One of the Most Understated Benefits of the Citi American Airlines Cards – It’s Saved Me $475 so Far!

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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.

Increased Baggage Fees Make the Citi American Airlines Credit Cards Even More Valuable

Why I’ll Likely NEVER Cancel My Citi American Airlines Credit Card

Apply Here:   CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®

Read our review of the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®

Apply Here:   Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®

Read our review of the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®

Link:   Combat the Airline Fee Increase With Credit Cards That Get You Free Checked Bags

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!

The information for the Citi AAdvantage Platinum and CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum 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.

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.

Even If You Don’t Need to Check a Bag, It’s Convenient When You’re Traveling With Little Ones That Need Attention

Bottom Line

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?

Joseph Hostetler is a full-time writer for Million Mile Secrets, covering miles and points tips and tricks, as well as helpful travel-related news and deals.

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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Michael Hollis
1 year ago

My biggest gripe with with the limit on fistic flights only. When I fly, it’s generally international. If it’s domestic, im driving. There are no baggage benefits to being a cardholder with American if you fly exclusively international. They fix that, and it’s a game-changer for me.

1 year ago

This reads like an ad and is cringeworthy. Many other airline credit cards offer free checked bag fees, and the value of the miles you’ve forgone by not spending on a more lucrative credit card could easily exceed the saved bag fees.

1 year ago

Don’t forget, the free bag is domestic only. I rarely check a bag and try to avoid it with the exception of checking bottles of good spirits. I could not use my AA card for a free bag coming back from the Caribbean.

1 year ago

Are you under the impression that you get free aa bags for holding a ba card, iberia, and the like? You don’t.

1 year ago

That is a cool card. I have also saved a nice chunk of change by using the card’s collision coverage for rental vehicles. I probably saved $150 on rental insurance during my most recent trip to Spain alone!

1 year ago

We never use the free bags, with our credit cards or SW airlines!

Years ago, we figured out 9/10th the junk we’d checked were never needed, much less used.

We’ve traveled for 9 weeks in SE Asia, 12 weeks + a cruise in Europe and did fantastically well.

We just got off a flight, because one engine wasn’t working and we’d miss our connecting flight. What a mess, if we’d had checked luggage!

We just grabbed our roller bags and small backpacks and walked off the plane, to receive our $400 vouchers and go to the hotel.

Also, we don’t have to rent a van, because of all the unnecessary luggage. A small car saves us on gas and our bags fit nicely.

Plus, we don’t have to wait at the conveyor belt to find out our unnecessary checked bag has been delayed or lost.

The last bag we checked, years ago, was to Paris, CDG, and they managed to delay it 4 days. That was before credit cards had the built in delay/lost baggage. NEVER AGAIN!

Chuck the steamer trunks and make your trips much more fun.


Reply to  J R
1 year ago

JR, could you explain the $400. vouchers? Is that from the airline only because you were delayed in the EU?
Does that also apply to budget carriers in the EU only or does it apply to any airline in US, Asia, etc.

Reply to  Rob
1 year ago

It was 2 weeks ago, SW airlines, PDX-LAS-MSY and we actually each got $200 vouchers for future flights and called in, getting an additional $200 each to cover the hotel. Ended up going back to stay one more night with our daughter. Thus, the $400 grins

Reply to  Rob
1 year ago

Sorry, we both got $400 future vouchers as we walked off with our roller bags. No baggage hassles. Straight off to the hotel, with a $400 grin on each of our faces.

1 year ago

Well, you have to fly AA to save the bag fees. I’m going to cancel my AA card as Citi customer service (charge dispute) has left the building.

Reply to  E-lectric
1 year ago

And if you never check steamer trunks, save the annual fee.