How to get free checked bags on American Airlines | finder.com
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How to get free checked bags on American Airlines

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Use credit cards, reach elite status or buy specific flights.

Checking your bags can get expensive, especially if you fly multiple times a year. Luckily, American Airlines offers a variety of methods to avoid baggage fees.

How do I get a free checked bag on American Airlines?

Here’s how your bags can fly free on American Airlines itineraries:

  • Get an American Airlines credit card.
    Four American Airlines cards let you check your first bag free on flights operated by the carrier.
  • Get a card with travel credits.
    A general travel card might come with credits you can use to offset baggage fees, in-flight purchases, airport lounge fees and more.
  • Earn American Airlines elite status.
    American Airlines’s loyalty program, AAdvantage, has four elite tiers. Each offers one to three complimentary checked bags on American-operated flights.
  • Earn elite status in oneworld.
    American Airlines is part of oneworld, which is among the largest airline alliances. There are three elite tiers in this alliance.Status in oneworld gives you one to three checked bags on American Airlines flights. Meanwhile, status in SkyTeam and Star Alliance — oneworld’s major competitors — gives you just one free checked bag maximum.

    This method of saving on baggage fees can be helpful if you’re a frequent flyer with a oneworld carrier. You’ll become a oneworld elite by earning status in one of the alliance’s member airlines.

  • Fly a premium fare class.
    When flying Business or Premium Economy, you can check two bags at no cost.If you fly first class on a three-cabin aircraft, you can check three bags at no cost. On a two-cabin aircraft, you’re allowed two free checked bags.
  • Fly to certain destinations.
    When you fly to eligible destinations, you can check one to two bags free.

How much does it usually cost to check a bag on American Airlines?

These rates apply to bags up to 50 pounds and 62 linear inches on domestic flights.

First bagSecond bagThird bagEach additional bag
$30$40$150$200

On First and Business Class flights, the maximum weight per bag is 70 pounds.

How to get a free checked bag with an American Airlines credit card

American Airlines free checked bags

AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®
Annual fee$99$99 (waived for the first 12 months)$99 (waived for the first 12 months)$450
Number of free checked bags per flight1111
Baggage benefit extends to…4 companions4 companions4 companions8 companions
Rewards
  • 2x miles on eligible American Airlines purchases
  • 1x miles on all other purchases
  • 2x miles on eligible American Airlines purchases
  • 2x miles at restaurants and gas stations
  • 1x miles on other purchases
  • 2x miles on eligible American Airlines purchases
  • 2x miles on cable and satellite providers, select telecommunications merchants, car rentals and gas station purchases
  • 1x miles on other purchases
  • 2x miles on eligible American Airlines purchases
  • 1x miles on other purchases
Other travel benefits
  • Preferred boarding
  • In-flight savings
  • Preferred boarding
  • In-flight savings
  • Preferred boarding
  • In-flight savings
  • Savings on in-flight Wi-Fi purchases
  • Admirals Club membership
  • Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit
  • Priority boarding
  • In-flight savings
  • VIP airport experience

Open your card at least seven days prior to your flight to receive the baggage benefit. Also, add your American Airlines AAdvantage number to your reservation at least seven days before your flight.

Baggage fees with American Airlines credit cards vs. United credit cards

Four of American Airlines’s credit cards have checked baggage benefits, but each lets you check only one bag. By comparison, United Airlines’ premium credit cards let you check two bags free.

Compare credit cards that offer free checked bags on American Airlines

If an airline card isn’t your style, consider a general travel card with travel credits. You’ll be reimbursed via these credits after you use the card for baggage fees.

Our pick for baggage credit with no annual fee

PenFed Pathfinder Rewards American Express® Card

  • 0% APR promo balance transfer rate for 12 months with 3% balance transfer fee now through September 30, 2019. After that, the APR for the unpaid balance and any new balance transfers will be 12.99% to 17.99%. APR will vary with the market based on prime rate. Subject to credit approval.
  • Earn 25,000 bonus points by spending $2,500 in the first 90 days of account opening.
  • Earn 4x points on travel purchases through the PenFed Honors Advantage program. Earn 3x points on travel purchases for all other card holders.
  • Earn 1.5x points on all other purchases unrelated to travel.
  • $100 annual air travel credit
  • $100 Global Entry or $85 TSA PreCheck benefit every 5 years
  • No caps or limits on rewards. No annual or foreign transaction fees.
  • Chip enabled for added security.
  • Variable rate as low as 12.99% APR. Rate and offers current as of June 1, 2019 and are subject to change.
  • Federally insured by NCUA.
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Promoted
Updated June 26th, 2019
Name Product Welcome Offer Rewards Annual Fee Filter values
50,000 after you make a purchase in the first 90 days and pay the annual fee
2x miles on American Airlines purchases and 1x miles on everything else
$99
Earn 50,000 bonus miles when you make your first purchase in the first 90 days and pay the annual fee.
50,000 miles after spending $2,500 in the first 3 months
2x miles on American Airlines, dining, and gas and 1x miles on all other purchases
$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($99 thereafter)
Earn 50,000 AAdvantage® bonus miles after you spend $2,500 in the first 3 months.
70,000 miles after spending $4,000 in first 4 months
2x miles on American Airlines, gas and select business categories and 1x miles on all other purchases
$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($99 thereafter)
70,000 AAdvantage® miles after making $4,000 in purchases in first 4 months of account opening.
50,000 miles after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months
2x miles on American Airlines and x miles on everything else
$450
Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after making $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.

Compare up to 4 providers

Updated June 26th, 2019
Name Product Welcome Offer Rewards Annual Fee Filter values
60,000 points after spending $5,000 in your first 3 months
5x points on directly-booked flights or on flights and hotels on Amex Travel. 1x points on all other purchases
$550
Get 5x Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel and 5x points on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com. Rates & fees
35,000 points after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months
3x points on directly-booked flights; 4x at restaurants; 4x at US supermarkets on up to $25,000 annually (then 1x points)
$250
35,000 bonus Membership Rewards® Points when you spend $2,000 in the first 3 months. Rates & fees
25,000 points after spending $2,500 in the first 90 days
3x points on travel or 4x points if you’re a PenFed Honors Advantage member and 1.5x points on all other purchases
$0
25,000 bonus points when you spend $2,500 in the first 90 days from account opening.
50,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
3x points on dining and travel after earning your $300 travel credit and 1x points on all other purchases
$450
Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $$4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
50,000 points after spending $4,500 in the first 90 days
3x points on travel and mobile wallet purchases and 1x points on all other purchases
$400
Earn 50,000 points after spending $4,500 in the first 90 days from account opening.
50,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
5x points on flights and dining, 3x points on hotels and cruises and 1x points on all other purchases
$495
Earn 50,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months.
50,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first 90 days
2x points on travel and dining and 1.5x points on all other purchases
$95
Earn 2x points on travel and dining and 1.5x points on all other purchases.

Compare up to 4 providers

Bottom line

American Airlines is one of the largest airlines in the world, and it offers several ways to avoid baggage fees. Upgrading your fare class is probably the easiest method. But if you’re well-qualified, you could have great luck getting an American Airlines credit card.

Frequently asked questions

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