Details of Spirit Airlines’ New Loyalty Program

Spirit Airlines plans to overhaul their loyalty program, and the changes are overwhelmingly positive for customers.

Elina GellerOctober 22, 2020
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Spirit's New Loyalty Program

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Spirit Airlines has announced that it will launch a new loyalty program on Jan. 21, 2021. Under the new system, points (not miles) and status will be earned based on the money spent with the airline as compared to the current system of earning miles based on distance flown. The new program will also offer better redemption opportunities and replace the $9 Fare Club with the Spirit Saver$ Club.

The new program is significantly more consumer-centric and will offer its loyalists more perks. Here’s a rundown of what you need to know about the new program.

Program status & earning points

Members will earn status based on the dollars they spend instead of the number of miles they fly. As a low-cost carrier, Spirit offers an unbundled fare model that allows customers to purchase the options that they would like for their flight. Under the new program, customers will also earn points for purchasing some of the additional options.

Existing: FREE SPIRIT Program

There are three status levels: Somebody, Elite and VIP, with each tier earning 50%, 100% and 100% miles on the distance flown, respectively. Additionally, as an Elite or VIP member, you’ll benefit from priority boarding and that’s about it.

New: Free Spirit Loyalty Program

Spirit’s new program comes with a lot of useful benefits and will offer three status levels: Free Spirit, Silver and Gold, along with the following perks earned at each level:

Benefit

Free Spirit

Silver

Gold

Earn points on fares

6x

8x

10x

Earn points on Á La Smarte options

12x

16x

20x

How to earn elite status

N/A

Attain 2,000 SQPs by spending $2,000 on flights or $20,000 on Spirit's credit card (or any combination of the two).

Attain 5,000 SQPs by spending $5,000 on flights or $50,000 on Spirit's credit card (or any combinatinon of the two).

Redeem points for flights

Earn & redeem points with partners

Points + Cash redemptions

Participate in points pooling

Host a points pool

-

Exit row seat assignment

-

180 min. from departure

At booking

Seat selection

-

At check-in

At booking

Shortcut boarding

-

Shortcut security

-

Dedicated guest care

-

Same-day standby

-

Overweight checked-bag fee waived

-

Redemption fee waiver

-

Flight flex

-

-

Free drink & snack

-

-

First checked bag

-

-

Carry-on bag

-

-

Elite status is reached by earning Status Qualifying Points, or SQPs, by either spending money on flights, spending on a new Free Spirit credit card or a combination of both. If you’re a frequent traveler on Spirit and hold the credit card, spending your way to Silver status is achievable as you’d need to spend $20,000 per year on the card.

The Gold level is a bit more aspirational given the high credit card spend required, however Spirit’s representatives commented that the customer aiming for this level is likely a small business traveler who frequently flies the airline for business and personal trips.

The new elite levels offer many more perks than the existing program and focus on rewarding those who spend the most money rather than on those who fly the most distance. Many airlines have been shifting from awarding elite status based on distance flown to awarding those who spend the most money on flights and on ancillary purchases, such as seat upgrades and priority boarding.

Redeeming points

Redeeming points under the new program will include three main improvements over the current program:

  • Currently, miles expire in three months if there is no earning activity. Under the new program, points expire in one year if there is not any earning/redeeming activity. Points will not expire for cardholders.

  • Currently, redemption fees range from $15 to $100 for flights booked less than 180 days in advance. Under the new program, cardholders, Silver and Gold elites and those who have flights booked 90 days in advance will not have to pay a fee. Spirit also stated that the fee for flights booked less than 90 days in advance will be lower than the current fees but did not reveal the new redemption fee chart.

  • Customers will now be able to book flights using the new Points + Cash option, beginning at 1,000 points. This is an entirely new perk.

By extending the expiration date, eliminating/reducing redemption fees and offering a new way to book flights using a combination of cash and points, Spirit is improving award booking opportunities for its loyalists and incentivizing customers to want to participate in the loyalty program. Eliminating the unfavorable three month mileage expiration policy is a significant upgrade as this is one of the most punitive point expiration policies.

Membership club

Spirit will replace its existing $9 Fare Club with the new Spirit Saver$ Club, which will offer more opportunities to save.

Existing: $9 Fare Club

When you purchase an annual membership at $59.95, you receive access to discounted fares, up to 50% off on bags compared to paying at the airport, and savings applicable to you and up to eight additional passengers as long as they are on your booking.

New: Spirit Saver$ Club

The new club will offer all the benefits of the $9 Fare Club, and will also include savings on seats, Á La Smarte options (Shortcut Security, Shortcut Boarding and Flight Flex) and deals with partners.

The new fare club will offer 12-month ($69.95), 18-month ($99.90) and 24-month ($129.90) membership options.

Credit cards

Currently, Spirit offers the Spirit Airlines World Mastercard®, which has the following features:

  • 2 miles per $1 spent on all purchases.

  • Sign-up bonus: Earn up to 30,000 bonus miles by earning 15,000 bonus miles after your first purchase and 15,000 bonus miles after spending $500 on purchases within 90 days.

  • Anniversary bonus: Earn 5,000 bonus miles when you spend at least $10,000 in net purchases on your card within a year.

  • Annual fee: $0 the first year, $59 after that.

More information on the new cards will be revealed closer to Free Spirit’s launch in January 2021, however, cardholders will receive various perks such as:

  • Earn 1 SQP for every $10 spent.

  • A 25% rebate on all inflight food and drink purchases.

  • Zone 2 shortcut boarding.

  • No redemption fees.

  • The opportunity to earn a $100 companion voucher.

The bottom line

Spirit is making significant strides by revamping its loyalty program and rewarding those who spend the most money with the airline. The new loyalty program will offer significantly more benefits than the existing program since redeeming points for flights will be easier due to the extension of the mileage expiration and issuance of the Points + Cash flight redemption option.

The ability to spend your way to status is a great perk, especially for those who are Spirit loyalists. It will be interesting to see what the new credit card products look like closer to the program’s launch.

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