The Guide to Frontier Miles
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Known for its budget-friendly fares, Frontier Airlines serves dozens of cities in North America and the Caribbean. It operates a hub in Denver and has multiple “focus cities” throughout the country, including Chicago and Orlando.
If you’re a regular Frontier passenger, it’s worth checking out the airline’s frequent-flyer program, called “Frontier Miles.” The program doesn’t have many of the high-end benefits of its counterparts from full-service airlines, but it does offer decent value given Frontier’s generally low fares. Here’s a rundown of how the program works.
What’s the value of Frontier miles?
Based on our most recent analysis, NerdWallet values Frontier miles at 0.9 cent apiece. Here’s how this value compares to other airline loyalty program miles:
To determine the value of reward miles, NerdWallt compared cash prices and reward redemptions for economy round-trip routes across several destinations and dates. We divided the cost of the cash ticket by the cost of the reward ticket to determine a “cent per mile” value for each flight, then averaged this value across several flights and dates.
» Learn more: How much are Frontier miles worth?
Frontier versus competitors: How it stacks in 2023
Frontier came in fourth place out of nine airlines in our most recent analysis on the best airline loyalty programs. That’s surprisingly impressive, given Frontier is a budget airline. Our analysis didn’t consider average fare costs, meaning Frontier was pitted against more expensive airlines like Delta and American.
The Frontier rewards rate is actually the highest of all the airlines we reviewed, meaning whatever you spend with the airline pretty quickly morphs into free future flights. It’s also not too bad a pick if you’re bringing a pet with you.
That said, Frontier ranked abysmally when it comes to added fees, given those complicated Frontier baggage and seat selection fees. It also ranked pretty poorly in terms of operations, which considers factors like baggage mishandling and on-time arrivals. It also has a painfully bad in-flight experience: no movies, no TV, no Wi-Fi – not even available for purchase. Snacks and drinks will incur an extra fee as well, so no free pretzels and soda. Not to mention, Frontier’s seating fees and rules can be confusing.
Here's a closer look at how Frontier competed across categories in 2023:
First in rewards (mile) value.
Third to last in operations.
Fourth in elite status benefits.
Worst in terms of total fees.
Worst in terms of in-flight experience.
Third in most pet-friendly airlines.
How to earn Frontier miles
Any passenger can join “Frontier Miles” for free. Confusingly, the “Frontier Miles” program is nested within another program called “MyFrontier,” which includes personalization options. Signing up for Frontier Miles automatically enrolls you in MyFrontier.
In other words, don’t sweat the difference. Here's how to earn miles on Frontier.
» Learn More: Your guide to earning miles with Frontier Airlines
For the most part, you earn Frontier miles based on how far you fly, measured as flight distances from airport to airport. If a flight is 750 miles, for example, you’d earn 750 miles. By contrast, on the big carriers — like American, Delta and United — you earn miles for a flight based on how much you paid for the ticket. The airline offers additional miles for flights during certain promotions.
So even though Frontier miles aren’t worth a lot (0.9 cent per mile in our most recent valuation), it’s relatively easy to earn them, especially when flying long distances.
If you forget to book your flight through your account, you can still get credit for miles up to 180 days after your flight by filling out a flight mileage credit request form.
By spending on a credit card
The Frontier Airlines World Mastercard® with an annual fee of $89 is your card if you want earn miles for your spending. It gives you 5 miles per $1 spent on airfare purchased directly from Frontier on flyfrontier.com and 1 point per dollar on all other spending. There’s a generous sign-up bonus: Earn up to 60,000 bonus miles - Earn 40,000 bonus miles after spending $500 on purchases and paying the annual fee in full, both within the first 90 days. Earn an additional 20,000 bonus miles after spending $2,000 on purchases within the first 6 months with the Frontier Airlines World Mastercard®. That’s enough for two domestic round-trip tickets.
And every year that you put at least $2,500 on the card, you get a $100 discount voucher — more than making up for the annual fee.
Frontier’s partnerships with certain hotel chains allow you to earn points in those hotels’ loyalty programs and then transfer them to Frontier. Since those chains have their own credit cards that earn points with every purchase, those cards can effectively become Frontier cards.
» Learn more: How to use flight credits on Frontier Airlines
By shopping with partners
Frontier doesn't partner with any major airlines, but you can earn miles on car rentals and hotel stays through other Frontier partners, which can change but have been known to include Marriott, Wyndham, Alamo, Hertz and National rental car.Spending with car rental agencies, hotel chains and other retailers that you would shop with anyway can be an easy way to earn additional Frontier miles. See the full list of partners on Frontier's website here.
By buying additional miles
Frontier allows customers to buy Frontier miles at a rate of 2.5 cents per mile. In general, buying frequent flyer miles on any airline provides poor value, and this is no exception.
That said, buying miles can be helpful for members who are just shy of being able to redeem their accumulated miles for a flight.
Do Frontier miles expire? Yes, Frontier miles expire within 12 months if there is no accrual activity in a member's account. This means you need to earn miles every 12 months or you risk losing your miles. This expiration timeline significantly reduces the usefulness of Frontier miles compared to other programs.
How to redeem Frontier miles
You can of course redeem Frontier miles for flights, but also for auto rentals through agencies like Hertz and National. Through Points.com, you can also exchange miles for points in other loyalty programs or redeem them for shopping or gift cards.
How many miles you need for a particular flight depends on where you’re going and seat availability. Frontier does have an award chart, but, as we explain below, it isn’t as simple as it sounds.
Types of award seats
When redeeming miles for Frontier flights, there are three types of award seats available: Economy, Choice and Last Seat. Economy seats cost the least in terms of miles, but there are fewer of them, and they might not be available on all flights. Choice seats are available on more flights, but cost more. The Last Seat option is only for Frontier members with elite status; it’s the most expensive option, but it allows you to book even the “last seat” on a flight.
Miles are redeemed for airfare only, and taxes and fees must be paid separately. Here’s the cost in miles to redeem:
One way within continental U.S. and Puerto Rico
Round trip within continental U.S. and Puerto Rico
One way to/from Mexico or Dominican Republic
Round trip to/from Mexico or Dominican Republic
• For flights in continental U.S. and Puerto Rico, taxes/fees start at $5.60 one way and $11.20 round trip. • For flights to/from Mexico, taxes/fees start at $33.70 one way and $80.20 round trip. • For flights to/from Dominican Republic, taxes/fees start at $36.90 one way and $105.70 round trip.
Low-fare airlines seem to charge extra for everything — and at Frontier, that can include a surcharge for passengers redeeming frequent flyer miles.
However, elite status members don't have to pay a redemption fee, nor do members with a Frontier credit card. No fee is charged if you book at least 180 days before you fly.
Redemption fees for everyone else are:
Flights booked 21-179 days before departure: $15.
Flights booked 7-20 days before departure: $50.
Flights booked 6 days or less before departure: $75.
What about redeeming Frontier flight credits?
You receive Frontier flight credits (after those fees, of course) if you cancel a flight, to be used for future travel on Frontier Airlines. Flight credits appear on your myFRONTIER account page, but pay attention to expiration dates as many of them have a tight turnaround. Check out this guide to using Frontier Airlines flight credits, as they're often not as user-friendly as they may seem.
Frontier elite status
Beyond the basic membership that anyone can sign up for, there are three tiers of Frontier elite status for frequent flyers. You earn elite status by flying a certain number of either miles or segments in a calendar year (a one-way flight counts as one segment; a round-trip is two segments). Once you qualify for elite status, you get it for the rest of the calendar year as well as the following year.
The three tiers are named after the number of miles needed to earn them, making them easy to remember. Here’s a full breakdown, along with the benefits each level receives:
Example perks include:
Free carry-on bag: Frontier charges for carry-ons, with prices of up to $60 depending on when you “reserve” and pay for space for your carry-on. (Checked bags cost up to $45 for the first bag and up to $85 for additional bags, with extra fees incurred for bags weighing more than 40 pounds).
Stretch seating: “Stretch” seats offer more legroom and recline more than other seats. If stretch seats are available 24 hours before departure, elite status holders can upgrade at no cost.
Waived fees: Elite members don’t have to pay extra for such things as mile redemptions, call center reservations, unaccompanied minor, same-day confirmations and standby flying.
“Last Seat” redemptions: All elite members can redeem miles for any available seat.
Discount Den membership: Discount Den offers low fares exclusively to members (see below for full description). 50k members get 50% off Discount Den membership and 100k members get 100% off (free).
Mileage multiplier: 50k members get 25% extra miles and 100k members get 50% extra miles. So a 1,000-mile flight would earn 1,000 miles for a normal or 20k member, 1,250 for a 50k member and 1,500 for a 100k member.
Checked bag: Only 100k members get free checked bags — unlike most airlines, which offer this benefit to all elite members.
Family status: 100k members also receive many benefits for up to eight family members flying on the same reservation.
The Frontier credit card
Frontier’s credit card is issued by Barclays.
Frontier Airlines World Mastercard®
$89 annual fee.
5 miles per $1 spent at FlyFrontier.com.
1 mile per dollar on all other purchases.
Sign-up bonus: Earn up to 60,000 bonus miles - Earn 40,000 bonus miles after spending $500 on purchases and paying the annual fee in full, both within the first 90 days. Earn an additional 20,000 bonus miles after spending $2,000 on purchases within the first 6 months with the Frontier Airlines World Mastercard®.
$100 discount voucher when you spend $2,500 on the card in a year.
The card gives you free access to your FICO score, and if for some reason you wanted to transfer a balance to your Frontier card (transfers do not earn miles), you get a 0% introductory APR for 15 months for transfers made within the first 45 days you have the card. See the link above for more information.
Frontier bag and seating fees
Like most low-cost airlines, Frontier makes up for its low fares with high, complicated fees. For savvy travelers who are able to score these fares without paying too much in fees, this represents an opportunity. But for average travelers, Frontier’s fees can seem confusing or even downright misleading.
Frontier baggage fees are complicated, and depend on several factors:
Type of bag. Overhead carry-on or checked bag?
When you pay the fee. During purchase, before check in, during online check in, at the ticket counter or at the boarding gate?
How far you fly.
How much your bag weighs.
In general, you should try to pay baggage fees as early as possible to avoid excess charges. Consider packing lightly for long trips, where bags will cost more.
Be warned: The cost of baggage on Frontier can easily exceed the cost of the ticket itself, and that’s even before factoring in that you have to pay baggage fees both ways on a round-trip fare.
Seat selection fees
Frontier charges for seat selection on most flights. In our analysis, we found that Frontier seats cost an average of $22.50 per segment. That can add up in a hurry.
The easiest way to avoid this fee is to not pay it. This doesn’t mean you won’t get a seat; instead, Frontier will assign you one at check-in. But it could mean that you get stuck in a middle seat.
Finally, Frontier offers bundles on most fares, such as , which offset several of these fees for a fixed price.
These bundles offer perks like free carry-on bags and seat selection at a (presumably) discounted rate. Are these worth it? Sometimes, especially when you’re planning to use every feature of the bundle. If you only need one or two, consider paying for the fees a la carte.
You can always compare the cost when paying these fees separately with the bundle price — it will just require some math and patience.
» Learn more: The guide to Frontier baggage and other fees
(Top photo courtesy of Frontier Airlines)
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2023, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card