When airlines first introduced checked bag fees, it was originally said to be a temporary measure to combat high fuel costs. But these companies quickly became addicted to the additional revenue, and now Southwest is the only airline that doesn’t charge for checked bags.
Another reason that airlines seem to charge for checked bags is so that they can promote their frequent flyer credit cards that offer a free checked bag. For better or for worse, this strategy works, and the best way to avoid these charges is to have the right credit card.
These Travel Rewards Credit Cards Offer Free Checked Bags
Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express
This card offers you and up to eight companions a free checked bag on domestic flights. It also offers 30,000 bonus miles after you use your card to make $1,000 in purchases within three months of account opening. Other benefits include priority boarding and a 20% savings on in-flight purchases. There’s a $95 annual fee for this card that’s waived the first year.
Related: These Credit Cards Offer Airport Lounge Access
The Platinum Delta SkyMiles card and the Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express
These cards also offer a free checked bag for up to nine passengers traveling together, and benefits like priority boarding and a 20% savings on in-flight purchases. You also receive a domestic companion certificate good for a round-trip flight in economy class within the lower 48 states. There’s a $195 annual fee for this card ($250 if application is received on or after 1/30/2020).
Delta Reserve card or Delta Reserve for Business Credit Card
These cards also offer a free checked bag for up to nine passengers traveling together along with numerous other benefits such as priority boarding, a SkyClub airport lounge membership and the chance to earn Medallion Qualifying Miles. Its domestic companion certificate is good for a round-trip flight in first class or economy class within the lower 48 states. These cards have a $450 annual fee ($550 if application is received on or after 1/30/2020).
United℠ Explorer Card
This card offers you and a companion a free checked bag, but only when you use it to pay for your tickets. Other benefits include up to $100 credit towards the application fee for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, priority boarding, and 25% back on your United in-flight purchases. There’s a $95 annual fee for this card that’s waived the first year.
Related: 5 Credit Card Perks That Are Almost Too Good to Be True
CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®
This card offers you and up to four companions, a complimentary checked bag. Other benefits include early boarding and a 25% saving on in-flight purchases. You also earn 2 AAdvantage® miles per $1 spent on purchases at telecommunications merchants, cable and satellite providers, car rental merchants, and at gas stations. There’s a $99 annual fee for this card that’s waived the first 12 months.
Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®
This premium rewards card offers many benefits including of course a free checked bag for the cardholder and up to eight companions. You also get priority check-in, security, and boarding as well as an Admirals Club membership for you and any additional authorized cardholders. There’s a $450 annual fee for this card, but additional cardmembers are free.
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