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How to get free checked bags on Southwest Airlines

You can check two bags for free on each flight.

Southwest Airlines offers the most generous checked-baggage policy in the industry. If you typically check more than two bags per flight, you might like a card with travel credits.

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

Southwest Airlines offers a unique perk: You can check your first and second bag for free on each flight.

To qualify, each bag must be:

  • 62 inches or under in combined length, width and height.
  • 50 pounds or less.

You’ll pay $75 for each bag if your bag is:

  • 51 to 100 pounds.
  • More than 62 inches but not more than 80 inches in combined length, width and height.

If your item weighs more than 100 pounds, you must ship it as air cargo. To do this, get approved as a Known Shipper or Indirect Air Carrier.

What if I want to check more bags?
You’ll pay a $75 fee per additional checked bag.

How good is the free-checked-baggage benefit?

Getting free checked bags on Southwest is a stellar deal, considering you’ll pay for the privilege with most other airlines.

See the checked bag fees of other airlines.

How to get a free checked bag with a Southwest Airlines credit card

You don’t need the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card to get free checked bags on the carrier. However, it could help you receive additional Southwest perks such as:

  • Anniversary points.
  • Savings on in-flight purchases.
  • Upgraded boarding: Get a boarding position in A1 to A15.
  • Annual Southwest travel credit.
  • Upon reaching spend requirements, earn tier-qualifying points for A-List and A-List Preferred status.

What if I typically check more than two bags?

Look for a card with travel credits that offset checked-baggage fees. Here are a few great choices:

PenFed Pathfinder® Rewards Visa Signature® Card

PenFed Pathfinder® Rewards Visa Signature® Card

  • $100 annual air travel credit
  • $95 annual fee

Read review
Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

  • $300 annual travel credit
  • $550 annual fee

Apply now
U.S. Bank Altitude® Reserve Visa Infinite® Card

U.S. Bank Altitude® Reserve Visa Infinite® Card

  • $325 annual travel credit
  • $400 annual fee

Read review

Compare cards with travel credits for free checked bags

Name Product Welcome offer Rewards Annual fee Filter values
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card
40,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months, plus 3x points on dining, including takeout and eligible delivery services, for the first year
2x points on Southwest and 1x points on all other purchases
$149
Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Plus, earn 3x points on dining, including takeout and eligible delivery services, for the first year.
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card
40,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months, plus 3x points on dining, including takeout and eligible delivery services, for the first year
2x points on Southwest and 1x points on all other purchases
$69
Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Plus, earn 3x points on dining, including takeout and eligible delivery services, for the first year.
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
40,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months, plus 3x points on dining, including takeout and eligible delivery services, for the first year
2x points on Southwest and 1x points on all other purchases
$99
Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Plus, earn 3x points on dining, including takeout and eligible delivery services, for the first year.
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Bottom line

Southwest lets you check your first and second bags for free on each flight, which is fantastic. If you typically check three or more bags, you might like a card with annual travel credits.

Not sure a Southwest credit card is right for you? There are plenty of other airline cards to consider.

Frequently asked questions

  • How much do airlines typically charge for a checked bag?
    For your first checked bag, you’ll usually pay $30. Your second checked bag will likely cost around $40. For additional bags, you’ll often pay $100 or more each.
  • Are there weight or size limits for my checked baggage?
    Yes. If your checked baggage exceeds an airline’s weight or dimension limits, you’ll pay extra fees.
  • Will I find free-checked-baggage benefits with general travel cards?
    You typically won’t find these benefits with general travel cards. Look for them in cobranded airline credit cards.

Pictures: Getty Images

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