Known for its budget-friendly fares, Frontier Airlines serves more than 80 cities in the continental U.S. and Puerto Rico and a handful of foreign destinations, including Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta and Cancun in Mexico as well as the Dominican Republic. 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, EarlyReturns. Here’s a rundown of how the program works.
How to earn Frontier EarlyReturns miles
Any Frontier passenger can join EarlyReturns for free. Miles earned in the program do not expire as long as at least once every six months you fly Frontier, earn miles with a Frontier partner or use a Frontier credit card. Miles can be redeemed for free flights aboard Frontier; how many miles you need for a particular flight depends on where you’re going and seat availability.
Earning EARLYRETURNS MILES by flying
For the most part, you earn EarlyReturns miles based on how far you fly on Frontier, measured as flight distances from airport to airport. If a flight is 750 miles, for example, you’d earn 750 EarlyReturns miles. (On the big carriers like American, Delta and United, by contrast, 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.
If you forget to book your flight through your EarlyReturns account, you can still get credit for miles up to 180 days after your flight by filling out a flight mileage credit request form.
Earning EARLYRETURNS MILES with a credit card
Frontier offers two credit cards — one with an annual fee, and one without. The Frontier Airlines World Mastercard is the better of the two, even though it has an annual fee of $69. It gives you 2 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 40,000 bonus miles after $500 in purchases in the first 90 days. 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.
» JUMP AHEAD to other credit cards that earn EarlyReturns miles
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.
Earning EARLYRETURNS MILES with partnerS
You can earn additional EarlyReturns miles by spending money with partners that include car rental agencies, hotel chains, retailers and more. See the list of partners here.
Buying additional miles
Frontier allows customers to buy EarlyReturns miles at a rate of 2.5 cents per mile. In general, buying frequent flyer miles on any airline provides poor value, but this option can be helpful for members who are just shy of being able to redeem their accumulated miles for a flight.
How to redeem Frontier EarlyReturns miles
Redemption options in EarlyReturns are more flexible than in some other frequent-flyer programs. You can of course redeem miles for flights, but also for auto rentals through agencies including 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.
Types of award seats
When redeeming miles for flights through the Frontier website, 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 EarlyReturns 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. Taxes and fees must be paid separately. Cost in miles to redeem:
|• 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
|One way within continental U.S. and Puerto Rico ||10,000||20,000||22,500|
|Round trip within continental U.S. and Puerto Rico||20,000||40,000||45,000|
|One way to/from Mexico or Dominican Republic||15,000||25,000||27,500|
|Round trip to/from Mexico or Dominican Republic||30,000||50,000||55,000|
Low-fare airlines seem to charge extra for everything — and at Frontier, that can include redeeming frequent-flyer miles. Elite Status members do not have to pay a redemption fee, nor do members with a Frontier credit card. And no fee is charged if you book at least 180 days before you fly.
Redemption fees for everyone else:
- 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
Frontier EarlyReturns program Elite Status
Beyond the basic EarlyReturns membership that anyone can sign up for, Frontier offers Elite Status. You earn Elite Status by flying 20,000 miles or taking 25 flight 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.
Elite Status benefits include:
- Zone 1 boarding. This entitles the Elite member to priority check-in, boarding and (where available) security.
- 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.)
- Ability to select seats in advance
- Free upgrades to 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.
Credit cards that earn EarlyReturns miles
Frontier’s credit cards are issued by Barclays. Full details about the cards can be found here.
Frontier Airlines World Mastercard
- $69 annual fee
- 2 miles per $1 spent at FlyFrontier.com
- 1 mile per dollar on all other purchases
- Sign-up bonus: Earn 40,000 bonus miles after $500 in purchases in the first 90 days
- $100 discount voucher when you spend $2,500 on the card in a year
No Annual Fee Frontier Airlines World Mastercard
- $0 annual fee
- 1 mile per $1 spent at FlyFrontier.com
- 1 mile per $2 spent on all other purchases
- Sign-up bonus: Earn 10,000 bonus miles after making your first purchase
Both cards give 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 Airlines partner airlines
Frontier does not have partner airlines like the major carriers do. However, EarlyReturns members can exchange their miles on Points.com for points or miles in these frequent-flyer programs:
- Aeroplan (Air Canada)
- American Airlines AAdvantage
- Delta SkyMiles
- Hainan Airlines Fortune Wings
- Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles
- Icelandair Saga Club
- JetBlue True Blue
Redemption rates vary.