Never Pay For Checked Baggage Again With These Airline Credit Cards


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These days, airlines charge between $30 and $40 for a one-way checked bag. But with the right credit card, you can reduce those costs on your next flight.

The right airline credit card can get you and your fellow travelers a free checked bag — or two — on your next flight. This is one of the travel benefits that can offset the annual fee charged by most airline credit card issuers.

For example, you can spend $70 round trip for checked baggage with United Airlines. But the United℠ Explorer Card offers one free checked bag for you and one travel companion. You’ll offset the card’s $95 annual fee if you take advantage of this benefit on a round-trip flight with you and a friend. All you have to do is book the flight with your card and make sure your friends are on your booking.

Pro tip

Even if your checked baggage is not free, be sure to pay for your checked baggage using your credit card if you have travel protections to cover your baggage if it is lost or damaged.

If you’re planning a few flights this year, the cost of checked bags can add up quickly, and an airline credit card is one way to save money. Here are the cards that offer free checked bags, how much you and your family can save with free checked bags on your next flight, and what else to consider if you’re considering getting an airline credit card.

Airline credit cards with free checked bags

American airlines

Usually, the first checked bag is $30 and the second is $40 one way for American Airlines domestic flights. But with the right American Airlines credit card, you and your travel companions can check one bag for free if it’s on your reservation, and flights are booked with your American Airlines credit card. Here are which cards offer free checked bags and how many guests can check their bags for free:

  • Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®: The first checked bag is free for up to eight travel companions on your reservation.
  • CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®: The first checked bag is free for up to four traveling companions on your reservation.
  • Aviator® Silver Mastercard®: First checked bag free for up to eight traveling companions on your booking.
  • Aviator® Red Mastercard®: First checked bag free for up to four traveling companions on your booking.
  • Aviator® Business Mastercard®: First checked bag free for up to four traveling companions on your booking.

Delta Airlines

The first checked bag for Delta Airlines costs $30 one way and $40 for the second bag. All Delta credit cards offer the first checked bag free for cardholders and up to eight traveling companions on the reservation. You must have a Delta SkyMiles account and pay for your flight by credit card.

Keep in mind that the annual fee for each card varies, although the number of travel companions is the same for each. The Delta SkyMiles Gold card can be a good choice if you don’t travel as often due to its annual fee of $99 after the first year, compared to the Delta SkyMiles Platinum or Reserve cards which have higher annual fees.

Here are the Delta credit cards that include free checked bags for cardholders and their traveling companions:

South West Airlines

Even if you’re not a cardholder, Southwest offers two free checked bags for domestic flights. Bags must meet size and weight limits. Each additional bag, including oversized and overweight bags, costs $75 one way. Southwest still offers several credit cards to earn rewards on everyday spending and then redeem your points for Southwest flights and travel partners.

JetBlue Airlines

JetBlue Airlines charges $35 for the first bag and $45 for the second bag for domestic flights, depending on your class of travel. The JetBlue Plus credit card offers the first checked bag free for you and three guests on your booking.

Free checked baggage does not apply to the JetBlue card, but you will still receive other airline and cardholder benefits such as food and beverage discounts.

United Airlines

United Airlines typically charges $35 for the first checked bag and $45 for the second bag each way depending on your domestic flight (you can use the airline’s baggage calculator to determine your costs and see if you’re eligible for discounts.) The airline also offers a baggage subscription that starts at $349, but you’ll get more travel perks and rewards with a United Airlines credit card, even with an annual fee.

Most United cardholders get their first and second checked bags free on United and United Express flights when booking with their eligible credit card. Here are which United credit cards offer free checked bags:

  • United℠ Explorer Card: First checked bag free for one travel companion on your booking.
  • United Quest℠ card: The first and second checked bags are free for one traveling companion on your reservation.
  • United Club℠ Infinite Card: The first and second checked bags are free for one traveling companion on your reservation.
  • Presidential Plus℠ Card: The first and second checked bags are complimentary for one travel companion on your booking.
  • Presidential Plus℠ Business Card: The first and second checked bags are complimentary for one travel companion on your booking.
  • United℠ Business Card: First checked bag free for one travel companion on your booking
  • United Club℠ Business Card: The first and second checked bags are free for one traveling companion on your reservation.
  • Introductory offer:
  • Annual subscription :

    $450

  • Regular APR:

    16.74% – 25.74% (Variable)

  • Recommended credit:

    670-850 (good to excellent)

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  • Introductory offer:
  • Annual subscription :

    $0 annual introductory fee for the first year, then $99

  • Regular APR:

    16.49% – 25.49% variable

  • Recommended credit:

    670-850 (good to excellent)

  • Learn more external link icon On the secure site of our partner See rates and fees, conditions apply.
  • Introductory offer:
  • Annual subscription :

    $99

  • Regular APR:

    15.99%, 19.99% or 24.99% variable depending on your creditworthiness.

  • Recommended credit:

    740-850 (Excellent)

  • Learn more external link icon On the secure site of our partner See rates and fees, conditions apply.

Airline Baggage Fees

Your savings from free checked bags can add up quickly. Even if you only do one round trip per year, you can save up to $75 one way. Keep in mind that baggage fees may depend on the flight class, domestic or international flight, and the number of bags you check in. Here is a breakdown of the major airlines’ baggage fees.

Cost of first checked bag Cost of second checked bag
American airlines $30 $40
Delta Airlines $30 $40
JetBlue Airlines $35 $45
South West Airlines $0 $0
United Airlines $35 $45

What to look for in a travel credit card

If you’re considering getting an airline or travel credit card to earn rewards for future travel, be sure to weigh the benefits, fees, and bonus categories to get the card’s full value. The card may fit your wallet if you’re already an airline loyal, frequent flyer, or check-in bag on most flights. Here’s what you should consider:

Your favorite airline

If you’re loyal to an airline, check its list of destinations to make sure you can book the majority of your flights with the airline and maximize your rewards. For example, if you like Southwest perks like free checked bags, upgrades, and discounted lounge access, but don’t fly to or from the airline’s locations, you might only get- not be the full value of the card. You can choose a travel credit card to redeem rewards for flights and hotels to get the best deal instead of brand loyalty.

Bonus Categories

Make sure the card’s bonus categories match your daily spend to maximize your rewards without spending too much. For example, the Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express card offers 3X ​​miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly from hotels, 2X miles on restaurants worldwide and US supermarkets, and 1X miles on everything else.

But the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card offers 3X ​​points on Southwest purchases, 2X points on local transit and commuting, internet, cable, phone services and select streaming. If your spend doesn’t match the categories, you won’t be able to maximize your rewards.

Costs

Most airline and travel credit cards come with an annual fee, but the cards come with credits and discounts to offset the fees. As an example, the Citi®/AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard, has an annual fee of $450 after the first year. But the card includes $100 TSA PreCheck/Global Entry credit, lounge access, 25% off in-flight purchases, and more perks for up to eight companions to offset the cost. If you know you’ll be using the card’s benefits often, the annual fee might be worth it.

Alternatively, you can choose a cash back card with travel benefits that has no annual fee to get rewards at no additional cost.

Cardholder Benefits

Most travel and airline credit cards have cardholder benefits that would otherwise cost more. Before choosing a card, make sure the benefits match your cardholder’s perks, such as lounge access, complimentary upgrades, food and beverage discounts, and more. If you take advantage of the credit card benefits, you’ll get the full value of the card and enhance your trip. But if the benefits aren’t attractive or you don’t use them often, you can choose another card that suits your habits.

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