Spirit Airlines New Loyalty Program Offers Big Points on Extras
The revamped Free Spirit® loyalty program completely changes the way you earn rewards.
Spirit Airlines has steadily grown in popularity, but its Free Spirit® loyalty program has largely remained the same over the years. That's about to change. The ultra-low-cost carrier will launch an all-new version of the Free Spirit® program on Jan. 21, 2021, with more rewards for its frequent flyers.
The big news is that you'll now earn rewards on extra add-ons, known as A La Smarte options. Depending on your status, these extras are worth between 12 and 20 points per $1 spent.
On the other hand, you'll no longer earn rewards based on the number of miles you travel. That's a change some travelers may not like. Here's a full breakdown of how many points you'll earn with Spirit Airlines and details on what else to expect.
Earning points in the new Free Spirit® program
The points you earn with Spirit Airlines' new loyalty program are based entirely on how much you spend. Previously, you earned miles based on mileage traveled: a base rate of 50% of your miles traveled or 100% if you were an Elite or VIP member.
The new program offers points for every dollar you spend. That includes fares and A La Smarte options, such as carryon bags, checked bags, and upgraded seats. Here's what you'll earn by status tier for each type of purchase:
|Type of purchase||Member (base rate)||Silver status||Gold status|
|Fare||6 points per $1||8 points per $1||10 points per $1|
|A La Smarte options||12 points per $1||16 points per $1||20 points per $1|
If you tend to buy extras when you fly with Spirit Airlines, you'll probably earn more points than before. However, travelers who have mastered the art of flying with just a backpack and never tack on extras might not be so fortunate.
For example, I searched for flights from Houston to Las Vegas in February to test out the new points system. That route is listed as 1,222 miles. Under the old program, it'd be worth 611 miles at the base rate of 50% of miles traveled.
I found flights starting at $56.09. At the new base rate of 6 points per $1, that's 337 points. You'd get 274 fewer points/miles than before. But if you add a $37 carryon that earned 12 points per $1, you'd get another 444 points. That would put you at 781 points for the trip.
You can redeem points for flights with Spirit Airlines, but not for any A La Smarte add-ons. Reward redemptions will start at 2,500 points. You can also redeem a combination of points and cash starting with as few as 1,000 points.
There's currently not enough information available to gauge how much Spirit Airlines points will be worth. According to Spirit Airlines, redemption levels will be based on fares.
Under Spirit's previous miles system, the value of miles depended on how you used them. Some redemptions would get you less than $0.005 per mile, while others could get you as much as $0.02 per mile.
The upcoming Spirit Airlines credit cards
Spirit will also update its travel credit cards, but it will continue to partner with Bank of America. All Spirit Airlines cards will offer:
- A 25% rebate on in-flight food and drink purchases
- Zone 2 shortcut boarding
- Points that don't expire as long as the card account is open
- The option to create a Points Pool with up to eight other Free Spirit® members
Certain cards will also feature:
- Bonus points on Spirit purchases
- No redemption fees
- The opportunity to earn a companion voucher good for up to $100 off a companion's flight
At a glance, this looks like a solid list of benefits. We'll need more details, including each card's annual fee and rewards rate, to see how it compares with the top credit cards.
New Free Spirit® features and perks
There will be quite a few other changes with the new Free Spirit® program. These are the highlights:
- A more customer-friendly expiration policy: Perhaps the most frustrating part of the old loyalty program was that miles expired every three months unless you earned new miles within that timeframe. Under the new system, your points won't expire if you've earned or redeemed any in the past year. If you have a Spirit Airlines credit card, points won't expire as long as it remains open.
- An updated savings club: The $9 Fare Club will become the Spirit Saver$ Club. New benefits include savings on A La Smarte options and 18- and 24-month memberships.
- New elite status tiers: Silver status requires 2,000 Status Qualifying Points (SQPs) and Gold status requires 5,000. You'll earn 1 SQP per $1 spent with Spirit Airlines and 1 SQP per $10 spent with an eligible Spirit Airlines credit card. These status tiers include a range of extra benefits, such as free seat selection either at the time of check-in or booking.
Major changes to the Free Spirit® program
The Free® Spirit program updates should make it much more useful and competitive with other airline loyalty programs.
Some changes might not be for everyone. Earning points based on how much you spend could irk those who travel light and only pay for the base fare. But if you purchase any add-ons, those will earn you lots of bonus points. Since just about everything outside of a seat and a personal item is considered an extra with Spirit Airlines, you'll have plenty of chances to boost your rewards.
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