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TPG reader Ken sent me a message on Facebook to ask about checked bags:

“Can I combine the benefits of my AAdvantage Gold status and my AAdvantage Platinum Select card to get two free checked bags?”

There are plenty of ways to avoid fees for checked baggage. Many co-branded airline credit cards offer a free checked bag for the cardholder and guests on the same reservation, while baggage fee waivers are also a benefit of elite status in most frequent flyer programs. Ken has both status and a credit card with American Airlines, and wants to know if that qualifies him for a second free checked bag. Unfortunately, the answer is no, as those benefits do not stack.

The terms and conditions of the Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard state explicitly that the free checked bag benefit can’t be combined with AAdvantage elite program benefits, including any waiver of baggage charges. The benefits are slightly different: The card only waives fees for up to four additional guests on the same reservation for domestic American Airlines itineraries, while the AAdvantage Gold benefit doesn’t have a limit. Either way, you and your guests will only get one free bag even if you qualify for both benefits.

You’ll find similar policies on many airline credit cards, including the United MileagePlus Explorer Card and the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature credit card. This is true even of some premium co-branded cards like the Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard, which offers no extra baggage allowance to AAdvantage elite members despite the higher $450 annual fee. However, that card does provide an opportunity to earn bonus elite miles through spending, which could help you get an extra free checked bag if you reach Platinum status.

Some cards are more generous: The Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express actually does give a second free checked bag to Silver Medallion members, who would normally only receive one. Gold, Platinum and Diamond Medallion members already receive two free checked bags, and the card doesn’t augment that any further, but it’s a nice gesture to cardholders in the bottom tier. The United MileagePlus Club Card has perhaps the most valuable baggage benefit, since it offers two free checked bags to all cardholders regardless of Premier status.

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If you want more than one free checked bag on American Airlines, you’ll need to earn Platinum AAdvantage status (or higher).

The redundant baggage benefit makes AAdvantage credit cards slightly less useful if you’re already covered by elite status. However, the Platinum Select card has some benefits that you won’t get just from being a frequent flyer, like access to reduced mileage awards and a 10% rebate on award redemptions (up to 10,000 miles annually). Those perks can make the card worth getting even if you’re not concerned with checked bag fees.

For more on maximizing AAdvantage cards and elite benefits, check out these posts:

If you have any other questions, please tweet me @thepointsguy, message me on Facebook or send me an email at info@thepointsguy.com.

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