Spirit Airlines is a low-cost carrier that flies to more than 70 locations in the U.S., Caribbean, Central America and South America. In January 2021, the airline revamped its Free Spirit loyalty program and introduced many positive changes, including a better point expiration policy.
Members now earn points instead of miles, and the award chart has been replaced in favor of dynamically priced awards. Redemptions start at 2,500 points, and the award flight is now based on the cost of the flight, the travel date and a few other factors.
Let’s take a look at some redemptions to see what kind of value you can extract from Spirit’s points.
Redeeming Free Spirit points for award flights
If you’ve previously held Spirit miles, they have been converted to points at a 1:1 ratio. With redemption starting as low as 2,500 Free Spirit points, earning enough points for a free trip could be closer than you think. If you don’t have enough points, don’t despair because as of March 2021, customers can book flights using a combination of points + cash starting at only 1,000 points.
Many domestic carriers have shifted to dynamically priced awards to better match consumer demand with award redemptions.
To figure out how redemptions shake out from a cent per point perspective, we’ve performed a search for an award ticket from Boston to Las Vegas on Feb. 8, 2021, and April 16, 2021.
Feb. 8, 2021
April 16, 2021
Cost in $
Cost in points
Cent per point
For the flight on Feb. 8, the cent per point value ranges from 1.2 to 1.6 cents per point, while for the flight on April 16, the cent per point value ranges from 1 cent to 1.1 cents per point. In this case, redeeming points for a last minute (and cheaper) flight results in a better redemption value as you’re extracting the highest number of points from each cent. We found similar results in other searches that suggest you get better value from your points on cheaper flights.
Notably, point redemptions cover only the cost of airfare. Additional fees for luggage, seat selection and other amenities apply. Also, taxes and government fees must be paid at the time you book.
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 paying non-refundable booking fees. Though many carriers have eliminated close in booking fees on award tickets, it's understandable that Spirit would continue to charge the fee given its status as a low-cost carrier.
For flights booked within 28 days, the redemption fee is $50. Any award tickets booked more than 28 days in advance incur no redemption fee. Previously, you had to book an award ticket more than 180 days from departure to avoid these pesky fees.
If you have Silver or Gold status, or hold the Free Spirit® Travel More Mastercard®, you will not have to pay any fees on award redemptions.
The Free Spirit® Travel More Mastercard® has an annual fee of $0 intro for the first year, then $79 and the following welcome offer: Earn 40,000 Bonus Points + a $100 Companion Flight Voucher after spending at least $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening. The card is great for Spirit loyalists as it earns 3 points per $1 on Spirit purchases, 2 points per $1 on dining and groceries, and 1 point per $1 on everything else.
If you often find yourself booking flights 28 days or less before departure and book at least two such flights per year, applying for the card would save you money as the annual fee is lower than the price of two close-in redemption fees.
» Learn more: Your guide to elite status on Spirit Airlines
Earning points with Spirit Airlines
Spirit offers plenty of opportunities to earn Free Spirit points, including by flying, using the Free Spirit® Travel Mastercard® and the Free Spirit® Travel More Mastercard®, shopping with partners, and more. Check out the guide linked to below for all the ways to rack up Free Spirit points.
» Learn more: Your guide to earning Free Spirit Points
The bottom line
Booking award travel with Spirit is fairly straightforward, and award flights can be relatively inexpensive, especially since redemptions start at 2,500 points and earning the points is fairly easy. If you often book award flights with Spirit at the last minute, the Free Spirit® Travel More Mastercard® could be a good bet.
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 2021, 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