Curbside Check-In 101

Reyna Gobel
By Reyna Gobel 
Published
Edited by Mary M. Flory

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Despite the prevalence of airlines hiking up checked baggage fees — think JetBlue, United and Delta — sometimes you just need to check bags, even if you don’t have a travel credit card that covers the cost. But why bring your bags all the way to the ticket counter if you don’t have to? Here’s what you need to know about curbside check-in.

When curbside check-in makes sense

Generally, the extra cost to check luggage at the curb versus at the ticket counter is $0 to $3 per bag. The only additional charge is $1 or $2 per bag for a tip. Depending on your traveling logistics, $1 to $5 might be just the right price to preserve your sanity on your way to your gate.

It’s also a great option if you're running late and don’t want to wait in line at the main counter to check luggage. However, you do still have to pay checked bag fees and charges for any excess baggage. These are the same as what you’d pay at the main ticket counter.

When curbside check-in isn't worth it

There are several times when curbside check-in may not be the best option. The three biggest reasons are:

1. If you’re paying cash: Curbside options generally only accept credit cards.

2. If curbside check-in is not available when or where you’re flying: Always check the hours and location availability for where you’re flying and the airline you are flying on their website. Each airline, such as American Airlines, should have hours and availability listed by airport.

3. If you don’t want to check luggage: Finally, it may not be worth it if you have a small, lightweight bag you can bring on board for free. Check with the airline you are traveling with to see if they still offer a free carry-on bag.


How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2024, including those best for:

Travel Cards from Our Partners
Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

on Chase's website

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
5.0
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate

1x-5x

5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining, select streaming services and online groceries, 2x on all other travel purchases, 1x on all other purchases.

Points

Intro offer

60,000

Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

Points
Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card

on Chase's website

Chase Freedom Unlimited®
5.0
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate

1.5%-6.5%

Enjoy 6.5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel; 4.5% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and 3% on all other purchases (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year). After your first year or $20,000 spent, enjoy 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel, 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.

Cashback

Intro offer

$300

Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back!

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

on Capital One's website

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
4.7
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate

2x-5x

Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options.

Miles

Intro offer

75,000

Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel.

Miles
See more travel cards
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