Spirit goes revenue-based, makes elite status easier with new Free Spirit program

Today, Spirit Airlines has announced a total overhaul to its Free Spirit loyalty program. We had a chance to sit down and chat (virtually) with some of their executives yesterday about the new program. It is clear that they are excited about the changes. Very excited. And despite not providing an answer to the most important question about the new program (What will points be worth?), they were adamant that the new program will provide more value than ever before and that we will validate that when it launches on January 21, 2021. They were in fact so adamant about the fact that we would independently validate their claims that they wanted nobody to doubt whether I’d drunk the kool aid. Instead, they sent me a Free Spirit mug so that I could wake up and smell the coffee about Free Spirit.

Not even kidding. This was my morning coffee.

I am far from convinced that the new program will be a good value (which is bolstered by their reticence to give us any answer, hint, or example as to the value of points in the new program), but on the other hand I think it is possible (and if I’m being fair I think probable) that this program may become the best domestic airline program for a primarily leisure / value traveler who primarily travels routes served by Spirit. There are a lot of qualifications in that sentence, but the truth is that I do see a place in the market for their program. Unfortunately, while there will be some potentially exciting developments in the credit card space, the problem that will likely keep me from recommending their credit card (at least initially) is that this appears to be an entirely revenue-based model program. With no clue as to the value of points for a redemption until you redeem (indeed I expect it will be entirely variable), it will be hard to recommend collecting their points via credit card. Still, I’ll leave room for the chance that this turns out to be as good a change as they are selling it to be.

Key changes to the new Free Spirit coming on January 21, 2021

The key changes coming to Free Spirit as of January 21, 2021 as I see them are:

  • “Miles” will become “points”. Any existing miles you have will convert to points at a ratio of 1:1 and moving forward from January 21st, you will earn “points”.
  • Redemptions will start at 2500 points for all members and will be based on the cash fare (no word on the value of points)
  • Points & cash redemptions will be possible using as few as 1000 points
  • Points won’t expire as long as you earn or redeem once a year (credit card holders’ points will not expire as long as their accounts remain active)
  • Earning will be revenue-based (base members earn 6x fare and 12x on add-ons like seat selection, bags, etc. Silver members earn 8x / 16x and Gold members earn 10x / 20x)
  • Elite status will be revamped (with some decent benefits) and relatively easy to attain (with $2K / $5K Spirit spend or $20K / $50K credit card spend)

Revenue-based earning structure in new Free Spirit program

As noted above, in the new program members will earn points based on spend rather than distance flown.

Base members will earn 6x points on base fares and 12x for add-ons like seat selection and bags.

Silver members will earn 8x on base fares and 16x on extras.

Gold members will earn 10x on base fares and 20x on extras.

I actually view this as an awesome development for rewards card enthusiasts: I have a bunch of cards in my wallet that can rebate airline incidental spend. With Spirit, those add-ons can make up the majority of the cost of a ticket. I’d be happy to be earning 12x or more on the parts of the trip that are rebated by my credit card.

New Free Spirit Elite status levels and benefits

The only known Spirit Airlines Amenity Kit in existence :-). Sorry, you won’t get this as an elite member.

In the new program, the two levels of Spirit Airlines elite status will be Silver and Gold.

Every member will earn 1 SQP (status qualifying point) per $1 spent on fares and A La Smarte options (seats/bags/etc). Eligible credit card holders earn 1 SQP per $10 spent on their Spirit Airlines credit cards.

Benefits and requirements will be as follows:

Free Spirit Silver status

Requirements: 2,000 SQP ($2K spent on Spirit Airlines or $20K spent on a Spirit Airlines credit card or a combination of the two)

-Earn 8x on base fares
-Earn 16x on A La Smarte options
-Free shortcut security (where available) and boarding
-Free same-day standby
-Free seat selection at check-in
-Dedicated Guest care phone line
-Ability to create a Points Pool
-No redemption fees

Free Spirit Gold status

Requirements: 5,000 SQP ($5K spent on Spirit Airlines or $50K spent on a Spirit Airlines credit card or a combination of the two)

-Earn 8x on base fares
-Earn 16x on A La Smarte options
-All Silver benefits
-Free Flight Flex
-Free carry-on and first checked bag
-Free seat selection at booking (including exit rows)
-A free inflight beverage and snack and…

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