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Thanks in great part to the JetBlue Plus Card as well as JetBlue's Mint premium cabin product, more people are paying attention to JetBlue's TrueBlue rewards program. TrueBlue is a revenue-based rewards program, which means there will always be “award availability” as long as there is a seat available for sale.
There is a common belief that it doesn't matter when you redeem TrueBlue points, as the value you will get out of those points on award bookings is fixed and, therefore, is always going to be the same. This is not the case. In fact, the value you can get from TrueBlue points on award bookings can vary significantly.
Examples of Different Value from TrueBlue Points
Example #1 – JetBlue's early morning Boston (BOS) – San Diego (SAN) flight on Wednesday, December 14, 2016.
Cash Price: $167.10 (JetBlue always rounds up when displaying fare comparisons):
TrueBlue Price: 8,600 points
You will also have to pay $5.60 in taxes and fees. Therefore, you would be redeeming points at a value of approximately 1.9 cents when you factor in the taxes/fees.
Example #2 – The Blue Fare for JetBlue's same BOS-SAN flight a week later, on Wednesday, December 21, 2016
Cash Price: $339.10
TrueBlue Price: 26,000 points
You will also have to pay $5.60 in taxes and fees. Factoring in the taxes/fees, you would be redeeming points at a value of approximately 1.3 cents per point.
Example #3 – A Blue fare for JetBlue's New York JFK-Charleston (CHS) flight on Monday, November 11, 2016
Cash Price: $89.10
TrueBlue Points: 5,400 points
You will also have to pay $5.60 in taxes and fees. With the taxes/fees taken into account, you'll be redeeming points at a value of approximately 1.5 cents per point.
Example #4 – In this case the actual redemption value is secondary. What is most notable is the fact that even though the fares for all three BOS-San Juan (SJU) flights on November 18, 2016, are the same.
Cash Price: $211
TrueBlue Points: Depends on the flight. It is less for the 3:56 AM flight than on the other two flights.
You do not even have to do the math to determine that the early flight provides a better redemption value. Despite the revenue fares being the same, there is a 2,400 points difference between the first flight and the other two BOS-SJU non-stops.
Also, worth noting is the fact that for the 8:55 PM flight the Blue Plus Fare, which includes one checked-bag among other benefits, the amount of points required, 13,100, is lower than the number of points required for the Blue Fare for the same flight. Just one more detail you have to be on the lookout for when considering TrueBlue points redemptions.
Determining when to redeem TrueBlue points is an inexact science. The value at which you would be redeeming TrueBlue points can vary significantly. Your goal should be to redeem TrueBlue points at a value as close to 2 cents as possible. However, anything at 1.5 cents or above is acceptable. On the other hand, we think you should pass on award options with redemption values under 1.5 cents, as was the case for Example 2.
If you want are interested in booking a JetBlue roundtrip or two separate one-ways, but only have enough points for one of those legs, always determine which option provides the highest redemption value first. And always keep your eye out for anomalies such as the ones pointed out in Example #4.
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