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Why I'm sticking with my $50 Amazon Basics bag until the end

Nov. 17, 2019
5 min read
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Ask anyone who knows me and they'll tell you that while my desk, bedroom and bathroom are all messy, when it comes to travel packing I am an absolute organization fiend. From high atop my packing cube soapbox I preach, with infinite finesse in the art of carry-on cramming.

So when it came time to move away from my beloved Osprey Farpoint 40 for a bag that had wheels (old age = back problems), I went hunting for the best and cheapest bag I could find. Enter the Amazon Basics Hardside Spinner Luggage, which at 21 inches is

the perfect size to roll through security and shove into nearly any overhead bin while ringing in under $50 — it's a win all around. I've put this bag through its paces and it always comes out ahead.

Related: The 5 best starter travel credit cards

The TL;DR version is: This bag is worth every penny. At 4.5 stars and nearly 4,000 reviews, it's well-tested, durable and features fancy upgrades found in much more expensive bags.

If you're in the market for a suitcase and haven't already bought into the Away suitcase craze (which I very nearly gave into), give this bag a shot. Let's break down why.

The details

For $50, you get a lightweight, expandable hard-sided bag that rolls like a dream. It comes in three different colors and has a number of high-end features:

  • An extra thick ABS shell for durability
  • Scratch resistant finish
  • Securely mounted short handle
  • TSA-approved combination lock
  • 360-degree spinner wheels
  • Interior dividers
  • Three zippered pockets
  • Hidden laundry bag
Photo by Carissa Rawson/The Points Guy.

Durability

I've taken this bag on roughly 10 trips thus far, splitting my time between using it as a carry-on and checking it. So far it's scuff free, though as shown in the images I've taken it certainly shows dust. You'll also notice that once something has been stuck on my bag I never take it off, though that's a personal choice.

Photo by Carissa Rawson/The Points Guy.
Photo by Carissa Rawson/The Points Guy.
Photo by Carissa Rawson/The Points Guy.

Size and space

The Amazon Basics Spinner has a 39-liter capacity, which is just slightly smaller than the Away Carry-On retailing for a slick $225. It has plenty of zippered compartments and easily fits clothes for a week if you're using packing cubes. Its exterior dimensions are 14.9 x 10 x 21.6 inches, which meets industry standard for carry-on suitcases on most airlines.

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Photo by Carissa Rawson/The Points Guy.
Photo by Carissa Rawson/The Points Guy.

Compelling features

Though this is an inexpensive bag, it does have one or two nifty things in addition to its excellent interior. One: it has feet on one side, which makes it easy to prop up and keep still when you don't want it rolling around.

Photo by Carissa Rawson/The Points Guy.
Photo by Carissa Rawson/The Points Guy.

Two: It also has a TSA-approved lock (which I've never used because if you're needing to steal my leggings that's your own personal problem) that has a number of excellent reviews.

Photo by Carissa Rawson/The Points Guy.

Overall impression

I was a little miffed to purchase a rolling suitcase, as I've been a longtime advocate of carrying everything I own on my back. However, old age and an increasing litany of laptops have forced me to look into alternatives. The Amazon Basics bag meets the bill: it's durable, has tons of organization and is cheap. What else could you want?

How to buy

Have I sold you on this bag? Then you're in luck, because Amazon offers Prime shipping, which means you can have this baby in your arms in as little as one day. Or, if you tend to pack a little heavier, there are also 26-inch, 30-inch, and multi-piece varieties available at reasonable prices.

Buy: Amazon.com from $50

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Featured image by Image courtesy of Amazon.

TPG featured card

Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review
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Rewards

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Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

Annual Fee

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Recommended Credit

670-850
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Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees