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Free Spirit Air Flights with Credit Card

FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida- All over the insides of Spirit Air planes are posters saying, “Get three free flights.”

Apparently, you can get these free flights by signing up for their credit card.

I thought nothing of this: credit cards are scams, I don’t want to be scammed so I don’t participate. I have only once participated before — at age 18 — and I scammed myself: credit is not worth the agony.

I flew on Spirit Air from Santiago in the Dominican Republic to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. I had a layover there. In the terminal were booths of pushy old Jewish women trying to get passengers to sign up for their credit card.

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FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida- All over the insides of Spirit Air planes are posters saying, “Get three free flights.”

Apparently, you can get these free flights by signing up for their credit card.

I thought nothing of this: credit cards are scams, I don’t want to be scammed so I don’t participate. I have only once participated before — at age 18 — and I scammed myself: credit is not worth the agony.

I flew on Spirit Air from Santiago in the Dominican Republic to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. I had a layover there. In the terminal were booths of pushy old Jewish women trying to get passengers to sign up for their credit card. The passengers were signing up in droves. Clipboards, which had credit card applications on them, were fluttering all around the passageways of the Spirit Air terminal — many people were signing up for the credit card in hopes of getting the promised free flights.

Spirit Air credit card promotion

The deal seemed too good to be true, there had to be a catch somewhere: could we really get three free round trip tickets on Spirit Air just for getting a credit card?

Chaya, my wife, and I began asking questions: if this was legit then it could be a good budget travel move. I know that my traveling family is looking upon very rough financial times along the road ahead — traveling with a three person family on a single income means spending three times as much money each day of travel. Our fractions are not constant, we are in deep financial trouble.

If we could get free flights around the middle region of the Americas than we ought to try for it.

I asked the credit card reps lots of questions. They told me that they had a special promotion, if I was to get the credit card right away the annual charge for the first year would be waved, I would be enrolled into Spirit Air’s $9 flight club for free, I could cancel the card for free just by making a single phone call, and all that I would have to do to get the free flights was make a single purchase.

“You could just buy a sandwich, or get something for the baby” the middle aged credit card rep spoke in the accent of the south Florida Jew. Apparently, she said that it was easy to really get the free flights, that this was for real.

I mulled over the situation. I could sign up for the card — I somehow have amazing credit for a vagabond — buy something with it for a dollar, get my flights, book them, take any privileges that I could from the $9 flight club program, and then cancel the card before the first year was up and it would, apparently, cost me nothing.

Spirit Air free flights promotion

It seemed too good to be true, there had to be a catch, but I was drawn in enough to try to discover what this catch was.

“So we get three free flights, and can cancel the card at any time?” I asked again.

“Yeah, this is a good deal, there is no reason not to do it,” the woman snapped, “here, I will fill out the application for you as you are holding the baby.”

She did.

“Now sign here,” she ordered.

I refused. She got pissed off.

My wife and I continued asking questions, we found that we don’t really get “three free round trip flights” but 15,000 miles. A round trip ticket from Boston to Bogota is 20,000 miles alone. So the three free flights ads were misleading, but this was not enough to deter us in full. If we could only get one free flight it would be worth it.

We called my father in law, who knows a few things about finding deals, and ran through the specs with him. He said that sometimes credit care promotions are more or less legit if you remember to cancel them. He said that the way they get you is if you screw up — the credit card industry is built on people screwing up. Chaya and I weighed our options:

We are in honest financial straights, we need to try anything, even if that means signing up for a credit card. I also write a travel website based in extreme budget travel, if an airline is offering free flights for signing up for a credit card with the annual fee waved for the first year which can be canceled for free at any time, then I should try it out and either find out what the catch is, or pass the word along to other travelers.

I signed up for the card, my wife did too.


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Filed under: Air Travel, Budget Travel, Money

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 91 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3720 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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VBJ is currently in: New York City

27 comments… add one

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  • dad March 20, 2010, 6:35 am

    Big mistake

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    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com March 20, 2010, 9:08 am

      Hahaha, yeah probably, but I still have not activated it or anything haha.


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  • darryl March 20, 2010, 2:40 pm

    Better to study the laws of gold than go for this nonsense. 1. save 10-20% of income regardless of how little or much you make. 2. Never, never spend that 10-20% percent. 3. Instead invest it wisely in solid companies that pay dividends and increase the size of their dividends (ie Altria, Royal Dutch Shell, Teva Pharmaceutical, Chevron). 4. Reinvest dividends. 5. When you accumulate sufficient wealth begin to spend some of your dividends while reinvesting the rest. 6. Enjoy life, you still have 90-80% of income and in time (less than you realise) you will enjoy more wealth than you can imagine.

    –there is no reason why anyone need suffer from financial straights. poverty is a slave master.

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    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com March 20, 2010, 4:48 pm

      Hello Darryl,

      Thank you for sharing your wisdom. My income is around 5 to 10 grand a year so what I could invest would be almost laughable. Though I will give your advice a good run though. I never thought much about doing this.

      Your last statement is right on. Thank you for sharing, I really appreciate it.



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      • Darryl March 21, 2010, 6:53 pm

        My income is around 5 to 10 grand a year so what I could invest would be almost laughable.

        –The journey of a thousand miles begins with but a single step. -Chinese proverb. Hello Wade, perhaps the greatest mistake we make is procrastination. There is always a reason for not doing something today. Tomorrow never comes. The only thing laughable would be to fail to make provisions for the rest of your life. Great things often begin from humble origins. If you began to apply the laws of gold today you could provide your daughter with a generous estate by the time you pass over to the other side, as well as income for yourself in your later years. Seriously consider Altria. Google ‘computershare + altria + direct stock purchase’. The minimum investment amount is $500 to begin (plus $10 fee). Future purchases incur only a $2.50 fee ($50 minimum investment for future purchases), and dividends are automatically reinvested for 5% capped at $3 (whichever is less). I have no affiliation with them, but have played this game for a long time and altria is as good as it gets. Their cash flow is enormous, dividend generous, earnings and dividend increase every year, and tobacco is extremely addictive. Creating wealth is only a habit. Once you adopt the habit you will be amazed at how easy it is and will not understand why more people don’t follow such a path.

  • Bob L March 20, 2010, 10:21 pm

    Careful, they have ways of screwing you badly if you screw up, and it is not always clear what you have to do to screw up.

    BUT, I have made lots of money, about $600 per year, on credit cards by NOT screwing up and in the distant past I got all kinds of things out of them. Those kinds of deals are getting fewer and fewer, but they can be gotten. I no longer try to screw with them, I just pick the best cash back card and use that for years. In your case, Wade, I don’t think I would want to take the chance with any of them.

    For those readers that are more mainstream, your credit ratings can be really screwed up by opening and closing accounts. Even your car insurance can be hurt by that. I remember once I took a credit card up on an offer that was pretty good, but it brought me from a perfect credit rating to something just below, and ended up costing me just about as much for increased car insurance as I got from the credit card.

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    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com March 21, 2010, 10:17 am

      Hello Bob,

      It is true, there are a lot of catches. Though I cannot say that I am not much a big buyer. I am in this deal to try it — lots of airlines offer such deals — I want to find out where the scam is. I am sure there is one, but if there isn’t, the flight from Guatemala to Bogota would be a big help.

      I am dropping to a scrapper’s depth here, but I am worried: the money is going fast, we are not going to stay afloat for much longer. The dreaded word “work” is coming up again, and if we could save $600 on the flight to Colombia that would give us one more month.

      It is looking like Chaya is going to take a teaching job in Asia, but we want to wait until Petra is one year old first. If we could hold out until August, and afford the flights to a place like the Philippines, we should be good. If not, I think I may find myself in friggin’ Australia doing farm work sooner than I would like.



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  • Steve March 25, 2010, 10:49 am

    I have had the free spirit mastercard for several years. You can indeed get three free flights with your miles, but it can be quite challenging (read near impossible) to find the flights that meet your desired travel dates. In order to do so, you must be very flexible with your travel dates, and traveling in zone 1. Travel to zone 2, 3 etc will cost you progressively more in miles. For example, I live in Detroit and can fly to any of the Florida airports round trip for 5000 miles during off-peak times. Travel to Las Vegas from Detroit would be a minimum of 15,000 miles round trip. The lower mileage fares are only offered in short windows throughout the year. Even if you do travel in those off-peak time frames it can still be very difficult to get a flight that suits your needs. Traveling outside off-peak timeframes will require significantly more miles. My trip to Florida would go from 5,000 miles to a minimum of 20,000 miles. You can imagine how many miles the Las Vegas trip would require.

    All in all I would say for flexibility and ease of use, the Spirit Air program is the worst in the industry. You can get the flights but it is just such a royal PITA it really isn’t worth the hassle.

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    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com March 28, 2010, 4:30 pm

      Thanks for this tip, Steve,

      Don’t think I am going to activate the damn thing.

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  • dee case April 1, 2010, 9:31 pm

    The marketing company in the airports for the Free Spirit credit card and Barclay’s Bank uses many heavy duty sales (and intimidation) techniques…buyers beware.
    They do tell you to sign up for the onyx membership (presumably to me so they earn the commission) and that you can downgrade after so as not to pay a annual membership fee…I don’t see how this is possible if you want to keep the promotional miles. When you call the credit card to do this they tell you must call Free Spirit…and we all know what that means, talking with someone in the Philippines who doesn’t understand (or care) what you are asking and just repeats a rote sentence he has been told to say…I am still trying to get information about downgrading so as not to pay the annual fee. They (the marketing person) have limited or no knowledge of the miles point system or redeeming them.
    I think the most important point is that canceling a credit card is monumentally disastrous to a person’s credit score.
    I think hiring this company is a major mistake on Spirit’s part, since it seems they are trying to improve their customer’s perception of service and caring!!!!!!
    Once again….buyer beware.

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    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com April 2, 2010, 2:05 pm

      Thank you for this note. It is good to know that this deal really is too good to be true.

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  • Bill August 6, 2010, 1:06 pm

    I think your very unfair since you have no clue on how to use the card and your just looking for something negative about Spirit to write about. There are plenty of times of the year that you can use the 5,000 points to travel for example if you go onto the web site at this link you can see all the dates that are available. take a look at this part of their web site and you will see plenty of off peak awards ticket at just 5,000 points. Including Sept 8th thru October 5th and then again on nov 2nd thru Nov 16th and then again on Dec 1st thru Dec 14th. Now remember the 5,000 points is East Coast which is Boston, Chicago, Detroit all the way to ft Lauderdale. Now of course if your looking to do a west coast flight to Vegas or La I would suggest looking for $9 club specials and make sure when you try to redeem your points that you give yourself a 60 to 90 days window to make a reservation. This year alone I have used my card and taken at least four trips on points and used two $9 club specials to save money. I hear people complain at the airport to the credit card guys saying that the card sucks and don’t sign up. But I am the first to defend them. I love the card and if you take the time to read and learn how to use and redeem the miles instead of complaining. You will be happy too.

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    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com August 6, 2010, 2:07 pm

      The initial article was about the possibility that this card could be a good way to travel. It was on the advice of other people who have tried it that I began to take a negative view of it.

      How much do you get paid for doing PR for Spirit?

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  • Bailey September 27, 2010, 2:56 pm

    I dunno, I think the card is a good deal, if you’re smart about it and go into it understanding the ramifications.

    For one, I doubt that you, at your income level, will qualify for the Onyx card. You’ll get the normal Free Spirit MasterCard, which is a 5,000 mile reward instead of a 15,000 mile reward.

    This is still useful, but not NEARLY as useful as the huge rewards from the Onyx. My annual income is close to $70k right now and I have perfect credit, yet was still only approved for the normal MasterCard. So, for one, check and make sure you have the Onyx instead of the normal.

    Another important thing to consider is the fee for booking within a narrow time window. 6 months out, it’s free. 1-6 months, it’s like $15 each way. Past that it’s progessively more.

    For a vagabond, I think you’re in good shape to take advantage of the card, even if it’s just for a quick trip to visit some friends for a weekend… you’re at a unique advantage because you don’t have a strict work schedule driving your travel availability. Just don’t expect it to be a major opportunity for awesome free travel, because it’s not… more like a smallish bonus that’s only decent if you’re smart about how you use it and make sure you cancel the card within 12 months.

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  • Julia March 5, 2012, 12:19 pm

    I don’t appreciate the antisemitic comments, such as “the middle aged credit card rep spoke in the accent of the south Florida Jew.” What does the rep’s religion have to do with anything? Even if you had provided valuable insight to spirit air’s credit card, it is difficult to find anything you say credible when you disparage Jews for no reason.

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    • Wade Shepard March 6, 2012, 11:03 am

      My wife is Jewish as well as my daughter. Calling someone Jewish is not an insult. Yes, Jewish people have culture. Yes, some cultures have different accents. We are not all middle class white men who speak with “neutral” American accents, no matter what your politically correct upbringing tells you.

      I just read something in the Forward the other day about how it is the Jewish people who are most removed from their culture and faith who are often the ones who become most easily offended.

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      • Julia March 6, 2012, 4:46 pm

        Your multiple references to the salesperson’s religion are extraneous and irrelevant, and I find it hard to believe that you would have labeled the same salesperson as speaking with “the accent of the South Florida Christian.” That’s sweet that you married a Jewish lady, but as an Orthodox Jew, I find it gross when anyone, especially non-Jews, feel the need to label pushy salespeople as “the Jew with the accent.” All the more so, because you’re married to a Jewish woman, you should try to have a little sensitivity.

      • Nick March 14, 2012, 10:48 am

        I like your descriptors and observations. Please continue your eloquent and detailed writing. It is much enjoyed.

        Anyone, anywhere can twist words any way they see fit.

      • Wade Shepard March 14, 2012, 2:18 pm

        Thanks Nicky, much appreciated!

  • Bill March 6, 2012, 12:40 pm

    Spirit no longer uses Barclay bank or card for their airlines. You need to update your information.

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  • Will November 27, 2012, 10:11 pm

    > To answer your question, if the person was black I would mention it. If they were Asian and spoke with an Asian accent, I would mention that too. The fact of the matter is that describing the people you interact with is a part of writing articles.

    But that’s the whole point. The race or culture of a person has no bearing on their disposition. As an author you’re describing a situation. If the person is bad or good, that is what matters. Not their appearance. It detracts from the story. Its distracts the reader. Its utterly irrelevant. And it pisses a lot of people off because of it.

    I see you didn’t post my comments or replies online. I hope I sounded respectful. I very much admire your unmaterialistic lifestyle. The world would be a much better place if more people had your priorities.

    Also, why not let people reply to your email? You can still delete/ignore it but at least you are able to hear back from people and reply if you want.

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    • Wade Shepard November 27, 2012, 10:36 pm

      Hello Will,

      Thanks for your comments. I tend to delete off-topic comments here (this article is about the Spirit credit card, not really about how to depict cultures in writing) but this comment is very good.

      “But that’s the whole point. The race or culture of a person has no bearing on their disposition.”

      I highly disagree. If culture has no effect on a person’s bearing or disposition than what does it do?

      A person’s disposition, way of speaking, way of dressing etc . . . has everything to do with their culture. If you look around, you will see patterns of behavior/ worldviews/ values. That is called culture. Sure, not everyone you meet will fall into these patterns, but this is not to say that these patterns do not exist. If you hang out on Wall Street you will see one cultural segment, if you go to Bed Stuy you will see another, go to Williamsburg and you’ll see another, Chinatown? — yup, different — the Indian area of Queens? — yes, that’s different too — Harlem? You can’t deny that there are unique cultural patterns there.

      Americans have a tendency to be highly sensitive about culture, which is something I don’t understand being that the country his highly diverse and claims to celebrate that diversity. There is also this absolute mindedness that takes a discussion of a cultural pattern incredibly literally. By saying things like Chinese, Jewish, Latino etc . . . does not mean that every single person of these cultures abide by the generalized statements made about them, but that there is a pattern of culture that can be readily observed and discussed. There also seems to be this logical jump that equates different with bad. To identify and speak about another culture is not to insult it, it’s just to discuss it. That is not the case. I discuss culture on this site because I appreciate diversity, I enjoy learning about different ways of seeing the world, living, and acting. There is also a type of absolute mindedness that has infected US culture.

      Culture is real, it’s not something that anthropologists made up to stay employed, and there are many different ones in the USA. Whether discussing this pisses people off or not is not my concerned. To be honest, clumping people all together in one mono-cultural group and saying that everyone is the same is one of the biggest insult you can give someone who is proud and secure in their upbringing, community, and culture.

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      • Wade Shepard November 27, 2012, 10:41 pm

        Sorry, it seems as if you’re Canadian. Take the comments I said about Americans being overly culturally sensative and multiply them by two 🙂

  • Will November 28, 2012, 9:26 am

    Yes I’m Canadian, not that it matters at all.
    Wade, my point, and others have pointed this out too here, is that when you talk about a culture when discussing a negative attribute to the personality is insinuating that every person of that culture shares that same negative attribute.

    > “In the terminal were booths of pushy old Jewish women trying to get passengers to sign up for their credit card.”
    I just don’t see the point of mentioning that they are Jewish. When you do you insinuate all Jewish people are pushy. The situation here is we have a sales person that is pushy, doesn’t care about your situation and looks like they will say or do anything for their commission. Those are the points to make. The background of the sales person is not material to the discussion unless you’re insinuating that all Jewish people are pushy, callous and will do anything for a dime. If you had said the sales people were pushy Asian people it wouldn’t have quite the same effect would it? These comments cater to racists because they encourage people to group cultures/races together. And that is not a positive thing.

    You wouldn’t want someone to group you as a lazy hippie because you are not materialistic and fighting tooth and nail to get ahead in the corporate world, would you? But that is a distinct demographic that could be used to describe your group in society. When people don’t follow the path to “success” in most people’s eyes (well paying job, multiple homes, luxury travel, etc) they are often demoralized by others. All you and others are saying is you don’t see the point in chasing a dream manufactured my money. Others may resent you for that because you disagree with their values. I bet when you hold your daughter you realize that those pounds of flesh in your arms couldn’t be replaced by any amount of money. She is probably the most important aspect of your life and you would be right. And the materialistic person might do the same with their children for a moment but then the cares of the world take hold and they are distracted by things that we value so much today yet in a few years will be tossed aside. Witness all the things we valued decades before. A Honda today will outperform many older Ferrari’s yet back then boys and men would have killed for that car. They were wrong. Yet today a modern Ferrari has just the exactly same appeal and reverence. Someone once said we laugh at yesterday’s fashions yet revere what we see today. So your you’ve got your values straight but hopefully you can see how people can be shortsighted when looking at you and just see someone that isn’t willing to do what they might do for that power and money that comes in the corporate world. Maybe they’re angry that you haven’t adopted their viewpoints.

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  • Will November 28, 2012, 9:37 am

    (It would be great to have a little “Edit” button on the bottom. Its so much easier to see errors when its displayed on the page for some reason. Not sure why. )

    In the beginning:
    “is insinuating” should be its insinuating.

    I should have ended by saying, “Do unto others as we would have them do unto us”. So if we don’t want to be put into a slot by others, we shouldn’t put others into slots. Because we all fall into groups. As soon as others put us into a slot our potential cannot be realized. If we expect people to act a certain way we are far less likely to see their abilities in other areas. If you’re employing people this is a disaster because you will never see remarkable traits in your people and will never be able to extract those traits for your company. If you’re a parent you won’t notice unusual talents because you expect your kid to act a certain way. The person that groups people indiscriminately always reduces their chances of seeing extraordinary talents in others. Because extraordinary talents are often hidden and easily suppressed.

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  • Bob L November 28, 2012, 1:19 pm

    “In the terminal were booths of pushy old Jewish women trying to get passengers to sign up for their credit card. ”

    I thought this was a very good way of giving a visual feel to the situation. It is possible that it does not translate well into other cultures. In the USA, this is not an insulting sentence, but rather a descriptive one. I suppose anything that one writes has the possibility of pissing off someone, somewhere.

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  • Will November 28, 2012, 3:24 pm

    The point is the sales people were self serving and pushy. They didn’t care about anything but the commission. That’s what’s important. The article is about the worth of the Spirit credit card. Having sales people that don’t care about the customer is pertinent. What nationality they are doesn’t bring any useful information to the table for the reader.
    And it looks like its a good card judging from the more informed people here. That is unless you dislike getting free stuff.

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