If you fly regularly, you may have heard about private jet cards. We look at jet card pros and cons and help you assess if a jet card is a better choice for you than on-demand charter. We also provide top tips for selecting the best private jet card membership for your needs.
What Is a Private Jet Card and How Does It Work?
A private jet card allows you to pre-pay for private charter flights. The two types of private jet card are:
Flight Access Hours Jet Cards
These cards give you access to a specified jet category for a set number of flight hours at a fixed hourly rate. Some cards start from 10 hours, but typically, you buy 25 hours.
Deposit (Cash Denomination) Jet Cards
With this type of card, you ‘deposit’ a certain amount of money (e.g., $150,000) upfront. The cost of each charter flight you take is debited from those funds. Pricing can be dynamic or, sometimes, capped. Again, your access is often restricted to certain aircraft categories.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Private jet Cards
Let’s look at the pros and cons of private jet card memberships.
The Advantages of Private Jet Cards
Private jet cards vary in what they offer, so always read terms and conditions carefully. However, generally, the benefits offered include:
- Guaranteed access to aircraft—particularly valuable at peak times and if you often need flights at short notice.
- Premium, personal service and sometimes, additional membership benefits.
- Guaranteed pricing for every flight, provided before you fly.
- Coast-effectiveness. You’re only paying for your flight time, rather than for unwanted return trips, pilot wait time, and landing and repositioning fees.
The Disadvantages of Private Jet Cards
Most ‘drawbacks of private jet cards’ are only an issue for infrequent flyers, who often find on-demand charter a better choice.
- Long-term commitment.
- Less flexibility (usually) than on-demand jet charter; aircraft class restrictions can mean paying extra fees to charter from other plane classes.
- A large upfront cost for deposit-style jet cards.
- Some cards have:
- expiration dates, meaning you can lose unused hours or funds
- ‘blackout’ days when they can’t be used
- geographical restrictions (flights outside specified areas may incur fees).
Is a Private Jet Card Right for You?
So, is a jet card the best way for you to purchase private jet charter services? If you’re planning to fly privately for over 25 hours a year, then usually: yes. It will be more cost-effective and guarantee access to aircraft when you need them.
If you’re an infrequent flyer or don’t want long-term commitment, then on-demand chartering is more suitable. Additionally, you can check the cost of chartering a private jet using a special tool, e.g. private jet charter cost estimator.
Choosing the Best Jet Card for Your Needs
To choose the best jet card for you, consider:
How Often You Will Fly Privately, and Where?
How often will you fly this year, and where? How long will the flights be, and how many people will be flying? Do you need access to differing plane categories to accommodate different group sizes or access facilities on larger planes (e.g., showers, meeting rooms?).
What Are the Call Out Times and Cancellation Policies?
What cancellation penalties are there for the cards you’re comparing? How far in advance must you cancel to avoid them? Call out times can vary from hours to days. If you often book same-day flights, memberships with a three-day call out time aren’t a good choice.
What about Coverage Areas and Additional Costs?
With many hourly rate jet cards, that rate isn’t all-inclusive. There may be additional fees for registration, membership, and mandatory Federal Excise Tax. Check fees for chartering planes outside a specified category or geographic area, too, and for an expiry date that could lose you money.
Three Things to Check Before You Purchase a Private Jet Card
- Consider if it’s a better option than charter-as-you-go.
- Consider your future flight requirements.
- Shop around. Read the small print to ensure you pick the best jet card for your needs.
The right jet card program for you will offer the services and flexibility you need. If it doesn’t offer better value than your current on-demand bookings, it’s not the card for you!
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