Spirit Airlines is making the route to free flights quicker for FREE SPIRIT World MasterCard cardholders by introducing a new award chart for credit cardholders with lower mileage thresholds. Cardholders can redeem roundtrip off-peak award tickets starting at 5,000 miles for flights up to 1,250 miles–Spirit’s award tickets normally start at 20,000 miles for a short-haul roundtrip. Off-peak dates occur throughout the year and include dates primarily in the fall and winter with some weeks before and after the Spring Break travel rush. Spirit is also introducing one-way awards, giving members more flexibility when booking awards. The airline reports that it reserves around 10 to 20 percent of its seats for awards and around 20,000 free tickets were given away last year.
New FREE SPIRIT MasterCard holders can earn a sign-up bonus of 15,000 bonus miles after first purchase and up to 10,000 miles for balance transfers made within 60 days after account opening. The $69 annual fee is waived for the first year. Cardholders also receive three miles per dollar spent on Spirit, one mile per dollar spent everywhere else, priority boarding and check in and complimentary membership in the $9 Fare Club with monthly usage of the card.
Bottom line: Spirit Airlines route network is limited primarily to vacation destinations in Florida, the Bahamas, Mexico and South America. Spirit’s new off-peak travel chart can save you up to 75 percent if you can be flexible with your travel dates and don’t plan to travel during the summer. Off-peak awards on longer routes are cheaper too but you won’t save as much as on short-haul flights. An off-peak award over 2,500 miles in distance is 25,000 miles roundtrip compared to the normal 40,000 miles roundtrip. You will need to be a Free Spirit MasterCard holder to take advantage of off-peak awards. The $69 fee isn’t too bad but you can find a better interest rate than the 14.24 percent to 17.24 percent rate this card offers elsewhere.