The Frontier Airlines World MasterCard® is currently offering its best sign up bonus I’ve ever seen: 40,000 EarlyReturns miles after spending $500 in the first 90 days of cardmembership.

This huge sign up bonus, especially for such a tiny minimum spending requirement, is enough for:

  • Two roundtrips anywhere in the US that Frontier flies, including Alaska (30,000 miles).
  • One roundtrip anywhere Frontier flies, including Central America, Mexico, and the Caribbean (30,000 miles).

Frontier Airlines is the ninth-largest airline in the United States with a hub in Denver and service to Alaska, Mexico, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, and Costa Rica.

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Frontier’s Route Map: Great Coverage of the Continental US plus Alaska, Mexico, Costa Rica, and the Caribbean

Frontier is rarely–if ever–discussed on miles blogs because it’s small, doesn’t have first class, doesn’t fly longhaul flights, and has a paltry elite program. But there is tremendous value on the Frontier award chart for domestic travelers and travelers to the Caribbean and Mexico.

Here’s the award chart:

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Four things jump out at me from the chart, all positive:

  1. Among region-to-region mileage programs, Frontier has the cheapest domestic awards. All the legacy carriers charge 25,000 miles roundtrip; Frontier charges 20,000 miles.
  2. Frontier has the cheapest awards to Mexico and Central America. Frontier charges 30,000 miles roundtrip. The big boys charge 35,000 miles. (American charges 25,000 miles roundtrip during a two month off peak window in the fall.)
  3. Frontier awards can be flown as one ways for half the price of roundtrip awards, so 10k miles each way domestically and 15k abroad. This puts Frontier in the good company of United and American, and looking down on Delta and US Airways, which charge the roundtrip price for one way redemptions.
  4. Frontier awards don’t include any fuel surcharges, just government taxes.

How do you book a Frontier award? What trick did I discover to show more award availability? What peak demand route this summer has gold mine award space? Who should and who should not get the Frontier card? How can you save 5,000 miles on a Frontier award? Which transferable point transfers to Frontier miles?

Booking Awards

Awards can easily be booked online at flyfrontier.com. Just perform any flight search and check the Redeem Miles box. You have to be signed in to search, so sign up for an EarlyReturns account here.

I’ll give an example of a domestic flight and an international flight search and one big tip.

Denver to Alaska June 2014

To perform an award search, simply click the Redeem Miles check box at the top of the Book a Flight screen.

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Award space is stunningly good this summer from Denver to Anchorage and Fairbanks, Alaska.

All the days marked “10,000 miles” have “Standard” award space that costs only 10,000 miles and $2.50 one way.

Denver <-> Anchorage

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Denver <-> Fairbanks

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This level of award space in the peak of summer to Alaska is surprising. United, which is often generous with award space, has no Saver award space in any cabin on any flight between Denver and Alaska this June!

While United would want 50,000 miles roundtrip (its “Standard” award price) in economy for Denver to Anchorage, you can use only 20,000 Frontier miles roundtrip. The availability and price lead me to say that flying to Alaska is one of the best uses of Frontier miles.

Denver to San Jose, Costa Rica May 2014

The flights to Costa Rica also have fantastic award space at an amazing 30,000 miles roundtrip + $19 in taxes!

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One Huge Trick with Frontier Award Booking

I first uncovered this glitch/trick one year ago, and it persists.

If you do an award search, you’ll often be given the bad news that only the day you searched for has “Standard” (low price) award space, and that all surrounding days have “CHOICE” (double price) award space.

Don’t believe it! Click on all the surrounding days to get the full award space picture.

For instance, look at this award search from Los Angeles to Orlando for May 9, 2014. It shows that all days are at the 20,000 miles one way “CHOICE” price.

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But if I click the words “Thu. May 08”, I see that in fact there are “Standard” 10,000 mile one way itineraries that day.

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Repeating the trick by clicking on every day that week, I see that there is “Standard” 10,000 mile award space on four out of the seven days.

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Clicking day-by-day, it’s very easy to construct a great trip from Los Angeles to Orlando for only 20,000 miles and $5 roundtrip.

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From my searches, I can say that Frontier has:

  • a cheap award chart
  • a great route network to Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, and hard-to-reach parts of the US
  • oodles of space (as long as you click day-by-day!)
  • no fuel surcharges

Getting EarlyReturns Miles

The three main ways to get EarlyReturns miles are:

The Credit Card with 40,000 Bonus Miles

The Frontier Airlines World MasterCard offers a 40,000 mile bonus after $500 in purchases in the first 90 days.

The miles stretch even farther than you might think because cardholders also get a 5,000 mile discount on companion awards.

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That means if the cardholder books a ticket, he can take one companion for 15,000 miles more.

That means the 40,000 mile sign up bonus is good for two roundtrip domestic awards anywhere Frontier flies including Alaska with 10,000 miles left over.

The card also earns double miles on Frontier purchases and has a $69 annual fee.

Offer details:

  • 0% Intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 12 months. After that, a variable APR, currently 15.99% or 24.99% based on credit worthiness
  • Earn 40,000 bonus miles after spending $500 in purchases in the first 90 days
  • Earn up to 10,000 bonus miles on balance transfers (1 mile per $1 transferred) in the first 90 days
  • Earn Double miles on purchases at FlyFrontier.com and 1 mile per $1 on all other purchases
  • No blackout dates! Book any roundtrip award flight on Frontier starting at 20,000 miles (subject to fees/taxes from $5)
  • $69 Annual Fee

Membership Rewards Transfers

American Express Membership Rewards transfer 1:1 to Frontier.

American Express collects $6 per 10,000 Membership Rewards transferred to Frontier like it does for transfers to other US-based airlines.

I have never made a transfer. Frontier says it is usually instant but can take up to 24 hours. Frontier will let you hold an award ticket for 24 hours while you wait for a Membership Rewards transfer.

Butt-in-Seat

I explained the earnings structure for paid tickets here. The gist is that you have to book paid flights on flyfrontier.com to get full mileage credit. If you go through a third-party travel site, you will not earn full mileage credit for your paid tickets.

Who Should and Who Should Not Get the Frontier Credit Card

Because there’s a limit to how much credit each bank will extend to a person, I always compare offers to other offers from the same bank. Barclaycard has two other great rewards cards.

In terms of sign up bonuses, the US Airways Premier World MasterCard is the best of the three if you want to fly First Class or Business Class, since you can use it book incredible aspirational awards on any of its worldwide partners. For instance, I just used US Airways miles to book a First Class award to the World Cup in Brazil this summer.

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® is the best of the three if you want to fly economy class somewhere that Frontier doesn’t fly. Arrival miles can be used on any airline on any flight with no blackouts. This card also has the best earnings structure of the three cards, earning 2.22% back toward travel on all purchases.

The Frontier Airlines World MasterCard is the best of the three if you want to fly somewhere Frontier flies, and there is award space on the route. Neither of the other two cards’ sign up bonuses get you two roundtrip to Alaska or cross-country like the Frontier card’s sign up bonus can.

The last thing to consider here is your timing. If you want to get more than one of these cards, start with the US Airways Premier World MasterCard. US Airways has already legally merged with American Airlines, so this card will disappear in the very near future. Get that sign up bonus while you still can. You can either use the miles quickly on US Airways’ chart with Star Alliance partners or they will be converted to American Airlines miles. Both are good outcomes.

Recap

Frontier Airlines has an amazing award chart if you want to fly where it flies–Denver, under-served US airports, Alaska, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, and Jamaica.

Frontier’s miles price is lower than all the legacy carriers to all of its destinations. Frontier has incredible award space on all the routes I searched. Frontier doesn’t charge any fuel surcharges on any awards.

If you can handle economy flights–and I can on Frontier’s sub-five-hour flights–Frontier even has a decent economy product because of the DirecTV at every seat.

Frontier is a viable Membership Rewards transfer option if you want to fly to its destinations. And I’ve added the Frontier credit card to my future applications’ list.

All of this makes the The Frontier Airlines World MasterCard with 40,000 bonus miles after spending $500 in the first three months an awesome value!

Application Link: The Frontier Airlines World MasterCard

Further Reading

 




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