The New Spirit Airlines Frequent Flyer Program Is Live, With New Details. I’ve Gone Ahead And Joined.

Award Wallet tells me that I’m a member of more than 70 travel loyalty programs. Until now I haven’t been a member of the Spirit Airlines Free Spirit program. I’ve now joined – because the relaunched Spirit Airlines Free Spirit program starts today and it’s a real improvement.

The biggest change for me is that they no longer have 90 day points expiration, which combined with relatively low value awards, made the value proposition not worth it to me even though I’ve flown the airline and their Big Front Seat is one of the best deals in travel.

Spirit outlined their new program in the fall but now there’s greater detail since the program has launched, specifically around the co-brand credit card and the value of points.

Here are the key elements, though you can read my earlier discussion of the program specifics for more:

  • Revenue-based earn and redemption: earning 6 points per dollar for general members, 8 for Silver, 10 for Gold on airfare – and double those point amounts for bags and seats and redeeming those points roughly based on the price of a ticket.
  • 12 month expiration extendable with account activity rather than 90 days
  • Earn status with both airline and credit card spend, and a meaningful Gold elite level: one change without fee; free carry-on and first checked bag; free seat selection at booking (including exit rows), and free inflight drink and snack.
  • Points pooling, elites can create the account and include non-status members

The biggest detail that’s new is around the card’s Bank of America co-brands.

New Credit Card

Spirit’s new premium Mastercard makes sense for customers who want to earn elite status with the carrier. A frequent Spirit customer earning Gold status can really save money on airline fees thanks to seat assignments, free bags, and a free change plus inflight snack and drink.

And earning that status’ required 5000 points on credit card spend alone is possible since every $10 spent earns a status point, so $50,000 spend alone is enough for Gold status. Of course you can combine points from flying Spirit and from card spend.

The new card offers 40,000 points and a $100 companion ticket after $1000 spend in 90 days, and its $79 annual fee is waived the first year. So that’s a pretty good offer right out of the gate, if you want to travel on Spirit. You earn another companion ticket each year you spend $5000 on the card. Plus your points don’t expire and redemption fees are waived.

They’re keeping the base card in addition to this new card. Here’s a comparison:

Value Of Points

When Spirit first announced their program in October they were unwilling to commit to how much each point would be worth. Now that the program is live anyone can do the math. So in addition to flagging that redemptions begin at just 2500 points – they like to talk up how many one way tickets you can book with a 40,000 point bonus, for instance – they were willing to share what this would mean in the context of a revenue-based program.

The value of points won’t be a static formula, like we have with Southwest, with each point worth just about 1.3 cents apiece towards base airfare. Instead redemption prices will vary, but roughly track fares. A 2500 point redemption will generally be against a roughly $40 ticket.. which isn’t uncommon on Spirit.

Spirit Airlines tells me that on average you’ll see each point worth 1 to 1.5 cents apiece towards airfare, though there will be redemptions that fall outside of this range.

Completes Spirit’s Transformation

One additional feature of the new program is Yellow Glove Concierge Service for cardmembers, Golds and Silvers, and Savers Club members – dedicated phone numbers and trained agents, making it easier to do business with the airline.

This isn’t revolutionary, in fact most airlines offer some form of elevated customer service for customers who are frequent flyers, frequent spenders, or who in this case commit up front with a club membership.

However it may be most significant as a symbol of the airline’s completion of its transition away from the Ben Baldanza era, which they began by focusing on improved operational reliability. At the old Spirit low costs and low fares were all that mattered, they even bragged that they didn’t staff their twitter account for customer service to save money. Now they want to provide reliable transportation not just cheap transportation, and an overall package of value.

Is The New Spirit Airlines Free Spirit Program Worthwhile?

Free Spirit’s program is a way to engage Spirit Airlines customers. And their Gold elite level makes travel less costly and more seamless, frankly making the Spirit Airlines experience less annoying. I wouldn’t consider Spirit’s program ‘better’ than those of competitors, but it’s better than before and now a meaningful complement to travel on Spirit.

That’s an interesting contrast to many other airlines, by the way, where the loyalty program is worthwhile independent of the airline. Here you’ll earn and burn with Spirit rather than, in most cases, with partners.

Joining the program and earning with it makes sense when you’re flying Spirit, and it makes it easier to fly frequently with Spirit. That’s a good thing. And Spirit recognizes the importance of cultivating its high frequency customers, and that co-brand credit card customers are just as important as their most frequent flyers.

Join the program, use it to credit Spirit Airlines flights to, and even consider being more likely to fly Spirit as a result of the new program. It’s not where you want to bank your miles for aspirational trips, but you are receiving a fare rebate value for your spend with the airline.

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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. And in related news, stay at home travel blogger succumbs to COVID cabin fever. I’ll say a prayer for you at synagogue.

    I know that frequent flyers that are reading are scratching their heads right now. I’m trying not to be emotional about this post. 😉

  2. @ Gary — Spirit definitely can be a great value for specific trips. We have flown them on occasion, and I will again after I have 10 COVID vaccines and my MAGA hat arrives in the mail.

  3. The problem with Spirit’s mileage prpgram has always been that you end up on Spirit Airlines.

    If they don’t have both the worst service and comfort for a US airline I don’t know who does. Having said that I’ve always avoided Allegiant so they could be worse.

    Then you have the teensy issue of the charming and effervescent clientele that Spirit attracts…

  4. No thanks. After all the horror stories from people I know personally, you could not PAY me to fly Spirit.

    Friends don’t let friends fly Spirit.

  5. I’ve already scoped out some real sweet spots in the awards chart. Atlanta-Biloxi off peak for 50,000 miles. 10% rebate if you don’t assault the staff.

  6. Ask yourself whether your own spirit matches the cheapness and lowness of Spirit Airlines.

    If it doesn’t, then stay far away from Spirit Airlines or any other ULCC (recommended).

  7. I’ve flown Spirit many times and I have never had a major issue. The biggest issue isn’t that they attract certain racial or political groups some of the commentators would judge people by. It’s that they attract irregular or in-frequent flyers. The large family from Pakistan that don’t speak English and can’t figure out the extra fees at check-in. The gate lice that have never boarded an aircraft before, the once a decade flyer going to vegas, etc. I like the fact that they sell stuff on the plane. This limits the drink and snack service to only a couple of minutes during the flight and the FA’s leave everyone alone after that. I think the big front seats are a good deal and frankly, the other seats aren’t that much worse than the AA Oasis config, etc. I’ve had worse seats on Delta and Frontier in my experiences. Spirit has one of the youngest aircraft fleets in the USA and reliability has gotten much better with Spirit over the years. They will continue to grow much like Southwest has. The new loyalty program isn’t that great but it’s an improvement over the old one I think. Once they fix their award seat reservations so you can connect further to other non-hub destinations I will like it much better.

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