How Did I Miss This? Change To Frontier Card Lets You Earn Top Tier Elite Status For 40% Less Spend

When American Airlines started counting credit card spending and other non-flight activity towards earning elite status, it was a huge sea change. But they weren’t the first to do it.

Frontier Airlines re-launched their credit card and their elite program four years ago and did something that at the time was revolutionary: a dollar spent on the card earned an elite qualifying mile. Last year Spirit Airlines did this as well.

But Frontier did something bigger in 2021 and somehow I missed it. All spend over 20,00 per calendar year counts double towards elite status now. Therefore earning status purely on card spend works as follows:

  • 20k status $20,000 spend
  • 50k status: $35,000 spend
  • 100k status: $60,000 spend

And mid-last year the bonus on the $89 annual fee Frontier Mastercard increased, too, to 50,000 miles after $500 in purchases within 90 days.

The first tier of elite status, available for $20,000 card spend in a year, or a combination of flying and card spend to earn 20,000 total qualifying miles, gets you:

  • Priority check-in, zone 1 boarding and priority security
  • Free carry on bag
  • Advance seat assignment, including extra legroom seats at check-in if available
  • Call center fees, close-in award booking fees, unaccompanied minor fees, same day confirmed change fees, standby fees all waived
  • Spend extra miles for last seat award availability

At the 50,000 mile level — achievable through flights or spend or a combination also now provides “family seating and seat assignment for the cardmember and eight travelling companions on the same reservation.”

Spend $60,000 on the card or fly 100,000 (or a combination) and receive ‘the WORKS’ bundle including up to 8 travel companions on the same reservation.

  • Free carry on bag
  • Free checked bag
  • Free seat selection including extra legroom seats
  • Free refunds and flight changes

Free refunds. No one matches that. You’re not going to get first class upgrades. Frontier doesn’t have a first class. They don’t have inflight internet either. They’re an ultra-low cost carrier. But they’re cheap to fly, and doubly so for elites who get many of those extra fees waived. So this is a strategically useful play for a certain type of customer.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. If you’re the kind of person who can spend $60,000 a year, you probably aren’t interested in flying Frontier Airlines even if the flights were straight up free.

  2. @Nate – you didn’t get the email to pay to extend your status through 2022? I did and gladly paid $99 to do it since that easily covers bag and seat fees on even one long, round trip flight.

    And for @Big Booty – I am lifetime elite on AA and DL with over 3 million miles on each and also retired plus financially set. I can certainly “afford” to fly any airline in any cabin I choose. However, if I can get flights to Denver or Las Vegas for practically nothing, especially with add on fees waived due to matched status, I’ll do it every time. I’d rather save my miles (and my money) for other, more enjoyable activities. I’ll gladly sit in their extra leg room seats in the first 3 rows for a 3-4 hour flight.

    Don’t knock it if you haven’t tried it.

  3. I just got the credit card last week, but don’t see this in their current terms. Where are you getting this info?

  4. I love that you mention that “they’re cheap to fly, and doubly so for elites who get many of those extra fees waived”. I’ve had no use flying Frontier in the past but with programs like this and the status match it really levels the playing field and makes them truly cheap. I don’t have elite status with any legacies, but I do have AA and UA’s credit cards. With the status match (I matched to 50k) I’m paying $40 roundtrip MCO-DFW for a carry on bag and an extra legroom seat. This makes it a nearly identical experience that I would get on AA except with more legroom at 1/4 of the price. Yes, their schedule/on time arrivals can be inconsistent, but for a leisure traveller it makes a lot of sense.

  5. Took a chance on Frontier, and they get a bad rap. I can fly round trip from ISP (Long Island) to MCO (Orlando) for less then the cost of a round trip Long Island Railroad ticket to NYC! And not had a late or disrupted flight to date. Got their 20K Elite status, and love it, and just last month got a Status Match offer and bought up to the 50K level for $69. Once you reach an Elite level, you get it for that year, but the entire following calendar year, so if you get it this month, its good for all this year AND 2023!

  6. I matched for status from my Marriott, $49. I fly whatever airline gets me there faster and cheaper. I am a frequent leisure traveler. I wish that they had better deals out of PIT. The match is worth it.

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