (Thank You Points)

  • Citi Prestige ($495 annual fee) – 5x points on purchases at airlines and travel agencies
  • Citi Premier ($95 annual fee) – 3x points on purchases at airlines and travel agencies

The AMEX Platinum and Citi Prestige both offer 5x on airfare but the AMEX card only counts purchases direct from the airline or their website. When I had both cards, I used the Citi Prestige because I valued the additional travel insurance coverage but I know people would rather earn Membership Rewards than Thank You points. Of the $95 cards, the Citi Premier earns the most points on airline purchases at 3x.

So how many miles will you earn by using an airline co-brand card to purchase airfare and when does it make sense to do so? I’ve indicated which airlines are partners of one (or all) of the flexible currency cards so you can compare earnings potential between cards.

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