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Spirit Airlines is renowned for its extremely low-cost flights and the quality provided to match. Spirit breaks down its flight offerings into the most affordable and barebones components, excluding taken-for-granted amenities like in-flight beverages and Wi-Fi. The result is the most consistently cost-effective flights available, but is it worth the trade-off in quality? We took a deep dive into Spirit and its loyalty program to help you reach an answer.
Spirit Airlines ticketing options
Spirit Airlines has a unique approach toward flight fares that ensures customers are being provided the lowest fare possible; this is the base fare, referred to by Spirit as the Bare Fare™. It's the most barebones ticketing option available. You are provided with a standard seat and one personal item but no refreshments, Wi-Fi or other common airline amenities.
Most other airlines include the price of these services in the base fares available, ultimately driving up the amount passengers need to pay without giving the choice to decline certain amenities to save money. Spirit gives you the option to add certain features on top of the Bare Fare. Therefore, you're only paying the base rate and for services that you will actually use; this is called Frill Control™.
Spirit's Thrills Combo™
Spirit offers a Thrills Combo intended to provide consumers with the savings on their most popular àlacarte items. The package is available to purchase on select Spirit routes and can only be added at booking on Spirit.com; you cannot purchase the combo at another time.
- Checked bag up to 50 lbs: 10 lbs above standard limit
- Carry-on bag: in addition to personal item
- Seat selection: includes exit row seating
- Shortcut boarding: board your flight early
- Flight Flex™: one free flight modification up to 24 hours before departure
- 2X miles: earn double the mileage you would typically earn for the flight
Is the Thrills Combo worth the price? The total price of the bundle is $77.49 each way, which is more expensive than some flights offered by Spirit. Although you are provided a wealth of benefits, we don't imagine most people need these additional features or would be willing to pay for them, especially on an airline chosen for its extremely low fares. It may make more sense to purchase features individually so you're not paying unnecessarily for services you won't actually use.
Spirit Airlines $9 Fare Club™
Spirit also has a $9 Fare Club that provides members with exclusive access to flight and baggage discounts. The program costs $59.95 with an annual renewal fee of $69.95. The discounts available through the club extend to up to eight other people on your itinerary if all are within the same booking.
You could save a lot of money through the club if you frequently travel within a group. It could be a great decision for families who frequently travel Spirit together. If you don't often fly on Spirit or do so alone, the value offered by the $9 Fare Club may not be enough to convince you to apply, particularly because savings come from promotional offers rather than constant and clear benefits. If you do signup, you should be aware Spirit automatically renews your $9 Fare Club membership unless you manually cancel it.
Watch out for Spirit's hidden fees
Many features that you typically take for granted will cost you on Spirit. You'll need to pay for in-flight food and drinks, seat selection, checked baggage and even your boarding pass at the airport. All fees also increase as you get closer to departure. You should try to complete most of your check-in online 24 hours prior to your flight to ensure that you're paying minimal fees.
Spirit's Flight Flex™ for last-minute changes
Passengers have the option of purchasing Flight Flex at the time of booking, which sanctions one free flight change at no charge if it's done at least 24 hours prior to the flight. Flex Flight costs around $40 while being subject to change depending on route.
If you didn't purchase Flex Flight, then you will need to pay a fee to change or cancel your reservation. You will need to pay $90 if doing so online, $100 on the phone or in-person, and $50 if it's for a group booking. If the cancellation fee cost more than the ticket itself, customers may receive a $10 voucher.
Free Spirit™ rewards program
Spirit Airlines offers a basic loyalty program called Free Spirit. It's free to join and all you need to do is complete its online application.
Members can earn, use, buy and gift miles through this platform, but the most important feature is the ability to redeem mileage for award flights through the Spirit website. New members begin with the status of Somebody and can work toward gaining Elite and VIP status through higher engagement and spending with Spirit.
Somebody is the most basic level of elite membership available and has the lowest requirements. You're automatically a Somebody member as soon as you enroll into the Free Spirit program. You get 50% of the actual miles you fly on this status level. For example, you would collect 250 Free Spirit miles after a 500-mile flight. Somebody members have access to exclusive offers presented to members only.
Elite is a tier above Somebody. You need to fly at least 12,000 miles or spend $1,200 on base fare tickets within six months to qualify. Elite members earn 100% of the actual miles they travel. You can also earn Elite status solely through the Spirit Airlines World MasterCard® Credit Card because you are awarded miles for certain purchases on the card.
The highest level of Free Spirit membership is VIP. You need to fly at least 24,000 miles or spend $2,400 within six months to qualify. Similar to Elite status, VIP members earn one Free Spirit mile per actual mile traveled. There is no difference in your rewards earnings rate on VIP and Elite status, but the benefit of VIP can apparently be found in the more exclusive promotions and offers that are available to members.
Free Spirit miles expiration
One of the biggest issues we found with Spirit's loyalty program is how quickly Free Spirit miles expire. All of your Free Spirit miles expire every three months of no accrual activity. You will need to either book Spirit flights, use the Spirit Airlines World MasterCard® Credit Card or partner services once every three months to protect your miles. You can also buy miles directly for 2.5 cents each to reset the timer on your miles balance, as long as you buy the minimum transaction amount.
Three months is by far the smallest window for mileage expiration we've seen. Spirit's competitor in the ultra-low-cost airlines market — Frontier — provides individuals with at least six months and the ability to reinstate expired mileage for a fee. Spirit offers half that time, and once your mileage has expired, there is no way to get it back.
Spirit Airlines World MasterCard® Credit Card
- Earn Free Spirit miles for every purchase
- Use to reset the expiration timer on Free Spirit miles
- Easily accessible welcome bonus
- Low rewards rate
- Annual fee without valuable benefits to compensate
- Value of Free Spirit miles is low
The Spirit Airlines World MasterCard® Credit Card is Spirit's co-branded credit. Cardholders will receive enough miles after a single purchase using the welcome bonus to catapult themselves into Elite status. The annual fee is also waived for the first year. But this is still not enough to make applying for the Spirit Airlines World MasterCard® Credit Card a great decision.
The benefits of Spirit's loyalty status are extraordinarily vague for an airline, and we estiamte that the value of Free Spirit miles are low. We imagine it will be difficult for most consumers to travel enough to generate more rewards than the annual fee for any year outside the first. Additionally, there are travel credit cards without any annual fees that provide better rewards rates and benefits than this card.
Given the annual fee of the card, how quickly mileage expires and the limited availability of off-peak award flights, consumers may struggle to get enough value out of this card.
The information related to the Spirit Airlines World MasterCard® Credit Card has been collected by ValuePenguin and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.
Alternatives to the Spirit Airlines World MasterCard® Credit Card worth considering:
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
15.99% - 22.99% Variable
- Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That's 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.
Spirit Airlines partners program
Free Spirit members have another way beyond booking flights and making purchases on the Spirit Airlines World MasterCard® Credit Card to earn miles. Individuals can use Spirit Airlines' partners program to earn mileage by spending money on other services. Partnered programs include:
These partners offer deals to incentivize their services, like earning bonus miles with purchases or flat discounts on price. This is one of the better ways for people to earn Free Spirit miles, but these partnerships are not anything new. You can find most of these partnerships available with other airlines as well, most of whom will offer a much more robust loyalty program than Spirit.
Free Spirit mileage redemption
Spirit Airlines uses four distinct award periods dependent on the time of year to categorize the minimum mileage needed for an award flight: Off-peak, Standard, Peak and Premium. Off-peak flights are during the least busy times of year and are therefore also the least expensive, whereas Premium flights are during the most popular times and cost the most.
The various destinations possible for your redemption are divided into four regions as determined by the length of the flight route, with Region 1 referring to the shortest flights and Region 4 to the longest.
You should plan to redeem your mileage during off-peak award periods using the Spirit Airlines World MasterCard® Credit Card, because this will maximize the amount of value you're getting per each mile. For example, you need to redeem 2,500 Free Spirit miles during the Off-peak period to earn a one-way award flight in Region 1, but you would need to redeem four times that amount for standard flights, five times for peak and a staggering 10 times the amount for premium flights.
Avoid award redemption charges by booking early
- $0: request award ticket 181+ days before departure
- $15: request award ticket 180 to 21 days before departure
- $75: request award ticket 20 to 7 days before departure
- $100: request award ticket 6 days before departure
Frequently asked questions
Below are some of the questions we get most often in regards to Spirit Airlines and its rewards program.
Spirit allows you one personal item with dimensions 18 by 14 by 8 inches or smaller for free. Additional and larger bags will cost you varying amounts, depending on factors like route and loyalty status. For the most accurate price, use Spirit Airlines’ baggage fee calculator, found here.
If you don't purchase a seat, then you will be randomly provided an available seat on the flight during check-in at no cost. Although Spirit attempts to keep group reservations together, there is no guarantee, especially if you are being randomly assigned seating. If you want to choose your seat, you can buy seat assignments beginning at $5.
Although Spirit has a reputation of being extremely low cost with quality to match, its planes and operations are all up to safety regulations as determined by the Federal Aviation Administration.
If you would like to speak to a person in Spirit Airlines customer service, you need to first dial 1-801-401-222. You will then be told to press the keypad in certain ways for specific inquiries. After answering this step, you will be redirected to a live Spirit representative.
Final Thoughts on Spirit Airlines' Rewards Program
You should not expect to receive much savings from Spirit's loyalty program. The three-month timeline for mileage expiration and high spending required every 6 months to maintain status levels makes it difficult to earn substantial value. Still, the program is free of charge. There is no harm in applying as long as you understand that you may not be saving as much as you would like.
The information in this article is accurate as of the date of publishing.