I have been planning on writing the guide to Spirit Air Free Spirit frequent mile program for quite a while, but there has always been something. Better deals, better airlines, and then on the other end of the spectrum, devaluations, mergers, and other heartbreaks. Spirit Air is so juvenile with their marketing antics, and so honest and unapologetic about their no-frills service, that it’s almost endearing. And let’s not forget the Spirit CEO’s unfortunate response to a customer’s complaint that — instead of staying behind the thick walls of their corporate headquarters — found its way back to the complainer. Oops, itchy fingers!
Please respond, Pasquale, but we owe him nothing as far as I’m concerned. Let him tell the world how bad we are. He’s never flown us before anyway and will be back when we save him a penny.
Well, the poor sap should be grateful he didn’t receive a picture of a naked girl with an airplane up her.. OK, moving on.
When I saw this ad, I knew the time was ripe for my guide. No more excuses! Here is the gist. And you must watch the video. It’s hilarious!
Spirit Airlines is offering 8,000 miles for telling them how much you hate an airline. That’s right, any airline including theirs! Just write a tweet-sized message, send it over, and you’re done. Of course, Spirit-haters will not forget to point out that Free Spirit miles are only good to redeem on magazines. At least, Gary Leff from the View from the Wing (HT) believes so, and here is his reasoning.
Why I Won’t Even Bother:
- Spirit’s miles expire after 90 days of inactivity unless you have their co-branded credit card and charge to it every month (although presumably charging somewhat less frequently can meet the 90 day requirement).
- Some airlines have close-in redemption fees. Spirit’s fees start within180 days of travel.
- They do not have redemption partners. The reward for traveling on Spirit is… more travel on Spirit.
Is Gary wrong about this? Well, yes and no. Don’t get me wrong: I
hate, despise, dislike Spirit Air as much as the next guy. If you’ve read my flagship Travel Free book, the BoA Free Spirit credit card is nowhere in the first-year App-o-Ramas I recommend to my readers. But as a travel hacker, I cannot dismiss a great opportunity when I see it, so here is why I believe Gary is wrong–not about Spirit Air in general, but about dismissing its great potential for bargain-seekers.
Please note, in this series I am not even touching their famous (or infamous, depending which way you look at it) $9 Fare Club. Not because it doesn’t warrant looking into, but because I am against spending money on something you can have for free. And besides you will need the cash to upgrade when you fly Spirit (I’ll explain).
This is why I believe Gary is wrong.
1. That the Spirit’s miles expire after 90 days of inactivity is a bummer, but not a game changer. You put a recurring charge on your BoA credit card (I charge Netflix), and it takes care of this issue all by itself.
2. Close-in redemption fees?
Here are Spirit award redemption fees (per roundtrip):
- $0 (No Fee) – Award ticket requested at least 180 days prior to departure
- $15 – Award ticket requested between 21 and 179 days prior to departure
- $75 – Award ticket requested between 7 and 20 days prior to departure
- $100 – Award ticket requested 6 days or less prior to departure
Well, fees are never pleasant, but don’t American, United and US Air all impose a $75-fee for booking within 21 days of your departure? I just don’t see it as an issue.
3. No partners–yeah, you got me there. Well, of course, there is still Spirit… 🙁
And unless you have their co-brand credit card (not worth the hard pull on your credit) 8000 miles won’t get you much. And you don’t want to earn with their partners — like their dining program — since that means not earning with another program (there’s an opportunity cost). Plus when you fly Spirit… well, they could give you a million miles and still come out ahead on their fees.
Well, he’s right about two things and wrong about the third. I fully agree that you shouldn’t ever try and earn Spirit miles other than when it costs you nothing. Well, unless you are working toward a particular goal. And it’s true that without the BoA credit card, the Spirit’s miles are totally worthless.
However, as to how “it isn’t worth a hard pull”, let’s think about it just a little.
The BoA Spirit Air credit card comes with no annual fee for the first year and a 15,000-mile bonus after the first purchase. In addition, the deal from this post could give you 8,000 more. If you spend $2K more, you are at 25,000 miles. Where can 25,000 Free Spirit miles take you?
How about five roundtrip tickets? Well, up to five roundtrip tickets, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
We will talk more about Spirit Award chart in my next post. For now here are the basics.
The award redemption rates for credit card holders start at 2,500 per segment or 5,000 per roundtrip. The Spirit online award booking engine is excellent and easy to use. And if you live in or near Miami/Fort Lauderdale…
The lowest Spirit’s redemption rates are unambiguously called Free Spirit Master Card, and contrary to what you might have heard about the lack of availability, finding these awards is completely possible (please trust the guy who has done it on more than one occasion–me!). In fact, I would put Spirit award availability a tad above Delta Skymiles, but, again, it gets much better if you are close to FLL. I’ll go as far as to say that if you are based in or near FLL, yet not using Spirit, you are missing out big time!
Spirit Air also flies to Central and even South America (Peru and Colombia), but finding the lowest awards to these countries is tough. I could only find three awards to Medeline and two to Lima. And I looked till June.
Still, they do exist, although I haven’t found any Saver awards for the flights back.
For some routes, Spirit may rival British Avios in terms of a bargain. Take a look at these routes. Your credit card bonus can buy you three roundtrip flights between these destinations.