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Jet Card Research

Thursday, July 18, 2024

By purchasing a jet card you are buying a block of time on a private aircraft. You can buy cards from many charter brokers and charter operators and all the big fractional and closed fleet operators offer prepaid access time. A jet card typically locks in a price per hour that won't change during the use of those hours. These locked in hourly rates are normally good for either a year or two years.

There are two broad structures for jet cards:

  1. Plane specific – where you prepay for a set number of hours on a specific aircraft type or size. These are typically 25 hour cards, but we’ve also seen cards for as few as 5 hours and for up to 50 hours.
  2. Debit card – where you deposit an initial sum, often starting at $100,000, and then the operator draws from this sum as you use different aircraft at fixed hourly rates. The initial deposit could be lower, for instance we’ve seen them at $50,000. Or could be higher, which may get you a lower hourly rate on each aircraft type.

All flights are conducted under FAA Part 135 charter regulations, and so you will have to pay the 7.5 % per-leg federal excise tax.

One of the great advantages for card holders is that you are usually not billed directly for deadhead, or unoccupied hours. In other words the rate for one way trips are usually built into the hourly rate for the card. This makes the price per hour for these one way trips fairly competitive, but means that return round trips can be more expensive (than other methods such as charter), although some jet card providers do offer discounts for round trips.

Another big advantage is the consistency of service. With the large fleet operators, such as fractional operators, you'll be flying on their fleet of consistently equipped and maintained aircraft. With the charter brokers you'll have one point of call to arrange your travel needs.

Note, the pandemic produced record levels of demand and several jet card providers closed their programs to new customers, and card prices  increased quite significantly. This included the return of fuel surcharges in more programs. Jet card programs have since re-opened as this demand has now eased from the peak levels, although it is still above 2019 pre-pandemic levels. As demand has normalised, jet card providers are starting to offer more incentives.

Read the latest jet card news below and access the full detailed comparison to the right.