Best Credit Cards with Free Checked Bags 

Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.

One of the best credit card perks you can get if you’re a frequent flyer is free checked bags. At $30 to $40 for a checked bag (depending on the airline), baggage fees can add up quickly! 

But did you know that you can use your credit card to totally waive your luggage fees? Some airline-branded credit cards offer this as a perk — as well as other benefits like VIP lounge access and discounts on in-flight purchases.

Here are some of the best credit cards that offer free checked bags, organized by airline.

Erika Taught Me

  • Credit cards with free checked bags can save you $60 to $80 per trip.
  • Most credit cards will only cover you for one free bag per person and one specific airline.
  • Before you sign up, check the card’s annual fee and calculate if you’d spend more than that on luggage in a year with that airline.

. . .

American Airlines

  • Baggage fees: $40 for the first checked bag ($35 if you pay online) and $45 for the second for all domestic flights; $35 for the first checked bag and $45 for the second for all flights to Canada, Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, and Guyana.

There are two major lines of American Airlines credit cards: the Citi® AAdvantage® Cards and the Barclays Aviator® Cards. 

Each American Airlines credit card has different perks, bonuses, and annual fees. Most provide you and up to four guests with a free checked bag — so your savings with these cards can be quite substantial, especially if you have a large family or travel in a group.

American Airlines credit cards with free checked baggage

  • Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®
    • Free checked bags: Free first checked bag for you and up to four traveling companions on the same booked domestic reservation.
    • Annual fee: $99 (waived for the first 12 months)
  • Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®
    • Free checked bags: Free first checked back for you and up to eight other passengers on the same domestic flight.
    • Annual fee: $595
  • CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®
    • Free checked bags: Free first checked bag for you and up to four traveling companions on the same domestic flight.
    • Annual fee: $99 (waived for the first 12 months)
  • AAdvantage® Aviator® World Elite Red Mastercard®
    • Free checked bags: Free first checked bag for you and up to four traveling companions on the same domestic flight.
    • Annual fee: $99
  • AAdvantage® Aviator® World Elite Silver Mastercard®
    • Free checked bags: Free first checked bag for you and up to eight traveling companions on the same domestic flight.
    • Annual fee: $199
  • AAdvantage® Aviator® World Elite Business Mastercard®
    • Free checked bags: Free first checked bag for you and up to four traveling companions on the same domestic flight.
    • Annual fee: $95

United Airlines

  • Baggage fees: $40 for the first checked bag and $50 for the second for domestic flights. These fees can be reduced by $5 per bag if prepaid at flight reservation.

There are currently five United Airlines credit cards, each with different tiers of bonuses and perks. Some cards are for personal use while others are for business use. 

Most United Airlines cards provide free checked bags for you and one guest. You must have your MileagePlus number on your reservation for the perks to apply, though.

United Airlines credit cards with free checked baggage

  • United Explorer℠ Card
    • Free checked bags: Free first checked bag for you and one traveling companion on the same domestic flight.
    • Annual fee: $95 (waived for the first 12 months)
  • United Quest℠ Card
    • Free checked bags: Free first and second checked bags for you and one traveling companion on the same domestic flight. 
    • Annual fee: $250
  • United Club℠ Infinite Card
    • Free checked bags: Free first and second checked bags for you and one traveling companion on the same domestic flight.
    • Annual fee: $525
  • United℠ Business Card
    • Free checked bags: Free first checked bag for you and one traveling companion on the same domestic flight.
    • Annual fee: $99 (waived for the first 12 months)
  • United Club℠ Business Card
    • Free checked bags: Free first and second checked bags for you and one traveling companion on the same domestic flight.
    • Annual fee: $450

JetBlue

  • Baggage fees: $35 to $40 for the first checked bag and $50 to $60 for the second for flights within the U.S. or to Latin America, the Caribbean, and Canada. 

There are two main JetBlue credit cards: the JetBlue Plus Card and the JetBlue Business Card. Both cards have similar perks, with the only real difference being one is for personal use and the other is a business card.

Both offer you and three additional guests a free checked bag. 

If you don’t want to get a JetBlue credit card, you can also avoid paying checked bag fees with JetBlue by booking fare options like Blue Plus, Mint, and Mosaic fares.

JetBlue credit cards with free checked baggage

  • JetBlue Plus Card
    • Free checked bags: Free first checked bag for you and up to three traveling companions on the same domestic flight.
    • Annual fee: $99
  • JetBlue Business Card
    • Free checked bags: Free first checked bag for you and up to three traveling companions on the same domestic flight.
    • Annual fee: $99

Delta Air Lines

  • Baggage fees: $35 for the first checked bag and $45 for the second on domestic flights, except if you have Medallion elite status or are active military.

Delta is tied for the airline with the most credit cards, with a ton of personal and business cards. When you go up each tier, from Gold to Reserve, you get an increase in perks (but also in annual fees on the card.) So, consider that when deciding which is the best card for you.

With these cards, you can get up to nine fee waivers for checked bags per booking — so while all have a high annual fee, you may be able to earn it back if you frequently travel in a large group.

To use the free checked bag perks, make sure to include your Delta SkyMiles number and use the Delta credit card when booking flights.

Delta Air Lines credit cards with free checked baggage

Alaska Airlines

  • Baggage fees: $35 for your first checked bag and $45 for a second on all Alaska Airlines flights. 

There are two Alaska Airlines credit cards: the Visa® Credit Card and the Visa® Business Card. Both are similar, but one is for personal use and the other is a company card with a lower annual fee per additional card. 

With these cards, you and up to six guests can get a free checked bag — making the savings well worth the annual fee.

Alaska Airlines credit cards with free checked baggage

  • Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Credit Card
    • Free checked bags: First free checked bag for you and up to six guests on the same reservation.
    • Annual fee: $95
  • Alaska Airlines Visa® Business Card
    • Free checked bags: First free checked bag for you and up to six guests on the same reservation.
    • Annual fee: $70 for the company plus $25 per card

Hawaiian Airlines

  • Baggage fees: $40 for the first checked bag and $45 for the second checked bag for flights from North America; $30 for the first checked bag and $40 for the second checked bag for inter-island or neighbor island flights.

Hawaiian Airlines offers only one credit card with a free checked bag perk: the Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite Mastercard®. The card covers two free checked bags, but it does not cover any additional passengers on the booking.

Hawaiian Airlines credit card with free checked baggage

  • Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite Mastercard®
    • Free checked bags: Free first and second checked bags for the cardholder.
    • Annual fee: $99

How Do Credit Cards With Free Checked Bags Work? 

The free checked bags you can get with certain credit cards usually come from co-branded airline cards. As long as you meet certain requirements, your checked bags will automatically be free when you book a flight with the card for that airline. 

However, there are often some restrictions, such as:

  • Which flights and travel classes qualify
  • How many checked bags are free
  • Oversized bags

Checked bags can often cost $40 or more each way, so getting it for free is a perk that can easily offset most annual fees on credit cards. With the cards mentioned above, you can save at least $60 to $80 round trip.

READ MORE: Baggage Delay Insurance: How It Works

How To Choose a Credit Card With Free Checked Bags

When you’re deciding which credit card to get for traveling, you’ll need to consider a few different things. First, if you want to save on checked bags specifically, decide if you need the perk just for yourself or for several travelers, like your family members or a partner.

Next, take the annual fee of the card into account. Some cards have very high annual fees — is the cost worth what you’ll save on baggage fees each year? 

That said, the card likely offers other benefits too, like rewards miles, lounge access, and discounts on in-flight food and drinks, so add all that into your calculations.

It’s also worth looking at their current sign-up bonuses. If you can naturally spend the required amount to earn a decent sign-up bonus, that may make a card a clear winner. 

But remember you don’t want to spend beyond your means just to earn a sign-up bonus. If you end up charging more than you can afford to pay back each month, you’ll have to pay hefty interest charges — which cancels out those sign-up rewards.

READ MORE: Best Credit Card Sign-Up Bonuses

FAQs

What airlines give you a free checked bag? 

Southwest Airlines is the only domestic airline in America that does not charge for a first or second checked bag (although charges for oversized bags still apply).

Some airlines will give you a free checked bag if you book a certain type of ticket above a basic fare. See what your preferred airline charges for bag fees to determine if it’s worth upgrading your ticket.

How many checked bags can you have?

Most credit cards will only cover one or two checked bags, although the airline may allow you to bring more bags for a fee. 

For example, American Airlines lets you bring up to 10 bags — but you’ll pay up to $200 per bag. There may also be limits on how many bags you can bring depending on the destination and whether it’s high season. 

Bottom Line

You can save a lot of money with a credit card that offers free checked bags — around $80 per trip if you regularly check your luggage! If you fly several times a year with a specific airline, that can quickly add up and easily offset the card’s annual fee. 

For more tips on saving money when you travel, check out these episodes of the Erika Taught Me podcast:


Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.

Disclosure: Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.

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I'm an award-winning lawyer and personal finance expert featured in Inc. Magazine, CNBC, the Today Show, Business Insider and more. My mission is to make personal finance accessible for everyone. As the largest financial influencer in the world, I'm connected to a community of over 20 million followers across TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. I'm also the host of the podcast Erika Taught Me. You might recognize me from my viral tagline, "I read the fine print so you don't have to!"

I'm a graduate of Georgetown Law, where I founded the Georgetown Law Entrepreneurship Club, and the University of Notre Dame. I discovered my passion for personal finance after realizing I was drowning in over $200,000 of student debt and needed to take action-ultimately paying off my student loans in under 2 years. I then spent years as a corporate lawyer representing Fortune 500 companies, but I quit because I realized I wanted to have an impact; I wanted to help real people and teach them that you can create a financial future for yourself.

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Our aim is to help you make financial decisions with confidence through our objective article content and reviews. Erika.com is part of an affiliate sales network and receives compensation for sending traffic to partner sites, such as MileValue.com. This compensation may impact how and where links appear on this site. This site does not include all financial companies or all available financial offers. This in no way affects our recommendations or article content.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our aim is to help you make financial decisions with confidence through our objective article content and reviews. Erika.com is part of an affiliate sales network and receives compensation for sending traffic to partner sites, such as MileValue.com. This compensation may impact how and where links appear on this site. This site does not include all financial companies or all available financial offers. This in no way affects our recommendations or article content.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our aim is to help you make financial decisions with confidence through our objective article content and reviews. Erika.com is part of an affiliate sales network and receives compensation for sending traffic to partner sites, such as MileValue.com. This compensation may impact how and where links appear on this site. This site does not include all financial companies or all available financial offers. This in no way affects our recommendations or article content.