Dirt cheap award prices. If you’re willing to find dates and flights that have ‘off-peak’ awards you can fly for as few as 2,500 miles one way. You’ll get socked with fees, but even factoring them in, these awards can be a very good deal if you play it right.
Double miles on all purchases. This lets you get to a cheap award fast. But be aware that during more popular times, the price in miles you’ll pay can inflate to much more than you’re used to paying with other airlines, plus fees.
Fees, fees, and more fees. Spirit is all about charging you separately for as much as it can. So expect to pay for any bag you bring beyond a small purse or backpack, and even for a seat assignment. But if you do your homework and the match before you book your flight, you can get away with dirt cheap flights.
It’s Spirit. Spirit isn’t the greatest airline in the world when something goes wrong. They don’t have as many flights as the big airlines, so if you get stuck, it could be a while. And they will try to charge you along the way for things you’re used to getting as part of your ticket on other airlines.
Spirit Airlines is a no-frills, budget travel airline that prides itself on having basic, low-fare travel that can cost up to 40% lower than other airlines, and the Spirit MasterCard offers some very cheap redemption options, if you don’t mind planning ahead and can deal with flying Spirit.
As with any airline credit card, this card is best for people who will be flying out of one of the Spirit Airline hubs, such as Dallas, Chicago, Fort Lauderdale, Houston, Minneapolis, Detroit, and Los Angeles. You can find all the places Spirit will fly using their Route Map.
This card can offer some great redemption values (as low as 2,500 miles for a one-way ticket), but there are a few BIG caveats you must consider.
There are additional fees charged when booking your flight within 179 days or less. And fares ONLY include one personal carry on item (think a small purse), and all other bags cost extra (plus many other fees). Also, there is no in-flight WiFi or video entertainment provided, and the basic seats don’t recline.
And the best redemption values are only during “off-peak” dates, which are listed here, and even then many flights won’t have seats at those prices, but it’s not impossible to find them.
If you’re willing to work and navigate their rewards to find flights that work for you, then this card may fit your needs.
Those looking for a straightforward rewards program with less limitations should NOT get this credit card. Spirit airlines can offer great deals, but if you don’t want to deal with the hassle of off-peak flights and fees for any extras, this card is NOT for you.
Using your Spirit Miles requires you to go over their award chart. The awards are distance-based, meaning the further you fly, the more miles it will cost.
Also, when you are a Spirit Airlines MasterCard holder, you get access to the “Off-Peak” redemption values, which can be far less than the “Standard”, “Peak”, and “Premium” rates that non-cardholder must use. See the chart below for details:
This chart will need to be paired with the dates of your travel, to determine whether you are traveling during Off-Peak, Standard or Peak dates. See current dates listed below:
Let’s look at a few example flight redemptions:
Keep in mind, if you do NOT have the Spirit Airlines MasterCard, the best redemption value you can get is the “Standard” redemption, which means your trip would look like this:
As you can see, the miles redemption values are great for cardholders, and fees aren’t too bad when traveling internationally either.
But be aware the fees above are just the fees for the flight, not the fees for bags or other ‘extras’ that are standard on most other airlines.
As for availability, the best Off-Peak rewards values were few and far between. You would need to be flexible with your flights to take full advantage of the value provided with the off-peak travel redemptions.
As you can see above, the basic fees are reasonable. Now if these were booked within 179 days of the flight, there are additional fees tacked on (to any redemption).
Here’s how the fees break down by booking date:
There are also a host of other fees if you need any “extras” for your flight. Here’s a few of them:
You can find all the fees listed here.
Spirit actually has a decent flight map (see below). But flights are sparse unless you’re in a Spirit airlines hub or focus city. These include:
If you’re NOT at a Spirit hub, there will only be a few flights available, and sometime the flights are not available daily. You can review the latest flight map and timetable listed here.
If you’re traveling internationally, Ft. Lauderdale and Houston are the main hubs, and most international flights will go through one of those cities.
BE AWARE: Spirit Airlines is not always as “on-time” as other major airlines, and doesn’t offer as many flights per day as other airlines, so you will need to keep this in mind when booking flight plans that have connecting flights scheduled within them. Spirit even has a recommended connecting flight time buffer that they tell you to build into your multi-flight plans.
You can see an example table on the December timetable. This is a minimum guideline, and we recommend doubling that time, as Spirit does have a reputation of being more “relaxed” with their actual arrival times.
The Spirit Airlines MasterCard gives you 2x miles on ALL purchases. This means you can earn miles twice as fast. But is this really a good deal?
Here are a few flight comparisons to see if you can earn a free Spirit flight vs. a free flight on another carrier.
Spirit Airlines – Chicago to Las Vegas roundtrip in September – 10,000 miles (= $5,000 in spending to earn 10,000 miles)
American Airlines – Chicago to Las Vegas roundtrip in September – 25,000 miles (= $25,000 in spending to earn 25,000 miles)
Spirit Airlines – Dallas to Los Cabos roundtrip in September – 5,000 miles (= $2,500 in spending to earn 5,000 miles)
American Airlines – Dallas to Los Cabos roundtrip in September – 30,000 miles (= $30,000 in spending to earn 30,000 miles
As you can see, the double miles can get you to an award quickly if you can find Off Peak or Standard awards. Again, keep in mind the flight limitations and fees with Spirit, but for a basic flight, the potential of this card is decent.
Spirit has some really low fares, and using Spirit miles can net you free travel for very little points. Let’s compare that to a few other popular rewards cards that let you book any airline, including Spirit, to see how the Spirit Airlines MasterCard stacks up.
Dallas to Los Cabos roundtrip in September – Spirit Miles – 5,000 miles + $102.49 in taxes/fees or $260 Cash
Fort Lauderdale to Aruba roundtrip in September (only flights on Saturdays) – Spirit Miles – 5,000 miles + $69.56 in taxes/fees or $228 cash
Chicago to Las Vegas roundtrip in September – Spirit Miles – 10,000 miles + $11.20 in taxes/fees or $245 cash
As you can see, for Spirit Airlines flights, using the Spirit Airlines MasterCard would get you the best redemption value by far. You will need to pay the taxes and fees, but the amount of spending needed to get the required amount of Spirit Miles is significantly lower than other cards.
Flying Spirit Airlines is not for everyone. But if you decide to take advantage of their low cost travel, the Spirit Airlines MasterCard is a great value. With 15,000 bonus miles and 2x miles on all purchases, you can quickly earn enough to fly a few times a year using their rewards if you’re flexible and patient.
*The Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® is no longer available.
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