8 Quick Tips to Make the Most of the Free Checked Bag Perk With the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select Card

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Alex:   If you have or are considering the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®, one its big benefits is that your first checked bag is free on domestic itineraries while traveling on American Airlines.  If you fly American Airlines often, you can save a lot of money by not paying $25 each way to check a bag.  Many folks keep the card open just for this one perk!

But there are a few rules and restrictions you’ll need to know about to make the most of this incredibly valuable benefit!

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Avoid Checked Baggage Fees When Flying on American Airlines With the Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select Card and Its Free First Checked Bag Benefit

We’ll guide you through the Citi American Airlines Platinum free first check bag benefit rules.  And show you why it’s worth keeping the card, even with the annual fee!

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Apply Here:   Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®

Link:   Our Review of the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select

1.   How Do You Apply the Benefit to Your Reservation?

To have the free checked bag automatically added to your reservation, your Citi AAdvantage Platinum account must have been open for at least 7 days.  And your American Airlines frequent flyer number must be attached to the reservation at least 7 days before departure.

2.   Do You Have to Pay With the Card to Get a Free Checked Bag?

No. However, your card does need to be in good standing and active (not closed for any reason) when you take the flight.

Because the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select card earns 2X American Airlines miles per $1 spent with the airline (in addition to miles you’ll earn from flying), using the card to book American Airlines will boost your miles earning.

3.   Can Friends and Family Get the Free Checked Bag Benefit Too?

Yes, if friends and family are on the same reservation as the cardholder, they’ll also get a free checked bag.

You (or the cardholder) plus up to 4 additional passengers can earn this benefit if you are all traveling on the same reservation.

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Enjoy Free First Checked Bags for Up to 4 Family and Friends Who Are Traveling on the Same Reservation

If you frequently travel with more than 4 additional passengers, you might want to consider the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® which allows up to 8 additional passengers on the same reservation to earn this benefit.

4.   Does the Free Checked Bag Work on Award Flights?

Wouldn’t it be a bummer if you had to pay for your checked bag on a flight you booked with miles?  Luckily, with the Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select card, your free checked bag benefit extends to award flights.  And up to 4 others on the same reservation can also get a free checked bag.

5.   Do You Get a Free Checked Bag on International Flights?

Put simply, this card benefit is only for domestic travel.  You must fly on American Airlines or American Eagle flights only, and partner or codeshare flights aren’t eligible.

Unfortunately, this means that you won’t be able to use this on an international flight.  American Airlines does include at least one free checked bag for most international flights for all passengers.

6.   What If You Have More Than One Checked Bag?

American Airlines lists a scaled pricing structure for checked bags.  The card benefit waives the first bag fee.  But if you have more bags, you’ll be charged for your 2nd and 3rd bags (and so on) per the pricing chart.

If your reservation already includes a first checked bag, this benefit can NOT be used for a 2nd or 3rd bag.

7.   What If Your First Checked Bag Is Oversized, Overweight, or Specialized?

If your bag weighs more than 50 pounds, you’ll be charged an overweight fee which is separate from the checked bag fee.  Fees also apply to oversized bags larger than 62 inches.

The Citi AAdvantage Platinum benefit will still cover the base checked bag fee, but you’ll be responsible for any additional oversized or overweight fees.

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I travel in the winter for skiing, and in the summer to compete in triathlons, so I always find myself having to check specialty bags.  Luckily, with the way American Airlines treats specialty luggage, this card benefit can often cover this type of luggage if you don’t check anything else.  For example, most race or road bikes that are packed correctly (less than 50 pounds and 62 inches) can be covered under this card benefit as can skis or golf clubs, meaning you can bring them for free!

Folks like me who travel with specialty luggage can save a ton of money if they use the cards’ free checked bag benefit.  Other airlines can charge $150 or more each way for bikes, potentially adding $300 to the cost of your round-trip flight!

8.   How Does the Free Checked Bag Work With Basic Economy Tickets?

The American Airlines credit cards can be extra valuable when you book Basic Economy tickets.  Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select cardholders can enjoy 1 carry-on bag, 1 personal item, and 1 checked bag for free on Basic Economy tickets, which normally charge fees for every bag other than the first personal item.

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In addition, if you have the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select card, you will also get group 5 boarding instead of group 9 boarding, which is particularly useful when combined with your free carry-on bag.  This will give you plenty of time to find an overhead bin near your seat.

The Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select card can be incredibly useful for folks who often book Basic Economy tickets or who would be willing to book Basic Economy tickets if they were allowed the extra bags and an improved boarding zone.

Earn 60,000 American Airlines Miles

Folks interested in these benefits should consider taking advantage of the limited-time increased offer on the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select card.  You’ll earn 60,000 American Airlines miles after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.

That’s more than enough for 2 round-trip coach award flights within the mainland US, or you could book a round-trip flight to Europe!

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You can also use these miles for award flights on partner airlines, like British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Etihad, and more!

Bottom Line

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® gets you your first checked bag free on domestic American Airlines and American Eagle flights.  That’s a savings of $25 each way!

This benefit applies the cardholder plus up to 4 other passengers on the same reservation.  The benefit can even cover the expense of specialty bags like golf clubs and skis that meet size and weight requirements if no other bags are being checked.

The Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select card has an increased welcome bonus of 60,000 American Airlines miles after spending $3,000 on purchases within 3 months of account opening.  That’s more than enough for 2 round-trip coach award flights within the mainland US, where you can try out the free checked bag benefit.