Many airline credit cards offer free checked bags to cardholders. However, the details vary a lot by airline. Are international flights included? How about the bags of companions on the same reservation? Do you have to pay for the flight with the airline credit card? Find answers about free checked bags via credit card below…
General Info, Common Across Credit Cards
In all cases that I’ve found, baggage fee waivers are only for normal bag fees and do not include oversized bags or pets. Most credit cards allow a maximum of 1 free checked bag per person, but usually cover a free bag for at least one companion as well. Additionally, when you get free bags through other means (such as elite status), the baggage allowance is not cumulative. In other words, if your elite status allows 2 checked bags, you do not get 3 free checked bags. One exception is with the Hawaiian Airlines card which gives elite members one additional free checked bag. In all cases, free checked bags are available only to primary cardholders. Those with authorized user cards do not get this benefit.
Free Checked Bags via Credit Card Comparison Chart
|Must pay with card to get free bag?||No||No||Yes||No||No1||Yes6|
|Max # companions that get free first bag||4 or 82||8||1 or 23||6||3||0|
|Free bags on international flights?||No4||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|# of days before flight that card must be open||05||05||14||0?||05||0|
|# of days before flight that loyalty number must be attached to reservation||7||0||0||0||7||0|
- Eligible credit cards: Alaska Airlines Visa Signature, Alaska Airlines Visa Business, and Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard.
- Prerequisites: The cardholder must be traveling and the cardholder’s Mileage Plan™ number must be in the reservation before checking in.
- Eligible flights: If you’re flying on Alaska Airlines operated and ticketed flights, including flights operated for Alaska by Horizon, SkyWest, or PenAir (AS 001-999, 1000-1999, 2000-2999, 3300-3499), you are eligible for the first checked bag free benefit. If your flight connects to or from another airline, standard baggage fees will apply.
- Other restrictions: For reservations made with group booking codes or through the group desk, only primary cardholders will receive the free checked bag.
- Eligible credit cards: Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard (8 companions), Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select Card (4 companions), CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select Card (4 companions), AAdvantage Aviator Silver World Elite Mastercard (8 companions), AAdvantage Aviator Red MasterCard (4 companions), AAdvantage Aviator Business Mastercard (4 companions)
Account must be open 7 days prior to air travel AND Reservation must include the primary cardmember’s AAdvantage number 7 days prior to air travel. Despite these terms, a reader reports signing up for a card the day before his flight while in the process of checking in online and he immediately received the free bag benefit.
- Eligible flights: domestic itineraries marketed and operated by American Airlines, or on itineraries marketed by American Airlines and operated as American Eagle® flights by Envoy Air Inc., Republic Airways Inc., SkyWest Airlines, Inc., Mesa Airlines, Inc., PSA Airlines, Inc., or Piedmont Airlines, Inc. All flights on the itinerary must be domestic flights marketed by American Airlines and operated by American Airlines or American Eagle. This benefit will not be available for travel on codeshare flights booked with an American Airlines flight number but operated by another airline.
Note that even though the free checked bag benefit mostly only applies to domestic flights, AA allows 1 free checked bag to all passengers on Transpacific routes and a free checked bag to all but basic economy passengers on Transatlantic routes.
- Eligible credit cards: Delta SkyMiles Gold, Delta SkyMiles Gold Business, Delta SkyMiles Platinum, Delta SkyMiles Platinum Business, Delta SkyMiles Reserve, Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business.
- Prerequisites: New Card Members and Card Members upgrading from another Delta SkyMiles Credit Card product will be eligible for the checked baggage fee waiver benefit after receiving their Card from American Express.
- Eligible flights: Delta or Delta Connection when you check-in with Delta for both a Delta marketed and Delta operated flight. Codeshare flights are not eligible.
- Other restrictions: N/A
The Hawaiian Airlines consumer card from Barclays now offers 2 free checked bags, but only to the primary cardholder. Companions on the same ticket do not get free checked bags.
- Eligible credit cards: The Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite MasterCard® issued by Barclays (the Hawaiian business card does not offer free checked bags)
- Prerequisites: Must book directly through Hawaiian Airlines and must pay with your Hawaiian Airlines card.
- Eligible flights: This is only for travel between North America and Hawaii and between Neighbor Islands (interisland). International flights are excluded. Offer is not valid on codeshare flight segments operated by Hawaiian Airlines and marketed by other airline partners.
- Other restrictions: N/A
- Eligible credit cards: JetBlue Plus Card and JetBlue Business Card.
- Prerequisites: All ticket purchases (original and exchanges) must be made with the JetBlue Plus MasterCard Account and the cardmember’s TrueBlue member number must be entered at the time of booking. Additionally, the account must be open 7 days prior to air travel AND, reservation must include the primary cardmember’s TrueBlue member number 7 days prior to air travel. Update: Readers have reported that the previous sentence is not true in practice. In their experience, the bag waiver becomes available immediately upon approval of the card and you do not have to pay for your flight with the card.
- Eligible flights: All JetBlue operated flights. Not available for travel on codeshare flights booked with a JetBlue flight number but operated by another airline.
- Other restrictions: Perk only applies to “Blue” fares (since other fares include free checked bags)
- Credit cards eligible for 1 checked bag: United Explorer Card, United Business Card, United Explorer Business Card (no longer available).
- Credit cards eligible for 2 checked bags: United Quest Card, United Club Infinite Card, United Club Business Card, United Club Card (no longer available new), Presidential Plus Card (no longer available new), and Presidential Plus Business Card (no longer available new).
- The primary cardmember must Include their MileagePlus number in the reservation and purchase the tickets with their United MileagePlus Chase Card. If booking an award ticket, the free bag benefit will apply if you pay the award taxes and fees with your United card.
- The Primary Cardmember may use miles to book award travel on United-operated flights, as long as they pay for their award ticket taxes and service charges with their qualifying Card and include their MileagePlus account number in their reservation.
- A new United MileagePlus Chase primary credit Cardmember will be eligible for their applicable free standard checked bag(s) 2 weeks after account opening.
- Eligible flights: United- and United Express®-operated flights
- Other restrictions: Unpublished fares, such as those purchased on priceline.com and Hotwire, are not eligible.
- See also: How to get free checked bags on United flights booked with partner miles.
Note that some readers have reported success getting free checked bags even without paying for the flight with their United credit card by haggling at the check-in counter, but others have reported the opposite.