Credit card showdown: Frontier Airlines World Mastercard vs. Free Spirit Travel More World Elite Mastercard
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For many travelers, it’s about the destination and not how you get there. If you tend to be budget-conscious and don’t mind flying ultra-low-cost carriers such as Frontier Airlines or Spirit Airlines, you may have considered either of these co-branded credit card options.
You have the Frontier Airlines World Mastercard with Frontier and the Free Spirit Travel More World Elite Mastercard with Spirit. While these cards (and their loyalty programs) are often overlooked, both airlines have recently refreshed both of these offerings, making them surprisingly decent options to add to your credit card portfolio.
The information for the Frontier Airlines World Mastercard and the Free Spirit Travel More World Elite Mastercard has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
With the same annual fee ($79, but waived the first year), we’ll help you decide which airline card is best for you.
Comparing the Frontier card vs. Free Spirit card
|Frontier Airlines World Mastercard||Free Spirit Travel More World Elite Mastercard|
|Annual fee||$0 for the first year, then $79||$0 for the first year, then $79|
|Sign-up bonus||Earn 50,000 bonus miles after spending $500 on purchases within the first 90 days of account opening.||Earn 40,000 bonus points plus a $100 companion flight voucher after making at least $1,000 in purchases within the first 90 days of account opening|
|Bonus categories||5x on eligible Frontier purchases, 3x on restaurant purchases, 1x on all other purchases||3x on eligible Spirit purchases, 2x on eligible dining and grocery store purchases, 1x on all other purchases|
|Other card benefits||$100 flight voucher each card anniversary after spending $2,500 or more on card each year, earn 1 Elite Qualifying Mile per $1 spent on your card, Zone 2 priority boarding, award redemption fee waiver, family pooling, World Mastercard benefits no foreign transaction fees||$100 companion flight voucher each card anniversary after spending $5,000 or more on card each year, Zone 2 priority boarding, 25% rebate on inflight purchases, World Elite Mastercard benefits, no foreign transaction fees|
The prospect of obtaining a new sign-up bonus is arguably one of the most exciting parts about signing up for a new credit card, so let’s look at these offers first.
The Frontier Mastercard lets you earn 50,000 bonus miles after spending $500 on purchases within the first 90 days. On the other hand, the Spirit Mastercard offers 40,000 bonus points plus a $100 companion flight voucher after making at least $1,000 in purchases within the first 90 days of account opening. Both currencies are worth 1.1 cents according to TPG valuations, making these bonuses worth $550 and $540, respectively.
The better sign-up bonus really depends on what you’re looking for. You’ll get a larger stash of miles with the Frontier Mastercard. However, you’ll get a $100 companion flight voucher with the Spirit card. If you’re a solo traveler, you may find the Frontier’s sign-up bonus much more appealing, while family travelers may prefer the $100 companion discount.
Winner: The Frontier Mastercard (marginally) beats out the Spirit Mastercard. Plus, there’s a lower spend requirement on the Frontier card ($500 vs. $1,000).
While both cards waive the annual fee for the first year (then $79 thereafter), you’ll want to decide if the card is worth keeping in the long term. For this, we take a look at the bonus categories to see how easy it is to earn rewards on your everyday spending.
|Frontier Mastercard||Free Spirit Mastercard|
|Earning rates||5x on eligible Frontier purchases, 3x on restaurant purchases, 1x on all other purchases||3x on eligible Spirit purchases, 2x on eligible dining and grocery store purchases, 1x on all other purchases|
While the Frontier Mastercard offers a much higher rate on affiliated airline purchases, it only offers one other bonus category: 3x on restaurants. Meanwhile, you can earn 2x on dining and grocery store purchases with the Free Spirit card.
Winner: The Spirit Mastercard offers a higher earning potential due to its more comprehensive range of earning categories.
TPG values both airline currencies at 1.1 cents each, so we’ll pare down the redemption options to see which loyalty program offers a more user-friendly experience.
Frontier publishes an official award chart, citing that a one-way domestic flight starts at 10,000 miles. This is huge since you can fly anywhere within the U.S. and Puerto Rico for this price — even trans-continental flights. With your sign-up bonus, you can unlock two roundtrip flights or as many as five one-way flights.
Meanwhile, Spirit does not have an official award chart for redemptions. However, the carrier has made monumental improvements with its loyalty program, Free Spirit, since January 2021. We found that one-way flights cost as low as 2,500 points, stretching the value of your sign-up bonus with a ton of booking options.
One important thing to keep in mind is that Spirit charges a $50 redemption fee for flights booked within 28 days — severely impacting the value of using your hard-earned points. There’s no redemption fee if you book more than 28 days in advance. With the Frontier card, you can save on redemption fees (which range from $15 to $75) — adding immense value to this card.
Winner: The Frontier Mastercard wins thanks to its waived redemption fees and its clear, published award chart.
These cards share a ton of similarities, so the differences lie within the details of each benefit offered.
First, both cards offer the opportunity to earn a $100 flight voucher each year. This is a great incentive that can cover the cost of the ongoing $79 annual fee. However, the Frontier card’s annual voucher is a better offering since you’ll only have to spend $2,500 or more on your card to receive it. Meanwhile, you’ll need to spend $5,000 or more with the Spirit card. Plus, you can use the Frontier voucher for your own flight and fewer limitations, while the Spirit voucher requires you to use it on a companion ticket (in conjunction with booking your own ticket).
Both cards offer the opportunity to earn elite qualifying miles just from your card spend. With your Frontier card, you’ll earn 1x qualifying mile per dollar spent. To earn Frontier’s lowest elite status — Elite 20K — you’ll need 20,000 qualifying miles or 25 flight segments in a calendar year. Theoretically, you can earn elite status just from spending $20,000 or more on your Frontier card, unlocking exclusive benefits such as a free carry-on bag and seat assignment.
Similarly, you can reach Free Spirit Silver or Gold elite status with the Spirit card by earning 1x Status Qualifying Point (SQPs) for each $10 in purchases during a calendar year. It’s actually easier to achieve elite status with the Spirit card, as you can reach Silver status by getting 2,000 SQPs or Gold status with 5,000 SQPs. So with just $2,000 or $5,000 in spend each year, you can get exclusive benefits such as free same-day standby flights, free seat selection at check-in and more.
Furthermore, both cards grant you access to family pooling, which allows you to share miles with family and friends. With the Frontier card, you’ll also get an award redemption fee waiver which starts at $5.60 for a one-way ticket. This is unlocked with the Spirit card at the Silver elite level, requiring just $2,000 in spend per year. Meanwhile, the Spirit card offers a 25% rebate on inflight purchases. Both cards offer perks such as Zone 2 priority boarding and no foreign transaction fees.
Finally, the Frontier card is a World Mastercard, while the Spirit card is a World Elite Mastercard. Upon a closer look, there’s not a whole lot of difference between the two programs. Both offer cell phone protection and partner benefits, such as a monthly Lyft credit.
Winner: The Spirit World Elite Mastercard lets you achieve elite status through the new Free Spirit loyalty program for just $2,000 in spend per year. Even better, you can reach top-tier status just by spending $5,000 in a year to unlock benefits such as a free checked bag or a free snack or drink onboard.
Which card should you get?
Both cards have seen significant improvements over recent years. From improved redemption rates to stronger sign-up bonuses, these are airline cards that should no longer be overlooked.
If it doesn’t make sense to own both, answering these two questions can better inform your decision. First, decide which airline you prefer. Both are low-cost carriers, meaning that anything ancillary will cost extra. If you live near one of Spirit or Frontier hubs, pick the card that will best benefit your travel habits.
Next, assess what type of spender you are. The Frontier Mastercard tends to gear toward the budget-conscious, thanks to its lower minimum spend requirements on the sign-up bonus and the annual flight voucher. If you’re able to spend $2,500 or more per year (which breaks down to roughly $209 per month), then the $100 flight voucher more than justifies the ongoing $79 annual fee.
While the Spirit Mastercard spend requirements are certainly not outrageous, they definitely require a larger budget. You’ll need to spend $5,000 or more on this card per year (or about $417 per month) to get the $100 companion flight voucher. If you own multiple travel rewards cards, you’ll have to decide if meeting this spend requirement is realistic.
Most people apply for airline cards to get perks, such as free checked bags on every flight. However, this isn’t the case with either the Frontier or the Spirit cards. Although both have an annual fee of $79 (waived the first year), you won’t get a pass for your carry-on or checked baggage.
Nevertheless, both cards are still solid options to consider for the thrifty traveler. If you’re deciding between these two cards, you can’t go wrong with either. With the opportunity to earn a flight voucher each year and priority boarding, you can enhance the experience of flying these ultra-low-cost carriers just by owning these cards. Based on our analysis, the Frontier World Mastercard is the better card of the two, but note these other considerations with the Spirit card before applying.
Featured photo by Wyatt Smith for The Points Guy.
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