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Frontier Airlines is known for offering some of the lowest priced flights in the industry — but experienced Frontier flyers know to expect extra charges for selecting a seat, bringing a carry-on bag or even having a beverage onboard.
On top of the budget airline’s typically low fares, Frontier also offers a paid membership program known as Discount Den that promises even more price breaks. But is paying for Discount Den worth it? We’ll help you decide.
First, a bit about the airline’s frequent flyer program, Frontier Miles, which is free to join. You’ll earn a mile for every mile you fly, but those miles expire after 180 days if there’s no activity on your account.
NerdWallet values Frontier miles at 0.6 cent each.
“Activity” counts as Frontier purchases like buying flights and miles, charges to your Frontier Airlines World Mastercard®, and spending or earning with one of the airline’s partners like Alamo car rental, Radisson hotels or Teleflora.
» Learn more: Full review of the Frontier Airlines World Mastercard
Discount Den basics
Discount Den is different from the free Frontier Miles program, but your login for both programs will be the same. Here’s what the year-long paid membership offers:
Access to Frontier’s lowest fares (applies to up to six people on the same reservation).
Access to “kids fly free” flights (one child under 15 per adult with a Discount Den flight).
First news of offers, promotions and new destinations.
However, access to these perks comes at a cost: $59.99 for a year-long membership. So are the savings and benefits worth the cash?
Pros and cons
Whether you join Discount Den or not, you’ll be able to see Discount Den ticket prices every time you search for a flight. On the left, you’ll see the standard fare; on the right, you’ll see a tempting, lower-cost ticket available only to members.
In our searches, we saw a $10 discount per one-way flight (or $20 for round-trip) for both domestic and international flights, though the discounts can vary. And from what we found, Discount Den prices seem to be available with no blackout dates (indicated by the whimsical bear logo).
That said, deciding whether to purchase a membership isn’t so much a matter of checking for availability as it is about math. This is in contrast to most of Frontier’s advertised sales and specials, which come with a bevy of blackout dates and restricted routes.
Discount Den membership math
If you take three trips or fewer per year on Frontier and travel by yourself, the math is easy: paying $60 for to save $60 isn’t that beneficial (assuming $20 savings on each round-trip flight). And since Discount Den offers few additional perks for solo travelers, there’s not much of an argument for signing up. Even offers and promotions you’d get early access to tend to be fairly restrictive — and they’re also available to nonmembers.
If, however, you fly solo with Frontier more than three times a year or fly as a family, savings can rack up fast. Just one flight with a travel partner can mean a savings of $40 on a round-trip flight — remember your Discount Den membership price is good for up to six people on one reservation. Take two trips, and you’ve saved $20 even after after making up for the cost of membership. Or fly with a family of four just once to make up for the membership fee and still save.
» Learn more: How to benefit from Frontier’s revamped loyalty program
Kids fly ‘free’
Then there’s the Kids Fly Free program, which has the potential to save you hundreds of dollars. The website states: “All kids 14 and under can fly free on select flights with the purchase of an Adult Discount Den member fare.” So what are "select flights"?
You’ll find them by looking for the “Kids Fly Free” banner when you’re searching for flights. Select the flight you want, and the discount will appear on the payment page.
But there are caveats. Kids who fly free won’t earn miles for those flights. And even more importantly, the promotion appears to be temporary. The Frontier website states that tickets must be for round-trip domestic nonstop travel within the continental United States, purchased by Dec. 2, 2019, and are only valid on travel through Apr. 22, 2020. In true Frontier style, there is also a whole list of excluded routes, dates and travel days. For many flights, you’ll only see Kids Fly Free discounts on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, for example.
We did several searches for valid travel dates and times where kids could fly free, and only found a handful. So if you’re hoping to book travel where your kids can fly free, it would be wise to do a few quick searches to see if your preferred routes, destinations and travel dates make the cut — in our experience, options are limited.
» Learn more: Details of Frontier Airlines’ Kids Fly Free promotion
The bottom line
The Frontier Airlines Discount Den certainly offers some legitimate discounts to those who fly solo with the airline at least three times a year, or with family members once or twice. The savings on flights do add up, and the Kids Fly Free could offer impressive savings to those who can utilize it (though the program is somewhat restrictive).
A couple notable perks that seem to be missing from the Discount Den are reduced checked bag fees or an extension to keep your miles from expiring for a longer period of time. Both would add significant value to the program, but neither is included — so plan to pay extra if you want to bring a carry-on or larger luggage.
While Discount Den membership may not offer benefits like free carry-ons or in-flight drinks, those who choose the discount airline for travel savings can certainly save more with a membership if they fly with the airline regularly.
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 2020, including those best for:
Airline miles and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card
Flat-rate rewards with no annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Premium travel rewards: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card