Save Time & Frustration: Priority Check-In or Boarding With These Cards

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Have you ever worried about missing a flight while waiting in a long check-in line?  And have you ever walked up and down the aisle trying to find space in the overhead bin for your bag because you were 1 of the last to board?

Here are some cards that will take the frustration out of getting through the airport and boarding your next flight.

Priority Check In Credit Cards

Skip the Line With These Cards!

1.   American Airlines

These Citi American Airlines credit cards will get you ahead of the line.

Priority Check In Credit Cards

But to get this perk your credit card account must be opened at least 7 days prior to travel and your American Airlines frequent flyer number also needs to be on your reservation 7 days before travel.

A.   Citi Executive American Airlines

Link:  Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®

With the Citi Executive American Airlines card, you get priority check-in (where available) and priority boarding.  Up to 8 travel companions listed on the same reservation will also get these perks.

For priority check-in, card members can use the Business Class check-in lane or the First Class check-in lane when Business Class is not available.

Additional Card Benefits:
  • 60,000 American Airline miles when you spend $5,000 within 3 months.
  • Free access to American Airlines & US Airways airport lounges

Keep in mind, this card comes with a hefty $450 annual fee which is NOT waived the 1st year.  But you do get a $100 statement credit, which makes the annual fee effectively $350. 

B.   Citi American Airlines World

Link:   Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ MasterCard®

Link:   CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard®

You get Group 1 boarding with the Citi American Airlines World personal and business cards.  Group 1 boarding is only printed on the primary card holder’s boarding pass, but up to 4 travel companions on the same reservation are also eligible.

Additional Card Benefits:
  • 50,000 American Airlines miles when you spend $3,000 within 3 months
  • 1 free checked bag

The $95 annual fee is waived for the 1st year on both the personal and business version of this card.

2.   Delta Airlines

Priority Check In Credit Cards

Here are 3 AMEX Delta Airlines personal and business cards that all give primary card members Zone 1 boarding along with up to 8 travel companions on the same reservation.

A.   American Express Delta Gold

Link:   American Express Delta Gold Personal

Link:   American Express Delta Gold Business

Primary AMEX Delta Gold card members get Zone 1 boarding for themselves and up to 8 travel companions on the same reservation

Additional Card Benefits:
  • 50,000 Delta Airlines miles when you spend $1,000 within 3 months
  • $50 credit after your 1st Delta purchase within 3 months
  • Free checked bag
  • Terms & conditions apply

The $95 annual fee is waived the 1st year.

B.   American Express Delta Platinum

Link:   American Express Delta Platinum Personal

Link:   American Express Delta Platinum Business

You will also get Zone 1 boarding with the AMEX Delta Platinum card, along with up to 8 travel companions on the same reservation.

Additional Card Benefits:
  • 50,000 Delta Airlines miles and 15,000 elite miles when you spend $1,000 within 3 months
  • $100 statement credit after your 1st Delta purchase within 3 months
  • Free checked bag
  • Terms & conditions apply

The $195 annual fee is NOT waived the 1st year.

C.   American Express Delta Reserve

Link:   American Express Delta Reserve Personal 

Link:   American Express Delta Reserve Business  

With the AMEX Delta Reserve card, primary card members and up to 8 travel companions on the same reservation get Zone 1 boarding.

Additional Card Benefits:
  • 10,000 Delta Airlines miles after your 1st purchase
  • Delta Airlines airpot lounge access
  • Free checked bag
  • Terms & conditions apply

The $450 annual fee is NOT waived the 1st year.

3.   United Airlines

Priority Check In Credit Cards

A.   Chase United Explorer Card

Link:   Chase United Explorer Card

Two weeks after opening a Chase United Explorer card account, you and your travel companions on the same reservation get priority boarding.

Additional Card Benefits:
  • 50,000 United Airlines miles + 5,000 more miles after spending $2,000 within 3 months and adding an authorized user who makes a purchase within 3 months
  • Free 1st checked bag saves up to $100 per round-trip

And the $95 annual fee is waived for the 1st year.

B.   United Airlines Club Card

Link:   United Airlines Club Card

With the United Airlines Club Card, primary card holders get Premier Access, which includes designated check-in lines, priority security lanes, priority boarding, and priority baggage handling.

Allow 2 weeks after signing-up for the card before you begin receiving this perk.  Your United Airlines frequent flyer number must be on your reservation.

Additional Card Benefits:
  • $100 statement credit after your 1st purchase
  • Access to United Airlines airport lounges

The $395 annual fee is NOT waived.

Bottom Line

Waiting in a long line at check-in and fighting for overhead bin space for your carry-on can add extra frustration to your trip.

With these cards you can skip the lines and the added stress!

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10 responses to “Save Time & Frustration: Priority Check-In or Boarding With These Cards

  1. I’m guessing you only get priority checkin if you’re flying with that particular airline? For example, if I go to the Southwest terminal at my airport I probably won’t be able to go through the fast security line just because I have the AA Executive card, or is that not the case? Do all of these same benefits apply with reward flights or do the flights need to be booked and payed for on that particular card?

  2. Hi Thomas,

    It depends on the TSA at your airport. The TSA is looking for the Priority notification on your boarding pass.

  3. To receive priority (boarding or check-in), do you need to use the card for the ticket? Even on an award, must you pay the taxes and fees with the co-branded card to receive the priority, or are they just automatically tied in with your FF information?

  4. I have an american card, and will be flying on usair in a couple months. If i give them my american frequent flier number, do i get priority boarding?

  5. Just got approved for the 50k Business card. While I’m well aware of Sky Pesos reputation, some of the benefits will more than pay for the cost of the card the first year. 😉 FYI, I have 2 upcoming trips.

  6. This whole business of “priority boarding” is getting to be a joke. I fly regularly and there are so many categories of “priority” groups it boils down to a whole bunch of people with special boarding priviledges being the first group to board. In other words, one can have the highest status of the airlines FF program and you end up boarding at the same time as the guy who just happens to have a special credit card. I flew First Class from Houston to Calgary a couple of weeks ago and United boarded special needs and military and then announced Group 1 and 2 together. No special boarding priviledge for Platinum, First Class, etc. This combination of groups is getting more and more common, especially as delays cause them to rush the boarding process. Lastly, don’t expect your status or credit card ownership to help you much overseas. Many airlines (even U.S. airlines) don’t honor your status on international flights unless you are flying Business or First….then you likely will get a different line.

  7. @ Daraius, thank you for this post! Questions: in order to get priority boarding perks, do we have to use that certain credit cards when made the booking? Or any credit cards will do as long as we enter our frequent flyer number when we made the booking?
    Also can we receive priority boarding perks when we booked by miles? Or it has to be paid ticket?
    Thanks!

  8. I have both the US Airways card and the Citi AAdvantage Platinum card and can say with certainty that:
    1) you do not need to use the card to book a ticket to get the privileges
    2) your boarding priority still counts even when using miles, if it doesn’t show up automatically, simple speak to an agent at checkin or at the gate (I’ve even shown my credit card as I was boarding before)
    3) your privileges provided by 1 card, does not extend to the other airline, so you’ll need the appropriate card depending on who you’re flying

    • @Matthew – I don’t believe so as long as your AA # is on the reservations.

      @dhammer53 – That card is at least $500 in travel (Skypesos or not)!

      @Amanda – Usually making the booking is fine to get the priority boarding perk. Or you can hold the card out when boarding if it doesn’t show up on your boarding pass. It works for both paid and award tickets.

  9. I was wondering if the entire flight has to be purchase on the card to get the benefits of priority check/free checked bag? For example, I have the american citi platinum card. if I use my avios or american miles to book a ticket a ticket on american, if I pay the taxes/fees with my citi card, would I still get the free checked in bag and group 1 boarding?