9 great suitcases worth the checked-bag fee

Jul 25, 2021

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We’re clearly going places now. But choosing which suitcase you’re going to purchase for an upcoming trip remains no easy task.

Whether you’re a road warrior who hasn’t stopped moving or your luggage game could simply use an upgrade after the great pandemic pause, you’ll want to make sure you do some research before sliding your credit card. And as eager as we all are to get back out there in the world, it’s worth taking the time to read reviews and comparison shop before settling on your next suitcase.

Since this is a bag that will be stored under the plane and tossed on luggage carts, sturdiness is key. Your bag is going to be thrown around quite a bit, so you’ll want to make sure it’s up to the task.

You’ll also want a suitcase with plenty of compartments and organizational components. You’re likely packing for more than just a few days if you’re checking a bag, so it’s important that all your items can fit neatly inside.

But be sure to have some fun with this purchase, too! Your suitcase is an expression of your personality, so you’ll want to get one that you feel matches your travel style and goals (luckily, there’s a color and style for that).

Related: What your luggage brand says about you

Before you finalize your order though, do yourself a favor and check out our guides to airline shopping portals as well as the best credit cards for online shopping. That way, the gear you’re buying for your next trip is helping you actually get there, too.

Our favorite suitcases right now:

  • Arlo Skye The Frame Check-In
  • Monos Check-In Large
  • DELSEY PARIS, CLAVEL collection, 30″ spinner
  • Travelpro Platinum Elite 25″ Expandable Spinner
  • Briggs & Riley Sympatico Large Expandable Spinner
  • Samsonite Winfield 2 Hardside Luggage
  • Rimowa Original Check-In
  • Nomatic Check-In
  • Away The Large

Arlo Skye The Frame Check-In

(Photo courtesy of Arlo Skye)
(Photo courtesy of Arlo Skye)

Why we love it: Arlo Skye was founded by Tumi and Louis Vuitton alums, so you know it’s going to be good. It’s sleek and stylish, complete with an aluminum frame and an impact-resistant polycarbonate shell. Our favorite feature, though, might be the two TSA-approved clasp locks that keep your belongings safe and secure, all without a zipper. Just be sure to remember your combination.

The details: 26.6 inches by 17.7 inches by 11.0 inches and weighs 10.5 pounds

Pricing: Arlo Skye bags are only available on their website — The Frame Check-in sells for $495.

Related: Luggage review: Arlo Skye The Check-In

Monos Check-In Large

Why we love it: Not only does the Monos Check-In Large come in ten different colors and patterns, but it has plenty of room to pack every essential for the whole family and has an ultra-sturdy telescopic handle that makes it a cinch to push and pull. It’s so tough to decide which is or favorite feature, but it might just be that ergonomically designed handle and those whisper-quiet wheels that make you feel like you’re on a catwalk in the airport. Monos is also the only Certified Neutral travel brand, so you can feel like you’re doing a good travel deed, too, purchasing one of these babies.

The details: Mono’s largest suitcase measures 30 inches by 21 inches by 11 inches, and weighs only 10.58 pounds

Pricing: Monos luggage is only available on the Monos website, and the Check-In Large starts at $381 (on sale now for a limited time for $286). Get 15 percent off luggage essentials like packing cubes and a protective luggage cover with every suitcase purchase.

DELSEY PARIS, CLAVEL collection, 30″ spinner

(Photo courtesy of Delsey Clavel)

Why we love it: DELSEY PARIS’ CLAVEL collection is the lightest and brightest assortment of luggage the brand has touted yet. The company pioneered the use of polypropylene in luggage manufacturing — a material known for its resilience to heat, wear and tear. And the CLAVEL collection keeps things ultra-airy and spacious, with nine color options, too, and three sizes to choose from (we say go large). Unique features include the patented zip SECURITECH® technology that’s far more durable than a conventional zipper and the bag’s expandable main compartment that allows for maximum packing flexibility. We love the two separate packing compartments with tie-down straps, shoe pockets and a mesh divider to keep all your belongings in place while on the move.

The details: The CLAVEL collection 30” spinner measures 32.5 inches by 21.5 inches by 31.25 inches and weighs just 9.8 pounds.

Pricing: DELSEY PARIS CLAVEL bags are currently 50 percent off on the DELSEY website, priced at $229.99.

Travelpro Platinum Elite 25″ Expandable Spinner

Why we love it: Travelpro bags are beloved by road warriors near and far — seriously, just ask the next flight attendant you see. Travelpro makes a number of different designs, but we have a soft spot for the Platinum Elite (and not only because of its lifetime warranty against airline damage and fun color options like Bordeaux and Coastal Blue). The eight self-aligning spinner wheels roll like butter and you can easily pack two weeks’ worth of wardrobe essentials and then some inside.

The details: The Travelpro Platinum Elite 25” Expandable Spinner measures 25 inches by 18 inches by 11.25 inches, and weighs 9.8 pounds, extra light considering all you can cram inside.

Pricing: $369.99 on TravelPro’s website.

Briggs & Riley Sympatico Large Expandable Spinner

Why we love it: Part of the sleek, resilient, tech-friendly Sympatico collection, the Large Expandable Spinner is the bag for the traveler who can’t bear to leave anything behind. The Makrolon® polycarbonate case is extremely durable, built to protect contents and stay scratch-and-scuff-free. The brand’s innovative CX® compression-expansion system allows you to expand the bag for 25 percent more space — and then compress it back down to its original size. Additionally,  Briggs & Riley’s simple as that® guarantee means if the bag is ever broken or damaged, the company repairs it free of charge (no proof of purchase needed, no questions asked).

The details: The Sympatico Large Expandable Spinner measures 30 inches by 20 inches by 12 inches and weighs 13.5 pounds.

Pricing: Available on the Briggs & Riley website, the Sympatico Large Expandable Spinner sells for $679. For a limited time, customers will receive a free power bank with their Sympatico Large Expandable Spinner purchase. No code needed.

Samsonite Winfield 2 Hardside Luggage

Why we love it: We have a feeling you’re going to love this bag so much, you might feel a twinge of guilt after you leave it with the check-in agent. This four-wheeled spinner has a polycarbonate shell that makes it extremely durable. It also expands as needed, if you just have to stuff that extra sweater or pair of shoes in. If that’s the case, the full-zip interior divider and organization pockets will really come in handy. The bag comes with a limited 10-year warranty and is available in a slew of shiny colors that include charcoal, deep blue, orange, purple, arctic pink and brushed carbon color, among others.

The details: 31 inches by 20 inches by 12.75 inches, and weighs just over 11 pounds.

Pricing: We found the best prices and availability for the Winfield 2 Hardside Luggage on Amazon for $194.99.

Rimowa Original Check-In

(Photo courtesy of Rimowa)
(Photo courtesy of Rimowa)

Why we love it: This list wouldn’t be complete without a mention of Rimowa. It’s a cult favorite for a reason — well, a few reasons. Its design is iconic, yes, but this four-wheeled suitcase is also designed to withstand trip after trip. There’s no zipper on this bag, either; just two TSA-approved locks to keep your belongings in check, as well as a height-adjustable flex-divider inside. If you do encounter bumps in the road, though, you’re entitled to a five-year guarantee as well as hotel repairs at participating properties around the world (yes, really).

The details: 26 inches by 17.8 inches by 9.5 inches and just shy of 12 pounds.

Pricing: Such accolades don’t come cheap. Expect to drop $1,270 to put one of these in your travel closet. While you could buy directly from Rimowa’s website, it’s also available from Saks Fifth Avenue, making it a solid way to use your statement credits (up to $100 annually, enrollment required) from The Platinum Card® from American Express. The suitcase is also available from Nordstrom.

Related: Your guide to the Amex Platinum Saks Fifth Avenue credit

Nomatic Check-In

(Photo courtesy of Nomatic)
(Photo courtesy of Nomatic)

Why we love it: This isn’t your standard check-in bag. This four-wheeled suitcase uses a magnetic compression system and full-perimeter expansion to keep your items secured and extremely organized. It has silent Hinomoto wheels, TSA-locking YKK zippers and a sleek, yet unusual design. It’s virtually indestructible, too — just see what happens when you throw something at it. Go on, try it out.

The details: The Nomatic Check-in bag measures 29 inches by 18.5 inches by 9 inches, and weighs 12.3 pounds, making it one of the heavier suitcases on the list.

Pricing: The bag shows as sold out on Nomatic’s website where it retails for $599.99. Amazon currently lists it for the same price, with limited availability.

Related: Say goodbye to checked bag fees with our 7 favorite travel backpacks

Away The Large

(Photo courtesy of Away)
(Photo courtesy of Away)

Why we love it: You just can’t go wrong with an Away bag. It’s designed with frequent travelers in mind — with two compartments to house clothes and harder belongings, like shoes — and can withstand even your most rigorous trips, with its sturdy polycarbonate shell. As an added bonus, if you also have one of Away’s carry-on suitcases, you can easily stow it inside the suitcase when you’re not traveling, freeing up some storage space at home. Away bags also come in every possible color you could dream up — everything from classic black and white to light pink, brick red and deep hunter green. There are also a handful of limited edition colors and schemes, like the retro ski “Chalet” collection and an asphalt-colored suitcase with a mint-green zipper created in collaboration with the American Express® Green Card. Get them while you can. (These may no longer be available so be sure to check the Away site).

The details: Away’s largest suitcase measures 29 inches by 20.5 inches by 12.5 inches and weighs 11.6 pounds.

Pricing: You can only buy Away’s bags online, and The Large sells for $295.

The information for the Amex Green Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Related: Keep calm and carry on: Our 13 favorite travel carry-ons

Frequently Asked Questions

How to select the best checked luggage

Since your checked luggage will likely get thrown around and banged up quite a bit, durability is key here. You’ll want to make sure it’s large enough to hold all of your belongings but not too large that you can’t comfortably wheel it around the airport with you.

You’ll also want to choose a suitcase that fits your travel style. If you’re planning on more adventurous, rugged trips, you might be better off with a duffel. If you’re staying in a luxury hotel with white-glove service, you won’t mind leaving your luxury suitcase with a bellhop.

As you’ve seen here, suitcases can vary greatly in price. Keep in mind your budget as well as your personal style to find your perfect match.

Benefits of traveling with a checked bag

While many people love traveling with carry-ons due to their efficiency and ease, there’s something to be said for checked bags, too.

They really come in handy for longer trips, especially ones where you’re traveling for an extended period of time or require clothes and accessories for more than one type of trip. Checked bags allow you more flexibility, and not just in terms of the clothing you pack — you won’t have to abide by TSA’s 3-1-1 liquid rule, either.

But many airlines will charge you for checking a bag, so be sure to keep that in mind. Arm yourself with one of these credit cards to help avoid paying pesky fees for your suitcase.

Additional reporting by Terry Ward.

Featured photo by Rattanakun Thongbun/EyeEm/Getty Images.

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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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