American Express cards will stop working in March 2016, but TrueBlue points remain
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Dear Cashing In,
What will happen to my TrueBlue points that I haven’t used when JetBlue ends its relationship with American Express and switches to Barclays? Will I have to sign up with Barclays in order to use them? — Jane
It’s a fact of life nowadays that if you stick with a rewards program long enough, you’re apt to see a switch of affiliated credit cards. Like any deal, relationships between airlines, hotels or retailers and their co-branded credit card issuers expire, they shop around for new ones, and sometimes they switch.
You see this a lot with airline mergers, in which the two airlines each have a credit card issuer, but when they combine, they have to pick just one. Or sometimes it happens with retailers, such as last year when Costco and American Express announced they were parting ways.
When these sorts of switchovers happen, experience teaches us that the card issuers and merchants try to make the process as pain-free as possible for the consumer. They want you to keep spending and don’t want you to lose any perks you have earned.
Such is the case with your TrueBlue points. TrueBlue points are JetBlue’s frequent flier miles. In 2015, the airline announced it had reached a new credit card agreement with Barclays, in place of a longstanding deal it had with American Express. Such deals are lucrative to card issuers and airlines: Airlines receive a lot of money from the issuers, and the issuers are able to tap into a new market of dedicated and high-spending travelers.
In this case, you will continue to earn TrueBlue points with the purchases on your current JetBlue card from American Express, and those points won’t disappear.
JetBlue spokeswoman Tamara Young told me: “Current JetBlue credit card holders can use their existing card with confidence knowing they will continue to earn TrueBlue points for every dollar on the card. All TrueBlue program points earned will be credited to the cardholder’s TrueBlue account.”
Like most airline programs, the miles you earn are deposited into an account separate from the credit card, so if you cancel your card or if the card is discontinued, you’ll still retain the points. You can still use them even without an affiliated credit card.
However, this switchover will mean changes for people like you who have the current JetBlue card. According to American Express, your existing card will stop working on March 21, 2016. Sometime before that date, you will receive a new JetBlue card from Barclays without having to do anything. Any purchases on that card will earn JetBlue miles.
It’s also likely that American Express will try to persuade you to sign up for one of its cards, though it will not have any cards affiliated with JetBlue after March 20. Barclays might come up with some special offers to entice you to keep its new card, too. As far as I can tell, details on that new Barclays JetBlue card have not been announced. American Express has stopped offering its JetBlue card.
Ordinarily, I would caution you to be careful not to let your frequent flier miles expire. Often, if you stop using your affiliated credit card and have no activity in your airline miles account, the miles disappear after 18 or 24 months of inactivity. However, in the case of JetBlue, TrueBlue points do not expire.
This transition will require little from you. Assuming you want to continue with the Barclays JetBlue card, you will have to switch where you send your payments, or set up an online account, but most everything else should continue as normal.