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 2021, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice: Fall 2018 hotel points promotions: Which ones are worth your time? How to snag credit card rewards flights in peak season Travel rewards bucket list: Showering on a plane