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If you fly United Airlines, either with paid tickets or award seats, the United℠ Explorer Card can save you money – even if you don’t fly often. That’s because you get one free checked bag when you use your Chase United Explorer card to buy your flight.
That said, you have to use the United card to buy your ticket, otherwise, you won’t get the free bag! I’ll explain how this benefit works – and give you other card options that offer excellent checked baggage perks!
Chase United Explorer Card’s Free Checked Bag Perk
Apply here for the United℠ Explorer Card
One of the most valuable perks for United Explorer cardholders (and one traveling companion on the same reservation) is that you can check your first bag for free on United or United Express operated flights. United charges $30 for the first checked bag on flights within the US, Canada, and Puerto Rico.
If two people are traveling, this is a savings of $120 per round-trip flight! Remember, the free bag only applies to the cardholder and one companion, so if you’re a family of 4, you’ll still only get 2 free checked bags. But the savings can really add up, especially if you fly numerous times per year!
You Have to Use the Card to Buy Your Ticket!
We get a lot of questions about whether you need to actually buy your tickets with your United Explorer card to get your first checked bag free.
The terms and conditions of the free first checked bag offer make it clear that you must to use the card to pay for your ticket to get the benefit. On an award ticket, you must pay the taxes and fees with your card.
This is different from other airlines, where you sometimes get the free bag as long as you have the airline credit card (even if you didn’t use it to pay for the ticket). You also likely will not get the free checked bag if your confirmation (on the United website) doesn’t indicate that you will get one free checked bag.
I can attest to the fact that United agents at the airport will usually not help you, even if you show them your United card.
You Won’t Always Get the Free Bag
The free first bag benefit only applies on United or United Express operated flights, so if you’re flying another airline first then connect onto United, you’re out of luck.
Also, if you already get a free bag because of elite status, or on international flights, you won’t get a 2nd free bag by using the United card.
Other Cards With Great Bag Benefits
If you fly American Airlines, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® and Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® cards also offer a free first checked bag domestically to cardholders and up to 4 traveling companions on the same reservation (on the Citi Platinum) and up to 8 traveling companions on the same reservation (for the Citi Executive). American Airlines charges $30 to check a bag, so for a family of 5, you could save $300 per round-trip – or more, depending which card you have!
And you don’t need to use the card to buy your tickets to get the free checked bag!
If you’re a Delta flyer, the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express, Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express, and Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express have an even more generous free first checked bag benefit. Up to 9 people on the same reservation can get the free first bag, so you could save up to $540 per round-trip if you’re traveling in a large group.
Plus, you don’t need to use the card to buy your tickets to get the free checked bag. So if you travel regularly as a family or as a group, these might be a better deal for you!
Don’t forget to use your Chase United Explorer card to pay for your tickets if you want your first bag checked for free. This applies to both paid and award tickets! For award seats, you’ll need to pay for any taxes and fees with your United Explorer card.
You can earn 40,000 United Airlines miles when you open the card and spend $2,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.
The free bag applies to the cardholder and one traveling companion, but you have to travel together on the same reservation. You could save up to $120 per round-trip. That said, you have to fly on United or United Express to get the benefit, and if you’re traveling internationally or have elite status, you won’t get an extra free bag if the first one is already included.
Other credit cards, like the Citi American Airlines Platinum card, have more flexible free first bag benefits, so those might be a better deal for those that fly as a family or group or prefer other airlines.
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