I recently claimed that airline branded credit cards may not be the best approach to earning miles with that specific airline.
The big exception, of course, is if you fly the airline a lot and can take advantage of the free baggage.
Since I usually fly with my wife and three kids, I do my best to avoid paying for bags. In fact, with all my travels, I’ve never had to pay for a single bag. However, I think that record will be broken this year as we’ll be on a few non-Southwest domestic flights this summer.
Of course, the one thing we all want to know is if there is a way to avoid these fees. Saving money and avoiding fees is all part of traveling cheaply.
Travel Credit Cards Which Feature the Best Free Baggage Benefits
Delta – When you fly on Delta, your first checked bag is free. This benefit applies up to eight others traveling on the same itinerary. This benefit only applies to the primary card holder and not secondary card holders. Of course, don’t expect this to cover overweight or oversized bags. You can get the annual fee waived for the first year, and then you’ll pay $95 per year (depending on the Delta American Express card type).
United – With the Chase United credit card you get a free bag for you and one companion traveling with you. This card has no annual fee for the first year and then charges $95 per year thereafter.
American – Citi just announced that their American Airlines Platinum Select will include free baggage for the card holder and up to four companions. Also, you and a companion can each save the cost of a checked bag with the Citi Executive AAdvantage World Elite credit card. This card does come with a $450 annual fee, so you need to travel a ton for this benefit to pay off. However, if you travel a lot, then you probably already have status and get free bags anyway. Just saying.
American Express Platinum (sort of) - With the The Platinum Card ® from American Express, you select an airline, and you get up to $200 worth of travel reimbursements each calendar year. Thus, if you designated American and paid $200 for checked baggage, the card would reimburse that expense. This is another card with a hefty $450 fee. At least it has a lot of nice benefits to justify the expense.
Of course, you should remember when you book travel on Southwest Airlines you never pay anything for baggage (regardless of the credit card you have).
Beyond these credit card options, you’re probably going to need to be prepared to pay to check in your baggage.