Which Card for Tara?

Recently, a friend from college reached out to me to ask for some credit card advice (hi Tara!). She currently lives in Boston and was wondering if the jetBlue Plus credit card by Barclaycard would be a good option for her. She also expressed that she was looking to go New Orleans sometime in October, which I’ll use as the test basis for recommending a card for her.

In thinking about which cards currently meet her needs and also had increased sign-up bonuses, my mind went to one other card to compare the jetBlue card to:  the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier. Currently, the American, Delta, and United cards do not have increased bonuses. Had any of those cards had a higher-than-normal sign-up bonus, I would have included them as well. With that in mind, here are the specs on those two cards:

jetBlue Plus


Southwest Premier


Annual Fee $99, not waived in the first year $99, not waived in the first year
Bonus Points 30,000 points after spending $1,000 in 90 days 50,000 points after spending $2,000 in 90 days
Minimum Points after Completing Spend Req. 31,000 52,000
Points for airline spend 6 points per dollar on jetBlue flights 2 points per dollar on Southwest flights
Points for restaurants and grocery stores 2 points per dollar at restaurants and grocery stores n/a
Points for all other categories 1 point per dollar on all other purchases 1 point per dollar on all other purchases
Points for renewing card 5,000 per year 6,000 per year
Redemption Bonus? Yes, get 10% of redeemed points back n/a
Free checked bag? Yes, one Yes, two

NOTE:  If you’re inclined to apply for either of these cards, click the links above. 

With all that laid out, let’s look at a sample weekend in October for Tara’s redemption. For this post, we’ll assume she’s taking a long weekend (Thursday – Sunday), and so we’ll use 10/13 – 10/16. It’s important to note that jetBlue’s second largest hub is in Boston, which is why there is the option of a non-stop flight (2 per day, actually!) while Southwest has a much smaller presence, which necessitates the need for a connection in Atlanta both ways.

jetBlue Southwest
10/13 cost using points 12,150 points* + $5.60

(BOS-MSY // 8:29am – 11:06am)

11,010 points + $5.60

(BOS-ATL-MSY // 5:25pm – 10:30pm)

10/16 cost using points 12,150 points* + $5.60

(MSY-BOS // 11:47am – 4:03pm)

21,572 points + $5.60

(MSY-ATL-BOS // 3:30pm – 9:45pm)

Total Points Cost  24,300* + $11.20

6,700 points remaining

 32,582 points + $11.20

19,418 points remaining

10/13 cost using $$$  $196.00

6x point earning:  2,028 points


2x point earning:  374 points

10/16 cost using $$$  $196.00

6x point earning:  2,028 points


2x point earning:  672 points

Total $$$ Cost $392.00

6x point earning:  4,056 points


2x point earning:  1,046 points

NOTE:  jetBlue flights are 13,500 points each way for this particular route–this amount reflects the 10% redemption discount.

As you can see, it will set Tara back 24,300 points or $392 to fly jetBlue or 32,852 points or $523 to fly Southwest. In both cases above, I would recommend that Tara applies for the jetBlue card. If she redeems points, she’ll use fewer, and if she chooses to pay for the flight with her new jetBlue card, she’ll earn almost four times as many points for a future flight.

In addition, jetBlue has a TON of flights out of Boston, giving Tara numerous options for her next redemption. With all that in mind, I’d say go for the jetBlue card!



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