Be Careful When You Cancel Your Spirit “$9 Fare Club” Membership

When you’ve got a subscription that automatically renews, it’s always a good idea to know when that renewal date is coming so you’ll be able to cancel in time before being re-upped for another year. However, as one Spirit Airlines traveler learned, you can cancel a subscription too early and unwittingly throw money down the drain.

Consumerist reader Paul is a member of Spirit’s $9 Fare Club, which let subscribers book the airline’s cheapest fares and  pay discounted baggage fees. The first year of the plan costs $59.95 but auto-renews at $69.95 each year afterward.

In order to save some money, Paul wanted to cancel the plan in advance of the auto-renew, but had questions about what exactly would happen to the remainder of his money or access to the plan.

After all, auto-renewal subscription plans come in various forms. Some will let you cancel the auto-renew, but since you’ve paid the full annual fee you retain membership for the remaining time. Others let you cancel anytime, but you not only forfeit the money you’ve paid, you cease having access to any of the benefits. Paul glanced at the terms [PDF] for the $9 Fare program and got the feeling it fell into the latter category.

“I thought this didn’t seem right, so I emailed customer service and asked how I could just cancel the re-bill and keep my membership for the rest of the year that I had already paid for,” Paul tells Consumerist.

This, apparently, isn’t possible per Spirit customer service.

“Once the membership is terminated, the Free Spirit account will no longer be a part of the $9 Fare Club,” the rep told Paul in an email. “Thus, benefits from the program are removed effective immediately after cancellation.”

This is fairly clear in the terms and conditions for Spirit’s $9 Fare Club membership.

“A Member will not be entitled to any refund of any membership fees upon cancellation of membership in the Club. Memberships will automatically renew upon expiration if Member has not cancelled prior to their renewal date. The renewal charge will be assessed to the applicable credit card on file.

A Member may cancel his or her membership in the Club at any time by selecting the unsubscribe option within their FREE SPIRIT account profile or by notifying Spirit in writing at the address at the bottom of this page. Cancellations by mail will take approximately 4 to 6 weeks to become effective.“

We reached out for clarification from Spirit on the terms of the membership providing a specific example.

If a subscription is going to be auto-renewed Jan. 1 but I cancel Oct. 1, does that mean I’m out just the money (but keep my existing subscription through Dec. 31), or am I out both the money and the remaining months?

Per Spirit, you’re out both.

“To enroll the customer has to agree to the terms and conditions of the club, which states that memberships are non-refundable, non-transferable, and are automatically renewed yearly,” a rep tells Consumerist. “Please note, upon the cancellation of a $9 Fare Club Membership, the customers benefits will cease immediately without a refund being issued.”

So when should a customer cancel their account if they essentially don’t want to lose money?

The rep for Spirit didn’t tell us, but did note that a reminder email is sent to the customer informing them of the upcoming renewal.

Because email reminders aren’t always foolproof — it could go to your spam folder or you may overlook it — the best idea could be to set a calendar reminder — either electronically or in your datebook (if that’s still a thing).

Or, if you don’t want to cut it too close, you could cancel the membership a month in advance, so long as you’re okay not flying with Spirit for that last month.