(Video) Sunday Reader Question: Is the Spirit Airlines Mastercard Worth It?

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This week TPG reader Ron asks about Spirit Airlines:

“I have read nothing but negative reviews about Spirit, but I notice that they are offering a Mastercard with 15,000 bonus points after first spend and 1st year fee waived.  All transactions on card are 2X.  Their 9$ club is not included with the card and is an additional $50+. 

I went onto their site and saw that off-peak, staying in your zone which is about 1,300 miles will cost 5,000 points for a round trip.  I can do Ft. Lauderdale to Boston, Atlanta, Cancun, Baltimore or Atlantic City within the zone.

What is your opinion on applying for the card?”

I’ve never flown Spirit, but have heard pretty bad experiences across the board. That being said, they actually have a pretty impressive route map and after all- travel is really about getting you from point A to point B, right?
The current offer for the Bank of America Spirit MasterCard is 15,000-points with your first purchase, which is nice since so many cards these days have steep spend requirements.
15,000 points may seem low, but what sweetens the deal is that Spirit offers off-peak awards that start at 5,000 miles roundtrip.  This would allow you to fly from LGA to Fort Lauderdale 3 times off-peak with the sign-up bonus alone.When earning points with credit cards, many times you have to worry about the points expiring before you are able to redeem them. With the Spirit World MasterCard as long as you earn miles within the previous three months, your points will stay active so the smartest thing to do would be to make at least one purchase per month on the card to make sure there is not chance for your points to expire.

Another benefit is that that $49 annual fee is waived for the first year and being that is it a World Mastercard you can get a lot of great perks like primary rental car insurance.

Spirit Airlines award booking chart.

Some of the negative aspects of this program is that it can be confusing when trying to book trips and get the most value from your points. Spirit has 4 award tiers including off-peak, peak, standard and premium as well a bunch of different zones to choose from which makes figuring out how many points you need extremely difficult. Lastly, when booking travel you have to call and speak with a representative which is something I try to avoid as much as possible.

Their mileage expiration policy is pretty draconian as well “FREE SPIRIT Miles will expire when an account becomes inactive for a period of 3 months or more. An ‘inactive’ account is one that has no miles credited to it from any source during the preceding 3 months.” Using the credit card is an easy way to keep the miles active, but I have a hard time recommending a loyalty program that makes you jump through so many hoops to use your miles and then will try to expire them at the first chance possible.

I won’t be applying for this card anytime soon, but it might make sense for those who do fly Spirit and can redeem for off-peak awards.

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