How to get free checked bags on United Airlines
Leverage credit cards, elite status and premium fare classes.
6 ways to get free checked bags
A free checked bag on United can save you up to $70 per person on a round-trip flight, as this privilege usually costs up to $35 each way. The United℠ Explorer Card offers a free checked bag for you and one companion on each United-operated flight. You can also get one to three free checked bags per flight as a Premier member in United’s MileagePlus loyalty program.
Checked baggage can weigh a maximum of 50 pounds in economy and 70 pounds in premium fare classes. It can have maximum overall measurements of 62 inches.
Here are more details on how to get free checked baggage on flights operated by United and United Express:
1. Get a United Airlines credit card.
Four of the airline’s cards offer complimentary checked bags.
2. Get a credit card with travel credits.
With travel credits, charge baggage fees, in-flight purchases, seat upgrades and more to your card, then get reimbursed on your card bill.
3. Become a MileagePlus Premier member.
United’s loyalty program, MileagePlus, has four elite tiers. Each offers one to three complimentary checked bags per flight, a benefit that extends to up to nine travel companions on your reservation. You’ll also enjoy a maximum baggage weight of 70 pounds each, up from the standard 50 pounds.
4. As active military personnel.
If you’re an active US military member on personal travel, you and your dependents on the same reservation can each check three bags free. Maximum overall dimensions per bag are 62 inches and maximum weight per bag is 70 pounds.
If you’re an active US military member on official business, you and your dependents on the same reservation can each check five bags free. Maximum overall dimensions per bag are 115 inches and maximum weight per bag is 100 pounds.
5. Fly a premium fare class.
When you fly United First, United Business or United Polaris, you can check three bags free, up to 70 pounds each.
6. Reach Star Alliance Gold status.
Star Alliance Gold lets you check an additional bag or get an additional 44 pounds of baggage weight free on eligible flights. Silver doesn’t come with these benefits. This can be a good way to waive baggage fees if you’re an elite with another Star Alliance carrier but not with United.
How much does it normally cost?
It depends on whether your United flight is domestic or international. Keep in mind that you can usually save $5 per bag when you purchase it in advance online.
|Flight||First bag||Second bag||Each additional bag|
|International||$100||You’re typically only allowed to check two bags on international flights.|
United credit cards that get you free checked bags
Four United Airlines cards offer free checked baggage on United- and United Express-operated flights.
|United Airlines credit card||Free Checked Bag Allowances||Annual Fee|
|United℠ Explorer Card||First bag free||$0 intro annual fee, then $95|
|United℠ Business Card||First bag free||$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($99 thereafter)|
|United MileagePlus® Club card||First and second bag free||$450 annual fee|
To get the checked baggage benefit, purchase your flight with your United credit card and include your MileagePlus number in your reservation. One companion on the same reservation gets the baggage benefit as well.
Free checked bags for MileagePlus Premier members
|Premier Silver||Premier Gold||Premier Platinum||Premier 1K|
|Economy travel between US and:||1 bag||2 bags||3 bags||3 bags|
|Economy travel between the US and:||2 bags||3 bags||3 bags||3 bags|
|All other Economy travel||1 bag in addition to included checked baggage allowance||1 bag in addition to included checked baggage allowance||1 bag in addition to included checked baggage allowance||1 bag in addition to included checked baggage allowance|
Compare credit cards that get you free checked bags
Use a United branded credit card or select travel credit cards to automatically get free checked bags with United.
United offers a variety of ways to avoid baggage fees. The easiest methods include upgrading your fare class and getting a United credit card.
If getting free checked bags is a deal breaker for you, consider booking with Southwest. It gives all customers two checked bags for free, regardless of the ticket you buy. You might also compare other airline credit cards to find a company you’ll fly with on the regular.
Pictures: Getty Images
More guides on Finder
10 best travel credit cards of 2023
Here are our picks for the top travel cards on the market.
How to transfer United miles to a spouse
Transfers are simple but expensive. Avoid them when possible.
Best no foreign transaction fee credit cards
See our top picks for cards to use while traveling abroad.
How to get free checked bags on American Airlines
There are several methods to avoid checked baggage fees.
How to get free checked bags on JetBlue
There are a few ways to get free checked bags on a JetBlue flight.
How to get priority boarding with Southwest Airlines
Board your plane early to get your preferred seat.
How to get priority boarding with American Airlines
Settle in your seat sooner with priority boarding.
Using a credit card in Barbados
Here’s everything you need to know about using a credit card in Barbados. How much it may cost you, and holiday spending tricks. We help you do your homework before you travel.
Using a credit card in Iceland
The use of credit and debit cards is very common in Iceland. Here’s what you need to know about card usage, fees, and cash alternatives on your next trip.
Ask an Expert