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

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

Joseph HostetlerOne of the Most Understated Benefits of the Citi American Airlines Cards – It’s Saved Me $475 so Far!Million Mile Secrets Team

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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!

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?

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CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®

CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®

  • Designed for businesses
  • For a limited time, earn 70,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after making $4,000 in purchases within the first 4 months of account opening*
  • First checked bag is free on domestic American Airlines itineraries to reduce travel costs and boost your bottom line*
  • New: 25% savings on American Airlines inflight Wi-Fi when you use your card*
  • Enjoy preferred boarding on American Airlines flights*
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles per $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles per $1 spent on purchases at telecommunications merchants, cable and satellite providers, car rental merchants and at gas stations*
  • Earn 1 AAdvantage® mile per $1 spent on other purchases*
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees*

More Info

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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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.

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.

Author
Joseph Hostetler

Hey John! I’m not sure what you mean. You don’t have to spend any money on the AA card to receive the free checked bag feature. You don’t even have to pay for your flight with the card. As long as you have it, you’ll get free flights on AA. So you can put your spend on any card you want!

Does this solve your “miles you’ve foregone by not spending on a more lucrative credit card” worries?

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.

Author
Joseph Hostetler

That’s true, and a good data point. Many international routes do come with a free checked bag, though international Basic Economy effectively causes you to purchase a checked bag with a more expensive fare.

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!

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

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