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It seems airlines have really been nickel and diming us lately with all their increased fees! Recently, American Airlines jumped on the bandwagon and raised their fee for a first checked bag from $25 to $30.
That’s a bummer – unless you have an American Airlines credit card like the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard. If you do, your card just increased in value!
That’s because with these cards, you’ll get a free first checked bag on domestic itineraries for yourself and a certain number of companions on the same reservation (the number varies by card). And you do NOT have to use the card to pay for your ticket.
If you fly American Airlines frequently, this can add up to huge savings!
I’ll show you how to avoid getting stung by the American Airlines baggage fee increase!
Which American Airlines Cards Offer Free Checked Bags?
There are a few American Airlines cards that offer the first free checked bags on domestic itineraries. Note that you’ll only get this perk on American Airlines and American Eagle flights, NOT partners.
To qualify for this benefit, you don’t have to use the card to pay for your ticket. But your American Airlines frequent flyer account must have been open for at least 7 days prior to travel. And your American Airlines frequent flyer number must be attached to the reservation at least 7 days before your flight.
Note: The relatively new American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card is a terrific card for groceries and for folks who prefer cards with no annual fee. But it does NOT offer free checked bags. You can check out our review of the American Airlines Aadvantage MileUp Card here.
Free Checked Bags With Great Bonus Categories
Apply Here: Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard
The Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard includes a free first bag on domestic itineraries for the primary cardholder and up to 4 companions on the same reservation.
Given a first checked bag costs $30, a family of 4 could save $120 on bag fees one-way, or $240 for a round-trip.
While this card does have an annual fee of $99, the fee is waived for the first 12 months. I recently applied for Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select and received the current welcome bonus of 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage miles after spending $2,500 within the first 3 months of account opening.
This card also comes with:
- 2X American Airlines miles per $1 spent on American Airlines flights
- 2X American Airlines miles per $1 spent at gas stations and restaurants
- 1X American Airlines mile per $1 spent on other purchases
- Preferred boarding (group 5) so you can settle in onboard sooner and snag coveted overhead bin space!
Free Checked Bags With Awesome Lounge Access
The Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard is currently offering 50,000 American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
In addition, you get the first checked bag free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to 8 companions traveling with you on the same reservation! That’s great for large families or a group of friends traveling together.
If you traveled with 8 companions, you’d get a total of $270 in checked bag fees waived each way (9 passengers X $30 per bag).
The Citi AAdvantage Executive has a $450 annual fee, but that gets you the terrific perk of an Admirals Club Membership. You’ll receive access to Admirals Club airport lounges around the world for you and up to 2 companions or immediate family (spouse or partner and children under 18 years old).
And you can add up to 10 authorized users for free, and they’ll each get access to Admirals Club lounges (not a full Admirals Club membership) with the same guest privileges.
I recommend this card for people who frequently travel on American Airlines but do not have another travel card with free lounge access.
Business Card With a Large Sign-Up Bonus and Free Bags
Apply Here: CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®
If you have a small business, the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard® is an excellent card to consider. You’ll get a free first checked bag for the primary cardholder and up to 4 companions on the same domestic reservation.
The CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Mastercard is currently offering 65,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® miles after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first 4 months of account opening. The $99 annual fee is waived for the first 12 months, so you can test drive the card at no cost.
Additionally, you will get extra perks, including:
- 2X American Airlines miles per $1 spent on eligible American Airlines flights
- 2X American Airlines miles per $1 spent at certain telecommunications, rental car merchants, and at gas stations
- 1X American Airlines mile per $1 spent on other purchases
- Preferred boarding on American Airlines flights (group 5)
Other Cards to Consider
There are a couple of other cards that can help offset the cost of American Airlines checked bag fees.
The first is the Barclays AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®. This card has a $95 annual fee that is not waived the first year. However, it does offer first checked bag free for the primary cardmember and up to 4 companions on eligible bags when traveling on domestic itineraries operated by American Airlines or American Eagle.
The other is The Platinum Card® from American Express. While the AMEX Platinum Card doesn’t directly give you free baggage, it comes with an up to $200 annual airline incidental fee credit on your selected eligible airline. And American Airlines is one of the options!
Examples of purchases include:
- Checked baggage
- In-flight food or beverages
- Lounge day passes
- Change or cancellation fees
- Seat assignments
- And many other additional airline fees!
So while not an American Airlines branded card, you can save up to 6 first checked bag fees per year using this great perk from American Express! And it doesn’t have to be a domestic itinerary.
You can read our review of the AMEX Platinum here.
Airlines keep raising the price of checked bags, but the right cards have you covered!
Now that American Airlines has raised their first checked bag fee to $30, the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard is that much valuable. Because the primary cardholder (and 4 or 8 companions on the same reservation, depending on the card) gets a free first checked bag on domestic American Airlines and American Eagle itineraries!
You could also consider The Platinum Card® from American Express, which comes with up to $200 in airline incidental fee credits (including bag fees) on your selected airline each calendar year.
Will increased airline fees make you more likely to apply for cards that offer free checked bags?