8 Credit Cards That Will Get You 'Free' Checked Bags

Disclaimer: This post contains references to products from our advertisers. We receive compensation when you click on links to those products. To learn more, visit our advertising policy page.

Editor's note: Some of the offers on this page may no longer be available through our site.

With the notable exception of Southwest, all U.S. airlines charge most coach-class passengers a fee to check their bags. American, for example, charges $25 for the first checked bag, and $35 for the second. For a family of four, each with one checked bag, that's an extra $100 each way, and an extra $200 for a round-trip flight. But some American AAdvantage co-branded credit cards waive checked bag fees for the cardholder and up to four travel companions, for a potential per-trip savings of $200 for our hypothetical family of four. And another card features bag-fee waivers for the cardholder and up to eight travel companions, for a potential savings of $450 in the unlikely event you're traveling together with a group of eight others.

While similar, not all airline credit cards' fee waivers are the same. United, for instance, charges the same $25 for the first checked bag, and $35 for the second. But its affiliated MileagePlus Explorer Visa credit card (annual fee: $95, waived the first year) only waives the first-bag fee for the cardholder and one companion. So the potential savings is limited to $100 for a round-trip flight. On the other hand, while still limiting the waiver to two travelers, the more expensive MileagePlus Club Visa card (annual fee: $450) waives the fee for the first two bags, upping the potential per-trip savings to $240.

Here are eight credit cards that waive or otherwise cover the cost bag fees.

Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card 

  • Earn 3 miles per $1 spent on Alaska Airlines and Virgin America purchases.
  • Earn 1 mile per $1 for other purchases.
  • Annual fee: $75.
  • APR: 13.24% to 20.24% variable, depending on credit.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Welcome offer: 30,000 bonus miles after spending $1,000 within the first 90 days of account opening.
  • Travel perks: free first checked bag for cardholder and 6 travel companions, Companion Fare from $121 on account anniversary ($99 plus taxes and fees from $22).

Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite MasterCard

  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on American Airlines purchases.
  • Earn 1 mile per $1 for other purchases.
  • Annual fee: $95, waived the first year.
  • APR: 17.24% to 25.99% variable, depending on credit.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Welcome offer: 50,000 bonus miles after spending $2,500 within the first 3 months of account opening.
  • Travel perks: free first checked bag for cardholder and 4 travel companions, preferred boarding, discounted award prices.
  • Disclosure: Citi is an Airfarewatchdog advertiser.

Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard

  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on American Airlines purchases.
  • Earn 1 mile per $1 for other purchases.
  • Annual fee: $450.
  • APR: 16.99% to 24.99% variable, depending on credit.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Welcome offer: 50,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 within the first 3 months of account opening.
  • Travel perks: Admirals Club membership, Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee credit, 10,000 elite miles after spending $40,000 within the year, free first checked bag for cardholder and 8 travel companions, preferred boarding, discounted award prices.

Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express

  • Earn 3 points per $1 spent on flights booked directly with the airline.
  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent on U.S. restaurant, gas station, supermarket purchases.
  • Earn 1 point per $1 for other purchases.
  • Annual fee: $195, waived the first year.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Welcome offer: 25,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 within the first 3 months of account opening.
  • Travel perks: $100 credit for airline fees, including bag fees, $75 credit with The Hotel Collection.

The Platinum Card from American Express

  • Earn 5 points per $1 spent on flights booked directly with the airline or with AmEx Travel on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • Earn 1 point per $1 for other purchases.
  • Annual fee: $550.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Welcome offer: 60,000 bonus points after spending $5,000 within the first 3 months of account opening.
  • Travel perks: $200 credit for airline fees, including bag fees, access to Delta, American Express lounges, fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. 

Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express

  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on Delta purchases.
  • Earn 1 mile per $1 for other purchases.
  • Annual fee: $95, waived the first year.
  • APR: 16.74% to 25.74% variable, depending on credit.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Welcome offer: 30,000 bonus miles after spending $1,000 within the first 3 months of account opening.
  • Travel perks: free first checked bag for cardholder and 8 travel companions, priority boarding, discounted lounge access.

JetBlue Plus World Elite Mastercard

  • Earn 6 points per $1 spent on JetBlue purchases.
  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent on restaurant and grocery purchases.
  • Earn 1 point per $1 for other purchases.
  • Annual fee: $99.
  • APR: 12.99% to 25.99% variable, depending on credit.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Welcome offer: 30,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 within the first 90 days of account opening.
  • Travel perks: free first checked bag for cardholder and 3 travel companions, 5,000-point annual anniversary bonus.

United MileagePlus Explorer Card

  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on United purchases.
  • Earn 1 mile per $1 for other purchases.
  • Annual fee: $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • APR: 16.99% to 22.99% variable, depending on credit.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Welcome offer: 40,000 bonus miles after spending $2,000 within the first 3 months of account opening.
  • Travel perks: free first checked bag for cardholder and 1 travel companion, priority boarding, 2 annual airport lounge passes.

Editor's Note: This content is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed here are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by the aforementioned entities.

Comments
Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.