Is JetBlue’s new Cash + Points flight redemption a good deal?

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JetBlue is one of the few airline programs that’s points are directly tied to the cash value of the ticket. You’ll almost never get outsized value, but you’ll usually never do worse than 1.3-1.4 cents apiece. That means that 10,000 JetBlue points would cover a $130-140 flight.

However, JetBlue has just introduced a new way to redeem your points for flights on the airline.

JetBlue Cash and Points award redemption

JetBlue’s new redemption is called Cash + Points and it allows you to cover part of the airfare with points and the other with cash. Before, you needed the full amount of points to cover a flight. So if the flight required 10,000 points to book it, you needed those full 10,000 points in your account to book the award flight.

Now, with Cash + Points, you can redeem any combination of cash and points to cover the flight. For instance, with this flight to San Franciso to New York JFK that normally costs $174.

You could redeem 12,300 points and pay $5.60 in taxes for the flight:

With Cash + Points you can now redeem any combination of money and miles, say 7,000 points and $100.10.

Or maybe you only have 3,100 points leftover in your account, here you would use 3,100 points and $145.19 for the flight.

A few things to know about Cash + Points:

  • You can use the Cash + Points feature on any JetBlue fare except for JetBlue’s basic economy fare, known as “Blue Basic”
  • You can’t make changes to fares booked via Cash + Points, you can only cancel the ticket
  • You will earn points on the paid portion of your ticket, and those points count towards JetBlue Mosiac status. The portion of the ticket paid for with points will not earn points or qualify towards elite status.

Is JetBlue Cash + Points a good deal?

Let’s get down to the meat of the story. Is JetBlue’s Cash + Points feature a good deal?

The short answer is, no. However, there are times when it can prove useful.

In the above example of the $174 flight, if you were to redeem the full amount of points, you’d be getting about 1.4 cents in value (remember, 1.3-1.4 cents each is the standard value of JetBlue points). However, when using a combination of Cash + Points, you’ll receive a variety of value for your points.

For example, when redeeming 7000 points and paying $110, you’re getting 0.83 cents per point. And when using 3100 points and paying $145, you’re getting  0.75 per point, that’s about 35-40% percent less than what we value JetBlue points at.

In general, it appears that the more points you use in a Cash + Points booking, the less valuable your points will be. The only exception is when you’re using the MAX amount of points to cover the full cost of the flight (minus the $5.60 in taxes of course). The value of the points will range depending on how many you’re using, so make sure to do your own math to see what type of deal you’re getting.

(Photo by by Ryan Fletcher/Shutterstock)

The one option where a Cash + Points booking might make sense is if you don’t have enough points in your account to cover the full cost of the flight and you’re interested in saving whatever amount of money you can. However, we’d recommend saving up enough JetBlue points to cover the entire cost of a ticket.

To avoid a Cash + Points booking, you can top off your Jetblue account by transferring in bank points from a number of partners, which we’ll talk about below.

How to earn JetBlue points

There are a number of ways to earn JetBlue points, whether that’s through their own co-branded credit card or flying paid flights. However, the easiest way is by collecting transferrable bank points with American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, or Citi ThankYou points.

Two of the best Chase credit cards are the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve® and each offer good sign-up bonuses:

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve®: Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months from account opening.

Bottom Line

It’s great that JetBlue has added another way to redeem its points, and it can be a good option if you don’t have enough points in your account to cover the cost of an entire reward flight. However, it’s unfortunate that the value can be pretty poor compared to a traditional award flight. The ideal time to do a Cash + Points booking is when you don’t have enough points in your account to cover the full cost of a flight and can’t transfer in any points from a transferable points program.

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Brendan Dorsey is an editor at Million Mile Secrets. He loves all things travel, points, miles and credit cards. He's worked for TIME and The Points Guy and has appeared on MSN, Yahoo Finance, Readers Digest, USA Today, and more.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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