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Which Credit Cards Require You to Pay with Them for Free Checked Bags?

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By: Anya Kartashova

With the introduction of bare-bones basic economy fares, panic has settled in among the traveling masses. Most budget fares do not offer a seat selection and make you board the aircraft last, which oftentimes leaves you with no room for luggage in the overhead bin. Your options are to place the bag underneath the seat in front of you or, if it’s too big, you’re forced to check it, which doesn’t come cheap.

Luckily, there are ways to avoid paying for a checked bag. Being an elite flyer is one of them. Flying in a premium cabin is another.

An alternative option?

Holding a co-branded credit card from an airline of your choice.

Typical perks include boarding a plane in an early group to get access to the oh-so-limited overhead space, yes, but also being able to check a bag at no extra cost. The benefit often even covers your travel companions.

So, which credit cards allow you to check a bag for free? And, more importantly, which credit cards require you to pay for the ticket with them to receive the benefit?


Alaska Airlines

Bank of America Alaska Airlines Visa Credit Card

With the Bank of America Alaska card, you and up to six travel companions are able to save on baggage fees. Most domestic airlines have increased their bag fees from $25 to $30 for the first checked bag, but Alaska still charges $25. Your group can save up to $350 per round-trip reservation provided that everyone in the party checks a bag each way.

 Alaska Airlines - book ticket using credit card to get free baggage fee

When you book, simply make sure you attach your Mileage Plan number at the time of booking.

You’re not required to pay for the reservation with the Alaska co-branded credit card for the benefit to apply — this is key since cards such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Sapphire Preferred provide trip delay coverage.

When you book, simply make sure you attach your Mileage Plan number at the time of booking. It takes about two to three weeks for the perk to activate once you open the card.

Alaska Airlines Visa Business Card from Bank of America

Same benefit as on the personal Alaska Airlines Visa Credit Card.

Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card Earn 30,000 miles after you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days

American Airlines

Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite MasterCard

Holding the Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite MasterCard will allow you and up to four travel companions booked on the same reservation to check the first bag for free on domestic flights operated by American Airlines and its regional subsidiaries, such as American Eagle, Compass Airlines, ExpressJet Airlines, etc.

credit card to get free checked bag

Keep in mind that flights to the Caribbean don’t count as domestic, and you’ll be on the hook for a bag fee even if you’re a credit cardholder. Been there, done that.

American Airlines charges $30 for the first checked bag (for tickets issued after Sept. 21, 2018), so you’re looking at potentially saving $60 per person on a round-trip flight. If all four of your travel companions check a bag, you’ll save the group $300 on your entire trip.

The benefit applies to award travel as well. Not bad for a card that costs $99 annually (waived for the first year).

You don’t have to pay for the flights with your Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select credit card, but the account must be open at least seven days before travel date.

Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard

The Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard has a similar baggage perk, except now you and eight of your companions are covered on the same trip as long as all of you were booked together. In this scenario, your Brady Bunch can save up to $540 on each round-trip.

Keep in mind that this premium credit card has a high annual fee of $450, but it more than makes up for it in other benefits, such as Admirals Club access and Global Entry / TSA Precheck enrollment fee. Continue Reading

READER SUCCESS STORY: A YOUNG FAMILY GOES TO MAUI HAWAII USING POINTS AND MILES
Blog, Success Stories

Reader Success Story: Maui, Hawaii Using Points and Miles for $670

Disclosure: This post may contain references to products from our advertisers. We may receive compensation from products we link to. We appreciate your support. You can read our advertising disclosure here.

By: 10xT Reader Damien Boulat

The Strategy

My wife and I have found that early to mid-November, before the madness of the Thanksgiving crowds takes hold, is a wonderful time to travel. This time around, Maui was on the wish-list, so I started exploring a strategy to get us and our 2-year old son there for a relaxing 10-day vacation.

Being based in Los Angeles, there are plenty of non-stop flight options to the Hawaiian islands. As I am well above 5/24 myself, I applied and was approved for the Bank of America Alaska Airlines Visa, which at the time offered a welcome bonus of 30,000 miles, a Companion Pass fare for just taxes, and a $100 statement credit, after $2,000 in spend in the first 3 months.

Maui Hawaii using Points and Miles

All in all we made a dream vacation happen for $670 out of pocket. Had we not used points and miles strategies our cost would have been over $3300. That’s more than $2630 in savings, with minimal effort on our part (2 new credit card sign-ups and an easy booking process).

As my son is over the age of two, we needed three flights. The Companion Pass fare covered my wife and son amounting to $422 total for both, or $322 if you consider the $100 statement credit.  My own flight would need to be booked using Alaska Miles; Saver Awards are 17,500 miles each way for mainland flights to Hawaii and were easy to find for our low-season dates. That’s 35,000 miles + $11 in taxes for the round-trip, so I just needed a little bit of extra spend on the Alaska Visa to earn the miles needed. The card also gave us one-free checked bag, which for our little family was plenty, saving us another $50 roundtrip.

Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card Earn 30,000 miles after you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days

As we began to look at accommodation options, we quickly realized 9-nights in Maui, can be quite expensive. Not for us 10xT Insiders us though! We had about ~40,000 leftover Ultimate Rewards points in my wife’s Chase Sapphire Reserve account, opened the previous year, but that wouldn’t be nearly enough. My wife being at 3/24 we applied for the Chase Business Ink Preferred card, offering us another 80,000 points, and closer to 90,000 after our spend to reach the bonus. All in all, that put is around 130,000 UR points, which we combined into the CSR account to get the maximum 1.5 CPP valuation on the UR portal for travel bookings.

Chase Sapphire Reserve Earn 50,000 points after you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months(Learn more)
Ink Business Preferred Credit Card 80,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points after $5,000 spend in 3 monthsLearn More

Although we considered some of the hotel options (there are beautiful resorts from Hyatt, Marriott and Hilton), given the length of our stay and the fact we were traveling with a toddler, a condo-style property made the most sense for us to have room to spread out and take things easy.

The Luana Kai’s living room at the ground floor so our son could run out directly on the big open grass area to play.

Turns out, there are quite a few condo-style options available directly through the UR portal. Our priority being a nice view at a location convenient to the beach, we settled on Luana Kai in Kihei, booking a direct-oceanfront 1-bedroom unit. We chose to be on the ground floor so our son could run out directly on the big open grass area to play.

Maui Hawaii using Points and Miles

The Luana Kai’s Bedroom

All in all, the unit would have costs us ~$1,850 for the 9-nights, but we paid nothing out of pocket by using ~123,500 UR points. The rate we booked was inclusive of a cleaning fee so that was covered as well.

The only thing left was a car rental. I did have a few UR points left, but after comparing with rates on AutoSlash, I determined the portal rates were not competitive and chose to save my points for future travel. We paid $337 total out of pocket for the duration of the trip and the Chase Sapphire Reserve we used for the booking provided us with our insurance needs.

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Blog, Success Stories

Reader Success Story: A Family Adventure to Italy Using Points and Miles

Disclosure: This post may contain references to products from our advertisers. We may receive compensation from products we link to. We appreciate your support. You can read our advertising disclosure here.

By: 10xT Reader Megan Parsons

We just came back home from a $16,000+ family adventure through Italy for less than $1,500!

I started earning points and miles in late 2015 and although we have used them for smaller trips, this was our first big international redemption.

Early this summer, my family and I took a wonderful 15 day trip to Italy using points and miles. This was planned as a trip for 4 but later changed to 3 as my son had enlisted in the National Guard and was away for training.

Deciding where to go was difficult, as my husband and I prefer to do a bit more wandering off the beaten track.  For this trip, our itinerary included Rome, Naples (incl Pompeii and Amalfi), Florence, Tuscany and Venice.

Trip to Italy Using Points and Miles | Reader Success Story: A $16,000+ Family Adventure Through Italy For Less Than $1,500

Booking Flights to Italy

We live in Milwaukee, which generally stinks as far as flight options, particularly when trying to use miles. We often fly out of Chicago and that’s just what we did this time. Our outbound flights for this trip were on Turkish Airlines with a connection in Istanbul (IST).

This was originally booked with my husband and me in business class and the two kids in economy — yes, I am a mean mom — but I couldn’t find both business and economy seats with the same program, so I booked the business class seats through Aeroplan and the economy seats through United.

The approximate cost of two business class seats would have been $6,840 but we used 55,000 Aeroplan miles plus 14.70 CAD (about $11) per ticket. Fortunately, when booking Turkish Airlines with Aeroplan, you won’t have to pay surcharges — though you will on a number of partners.

To get enough Aeroplan miles, I transferred a combination of SPG Starpoints (now part of Marriott Rewards) and American Express Membership Rewards points. I made sure to transfer chunks of 20,000 Starpoints so we could receive the 5,000-mile transfer bonus.

Editor’s note: When the SPG program was transitioned to Marriott Rewards, SPG points were converted to Marriott Rewards points at a 1:3 ratio. This means 20,000 SPG points became 60,000 Marriott Rewards points. You can now receive the 5,000-mile transfer bonus when transferring 60,000 Marriott points.

Italy Using Points and Miles | Reader Success Story: A $16,000+ Family Adventure Through Italy For Less Than $1,500

10xT Reader Megan in Turkish Airlines Business Class

Trip to Italy Using Points and Miles | Reader Success Story: A $16,000+ Family Adventure Through Italy For Less Than $1,500

For the kids’ economy tickets, I transferred Chase Ultimate Rewards points to my United MileagePlus account. These award tickets cost 30,000 United miles each plus $22.60 in taxes/fees. The Approximate cash price of the tickets was $1,873.00

Editors Note: You could earn these same 30,000 bonus points (50,000 actually) with one Chase Sapphire Preferred bonus

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card 50,000 bonus points after $4,000 spend in 3 monthsLearn More

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