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Spirit Airlines is known as an ultra low-cost carrier with a no-frills approach to travel. Its frequent flyer program, Free Spirit, takes a slightly different approach. Members earn miles every time they fly, and redemptions are based on distance flown and travel dates, along with a few other factors. Let us help break down Spirit Airlines’ award chart so you can book and fly happy:
Things to know about the Spirit award chart
Award redemption rates on Spirit depend on travel dates and distance. Cheaper off-peak awards are available to those with a Bank of America Spirit Airlines World MasterCard. To find your place on the chart when it comes to all of the above, take a look at their massive, color-coded charts for how many miles you’ll need to book a flight.
There are a total of three charts to consider. One chart defines the differences in peak travel dates between Spirit credit cardholders and regular Free Spirit members, the latter being the more restrictive of the two:
Another outlines how many miles are required for the different regions Spirit splits their routes into. There are four regions, and standard awards range from 10,000 - 20,000 miles:
You’ll notice right off the bat that the best redemption rates (and they are quite a bit lower than the standard rates) are reserved for Spirit credit card holders, but we’ll get to that later.
The shorter the flight, the fewer miles you’ll need. Don’t want to do the math yourself? Then refer to yet another chart, the Free Spirit Regions List.
Once you’ve located your departure and arrival city and know your travel dates, you’ll know how many miles you’ll need to book your award flight. It may seem complicated, but once you know how to navigate the charts, it’s actually quite nice to have a visual breakdown of miles required for any given flight.
However, the only way to know what flights and seats are still available at the lower rates is to search. That’s because award travel is subject to seat availability. What’s more, it appears that off-peak awards aren’t always available, evident in the flight search below. Monday the 16th, for example, doesn’t offer a lower FREE SPIRIT Mastercard Holder redemption rate like the other days.
Booking award travel
Once you’ve figured out how many miles you need, there are a few things to know before you book. The first is that, like other airlines, booking award travel often comes with fees. In addition to a $5.60 security fee, members are liable for the following non-refundable fees:
$15 fee when booking 21 — 180 days prior to departure
$50 fee when booking 7— 20 days prior to departure
$75 fee when booking 6 days or less prior to departure
Keep in mind that miles aren’t transferable and they will expire if you don’t earn more or use the ones you have within a very restrictive 3-month window. If you want to keep the miles you’ve earned, you’ll have to fly with Spirit or make a purchase with one of their partners. Another option is to make at least one purchase per month with the Bank of America Spirit Airlines World MasterCard to keep your miles from expiring.
Earning points with Spirit Airlines
Naturally, you can earn miles when you fly with Spirit, but perhaps not as many as you think. Depending on your status level with the airline, you will earn 50 - 100% of the miles you’ve flown. Take a look at the chart from the airline website to see the requirements of each status level.
Even without status, there are ways to earn more miles. Besides signing up for the Bank of America Spirit Airlines World MasterCard, you can earn miles with Spirit’s partners. They include car rental companies, hotels, dining rewards and an online shopping portal.
» Learn More: Find the best airline credit card for you
Free Spirit Dining
Free Spirit Dining allows you to earn up to 5 miles per $1 spent at participating restaurants. New accounts earn 1,000 bonus points after spending $30 within 30 days of signing up.
Miles for Thoughts
Miles for Thoughts offers 400 bonus miles just for signing up and completing your first survey.
Choice Hotels and Pointshound partner with Spirit Airlines to offer bonus points on hotel bookings. Earn 250 miles per Choice Hotels stay and up to 10,000 miles per night through PointsHound. Hertz car rentals earn 50 miles per day for rentals up to four days or 500 miles for rentals of five days or more.
There are plenty of other ways to earn extra miles, which can be found on Spirit’s partner page.
Earn more points with the Bank of America Spirit Airlines World MasterCard
The hard truth is that without the Bank of America Spirit Airlines World MasterCard, you’re going to shell out a lot more miles for award travel. Upwards of four times more for a standard award alone. So for those who fly with Spirit Airlines frequently or intend to rack up and redeem plenty of miles for award flights, it makes sense to have this card.
Other perks include no blackout dates on award tickets and that all-important access to off-peak awards starting at just 2,500 miles. You’ll earn 2 miles per $1 spent on the card, and if you spend $10,000 on your card in one year, you’ll get a 5,000 anniversary bonus.
Unlike with many other airline credit cards, you don’t get a free checked bag, or even a free carry-on bag, which is unfortunate.
The bottom line
Spirit Airlines' award chart is fairly straightforward, and award flights can be incredibly cheap, especially for short domestic jaunts. But to get the most for your money when booking award travel, a Spirit credit card is all but necessary.
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
Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice: Find the best travel credit card for you 4 things the Spirit Airlines frequent flyer program gets right Best airline credit cards