Everything You Need To Know About Jet Cards Before You Buy One

There are over 65 differences in jet card programs, from membership fees and hourly rates to peak days, pilot and aircraft sourcing, service areas and more.

By Doug Gollan, August 27, 2017

There are over 65 differences in jet card programs, from membership fees and hourly rates to peak days, pilot and aircraft sourcing, service areas and more


Before you buy a jet card, here is what you need to know. Best of all, it’s all in one place for registered users of Private Jet Card Comparisons saving hours of research and thousands of dollars by choosing a program that doesn’t meet your needs. 

  • Is it a public, private company or subsidiary? Who owns the company?
    • Jet card sellers range from boutique brokers with under 10 employees to subsidiaries of major companies, such as NetJets which is owned by Berkshire Hathaway or Jet Aviation which is owned by General Dynamics, Delta Private Jets, which is owned by Delta Air Lines, and large privately held companies such as Flexjet and Sentient Jet, which are part of Directional Aviation or XOJET which is owned by private equity.
  • When was the company founded and who’s the CEO?
    • Some jet card sellers have been around for a long time, for example, Air Partner, publicly traded in the U.K. was founded in 1961. Others such as StraightLine Private Air just launched this year.
  • Where is the headquarters?
    • Many providers are based in the U.S., however, VistaJet is based in Malta, Private Fly in London and Jet Aviation in Zurich as examples.
  • How many employees are there?
    • Jet card sellers range in head count from under 10 to in the thousands. The number of employees is determined in part by whether or not the jet card program operates aircraft of is a broker.
  • Website address and sales contacts
    • Private Jet Card Comparisons gives you quick reference contacts to get more information about the programs that fit your needs.
  • Jet card and program names
    • Program are all different. Private Jet Card Comparisons lists them all out in easy-to-use spreadsheets saving hours of time gathering and collating information.
  • Applicable aircraft types for each program
    • Learn which aircraft types are in each program as well as programs for specific aircraft types.
  • Denominations of the program by hours, miles, distance or days
    • Currency varies in the different programs, and some programs even use days and miles instead of dollars and hours.
  • How much is the hourly rate for your jet card?

    • Private Jet Card Comparisons provides hourly rates for the over 100 programs we cover.
  • Is Federal Excise Tax (FET) included?
    • Some jet card sellers include the 7.5% FET in their hourly rates, others don’t. We lay it out so you can figure out your true cost.
  • Where can you fly – what is the service area of the program at your contracted rate?

    • Most programs have a service area that covers the Continental U.S. and extends to Mexico, the Caribbean, and Canada. Some use a nautical mile formula. Others are airport specific. Some programs are regional, for example, XOJET’s new Mid-size jet program. Others are global such as VistaJet.
  • Maximum seating for each program type?
    • Many jet card programs are by aircraft size: Light, Mid, Super-Mid and Heavy. We let readers know the maximum number of people they can fly in each program based on that program’s aircraft types.
  • How is the aircraft for your jet card sourced?

    • Some companies such as NetJets, Flexjet, Wheels Up, VistaJet and Nicholas Air own and operate the fleets they will fly you on. Others such as Delta Private Jets, Jet Linx, Clay Lacy and Jet Aviation use aircraft they are managing for owners. Some jet card marketers such as Sentient Jet, Magellan Jets, Private Jet Services Group, Airstream Jets and Concord Private Jet are brokers sourcing planes from operators. Some such as XOJET and JetSuite have a combination of owned, managed and chartered jets.
  • What are the aircraft sourcing standards?
    • Each jet card seller has its own standards for sourcing aircraft. Some access the entire 7,500 airplanes in the Part 135 charter fleet authorized by the Federal Aviation Administrations. Others such as Sentient Jet and XOJET are only using less than 2,000 aircraft they have scrutinized through their own systems.
  • Does the program use ARGUS, Wyvern Wingman or IS-BAO as sourcing standards? Which levels?
    • There are three main third party groups that provide safety ratings of operators. Some jet card sellers use these third party audits to source their fleet. We show you which ones are used by each program.
  • What is the minimum pilot experience for the planes you will be flying?

    • Private Jet Card Comparisons gives you the minimum number of hours required for the PIC (pilot-in-charger) and FO (First Officer) as well as the number of hours required in your airplane type as required by each jet card seller.
  • Is there guaranteed availability at a contracted rate?
    • Some programs will guarantee you a plane. For others, it’s based on availability.
  • Do your funds or hours expire? Can you get a refund? What’s the refill policy?
    • Policies vary by program, and Private Jet Card Comparisons provides users a quick way to compare via our spreadsheets for registered users.
  • Is there an escrow account option for your funds?
    • What happens to the money when you wire your $250,000 to a jet card provider?
  • How much liability and risk insurance is provided?
    • The amount of insurance provided varies from $25 million to over $300 million. A pretty big difference!
  • Are there any membership or initiation fees for the jet card? Are there annual membership dues?

    • Some programs have membership fees you need to pay. In some cases, the fees can be used for flying hours, in other cases, no. Private Jet Card Comparisons spells these fees out so users can calculate the true cost of their flight hours.
  • Is there a CPI (Consumer Price Index) escalator?
    • So you have a guaranteed rate. Some programs will raise the rate during your program.
  • Are there additional fuel surcharges?
    • Fuel prices are low, however, some programs have fuel surcharges. Private Jet Card Comparisons lists out fuel surcharges so users can figure out their real hourly rates.
  • Is de-icing included
    • Doing a lot of winter flying? Not all programs include de-icing which can cost over $1,000.
  • Is taxi time additional, and if so, how much?
    • Most programs charge for taxi time, but some don’t. It ranges between 0 and 12 minutes per segment. If you’re paying $8,000 per hour, at 12 minutes that’s $1,600 in taxi time for each flight.
  • What is the minimum flying time charged per segment? What is the minimum flying time charged per day?
    • The minimum time charged per segment ranges from 48 minutes to 3.5 hours. If you have a two-hour minimum and you only fly one hour, you still pay for two hours!
  • Are there discounts for round trips? What is a round trip?
    • Some jet cards offer discounts up to 40% for roundtrip flying. However, in private aviation, a roundtrip usually means you are returning quickly enough the aircraft can wait for you, which generally is the same day or next day.
  • Are there any other discounts?
    • Some programs provide discounts for booking in advance.
  • How many Peak Days are in the program and what is the peak day surcharge?
    • Peak days range from single digits to 58 and surcharges range up to 40%. If you plan to fly a lot around the holidays, Super Bowl or big golf tournaments like The Masters, it can matter a lot.
  • What’s the lead-time for reservations? What’s the lead-time for reservations on peak days?
    • The “call out” time to make your reservations ranges between four hours and 48 hours, but can be as far as week in advance during peak periods.
  • Can you access multiple aircraft at the same time?
    • For families using the same jet card, this important. Some programs allow you to use multiple planes at the same time. Some do, but not during peak days or subject to availability.
  • What’s the normal cancellation deadline? What’s the peak period cancellation deadline?
    • It can range from four hours to two weeks, so if you think you are going to change your plans, this is an important consideration.
  • Can you upgrade or downgrade the size of your aircraft? Are there blackouts for upgrades and downgrades? Is there an interchange fee to upgrade or downgrade?
    • Let’s say you have a jet card for Light Jets, but you need to travel with a bigger group. Can you upgrade to a larger jet? Some programs allow it. Some jet cards allow it but charge you a fee. Some programs allow upgrades and downgrades, but not during peak days.
  • Do you have your choice of FBO?
    • Let’s say you’re meeting somebody who is flying in from somewhere else. Can you specify the private jet terminal (FBO) and is there an additional cost to do so? At busy airports such as Teterboro or Van Nuys, there are as many as five or six FBOs, some located at opposite ends of the airport. Having to go between them removes some of the convenience factors of flying privately.
  • Is catering included, and if so, what is included?
    • Some programs give you peanuts. Others like VistaJet offers you Nobu. Of course, their long-range jets can cost up to $17,000 per hour.
  • Is WiFi guaranteed with your jet card?

    • Not all jets have WiFi. Some jet card sellers such as JetSuite, Delta Private Jets and Wheels Up have guaranteed WiFi. Magellan Jets sells specific cards with guaranteed WiFi, and Sentient Jet is planning to launch a WiFi jet card in the coming weeks.
  • Is a flight attendant included?
    • Except for large jets like Global Express and Gulfstream 450, most private jets don’t come with a flight attendant. On smaller jets, you don’t need one.
  • Is a fully enclosed lavatory guaranteed on Light Jet programs?
    • Not all private jets have toilets. Some just have a potty behind a curtain.
  • Are pets allowed and what are the fees?
    • While cats and dogs are generally welcome, some programs charge you a cleaning fee.
  • What’s the minimum age for children traveling alone?
    • Jet cards are popular with divorced parents to shuttle kids back and forth as well as to and from camp, but different programs have different age minimums for unaccompanied minors.
  • What’s the jet card’s service recovery policy?
    • When you charter, if you have a mechanical, you likely need to requote. Most jet card providers have service recovery at no additional cost.
  • Is there 24/7/365 customer support?
    • While you might not always be able to get a hold of a charter broker or operator, jet card sellers typically provide round-the-clock support.
  • What type of lifestyle perks and discounts are there?
    • Some jet card sellers have lifestyle programs. XOJET partners with luxury travel provider Butterfield & Robinson, while Sentient Jet offers $15,000 of Richard Mille watches, discounts at Saks 5th Avenue, Roberto Coin jewelry and free nights at 5-star resorts.

Compare over 100 jet card programs across 65 variables in 1 place by becoming a registered user of Private Jet Card Comparisons

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