Frontier Airlines Card Review: So-so, Unless You Earn the Voucher

The card earns 5 miles per dollar spent on purchases from Frontier, 3 miles per dollar at restaurants and 1 mile per dollar on all other purchases. The annual fee is $79.

Gregory KarpMarch 29, 2019

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Our Take

3.5

NerdWallet rating 

The bottom line: If you can earn the annual $100 flight voucher, you could make this card worthwhile. Otherwise, poor value and usefulness of rewards make this card a hard pass.

Frontier Airlines World Mastercard®

Frontier Airlines World Mastercard®

Annual Fee

$79

Regular APR

15.99% - 24.99% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% intro APR for 15 months on balance transfers made within 45 days of account opening.

Recommended Credit Score

Quick Facts

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Intro APR period on balance transfers

  • No foreign transaction fee

  • $100 flight voucher

Cons

  • Has annual fee

  • Low-value rewards

Alternate Pick: Flexible travel rewards

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

High point value, transfer partners

Earn 2 points back on travel and dining purchases, plus a generous welcome offer: Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Points take on more value when redeemed for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal, and you can transfer them to multiple airline and hotel partners. The annual fee is $95.

Read our review

Compare to Other Cards

Annual Fee

$95

Annual Fee

$550

Annual Fee

$250

Regular APR

15.99% - 22.99% Variable APR

Regular APR

16.99% - 23.99% Variable APR

Regular APR

See Pay Over Time APR

Rates & Fees

Intro APR

N/A

Intro APR

N/A

Intro APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score

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Full Review

The Frontier Airlines World Mastercard® is objectively a below-average airline credit card. Even so, it still could be worth getting if you’re an avid Frontier Airlines flyer.

The reason: Its yearly $100 flight voucher, if you earn it, covers the annual fee. So any other benefit you squeeze from the card is gravy.

Problem is, you’ll have to squeeze hard. You’ll get no free checked bags as you do with most airline cards that charge an annual fee. And the $100 itself is laden with fine print, like you can’t use it for bag fees or any of the discount airline’s other gotcha fees, such as seat assignment fees.

Key features of the Frontier Airlines World Mastercard®

Card type: Airline.

Annual fee: $79

Sign-up bonus: Earn 40,000 bonus miles after spending $500 on purchases in the first 90 days and paying the annual fee.

Rewards:

  • 5 miles per dollar spent on purchases from Frontier.

  • 3 miles per dollar at restaurants.

  • 1 mile per dollar on all other purchases.

NerdWallet values Frontier miles at 0.3 cent each. This is a baseline value, drawn from real-world data on hundreds of economy routes, not a maximized value. In other words, you should aim for award redemptions that offer 0.3 cent or more in value from your Frontier miles.

Frontier miles have a shorter shelf life than other airline miles. Miles expire after just six months if your frequent flyer account doesn't show activity. But if you make a purchase on your Frontier Airlines World Mastercard® at least once every six months, that counts as activity on your account and resets the clock on the expiration date.

APR: 0% intro APR for 15 months on balance transfers made within 45 days of account opening, and then the ongoing APR of 15.99% - 24.99% Variable APR.

Balance transfer fee: Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.

Foreign transaction fee: None.

Other benefits:

  • $100 flight voucher after every account anniversary after you spend $2,500 or more in net purchases during your card membership year.

  • Access to "Family Pooling" for sharing miles.

  • Priority boarding.

  • Progress toward elite status.

  • Miles won't expire with purchase.

Benefits of the Frontier Airlines World Mastercard®

Flight voucher (With caveats)

If you make $2,500 in purchases per year — averaging $208 per month — with your Frontier Airlines World Mastercard®, you'll earn a $100 Frontier Airlines flight voucher after your account anniversary, which more than makes up for the card’s annual fee.

That’s the end of the good news, though. Read the fine print and you’ll see that the voucher is good only toward Frontier airfare booked on the website. You can't use it to cover fees for checked bags, seat assignments, reservation changes or membership in the airline's Discount Den program. And if your ticket price is less than $100, you forfeit the remaining value. One more gotcha: The voucher expires in six months. To use it, you must book the flight before it expires, although the flight can take place after expiration.

Good Introductory offers

The card comes with a nice sign-up bonus: Earn 40,000 bonus miles after spending $500 on purchases in the first 90 days and paying the annual fee. Depending on where and when you travel, that could be worth a round-trip flight.

Unlike most airline cards, it also comes with 0% intro APR for 15 months on balance transfers made within 45 days of account opening, and then the ongoing APR of 15.99% - 24.99% Variable APR. Keep in mind that balance transfers don't earn miles.

Priority boarding

Airline credit cards with an annual fee typically come with some type of early boarding, so you can get settled and find space for your carry-on if you have one. With this Frontier Airlines card, you get Zone 2 boarding, meaning you generally get to board before passengers in Zone 3 and 4.

Progress toward elite status

With your card, you’ll earn 1 qualifying mile toward elite status with every $1 spent on purchases. The lowest elite tier is "Elite 20k," earned by accumulating 20,000 qualifying miles or 25 flight segments in the same calendar year. It includes such benefits as free seat assignments and a free carry-on bag. Normally, Frontier charges for these. (Even with Elite 20k status, you'll still have to pay for a checked bag, though.)

Downsides and alternatives

Locked into FRontier

This card makes sense only if you’re loyal to Frontier Airlines and regularly fly from an airport it serves. The usefulness of its rewards currency, Frontier Miles, is limited because the airline is relatively small, so it might not fly where you want to go. And it has no partner airlines that you can transfer miles to.

If you want more flexibility, a general travel credit card may be more appropriate for your lifestyle. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card earns 2 points back on travel and dining purchases, plus a rich welcome offer: Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Points can be redeemed for a variety of things, but they’re more valuable — worth 1.25 cents apiece — when redeemed for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal. You can book airline tickets, hotels, rental cars there. It's also possible to transfer your points to several airline and hotel partners. The annual fee is $95.

Low-value rewaRds

Frontier's miles are worth less than those of any other major U.S. airline, according to NerdWallet valuations.

NerdWallet values Frontier miles at 0.3 cent each.

So that means when you earn 5 miles per dollar spent with Frontier or 3 miles per dollar at restaurants, the rewards rate is far less than 5% or 3%.

You could earn high rewards in more categories with the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card. It earns 3 points per dollar spent on travel, dining, gas stations, rideshares and transit, and eligible streaming services. All non-bonus-category spending earns 1 point per dollar spent. Points are worth 1 cent apiece. And the card comes with a nice bonus offer.

Is the Frontier Airlines World Mastercard® right for you?

The Frontier Airlines World Mastercard® may be worth it if you’re able to fly Frontier on a regular basis. But most travelers will want to take a pass on this card and find a different airline credit card or general travel card that will better meet their needs and offer greater value.

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