The airline companies are making money… to the tune of $25.6 billion in profits in 2015! While low fuel costs really helped their bottom line, those darn bag fees certainly didn’t hurt them either – adding a whopping $3.8 billion to the bottom line.
For a single checked bag, most airlines will hit you with a $25 fee. While some airlines charge more – Spirit charges up to $40 – some charge less – JetBlue $20 (if the bag is added online), and some not at all – Southwest $0 (I LUV me some Southwest!), the result is more money for the airlines.
But most of the time, I don’t care how much an airline charges – because I don’t plan on paying it… and you shouldn’t either! With the proper credit card strategy and a smidge of planning, you will never pay baggage fees again!
Sound like a plan? Implement one, some, or all of the following tips into your credit card and overall travel strategy, and you will be flying baggage-fee free!
Strategy #1 – Pack Light… Carry-on Only!
This one is self-explanatory so we won’t spend much time here! Just carrying-on your luggage not an option for you? Move on to strategy #2!
Strategy #2 – Co-branded Credit Cards
Credit card companies and airlines are friends. Each major US airline offers a co-branded credit card – which allows you to earn points/miles directly with that specific airline’s frequent flyer program, and also provides you with a key money saving perk… FREE CHECKED BAGS!
Fly your airline of choice as a co-branded credit cardholder and stop paying $25 (or more!) each way for that checked bag!
United MileagePlus Explorer (Chase) – Free 1st checked bag for cardholder and one companion
Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Mastercard (Bank of Hawaii) – Complimentary 1st checked bag
The JetBlue Plus Card (Barclays) – Free 1st checked bag for you and up to THREE companions
Alaska Airlines Visa Signature (Bank of America) – Free checked bag for you and up to SIX other passengers on your reservation
Gold Delta (American Express) – Check your 1st bag for free
American Airlines AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard (Citi) – 1st checked bag is free for you and up to FOUR companions
Spirit Airlines and Frontier Airlines co-branded cards DO NOT offer free checked bags…
Note: “Business” versions (rather than personal) of the cards above may also provide fee checked bags!
Strategy #3 – Credit Cards Offering Airline Fee Reimbursement
Though not directly affiliated with specific airlines, some credit cards can still cure all your baggage fee woes by offering a perk called “Airline Fee Reimbursement”. This Airline Fee Reimbursement is an annual allowance/reimbursement to you for various incidental fees (including baggage fees). While this perk is typically offered on high-annual fee cards, the credits can really serve to offset park of the annual fee!
Cards offering Airline Fee Reimbursement (i.e. – they will pay you back for baggage fees charged to your card):
American Express Premier Rewards Gold – $100 Annually
American Express Platinum – $200 Annually
Citi Prestige – $250 Annually
Ritz Carlton Rewards Visa (Chase) – $300 Annually
Strategy #4 – Redeem “Miles” for Travel Expenses (including baggage fees)
Certain credit cards will award you “miles” – yet, in reality, these cannot be redeemed for reward flights (like traditional frequent flyer miles) and can instead be applied as statement credits to any “travel expense”, which would include baggage fees!
Strategy #5 – Gain Elite Loyalty Status
Fly a single airline for all of your business and personal travel and build elite status with that airline! Once you have elite status, you won’t be on the hook for those pesky bag fees!
“But I am not a frequent flyer and I can never reach elite status…” WRONG! Sometimes simply asking for airline elite status will do the trick! If not, turn-back to Strategies #1-4!
Stop paying the airlines those annoying baggage fees! Instead, spend that money on airport souvenirs!
All kidding aside, baggage fees are an expense that can (and should) be easily avoided – just follow the strategies above and you will be flying baggage fee free!
Questions/comments on baggage fees or any other points, miles, or anything else travel related? Comment below or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org