Earn easy miles with the Free Spirit Dining program

Jan 26, 2021

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Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information.

The Free Spirit loyalty program just received a major overhaul. Perhaps one of the more exciting changes for infrequent travelers is that your miles are now valid for at least 12 months from the latest activity, as opposed to just 90 days.

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 5x bonus miles when visiting over 10,000 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 three 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

Free Spirit Dining

How to join Free Spirit Dining

Free Spirit Dining is available to all Free Spirit members. To join, simply go to the Free Spirit Dining website and click the “Join Now” button. You’ll be asked to provide your Free Spirit number, some basic personal information (name, contact information, etc.) and link at least one credit or debit card.

Free Spirit Dining

You’re allowed to add up to 12 cards, but you can only link each card to one dining program. So, if you have a Chase Sapphire Reserve card, for instance, and want to earn 3x Ultimate Rewards points at participating restaurants, you can’t link it to both Free Spirit Dining and AAdvantage Dining.

Free Spirit 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 definitely do so as it will boost your earning rate by 6x. 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 “account information” page.

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.

For a limited time, Spirit is offering a 1,000-mile welcome bonus for new members that spend $30 or more at participating restaurants within the first 30 days of joining and write an online review within 30 days of the dine. You must also opt in to receive emails to earn the bonus. TPG values Spirit miles at 0.4 cents each, meaning this new member bonus equates to $4 back.

Your earning rate depends on your membership tier in the program:

  • Members: Earn 1 mile per $2 you spend 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 you spend 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 0.4 cents apiece, earning 5x miles would get you a 2% return on your spending. Meanwhile, 3x points would equate to a 1.2% return. These aren’t the greatest returns, but they’re better than nothing if Spirit is your primary airline or you need 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.

Free Spirit Dining

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 six to eight 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, as well as 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 and Visa Local Offers. 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 cards to consider:

The information for the Citi Prestige and Amex Green Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

You can enroll almost any credit or debit card in the Free Spirit Dining program. The few exceptions include Diner’s Club and internationally-issued JBL cards.

Related: The best credit cards for dining out, taking out and ordering in

Bottom line

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.

Spirit miles aren’t that valuable, so you could certainly get more value from other airlines’ dining rewards programs. But if Spirit is the airline you fly the most, then you should definitely join. For instance, there’s no point in racking up points through the JetBlue TrueBlue Dining if the airline doesn’t even fly to your home city. Also, Spirit miles expire faster than just about any other type of airline mile, so this is an easy way to extend their validity.

Screenshots courtesy of Free Spirit Dining

Featured image by MAIKA 777/Getty Images.

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