Earn easy miles with the Free Spirit Dining program
Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information.
Miles earned through the Free Spirit loyalty program expire every 12 months that your account goes without activity.
But what if you don't fly Spirit each year? Fortunately, there are several easy ways to keep Spirit Airlines miles from expiring without flying. One of those is through Free Spirit Dining.
Like most other airlines and hotels, Spirit offers a dining rewards program. With Free Spirit Dining, members can effortlessly earn bonus miles when dining out. These are on top of any points you might earn from spending on your credit card.
Here's everything you need to know about the Free Spirit Dining program.
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Free Spirit Dining overview
The Free Spirit Dining program lets you earn up to 5 bonus miles per dollar spent at participating restaurants, bars and clubs. These miles are in addition to the rewards you’d normally earn with your credit card or the restaurant’s rewards program. Plus, any earning activity through Free Spirit Dining is enough to keep your Spirit miles from expiring for 12 more months.
Enrollment is required, but it's free to join and your membership will stay active as long as you have at least one qualifying activity every 36 months. You'll need to link at least one card so that the program can track when you dine at participating establishments and award you miles.
Related: How to keep Spirit Airlines miles from expiring
How to join Free Spirit Dining
Free Spirit Dining is available to all Free Spirit members. To join, go to the Free Spirit Dining website and click the "Join now" button. You’ll need to provide your Free Spirit number, some basic personal information (name, contact information, etc.) and link at least one credit or debit card.
You can only link each card to one dining program. So, if you have a Chase Sapphire Reserve card, for instance, you can't link it to both Free Spirit Dining and AAdvantage Dining.
You'll also be asked if you would like to opt in to receive email communications. Although no one likes unnecessary marketing emails, you should do so as it will boost your earning rate significantly. If you don't initially opt in, you can do so later by logging in to your Free Spirit Dining account and toggling your email preferences on the profile page.
Related: Can I earn miles from 2 dining programs at the same time?
How to earn miles with Free Spirit Dining
Since your account is linked to your credit card, you'll automatically earn miles when you dine at a participating establishment and pay with that card. You don't need to give the restaurant your frequent flyer number or submit photos of receipts. You'll earn points based on your final transaction amount, including taxes, fees and tip.
Spirit offers a 1,000-mile welcome bonus for new members who spend $30 or more at participating restaurants within the first 30 days of joining and write an online review within 30 days of the visit. You must also opt in to receive emails to earn the bonus. TPG values Spirit miles at 1.1 cents each, meaning this new member bonus equals $11 back.
Your earning rate depends on your membership tier in the program:
- Members: Earn 1 mile per $2 spent if you elect not to receive email communication from Free Spirit Dining.
- Online members: Earn 3 miles per dollar spent if you elect to receive email communication from Free Spirit Dining.
- VIP members: Earn 5 miles per dollar spent if you elect to receive email communication from Free Spirit Dining and have already completed 11 qualified transactions in the calendar year. You’ll start earning at the VIP level on your 12th qualified transaction.
Based on TPG's valuation of Spirit points at 1.1 cents apiece, earning 5 miles per dollar spent would get you a 5.5% return on your spending. Meanwhile, 3 points per dollar spent would equate to a 3.3% return. These are solid returns and a great way to keep your miles from expiring.
You can find a list of participating restaurants by searching on the website. You can search for restaurants near your city or ZIP code by name or cuisine. You can also filter by price, establishment type, features and more. Note that some restaurants do not participate in the rewards program every day of the week.
Miles will appear in your Free Spirit Dining account as soon as the transaction is finalized by the restaurant, which is usually within five days. The miles should post to your main Free Spirit account within one to two weeks.
Related: Are ultra-low-cost airlines’ credit cards worth having?
Can you earn miles from multiple dining programs at the same time?
There are dining programs affiliated with most major U.S. airlines and hotel chains like Hilton and IHG. Most of them are operated by the same company, Rewards Network.
While you can have accounts with each of the programs, you can only enroll each debit or credit card with one Rewards Network-operated dining rewards program at a time. Each of these programs offers distinct promotions and slightly different earning structures, so you'll want to choose the one that makes the most sense for you.
If you plan on using multiple dining rewards programs, remember to use a different card for each one. If you accidentally register your card with a second program, it will automatically be removed from Free Spirit Dining.
That said, you can still double dip through other dining and restaurant loyalty programs like Seated. You'll also still earn the rewards you’d normally earn from your credit card spending.
Related: Earn bonus points on takeout with these dining rewards programs
Which cards to use with Free Spirit Dining
Since the miles you earn with the Free Spirit Dining program are in addition to your credit card rewards, you'll want to use a card that maximizes your spending on dining. Fortunately, there are lots of cards that offer bonus points at restaurants. Here are some of the best currently available cards to consider:
- American Express® Gold Card: 4 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent at restaurants worldwide, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
- American Express® Green Card: 3 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent at U.S. restaurants, including takeout and delivery.
- Chase Sapphire Reserve: 3 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent at restaurants, including eligible takeout and delivery services.
- Chase Sapphire Preferred Card: 3 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent at restaurants, including eligible takeout and delivery services.
You can enroll almost any credit or debit card in the Free Spirit Dining program. The few exceptions include Diners Club and internationally issued JBL cards.
Related: The best credit cards for dining out, taking out and ordering in
Joining a dining rewards program like Free Spirit Dining is an easy way to earn miles without flying. You can set up your account, forget about it and reap the rewards whenever you happen to dine at a participating restaurant.
When choosing which program to credit your dining awards to, I would still go with AAdvantage Dining since the miles are more valuable and you can earn Loyalty Points to help you qualify for status with American. But if Spirit is your go-to airline, then you should definitely join. Also, Spirit miles expire faster than just about any other type of airline mile, so this is an easy way to extend their validity.
Additional reporting by Kyle Olsen.