We devote thousands of hours of research to help you get Big Travel with Small Money. You support us by signing-up for credit cards through partner links which earn us a commission. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.
Do you know how airlines are increasing profits nowadays? Mad fees.
The hardest fee to swallow just might be the expense for checked bags. And LOTS of airlines have recently increased the price you’ll pay!
I’ve said before that I hold onto certain airline cards exclusively for the perk that allows me to bring a free checked bag. It’s why I pay the $99 annual fee for my Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® card year after year. I think of it as paying $99 upfront for a yearly subscription of free bags.
I’ve had the card for ~3 years. And I calculate that I’ve saved ~$475 on checked bags. That’s MUCH more than I’ve spent in annual fee costs.
Why I’ll Likely NEVER Cancel My Citi American Airlines Credit Card
If you have either a CitiBusiness American Airlines Platinum Select or a Citi American Airlines Platinum Select, you and up to 4 companions on your reservation will all get your first checked bag free on domestic flights. That adds up, seeing as American Airlines charges $30 one-way for a first domestic checked bag!
You can understand why these cards are very popular in the miles and points hobby. Especially if you’re a frequent traveler like the Million Mile Secrets team. I have the personal credit card for this reason alone. Jasmin does the same with the small business version.
Looking at my American Airlines flights from the previous 3 years that I’ve owned an American Airlines credit card, I estimate that I’ve checked a bag for ~19 one-way flights. American Airlines previously charged $25 for their checked bag fees. Multiplying my number of flights by $25 equals $475.
Both the small business and the personal version of the cards waive the $99 annual fee the first year. So I’ve had this card for a little over 3 years, and paid the annual fee twice (the first year was free). That means I’ve paid $198 for $475 worth of bags (a net savings of $277!). Plus, I’ll still get free bags during multiple months left before the annual fee is due again!
As you can see, this card is a no-brainer for me. And I mostly travel by myself! If you travel with others, you can easily multiply that savings.
For example, if you and your partner take ONE SINGLE round-trip domestic flight each year, you’ll more than make up the cost of the annual fee if you check bags (4 one-ways X $30 per checked bag = $120 in savings – $99 annual fee).
Or, if you’re a family of 5, you’ll save $200 per year if you take ONE yearly family trip (10 one-way trips X $30 per checked bag = $300 in savings – $99 annual fee). And you’ll save $500 if you take 2 trips. Or $800 if you take 3 trips. Not bad for a $99 annual fee.
And don’t forget, the first year’s annual fee is waived! So just by opening a Citi American Airlines credit card, you’re immediately given 12 months of 100% free first checked bags on American Airlines domestic flights. And a ton of other stuff.
I admit, having this card sometimes causes me to check a bag when I don’t need to. I occasionally check a bag instead of cramming everything into my carry-on, and I walk the airport hands-free. No worrying about finding a spot for my carry-on luggage aboard the plane or holding the line up when I retrieve it. That’s another simple luxury that comes with unlimited free first checked bag privileges.
Traveling hands-free is sometimes even a necessity when I’m traveling with kids and others who need extra hands to help navigate the airport.
American Airlines charges $30 for each one-way flight ($60 round-trip) for your first checked bag.
So if you fly just a couple of times per year on American Airlines, you could save a lot with the CitiBusiness American Airlines Platinum Select or a Citi American Airlines Platinum Select. Especially if you travel with a group!
These cards give you and up to 4 companions on the same reservation the first checked bag free. You can use that perk as often as you fly!
Both the personal and small business version of the card are great. But the small business card currently comes with a gigantic 70,000 point sign-up bonus after meeting minimum spending requirements. That’s 20,000 points higher than the personal version, and more than enough for a round-trip flight to Europe! So that’s the better one to open.
How much do you pay for checked bags each year?