How to Easily Save Up to $300 Round-Trip With the Citi American Airlines Platinum Select Card’s Free Checked Bag Benefit

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If you have or are considering the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®, one of its big benefits is that your first checked bag is free on domestic itineraries while traveling on American Airlines.  If you fly American Airlines often, you can save a lot of money by not paying $30 each way to check a bag.  In fact, it can be worth keeping the card just for this one perk! The information for the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select card has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

But there are a few rules and restrictions you’ll need to know about to make the most of this incredibly valuable benefit.  I’ll explain.

With all the money you can save on American Airlines checked baggage fees, you’ll actually be able to afford some of that over-priced airport food 😉

Pro Tips for Getting the Most From the Citi American Airlines Free First Checked Bag Perk

You can apply here for the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®

Here’s our Review of the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select

I’ll answer some of the most common questions regarding the free first checked bag benefit that comes with the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select card.

1.   How Do You Apply the Benefit to Your Reservation?

To have the free checked bag automatically added to your reservation, your Citi AAdvantage Platinum account must have been open for at least 7 days.  And your American Airlines frequent flyer number must be attached to the reservation at least 7 days before departure.

2.   Do You Have to Pay With the Card to Get a Free Checked Bag?

No, you don’t.  However, your card does need to be in good standing and active (not closed for any reason) when you take the flight.

Because the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select card earns 2X American Airlines miles per $1 spent with the airline (in addition to miles you’ll earn from flying), using the card to book American Airlines flights will boost your miles balance.

3.   Can Friends and Family Get the Free Checked Bag Benefit Too?

Yes, if friends and family are on the same reservation as the cardholder, they’ll also get a free checked bag.

The cardholder plus up to 4 additional passengers can earn this benefit if you are all traveling on the same American Airlines reservation.

Family in airport. Attractive young woman, handsome man and their cute little daughter are ready for traveling! Happy family concept.
A family of 5 traveling with checked baggage can save up to $300 round trip

If you frequently travel with more than 4 additional passengers, you might want to consider the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® which allows up to 8 additional passengers on the same American Airlines reservation to earn this benefit.

4.   Does the Free Checked Bag Work on Award Flights?

Wouldn’t it be a bummer if you had to pay for your checked bag on a flight you booked with miles?  Luckily, with the Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select card, your free checked bag benefit extends to award flights.  Plus, up to 4 others on the same reservation can also get a free checked bag.

This can be tricky if you’re using British Airways Avios points to book American Airlines award flights because when you book award flights with partner airline miles, your American Airlines account number won’t be on the reservation.  I’ve been charged a checked bag fee in this situation and just contacted American Airlines to have the fee waived after the fact.  You may also be able to get your American Airlines account number added to the reservation before you travel by calling in.

5.   Do You Get a Free Checked Bag on International Flights?

Put simply, this card benefit is only for domestic travel.  You must fly on American Airlines or American Eagle flights, as partner or codeshare flights aren’t eligible.

Unfortunately, this means that you won’t be able to use this on an international flight.  But American Airlines does include at least one free checked bag for most international flights for all passengers, so this isn’t that big of a deal.

6.   What If You Have More Than One Checked Bag?

American Airlines lists a scaled pricing structure for checked bags.  The card benefit waives the first bag fee, but if you have more bags, you’ll be charged for your 2nd and 3rd bags (and so on) per the pricing chart.

If your reservation already includes a first checked bag, this benefit can NOT be used for a 2nd or 3rd bag.

7.   What If Your First Checked Bag Is Oversized, Overweight, or Specialized?

If your bag weighs more than 50 pounds, you’ll be charged an overweight fee which is separate from the checked bag fee.  Fees also apply to oversized bags larger than 62 inches.

If you’re bringing your golf clubs along, you’ll need to pay extra

Million Mile Secrets contributor, Alex, travels in the winter for skiing and in the summer to compete in triathlons, and always has to check specialty bags.  Luckily, with the way American Airlines treats specialty luggage, this card benefit can often cover this type of baggage if you don’t check anything else.

For example, most race or road bikes that are packed correctly (less than 50 pounds and 62 inches) can be covered under this card benefit.  And the same applies to other sports equipment as long as it isn’t oversized!

8.   How Does the Free Checked Bag Work With Basic Economy Tickets?

The American Airlines credit cards can be extra valuable when you book Basic Economy tickets.  Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select cardholders can enjoy 1 carry-on bag, 1 personal item, and 1 checked bag for free on Basic Economy tickets, which normally charge fees for every bag other than the first personal item.

American Airlines Basic Economy
American Airlines Basic Economy Has Fewer Drawbacks When You Have the Citi American Airlines Platinum Select Card

In addition, Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select cardholders will also get group 5 boarding instead of group 9 boarding, which is particularly useful when combined with your free carry-on bag.  This will give you plenty of time to find an overhead bin near your seat.

The Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select card can be incredibly useful for folks who often book Basic Economy tickets or who would be willing to book Basic Economy tickets if they were allowed the extra bags and an improved boarding zone.

Earn 60,000 American Airlines Miles

Folks interested in these benefits should consider taking advantage of the limited-time increased offer on the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select card.  You’ll earn 60,000 American Airlines miles after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.

That’s more than enough for 2 round-trip coach award flights within the mainland US, or you could book a round-trip flight to Europe!

The American Airlines miles you can earn with the Citi American Airlines Platinum card are more than enough for 2 round-trip domestic flights to San Francisco

You can also use these miles for award flights on partner airlines, like British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Etihad, and more!

Bottom Line

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® gets you your first checked bag free on domestic American Airlines and American Eagle flights.  That’s a savings of $30 each way!

This benefit applies the cardholder plus up to 4 other passengers on the same reservation.  So for a family or group of 5, that’s $300 in savings on just one round-trip flight ($60 in fees per round-trip ticket X 5 passengers)!  The benefit can even cover the expense of specialty bags like golf clubs and skis if they meet size and weight requirements.

The Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select card has an increased welcome bonus of 60,000 American Airlines miles after spending $3,000 on purchases within 3 months of account opening.  That’s more than enough for 2 round-trip coach award flights within the mainland US, where you can try out the free checked bag benefit.

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Jason Stauffer was a writer for Million Mile Secrets where he covered points, miles, credit cards, airlines, hotels and general travel. His work has appeared in The Points Guy and NextAdvisor.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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