Spirit Airlines might have a reputation for add-on fees that offset its low base rate, but the airline’s frequent flyer program has its share of perks. With a little bit of travel savviness, you can get low flight prices and great rewards.
Here are four things the airline’s frequent flyer program, aptly named Free Spirit, gets right.
1. The price is right.
Anyone can sign up for Spirit’s rewards program free of charge.
The basic Free Spirit category is called “Somebody” and allows members to earn 50% of miles flown (so if you fly 1,000 miles, you’ll earn 500 points). Elite and VIP members earn 100% of miles flown (fly 1,000 miles, earn 1,000 points,) but reaching these levels requires a bit more effort.
Members gain Elite status by meeting one of these criteria:
- Get the Bank of America Spirit Airlines World MasterCard and use it at least once a month.
- Earn 12,000 Free Spirit miles in six months.
- Spend at least $1,200 on base fares (not including extra charges, taxes or fees) in six months.
Earn VIP status by meeting one of these criteria:
- Earn 24,000 Free Spirit miles in a six-month period.
- Spend at least $2,400 on base fares (not including extra charges, taxes or fees) in a six-month period.
2. Redeem free flights (when you plan ahead).
Spirit charges anywhere from $15 to $100 for redeeming a free flight, but only if you wait too long to book.
If you do some careful trip planning and book a flight more than 180 days in advance, you can avoid this fee altogether. Booking 21-180 days before departure will run you $15, wait until seven to 20 days before departure and you’ll pay $75, and a last-minute flight booked six days or fewer before departure is a $100 fee.
Book travel online to avoid over-the-phone reservation charges and check in online to avoid a $10 boarding pass fee at the airport.
3. Credit card purchases earn you extra miles.
You can earn 2 miles per dollar spent on purchases using Spirit Airlines credit cards.
Cardholders earn 15,000 bonus miles after their first purchase on the card and can earn an additional 5,000 bonus miles each year if they spend $10,000 in net purchases in the year prior. The first year has no annual fee, but it’s $59 annually after that first year.
Base rate fares booked with a Spirit credit card become cheaper — “standard” dates become “off-peak.” Spirit World Mastercard holders can book one-way flights for as little as 2,500 miles. Considering the baseline redeemable mileage cost starts at 10,000 for non-cardholders, using the card has its advantages.
4. Dining, cruises and more offer additional ways to save.
Like most mileage programs, Spirit allows you to earn miles with its partners. You can earn miles through dining rewards, cruises, online shopping, car rentals and more.
How to maximize your rewardsYou want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2018, including those best for:
- Airline miles and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®).
- Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card (Earn unlimited 2 miles per dollar on every purchase).
- Premium travel rewards: Chase Sapphire Reserve® (Get 3 points per dollar on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases).
- No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card (Earn unlimited 1.5 points per dollar spent on all purchases, with no annual fee).
- Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express (Get 5 points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or through American Express Travel, plus get access to the Global Lounge Collection). Terms Apply.
Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice:
Spirit Airlines Frequent Flyer program: The complete guide
9 unsung ways to earn airline miles for free
The free way to keep your free Spirit miles from expiring