By Adam Jusko, ProudMoney.com, adam@proudmoney.com

Frontier Airlines has re-launched its Frontier Airlines World Mastercard (in partnership with Barclays Bank), upgrading the card’s features in hopes of attracting new cardholders. Should you get it? Let’s take a look.

Key Features

First off, the Frontier Airlines Mastercard has a $79 annual fee, so this should obviously be factored in when looking at the rewards and perks.

In terms of what you can earn, you’ll get:

  • 5 miles per dollar on Frontier purchases with the card
  • 3 miles per dollar on restaurant purchases
  • 1 mile per dollar everywhere else

You can also earn a bonus: 40,000 miles if you spend at least $500 with the card in the first three months of having it. Frontier says 40,000 miles is good for up to two round-trip flights. This is technically true, but I’d call it more like 1-and-a-half flights in most cases.

Earn Status Through Card Purchases

Frontier is making a big deal about the fact that you can earn Elite Status strictly through card spending, which is definitely unique. However, because Frontier is a low-budget airline that tends to nickel-and-dime you, their Elite Status means that you have to spend at least $20,000 per year to get the privilege of bringing a carry-on bag for free (normally costs $30-$35) and getting advanced seating — things that bigger airlines give you as part of the standard service. It’s hard to feel very “elite” about that.

There are also further perks if you spend over $50,000 or over $100,000 in a year with the card, but we find that so unlikely that we’re not even going to discuss them here — check the card’s marketing page if you think you could hit those marks.

Other Perks

In addition to the points and status rewards, you can earn these perks with the Frontier Mastercard:

  • $100 flight voucher yearly if you’ve spent at least $2500 on the card
  • Priority boarding in “Zone 2” (essentially the second boarding group)
  • No foreign transaction fees for card purchases outside of the United States
  • “Family Pooling” allows you to pool miles with others, including (but actually not limited to) family

Use It or Lose It

Note that you must make a purchase with the card (or have other account activity) at least once every six months or your accrued miles will “expire” and you will lose them all. In our opinion, that’s way too big of a penalty. Sure, Frontier wants you to continue using the card, but taking away all of your miles seems harsh, especially when you have a credit card that charges a $79 annual fee.

The Verdict

The Frontier Airlines World Mastercard offers some real benefits to those who find Frontier to be a convenient airline for their travels and are OK with the nickel-and-diming that often comes with dealing with low-budget airlines. For those who spend over $20,000 annually with the card, the “elite status” at least upgrades you to a place where the flying experience gets a little more civilized, and you’ll earn one or two free flights. The bonus offer is pretty strong, too.

However, Frontier is definitely not a convenient airline for many people. In addition, not everyone enjoys the low budget airline experience. You’ll need to know which group you’re part of before you consider getting the Frontier Airlines Mastercard.