Complete Guide to the Free Spirit Program from Spirit Airlines Complete Guide to the Free Spirit Program from Spirit Airlines

Complete Guide to the Free Spirit Program from Spirit Airlines

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Cheap. No frills. Barebones. Ask someone about Free Spirit from Spirit Airlines, and these are the terms you will likely hear in response. For a low-cost carrier, none of these descriptors come as a shock. The same terms applied to Spirit's previous frequent flier program. By and large, that made sense, because Spirit fliers typically care most about one thing: cost. With Spirit Airlines’ new Free Spirit loyalty program, your Spirit Airlines points may finally be worth their weight.

Key Points

  • The new Free Spirit loyalty program launched on January 21, 2021.
  • Members earn “points” based on dollars spent, as opposed to “miles” flown.
  • Points expire after 12 months of inactivity.
  • Points never expire for Spirit Airlines credit cardholders.
  • Flight redemptions start as low as 2,500 points.
  • Pool points with up to eight others to book reward flights faster (limited to cardholders and elite members).
  • Members have the option to redeem as few as 1,000 points + cash for flight redemptions.

Complete Guide to the Free Spirit Program from Spirit Airlines

Under the terms of the new Free Spirit program, there are two different sets of points: Free Spirit Points and Free Spirit Status Qualifying Points (SQPs).

Free Spirit Points are the traditional frequent flier program currency. These are what get redeemed for flights or other partner redemptions.

Free Spirit Status Qualifying Points (SQPs) are the system through which members earn up to either Silver or Gold status. And, of course, each status tier comes with its own set of benefits.

Free Spirit Loyalty Program Member Tiers

The new Free Spirit program includes three status tiers for members. Tiers are determined entirely by SQPs earned. All members earn 1 Status Qualifying Point for each dollar spent on fares and fare add-ons.

Additionally, Free Spirit credit card holders can bolster their SQP earnings based on card spending. For each $10 spent, cardholders earn 1 Free Spirit Status Qualifying Point. There is no cap on the number of SQPs one can earn based on credit card spending. Thus, members could ensure they maintain top-tier Gold status based on credit card spending alone each year.

Member

Everyone starts out with baseline Member status. Members earn 6 points per dollar spent on fares and 12 points per dollar spent on what Spirit calls its À La Smarte options. These include things like checked bags and seat assignments.

Silver

Members who earn 2,000 SQPs with Spirit Airlines in a calendar year earn Free Spirit Silver status. Mid-tier status holders earn 8 points per dollar on fares and 16 points per dollar spent on À La Smarte options. Free Spirit Silver members also enjoy free seat selection, as well as complimentary expedited security and same-day standby. Plus, Silver status holders can pool points with others toward redemptions and avoid close-in redemptions fees that regular members have to pay.

Gold

True Spirit Airlines enthusiasts who earn 5,000 SQPs in a calendar year get rewarded with Free Spirit Gold status. Gold members earn 10 points per dollar spent on fares and 20 points per dollar spent on options. On top of all the Silver benefits, Gold members get a free carry-on and checked bag each flight, and they can select exit row seats for free. Gold status holders also enjoy complimentary Flight Flex, which allows travelers to modify their reservation once, free of charge, up to 24 hours before departure. In addition to all of this, Free Spirit Gold members are treated to free inflight beverages and snacks, as well.

Flight Redemptions

Once Free Spirit members have accumulated points, it's time to put them to use! To understand how much these points are worth, I've taken a sample of three separate routes on three separate days. These are all one-way, nonstop routes for the sake of simplicity. Below are three tables: one for cash prices, one for points costs, and one to show the approximate value of points (in cents).

Cash prices of sample Spirit Airlines flights:

RouteApril 23May 28August 22
BOS-FLL$57$143$175
DFW-ORD$60$80$137
LAS-BUR$22$43$170

Points redemption prices of the same flights:

RouteApril 23May 28August 22
BOS-FLL4,50015,0016,500
DFW-ORD5,0007,50012,500
LAS-BUR2,5003,00018,000

Cents per point values on sample redemptions:

RouteApril 23May 28August 22
BOS-FLL1.270.951.06
DFW-ORD1.201.071.10
LAS-BUR0.881.430.94

A couple of things stand out from these charts. First, the route with the greatest variation in price also has the greatest variation in points value. Flights between Las Vegas and Burbank cost anywhere from $22 to $170 on the three dates searched. Similarly, Free Spirit points might be worth anywhere from 0.9 cents each to over 1.4 cents each for those very same dates. For this specific sampling of flights, points were worth about 1.1 cents each on average.

Second, the new Free Spirit program advertises that Spirit Airlines flight redemptions start as low as 2,500 points. Sure enough, we found pricing that low on April 23 from Las Vegas to Burbank.

However, we also found other flights that were more expensive than $22 that were also available for 2,500 points. This means that the points redemption floor of 2,500 points could potentially limit the value of Spirit points.

Points + Cash Redemptions

Free Spirit members now enjoy the opportunity to split flight costs between points and cash. This could be useful for travelers looking to lighten their out-of-pocket costs yet lack big points balances. However, expect to get less for your points under this redemption option. Using the same flights as earlier, I was able to calculate an approximate value for these points plus cash options as well:

RouteApril 23May 28August 22
BOS-FLL0.720.660.74
DFW-ORD0.720.660.74
LAS-BUR0.330.830.66

Immediately, it's clear that the points value for points plus cash redemptions doesn't measure up to the average value for a standard redemption. Again, the low-cost Las Vegas to Burbank flight on April 23 remains an outlier. In general, it appears that utilizing the points plus cash option in the Free Spirit program means your points will be worth only 60% – 70% of a regular Spirit Airlines flight redemption.

Credit Card Boost

Spirit Airlines fans can boost their Free Spirit experience by holding a Spirit Airlines credit card. Specifically, the Free Spirit® Travel More MasterCard® packs a strong punch. Apart from the SQP earning potential, cardholders enjoy the following benefits:

Complete Guide to the Free Spirit Program from Spirit Airlines

Avid Spirit Airlines fliers should jump at the welcome offer: Earn 60,000 Bonus Points + a $100 Companion Flight Voucher when you apply online and after making at least $1,000 in purchases within the first 90 days of account opening. The annual fee is just $79 (waived for the first year).

In a year where opportunities to fly are complex and prone to changes of plans, this Spirit Airlines credit card lets holders maintain status for the following year through spending alone. Travelers expecting a busy travel schedule might benefit from spending their way to Gold status now, in order to reap rich rewards through next year.

Even if your travel plans don't envision you accumulating massive points balances, this credit card may still work in your favor. Cardholders enjoy the opportunity to pool points with up to eight others for redemptions. Plus, cardholders' Free Spirit points never expire. This way, members who earn points at a slower pace won't have to worry about losing what they've already earned.

Our Take

How impactful were the changes that Spirit Airlines made to its new loyalty program, Free Spirit? That depends on what you value as a traveler.

If Spirit covers everywhere you want to fly, it could just be the airline for you. Free Spirit Gold status comes with a number of valuable perks to make a notoriously no-frills experience quite the opposite. Free bags, free exit row seats, free snacks and drinks, and free trip modifications flesh out the flying experience.

Plus, redemptions start at just 2,500 for a one-way trip or 1,000 points plus cash for the same. This lets travelers reap rewards from the new Free Spirit program very quickly.

On the other hand, onlookers may view these changes as too little to attract their loyalty. Others may simply value not feeling “locked in” to a particular airline. For the same $50,000 of spend on the Spirit More Travel Mastercard required to earn Gold status, one could earn 100,000 Citi ThankYou Points by spending on the Citi® Double Cash Card. Those 100,000 points are worth at least $1,000, which could more than cover the cash cost of 50,000 points worth of Spirit Airlines travel — including all of the perks of Free Spirit Gold status. This would also allow for more flexibility since there would be nothing tying you to flying Spirit if a different airline has more attractive flight options.

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