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Until September 15, 2014, you’ll get a 25% bonus when you transfer American Express Membership Rewards points to JetBlue.
How Does It Work?
Normally, you can transfer American Express Membership Rewards points to JetBlue at a ratio of 250 Membership Rewards points to 200 JetBlue points, or a 5:4 ratio. Points must be transferred in increments of 250.
But with this bonus, you’ll get 25% more JetBlue points. So if you transferred 250 American Express Membership Rewards points, you’d get 250 JetBlue points, or a 1:1 ratio.
Is This a Good Deal?
Link: Using JetBlue Points
Much like Southwest, the number of points needed to book a JetBlue award ticket depends on the cash price of the ticket. One-way award tickets start at 5,000 points plus ~$6 in taxes and fees, and round-trip award tickets start at 10,000 points plus ~$11. That said, you’ll usually pay more.
But there are no blackout dates! If there’s a seat available on a flight, you can book it using points.
Depending on the route, JetBlue points are usually worth ~1.5 cents each. So with the transfer bonus, you’re getting ~1.5 cents per Membership Rewards point (because of the 1:1 transfer ratio) instead of ~1.2 cents per Membership Rewards point at the regular 5:4 transfer ratio (which isn’t great).
To book Hawaiian Airlines award tickets, you have to call 800-538-2583. The number of points needed depends on the route, and they don’t publish an award chart.
Let’s look at a couple of examples to decide if it’s worth transferring American Express Membership Rewards points to JetBlue.
1. Example: New York to San Francisco 1-Way
A 1-way ticket from New York to San Francisco costs $209 including taxes and fees.
An award ticket on the same flight costs 14,400 JetBlue points plus ~$6.
If you wanted to take this trip, you’d need to transfer 14,500 (because they only transfer in increments of 250) AMEX Membership Rewards points using the transfer bonus. Without the transfer bonus, you’d need 18,000 Membership Rewards points.
Paying 14,400 or 18,000 points for a 1-way award ticket from New York to San Francisco might not be a good deal, because you can get award tickets on other airlines for fewer miles.
For example, United Airlines charges 12,500 miles and ~$6 for a 1-way award ticket on the same day. You could also book this award ticket for the same number of miles using Air Canada Aeroplan miles (Aeroplan is an AMEX Membership Rewards transfer partner).
However, even though JetBlue will cost more points (with or without the transfer bonus), some folks might do better flying JetBlue. They don’t charge for your 1st checked bag, so that could save money. Some flights have free Wifi (including New York to San Francisco), so you could save there also.
And the coach seats on JetBlue are bigger and more comfortable than most other airlines, and many folks prefer their in-flight service.
2. Example: Boston to New York in October
I searched for flights from Boston to New York in October. The cash price of a ticket on October 28, 2014, is $95 including taxes and fees.
An award ticket on the same flight costs 6,000 points plus ~$6. With the transfer bonus, you’d pay 6,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points.
In this case, a JetBlue award ticket is a better deal than flying United Airlines. United Airlines charges 10,000 miles plus ~$6 for a flight on the same day.
But remember, you can get a better deal if you book short-haul (under 650 miles) American Airlines flights using British Airways Avios points. An award ticket on American Airlines only costs 4,500 points plus $5 when booked using Avios!
You can transfer American Express Membership Rewards points to British Airways Avios points at a 1:1 ratio, and sometimes there are transfer bonuses.
In summary, the number of JetBlue points needed for award tickets varies greatly depending on the route and price of the ticket. In many cases (but not all) you’ll use fewer AMEX points if you transfer to other airlines.
That said, if you need a last minute flight, or if there’s a seat sale, transferring points to JetBlue could be worth it for you.
If you know you will fly JetBlue, then this could be a good deal for you. But I think I’d rather stretch my AMEX Membership Rewards points by using them for short-haul British Airways Avios award tickets, or save them up for a long-haul Business Class or First Class award flight on another airline.
As always, do the math and see what’s best for you!
How Do You Get American Express Membership Rewards Points?
You can get American Express Membership Rewards points from the American Express Platinum (Personal), American Express Platinum (Business), American Express Premier Rewards Gold, American Express Business Gold Rewards, and American Express EveryDay cards.
Remember, American Express charges an excise fee of 0.06 cents per point when you transfer points to US airlines (to a maximum of $99).
You’ll get a 25% bonus when you transfer American Express Membership Rewards points to JetBlue until September 15, 2014. Instead of getting 200 JetBlue points for every 250 Membership Rewards points you transfer, you’ll get a 1:1 ratio with this deal.
The cost of a JetBlue award ticket depends directly on the cash price of a ticket. Much of the time, you can use fewer points on other airlines. But check the specific route you want to decide if it’s a good deal for you.
You can also use JetBlue points on Hawaiian Airlines, but you have to call to book.
What do you think of the JetBlue transfer bonus?