Everything you need to know about Jet Cards
From policy on pets and unaccompanied minors to costs, extra fees, where you can and cannot fly, and whether or not there are toilets, here are some of the most frequent questions and answers about private jet cards and prepaid private jet charter programs. Either read the entire article, or click on the link under the table of content, and you will go right to the answer for that question.
Table of Contents
- What is a jet card?
- What companies sell jet cards?
- How much does a jet card cost?
- Who buys jets cards?
- Where can I fly with a jet card?
- What are the advantages of buying a jet card over chartering trip-by-trip?
- What type of aircraft are available with a jet card?
- Who owns the planes I am flying with a jet card?
- Are there safety standards for jet card flights?
- Are there extra taxes when I buy a jet card?
- Can I get my money back if I buy a jet card?
- Will my jet card expire?
- How much do I get billed for taxi time or time on the ground?
- What will I be charged for a 45-minute flight if my program has a 90-minute daily minimum?
- Are there peak periods or destination surcharges and blackouts when I buy a jet card?
- What’s the lead time for making flight reservations with a jet card?
- Can I upgrade or downgrade the size of the aircraft with my jet card?
- What are the policies if I need to cancel a trip with my jet card?
- Can I choose the FBO I want with my private jet card?
- What type of catering is included with my private jet card?
- Will there be WiFi on the private jet?
- Can I send unaccompanied minors with my private jet card?
- Can I take pets on a private jet?
- Do private jet card providers have 24/7 customer service?
- What happens if my private jet flight is canceled for non-weather-related reasons?
- Do all private jets have toilets?
- What type of luxury partnerships do private jet cards have?
- If I buy a jet card, can I get VIP access to events like the Super Bowl, All-Star Game, Kentucky Derby, The Masters, and other sporting events?
- What type of insurance do private jet companies provide?
A jet card typically refers to debit card-style private jet travel programs that enable you to prepay for flights. You can then book at a contracted hourly rate with guaranteed availability.
Booking deadlines to secure your contracted rate range from as little as 12 hours to several days. This means you don’t have to shop for each trip, saving time and giving you the ability to budget and book trips on short notice.
Some programs include turboprops in addition to jets. The term “jet card” can also refer to charter programs with fixed rates but where you pay as you go. In these cases, you pay a joining or membership fee but then only pay when you fly.
More recent are jet card programs that offer dynamic pricing, where each flight is priced at market rates when you call to book. This is similar to when you charter on a flight-by-flight basis, referred to as on-demand or ad hoc charter.
An advantage of fixed-rate programs is you can book, cancel, rebook or change flight times if needed, and you keep your contracted rate so long as you are doing so in advance of your contracted booking and cancelation deadlines. With dynamic pricing programs, your trip will be requoted each time you make a change.
Jet cards are typically sold in increments of dollars or hours, for example, 25 hours or $150,000, although deposit amounts range from $25,000 to $1,000,000.
There are over 50 companies that sell jet cards. Following is a selection of providers that are compared in the Private Jet Card Comparisons database for subscribers: Able American Jets; AeroVanti; Air Charter Service; Air Partner; Airshare; Airstream Jets; Ajax Jets; Alliance Aviation; Amalfi Jets; Charter Flight Group; Clay Lacy Aviation; Concord Private Jet; Dominion Charter, Ltd.; Dreamline Aviation; Dumont Aviation; Elite Jets; Executive Jet Management; Exec 1 Aviation; ExpertJet; Flexjet; Fly Aeolus; FlyExclusive; FXAIR; GlobeAir; GrandView Aviation; Hopscotch Air; International Jet; Jet Aviation; Jet Linx Aviation; Jet Token; Jetlogic Ltd.; Jet the World; JetSet Group; Jets.com; Jettly; Leviate Air Group; LunaJets SA; Luxury Aircraft Solutions; Magellan Jets; Netjets; Nicholas Air; Northern Jet Management; OneFlight International; Outlier Jets; Paramount Business Jets; Priester Aviation; Private Jet Services Group (PJS Group); PrivateFly; Prive Jets; Qatar Executive; Quantum Jets; Rennia Aviation; Sentient Jet; Silver Air Private Jets; Silverhawk Aviation; SimpleCharters; Solairus Aviation; Starflight Aviation; Star Jets International LLC; StraightLine Private Air; Stratos Jet Charters; Tradewind Aviation; Unity Jets; Vault Jet; Velocity Jets; VeriJet; VistaJet; Volato; Wheels Up, and XO (formerly XOJET and JetSmarter).
The cost depends on how much you want to fly. While you can find jets cards starting at $25,000, most jet card buyers spend between $50,000 and $500,000 on flights annually. Some providers, such as Jet Aviation and Magellan Jets, have 100-hours jet cards where the deposit can get into seven figures. Others negotiate if you want to buy more than 50 hours. There are also pay-as-you-go jet cards. With these types of cards, often referred to as memberships, you pay a joining fee and pay on a flight-by-flight basis.
Hourly one-way rates (meaning you don’t pay for repositioning flights) range from $5,000 for a very light jet to $20,000 for ultra-long-haul private jets. Subscribers can compare pricing between over 250 programs in seconds with our exclusive QUICK COMPARE PRICING, the only jet card pricing calculator.
The market of jet card users is quite diverse. Jet card buyers typically fly privately between 10 and 500 hours per year, although 15 to 50 hours is typical. Some jet card users also own their own jets. Having access to a private jet is like having a car – sometimes, you need more than one. While it might not make sense to own two jets, a jet card can provide private jet access to family or company associates while somebody else is using the owned jet. This is called supplemental lift in industry lingo. Others buy jet cards instead of fractional ownership because they want the similar benefits of fixed-rate jet cards but don’t want to make the three-to-five-year commitment of fractional ownership. In other cases, companies and individuals buy jet cards because they prefer it over owning an entire plane, knowing they don’t have to worry about flight crews, maintenance, and having a backup if there is a mechanical delay. You’re not married to your jet card. Some users will charter ad hoc for certain trips if there is a benefit, while others use their jet cards exclusively. Our JET CARD DECIDER service is included in your subscription and provides a custom analysis based on your needs.
Most providers will fly you anywhere. However, a jet card’s key benefit is the fixed-rate service area, sometimes referred to as the primary service area. Different companies have different fixed-rate service areas. For U.S. programs, it’s mainly within the Continental U.S. Some include Hawaii, Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean. Other companies include transatlantic flights, and some are worldwide. European programs often have service areas that include Morocco, Israel, Turkey, and eastern Russian cities such as Moscow and St. Petersburg.
Within this fixed-rate service area, providers with fixed-rate pricing offer one-way rates. This means you don’t have to pay repositioning fees. If you are traveling to airports with low levels of private flights or the Caribbean and Hawaii, this can provide big savings over on-demand charter or jet card programs that use dynamic pricing. Some fixed-rate programs offer roundtrip discounts which can range as much as 40% for qualifying roundtrips.
When you buy a jet card or prepaid private jet charter program, you can lock in a fixed hourly rate and guaranteed availability. You also know upfront extra fees and the source of aircraft you will be flying. Some programs include deicing, catering, and WiFi as part of your contracted hourly rate. Most programs don’t charge repositioning fees within the primary service area. You are also more likely to get upgraded to a larger aircraft. NetJets reports 30% of jet card member flights are upgraded for operational reasons. In other words, it was more efficient for them to put you on a bigger aircraft.
You also know the standards for sourcing aircraft and pilots, so you don’t have safety criteria each time as you would have to with an on-demand charter. Since you have prepaid, you don’t have to worry about transferring funds on short notice. There is also service recovery in case the operator cancels. With most on-demand charters, you have to pay the difference if the replacement aircraft costs more.
Jet card prices aren’t necessarily more or less expensive than on-demand charter. In our tests, it varies. However, you will find the big benefit is saving the time of shopping for each trip, reviewing quotes, negotiating, arranging payments, and worrying about service recovery if something goes awry. With QUICK COMPARE FLIGHT PRICING, you can compare jet card prices to your charter quotes.
Most programs use four cabin categories: light, midsize, super-midsize, and large cabin. However, you can find some that offer turboprops, very light jets, and ultra-long-range jets. Some fixed-rate programs allow you to choose specific aircraft types. Private Jet Card Comparisons’ easy-to-use filter search system enables you to compare programs by cabin category, specific aircraft type, or the number of seats you need.
Who owns the planes that are used for jet card programs come from three sources:
Fractional Fleets: NetJets, Flexjet, and Airshare, for example, tap into fractional fleets they manage and operate on behalf of fractional shareowners.
Owned/Leased Fleets: Nicholas Air, VistaJet, and FlyExclusive are examples of jet card companies that own or lease their own fleets.
Managed Fleets: Solairus, Jet Aviation, and Jet Linx manage and operate jets on behalf of individual owners who allow them to use those aircraft to fulfill jet card flights when they aren’t flying on them.
Jet card brokers like Sentient Jet, Magellan Jets, and Private Jet Services (PJS) Group don’t operate aircraft. They go out into the market to source jets for your flights. Brokers each have their own standards of sourcing. Some have what they call open fleets – a set of operators who meet their standards, and they use them exclusively.
Each business model has its advantages, depending on your needs. However, all operators carrying passengers on private jet charter flights for jet cards have to meet minimum government standards in the U.S., referred to as Part 135. Even if you buy a jet card with an operator, there is a chance a third-party operator will fly your trip if your provider doesn’t have your contracted type of aircraft available.
Yes. In the U.S., only planes on a Part 135 certificate issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) can be used for private flights sold as part of jet card programs. Globally, this is referred to as an AOC or Air Operators Certificate. Individual countries issue these.
Jet card sellers also use third-party safety auditors such as ARG/US, IS-BAO, and Wyvern to evaluate the operators of private jets they source. Some brokers have their own in-house standards, safety evaluations, and safety directors to evaluate providers. Companies that have been vetted or approved are often referred to as open fleets.
Providers also have varying minimum standards for the pilots that fly flights for their programs.
For domestic U.S. flights, the most significant tax you will pay is the 7.5% Federal Excise Tax (FET). It applies if your flight begins or ends within 220 miles of the Continental U.S. northern and southern borders. To and from Alaska and Hawaii, you will need to pay the FET. However, the FET for Alaska and Hawaii is based only on the portion of your flight within the Continental U.S. Some providers include FET in their published rates; others don’t. QUICK COMPARE FLIGHT PRICING enables you to compare pricing, including FET and fuel surcharges, and other fees. The taxes for jet card flights are the same with jet cards as on-demand charter.
Some jet card providers will provide refunds of unused funds; others will let you roll over your funds to a new program, while some are non-refundable. In some cases, there is a service fee for refunds. Refund policies are included in the Private Jet Card Comparisons’ comparisons spreadsheet.
Some cards and programs expire funds. The typical duration is 12 to 36 months. Others don’t have an expiration. Your funds never expire. Expiration policies are included in the Private Jet Card Comparisons’ comparisons spreadsheet.
Hourly charter rates vary widely based on the size of the aircraft and provider. Turboprop hourly rates can start around $4,000 per hour, while ultra-long-range large-cabin jets can run up to $20,000 per hour. Virtually all jet card providers only charge you for occupied hours within the primary service area. This means you don’t pay for repositioning fees before or after your flight. If you see lower hourly rates on charter broker websites, they probably don’t factor in the ferry flights.
As of September 2022, according to our proprietary Private Jet Card Comparisons‘ database of hourly rates for more than 750 fixed-rate jet card programs, the average rates by aircraft type, including 7.5% Federal Excise Tax and fuel surcharges:
Turboprop: $6,608 per hour
Light Jets: $8,041 per hour
Super Midsize Jets: $12,116 per hour
Large Jets: $15,272 per hour
Ultra Long-Haul Jets: $20,123 per hour
Overall: $11,200 with turboprops; $11,410 without turboprops
Hourly rates for over 750 programs are included Private Jet Card Comparisons comparisons spreadsheet.
Most jet card programs bill you for taxi time at 12 minutes per segment. If your hourly rate is $6,000, that means paying $1,200 in tax time each time you land and take off. Tax time and how it is billed are included in the Private Jet Card Comparisons’ comparisons spreadsheet and flight pricing calculator.
Programs vary, with daily minimums ranging from 0 on some light jet programs to as much as four hours for large-cabin jets. While 60 to 90 minutes is typical for light jets, many programs have 120-minute minimums. If your program has a 90-minute daily minimum and your only flight that day is 45 minutes, you will be billed 90 minutes if taxi time is included in the minimum. If taxi time is additional to the minimum, in this case, you would be billed 102 minutes for your 45-minute flight. This underscores why it’s critical to compare program details when deciding on providers. Daily and segment minimums are included in the Private Jet Card Comparisons comparisons spreadsheet and flight pricing calculator.
Most programs have peak period surcharges. They can range as high as 40%, but more typically are 10-20%.
For travel outside the contiguous 48 U.S. states, including the Caribbean and Mexico, some programs also have surcharges, typically 10-15%.
Programs provide a list of peak days and blackout days in advance. Some have none, and while most have between 10 and 30 peak days, others have over 50. If you plan to do a lot of flying during holidays and high-demand periods, you will want to factor this into your decision. Peak days, peak day surcharges, and blackout dates are included in the Private Jet Card Comparisons’ comparisons spreadsheet.
Lead time to make a reservation varies between six and 96 hours during non-peak periods. During peak days, booking time can range up to a week in advance. If you expect a lot of short-notice travel, make sure to pay attention to the minimum lead time for reservations. Peak and non-peak booking deadlines are included in the Private Jet Card Comparisons’ comparisons spreadsheet.
Many programs allow you to upgrade or downgrade your plane’s size, so if you need a longer-range plane or need more space, you can upgrade. If you are traveling alone on a short flight, you can downgrade. There are sometimes additional interchange fees for upgrading or downgrading, so if you expect to be doing a lot of either, it pays to pay attention to these fees and policies. Policies for upgrading, downgrading, and interchange fees are included in the Private Jet Card Comparisons’ comparisons spreadsheet.
Policies on cancellation vary widely, with notice varying from just hours to several days. Some programs don’t permit cancelations for peak day reservations. Policies for peak and non-peak cancelations are included in the Private Jet Card Comparisons’ comparisons spreadsheet.
Most programs will let you choose the FBO you want to use; however, some will charge additional fees if you select a non-preferred Fixed Based Operator. A $500 charge for using a non-preferred FBO is typical. Our database includes FBO choice policies by the provider.
Most providers offer basic catering of sodas, water, and snacks, but not all. Some will provide sandwiches, while a few will provide full catering or catering credits. Beyond what is provided as part of the program, all will cater to your specific demands on a pay basis. Catering is included in the Private Jet Card Comparisons’ comparisons spreadsheet.
Not all private jets have WiFi, although some providers guarantee it as part of their jet card programs. If WiFi is omitted, you may be billed actual costs, which can run into thousands of dollars. Policies for WiFi are included in the Private Jet Card Comparisons’ comparisons spreadsheet.
Most jet card companies will transport unaccompanied minors. Still, the age requirement varies, and in some cases, you will need to pay additional fees to have a flight attendant accompany the minor. The provider’s minimum age for unaccompanied minors is included in the Private Jet Card Comparisons’ comparisons spreadsheet.
Cats, dogs, and caged pets are generally allowed, but some providers will charge cleaning fees. However, some jet cards don’t allow pets. Pet policies are included in the Private Jet Card Comparisons’ comparisons spreadsheet.
The good news is that over 50 companies we have analyzed that sell private jet cards and prepaid private jet charter programs offer 24/7 customer support.
Most fixed-rate programs provide a placement aircraft at no additional cost to the customer with limitations. This is an advantage of fixed-rate jet cards. When you charter on a trip-by-trip basis, if the provider cancels the flight for a mechanical reason or a pilot gets sick, they will offer you a requote. At the last minute, the requote is often at least 50% higher than your original price. You can either accept the requote or request a refund. However, you would then need to make alternate plans to get to your destination.
Some smaller private jets and turboprops don’t have fully enclosed lavatories. If you are looking at programs with light and very light jets, you will want to specify if you require a fully enclosed toilet. A comparison of policies is included in the Private Jet Card Comparisons comparisons spreadsheet.
Sentient Jet, XOJET (now XO), NetJets, VistaJet, and Wheels Up have extensive luxury partnerships. For example, WheelsUp offers customers benefits at Ermenegildo Zegna, while Sentient Jet customers get VIP treatment at Brioni. Wheels Up customers get benefits from jeweler Kwiat and residence club Inspirato. Sentient Jet gives members a catalog with free and discounted stays at luxury hotels. NetJets lists Mandarin Oriental, The Leading Hotels of the World, Canyon Ranch, and Wynn Las Vegas as partners with exclusive offers for its customers.
The answer is it depends. NetJets, Wheels Up, Sentient Jet, Flexjet, and XO are active at these types of events with parties and hospitality. Sentient Jet is the official private jet card of the Breeder’s Cup World Championship that gives card members VIP seating and access to the Paddock and Winner’s Circle.
Liability and risk coverage by private jet card sellers vary widely and sometimes depend on the plane’s size. The amount depends on the provider and size of the aircraft and ranges from $25 million to $500 million.
Comparing Jet Cards
If you want a program-by-program comparison of more than 250 products from more than 50 companies covering 65 points of differentiation and over 40,000 data points, we have organized it all into a single easy-to-use and compare spreadsheet.