How to Save Big on American Airlines With Free Checked Bags & Lounges
Signing up for credit cards through partner links earns us a commission. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.Update: One or more card offers in this post are no longer available. Check our Hot Deals for the latest offers.
I’ll show you how to get free checked bags, access to comfortable airport lounges with Wi-Fi, food & drinks included, and nearly 5% back when you fly on American Airlines.
You can accomplish all this with just 2 credit cards.
When you have the Citi Prestige card and an American Airlines credit card, you can save a lot and have a more comfortable experience! I’ll show you exactly what you get and how to use them smartly!
About Citi Prestige
Link: Citi Prestige
Plus, you get a LOT of amazing perks including:
- Access to American Airlines Admirals Club (through July 23, 2017) and Priority Pass Lounges
- 4th night free when you book 4 consecutive nights at almost any hotel (must be booked through Citi Prestige Concierge and paid in full with your card)
- 3X Citi ThankYou points per $1 spent at airlines, hotels, and travel agencies
- 2X Citi ThankYou points per $1 spent at restaurants and select entertainment (includes movie theaters, amusement parks, tourist attractions)
- $250 statement credit for airline fees such as airfare and baggage fees appearing on your statement from December to the following December
- $100 statement credit for Global Entry application fee
- 3 (or more!) free rounds of golf per year through July 23, 2017
The $450 annual fee is NOT waived. But the $250 airfare credit alone makes it an effective $200 annual fee. And then you can get another $250 credit in the next calendar year before the 2nd annual fee is due, which more than makes up for it. And that’s not counting all the other perks you get with this card!
Save 3% to 5% on American Airlines Flights
What many folks like about using the points you earn with the Prestige card for American Airlines flights is that it’s easy. Personally, I prefer to use Citi ThankYou points for Big Travel on international Business Class or First Class flights.
But your situation may be different and you want coach flights at a discount with the freedom to book nearly any flight at any time. Either way, using the relaxing airport lounges you get with Citi Prestige is much better than being in a loud terminal.
You can use Citi ThankYou points to purchase tickets at a rate of 1.6 cents per point for flights on American Airlines through July 23, 2017.
If you use the points you’ll earn from the sign-up bonus to fly on American Airlines you can get a value of up to $800 (1.6 cents per point x 50,000 Citi ThankYou points)!
Each $1 spent on airfare and hotels earns 3X Citi ThankYou points. That’s nearly 5% back toward ALL paid American Airlines flights, including international flights on partners like Finnair and Qantas (3 Citi ThankYou points per $1 you spend x 1.6 cents per point = 4.8 cents per $1)!
And, each $1 you spend on restaurants and entertainment earns over 3% toward American Airlines flights (2 Citi ThankYou points per $1 you spend x 1.6 cents per point = 3.2 cents per $1).
You’ll earn 1X Citi ThankYou point per $1 spent on other purchases, which equals 1.6 cents each toward American Airlines flights. But, you’ll earn American Airlines miles on the flights you take AND elite status credit, which is good for award flights, upgrades, better seats in coach, and free checked bags.
And, there are NO blackout dates. If there’s a seat for sale, you can redeem Citi ThankYou points for it. With extra points in popular bonus categories, you can easily earn 3% to ~5% back on your regular spending, and turn it into free flights on American Airlines!
Enjoy the Other Perks, Too
The perks go far beyond the points you’ll earn from Citi Prestige.You’ll also get access to the American Airlines Admirals Club through July 23, 2017. This perk is good for the primary cardholder and immediate family or 2 guests when you’re flying American Airlines.
To enter the Admirals Club lounge, you have to show your Citi Prestige card!
You’ll also get access to Priority Pass lounges, and you’ll be able to bring 2 guests or immediate family with you, too!Admirals Club lounge membership usually costs $500, so you’re actually paying less with Citi Prestige!
You’ll relax in the lounge with snacks and beverages instead of paying for them at the airport.
Earn More Citi ThankYou Points With a Companion Card!
When you have more than 1 card that earns Citi ThankYou points, you can combine them all in your Citi Prestige account, and then redeem them for American Airlines flights!
The other cards hit many other bonus categories – so it’s possible to earn 3% to ~5% back toward American Airlines flights on other purchases you make!
For example, the Citi ThankYou Premier card earns 3X Citi ThankYou points on ALL travel purchases like:
- Public transportation
And it earns 2X Citi ThankYou points on dining and entertainment.
If you shop online a lot, the Citi AT&T Access More card is a no-brainer. That’s because it earns 3X Citi ThankYou points on all online retail and travel shopping! This includes Amazon.com and most other online purchases you make!
Most other credit cards only earn 1 mile or point for shopping online. So the Citi AT&T Access More card is worth getting even if you only use it for online shopping. You’ll also get 3X Citi ThankYou points for AT&T purchases, and up to $650 statement credit toward a new cell phone as a sign-up bonus.
And folks with the Citi ThankYou Preferred or Citi ThankYou Preferred Card for College Students will earn 2X Citi ThankYou points on restaurants and entertainment, and 1X Citi ThankYou point on other purchases.
So if you already have those cards, you can combine the points with Citi Prestige to earn even more points toward American Airlines flights with your everyday spending.
And Get Free Checked Bags!
Some folks who fly on American Airlines will get a lot of use out of the 1st free checked bag perk certain cards offer. This can add up fast if you travel with friends or family a lot! 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.
The Citi Platinum Select AAdvantage card comes with 1 free checked bag for yourself and up to 4 companions traveling on the same itinerary. So a family of 4 can save $200 on every round-trip flight if each person needs to check a bag!
So just 1 flight with companions can more than recover the $95 annual fee on this card, which is waived the 1st year.
You do NOT have to pay with your American Airlines card to get the free bag perk. It’s enough to simply have the card open – so you can choose which type of miles you want to earn when you pay for the ticket!
Should You Use Citi ThankYou Points or American Airlines Miles?
If you usually pay for coach award flights, you might prefer to redeem your Citi ThankYou points for 1.6 cents each on American Airlines flights through July 23, 2017. But if you’re saving up for a Business Class or First Class award ticket, earn American Airlines miles instead.
Remember Citi ThankYou points give you the flexibility to redeem for ANY seat with no blackout dates. So if you can only travel on certain dates, Citi ThankYou points are a better choice for coach flights..Note: Citi will only approve 1 credit card application per day, and no more than 2 every ~65 days. And you should wait at least ~8 days between applications.
Don’t Want to Pay for In-Flight Wi-Fi?
You can get free in-flight Wi-Fi on American Airlines flights when you have 1 of the cards I list in that post.
When you put your everyday spending on the Citi Prestige card, you earn Citi ThankYou points, which are worth 3% to ~5% back when you redeem them for flights on American Airlines.Citi Prestige earns 3X Citi ThankYou points on air travel and hotel purchases, and 2X Citi ThankYou points on dining and entertainment purchases, plus 1X Citi ThankYou point everywhere else.
When you pair it with another card that earns Citi ThankYou points, like the Citi ThankYou Premier or Citi AT&T Access More, it’s easy to rack up the points on all your travel spending and online retail purchases, which can really add up!
Folks who check a lot of bags will value the Citi Platinum Select AAdvantage or Citi AAdvantage Executive card because you get 1 free checked bag for yourself and your companions on every domestic American Airlines trip. A family of 4 can save $200 on a round-trip vacation if they check bags each way!Citi Prestige also comes with other perks like:
- Access to the American Airlines Admirals Club through July 23, 2017
- 4th night free on paid hotel stays
- $250 airline credit each calendar year to use on ANY airline
So it’s very easy to more than make up the $450 annual fee on the card!
Folks who fly American Airlines & have the Prestige card can redeem each Citi ThankYou point at a rate of 1.6 cents each through July 23, 2017, toward any seat for sale, and you’ll still earn miles for the flight and elite status credit.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® CardAPPLY NOW
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide, eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash’s subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That’s 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
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! :)