Try This One Easy Trick to Avoid Paying Bag Fees
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Chief among what many travelers have come to refer to as airline nuisance fees are the extra charges to check bags for flights. U.S. carriers now typically charge $25 for checked bags on domestic flights. That's each way. So, if you were to check two bags on a round-trip flight, you'd be looking at an extra $100 in fees.

What the airlines have imposed, they can also waive. And cleverly, it has become standard practice to offer a bag-fee waiver as a benefit of signing up for the airlines' co-branded credit cards. It's a simple trick: If you routinely check your bags, the potential savings amount to a compelling reason to keep your favorite airline's card in your wallet.

The following is a sampling of airline co-branded cards that include complimentary checked bags among their featured perks, with a focus on cards with low or no annual fees that can be easily offset by the savings from the waived bag fees.

United MileagePlus Explorer Card

Welcome offer: 50,000 miles after spending $3,000 within the first three months of account opening.

Annual fee: $95.

Comment: Perks include complimentary first checked bag, priority boarding, two lounge passes, unrestricted access to award seating.

Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express

Welcome offer: 30,000 miles after spending $1,000 within the first three months of account opening, plus a $50 statement credit after making a Delta purchase within the same three months. Terms apply.

Annual fee: $95, waived the first year. 

Comment: Perks include complimentary first checked bag, priority boarding, discount on airport lounge passes.

Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card

Welcome offer: 30,000 miles after spending $1,000 within the first three months of account opening.

Annual fee: $75.

Comment: Perks include complimentary first checked bag for cardholder and up to six others on same reservation.

Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard

Welcome offer: 60,000 miles after spending $3,000 within the first three months of account opening.

Annual fee: $95, waived the first year.

Comment: Perks include complimentary first checked bag, priority boarding, discount on award prices. Citi offers many other AAdvantage-linked credit cards as well. 

Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Mastercard

Welcome offer: 35,000 miles after spending $1,000 within the first three months of account opening.

Annual fee: $89.

Comment: Perks include free first checked bag, annual $100 discount on companion ticket.

Credit Cards from Other Airlines

Conspicuously missing from the above list are the credit cards linked to the loyalty programs of Frontier and Spirit, two ultra-low-cost airlines whose business models depend heavily on add-on fees generally and on checked-bag fees in particular. Proving just how dependent they are on such fees, neither was willing to waive them for holders of their credit cards.

Also missing from the list are Southwest's credit cards, although they're missing for a very different reason. Among U.S. airlines, Southwest is alone in not charging for the first and second checked bag. You can't waive a fee that you never imposed.

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