A Private Jet Card is a private aviation product that enables holders to use different aircraft at agreed-upon fixed hourly rates. Jet cards are offered by large and small fleet operators and charter brokers. On a jet card's pros list is convenience: Users don't have to exchange contracts or make payments each time they arrange a flight. There are many as 65 variables between jet card companies, according to Private Jet Card Comparisons, a buyer's guide to jet card programs.
Traditional Jet Card programs are prepaid hours of occupied flight time on a given aircraft or size of aircraft. Some programs include not only jets, but turboprops. The term “jet card” can also refer to prepaid private jet charter programs that have similar attributes.
Virtually every private jet provider now offers some form of a Jet Card or membership option. Notable Jet Card providers include FlyEthos.com, Jets.com, Delta Private Jets, Flight Options, Airstream Jets, Marquis Jet (NetJets), Sentient, Jetsuite, Magellan Jets and Flexjet.
Jet Card History
The first Jet Card was created in 1997 by the founder of Sentient Jet, a charter broker located near Boston. The Jet Card was developed in response to the highly popular fractional ownership programs of the time offered by NetJets and Flight Options. The attraction to fractional ownership and ultimately the Jet Card was the consistency in pricing over charter and the reduced complexity of owning a jet, which were the only other options prior to NetJets.
The term “jet card” was devised to create a marketing product for what equates to block on-demand charter. There are over 250 Jet Card programs on the market, with the number of providers having doubled in the past 10 years.
Jet Card Types
Jet Cards have evolved from the original card in 1997 which simply made charter pricing more consistent by guaranteeing fixed hourly rates to membership programs which offer free or discounted empty leg/re-positioning leg flights and individual seats on private jet shuttles.
Here are some examples of the varying types of Jet Cards offered today:
- The standard charter-based Jet Card - The most common type of jet card offered by charter brokers and operators. Customers pre-purchase hours or place money on account which is deducted at fixed hourly rates. Flights are sourced through the existing charter market.
- Dynamic Priced Jet Card - Customers place a deposit on account and receive options based on market availability. Customers may select specific aircraft and are not committed to a fleet or required to use their deposit within any specific time frame.
- Capped Rate - A development from always paying a fixed hourly rate, customers are still protected with a maximum hourly rate but retain the ability to get lower rates dependent on market availability and notice given.
- The fractional ownership jet card - Cards from Marquis Jet and FlexJet sell flight time in 25 hour increments on a specific jet type which is sourced from their fractional ownership fleets.
- Mileage Pricing Jet Card - Rather than offer a fixed number of hours on a specific aircraft model or category, distance-based pricing allows customers to purchase private jet travel priced by total miles flown and the flexibility to choose aircraft size on a trip-by-trip basis. Airstream Jets’ Distance Card charges by distance rather than flight time and the farther you fly, the lower the per-mile cost.
- Owned fleet jet card - Popularized by XOJet, a charter operator with a fleet of Citation X's and Challenger 300's. The jets are configured similarly to increase quality and consistency. The fleet is backed up using the existing charter fleet during peak travel periods.
- Jets by the seat - A new class which was popularized by JetSmarter offers individual seats on private jets for certain routes after paying an annual membership. The seats can come from empty leg/re-positioning legs and/or shuttle flights which are scheduled private jet shuttles. Additional fees often apply for these seats.
- Custom Jet Cards - Launched in 2018 by several providers, including Air Charter Service, DashJet and Prive Jets, custom jet cards create programs tailored to individual customers, including standards for sourcing aircraft, lead-time for making reservations, service area and hourly or fixed segment pricing.
As industry expert (and founder of Jet Card Comparisons) Doug Gollan explains,"While most jet card buyers typically focus around hourly rates, there are dozens of differences between programs, many that will impact what you will actually pay and which ones will best fit your needs. With over 50 providers and more than 300 offerings, here’s a quick cheat sheet that will help you focus on the policies and protocols that will make a difference for you. And while generally speaking, jet cards start at between 10 and 25 hours and entry-level jet card program deposits range from $50,000 to $150,000, remember the devil is in the details."
Jet Card Cost
Jet Card purchase prices start at around $50,000. However, most Jet Card Programs typically run between $100,000 and $500,000. A new pricing model based on distance flown instead of hours has improved jet size flexibility and lowered the threshold for Jet Card Membership to only $25,000. Two research studies by Private Jet Card Comparisons show that jet card pricing can often be less than on-demand charter.
In comparing Jet Card cost, in addition to hourly rate, buyer's have to make sure they include the 7.5% Federal Excise Tax, International Destination Surcharges, International Fees, Initiation Fees, Monthly Membership Dues, Annual Membership Dues, Consumer Price Index (CPI) Escalator, Fuel Surcharges, Foreign Fuel Taxes, State Taxes, Airport Taxes and Fees, Customs Fees, Peak Day Surcharges, De-icing Charges, High-Density Airport Surcharges, Special Events (Super Bowl, Kentucky Derby) Surcharges, Diversion Costs, Overnight Fees, Catering, WiFi, Pet Cleaning, Pet Surcharges, Hangar Fees, Taxi Time, Preferred FBO Surcharges, Interchange Fee to upgrade or downgrade the size of aircraft, Flight Attendant, Administrative Fees, Ferry Fees outside of primary service area, Redeye Flight Surcharges. Which fees Jet Card providers include in the jet card prices they quote varies by program. Not all Jet Cards have membership fees and annual dues.
Two companies are varying from hours and dollars approach. Kansas City-based Executive AirShare is offering a jet card program that is denominated on a by-the-day basis. Airstream Jets is doing it by miles with the introduction of a jet card featuring distance-based pricing.
In 2015, Airstream Jets introduced its Distance Card, which bases its pricing on total miles flown rather than hours.
Some jet card programs offer categories of aircraft - turboprops, light jets, midsize jets, large jets, while other programs offer specific jet types such as the Gulfstream G4 or an Embraer Phenom 300.
Jet Card providers and entry level pricing
- Magellan Jets
- Airstream Jets
- Empyrean by Air Charter Service
- Delta Private Jets
- XO (formerly XOJET, merged with JetSmarter)
Other companies offering jet cards include Air Charter Service; Air Partner, Inc.; Bloom Jet Charter, Clay Lacy Aviation; Concord Private Jet; ECOJETS; Executive AirShare; ExpertJet; Fly Aeolus; GlobeAir; Jet Aviation Flight Services, Inc.; Jet Linx Aviation; Jet the World; JetSet Group; JetSuite; Jets.com; Jettly, Luxury Aircraft Solutions; Magellan Jets; Nicholas Air; ONEFlight International; Paramount Business Jets; Private Jet Services Group (PJS Group); PrivateFly; Prive Jets; ProspAir Jet Charter; Sentient Jet; Silverhawk Aviation; Solairus Aviation; Star Jets International LLC; StraightLine Private Air; TeeBee Jets; Unity Jets; Velocity Jets; VistaJet; Wheels Up; and Wholesale Jet Club.
|Company||Date Founded||Primary Fleet Source||Pricing Method (Fixed or Dynamic)||Entry Level Jet Pricing|
|Air Charter Service||1990||Broker||Both||$50,000|
|Air Partner||1961||Broker||Fixed||10 hours|
|Clay Lacy Aviation||1968||Management||Fixed||$100,000|
|Concord Private Jet||2007||Broker||Fixed||10 hours|
|Delta Private Jets||1984||Management||Fixed||$150,000|
|Ethos Jet||2019||Broker||Fixed||10 Hours|
|Airshare (formerly Executive AirShare)||2000||Fractional, Managed||Fixed||10 days|
|Fly Aeolus||2009||Owned||Fixed||15 hours|
|Jet Aviation||1967||Managed||Fixed||10 hours|
|Jet Linx Aviation||1999||Managed||Fixed||$12,500 joining fee then pay by the hour as you fly|
|Jet the World||2009||Broker||Fixed||25 hours|
|JetSet Group||2011||Broker||Fixed||25 hours|
|Luxury Aircraft Solutions||2011||Broker||Fixed||10 hours|
|Magellan Jets||2008||Broker||Fixed||25 hours|
|NetJets (includes MarquisJet)||1986||Fractional||Fixed||25 hours|
|Nicholas Air||1997||Owned||Fixed||15 hours|
|ONEFlight International||2011||Broker||Fixed||5 hours|
|Paramount Business Jets||2005||Broker||Dynamic||$50,000|
|Private Jet Services (PJS) Group||2003||Broker||Fixed||25 hours|
|Prive Jets||2007||Broker||Fixed||25 hours|
|ProspAir Jet Charter||2016||Owned, Managed||Fixed||15 hours|
|Sentient Jet||1999||Broker (Closed Fleet)||Fixed||25 hours|
|Solairus Aviation||2009||Managed, Broker||Fixed||$100,000|
|Star Jets International||2016||Broker||Fixed||$100,000|
|StraightLine Private Air||2016||Broker||Fixed||$50,000|
|TeeBee Jets||2016||Owned||Fixed||25 hours|
|Velocity Jets||2007||Broker||Fixed||25 hours|
|Wheels Up||2013||Owned||Fixed||$17,500 joining fee then pay per hour as you fly|
|Wholesale Jet Club||2016||Broker||Fixed||25 hours|
|XO (formerly XOJET)||2006||Owned, Broker (Closed Fleet)||Both||$50,000|
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