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Airline elite status comes with enviable perks that have inspired many travelers to go to extreme lengths to maintain them. Whether it’s seat upgrades, free checked bags or a speedier airport experience, having elite status can make travel more pleasant. However, you don’t need to have to status to enjoy these perks. Here’s how you can get airline elite perks without status.

Free checked bags

Many airlines charge checked bag fees of $30 or more, which can definitely add up. But you don’t need to have elite status on an airline to get free checked bags. Many airline credit cards offer free checked bags to both cardholders and their travel companions. Some cards offer free checked bags for cardholders and up to eight companions. They include the following:

Terms apply.

In addition to airline credit cards, there are also premium cards that offer airline fee credits. These can be applied toward checked bag fees. Examples include The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, both of which offer $200 airline fee credits annually. The catch? You must choose a single airline to apply this credit to, though you can change which airline you designate each year. Terms apply.

The Citi Prestige® Card is more flexible, with an annual $250 travel credit. The Chase Sapphire Reserve®’s $300 travel credit can be used toward any travel purchase, including checked bag fees.

Note that the cards listed above also come with annual fees, and in the case of premium cards, those fees can be hefty.

Priority security

Have you ever stood in a long airport security line and enviously watched as elite flyers skipped ahead to a shorter security lane? You don’t have to be an elite flyer to do the same. In fact, you can enroll in a trusted traveler program and get the fee waived with credit cards that offer TSA Precheck fee credits. TSA Precheck only costs $85 for five years and gets you through a dedicated security lane where you can keep on your shoes, belts and jacket.

A few credit cards that offer TSA Precheck fee credit include The Platinum Card® from American Express, The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, Citi Prestige® Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve®. Terms apply.

Priority boarding

Have you ever boarded a packed plane only to discover there were no overhead bins left and you were forced to check your bag? That scenario could have been avoided with priority boarding privileges. Normally reserved for elite flyers (along with families and active duty military), priority boarding is offered by several airline credit cards.

American Airlines

Most of the AAdvantage-branded credit cards offer preferred boarding for cardholders and up to four travel companions on the same reservation:

In addition to priority boarding, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® offers cardholders and up to eight travel companions priority check-in and screening.

Delta Air Lines

Non-elite Delta flyers can enjoy priority boarding for themselves and up to eight travel companions on the same reservation with the following cards (terms apply):

Southwest

Southwest is famous for its first-come, first-served approach to boarding for non-elite passengers. Travelers are assigned to boarding groups depending on the time they check in. They also have the option to pay for a boarding group upgrade.

With the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card, you have one less thing to worry about because cardholders receive four upgraded boardings per year, subject to availability.

United Airlines

The United℠ Explorer Card and United℠ Business Card both offer priority boarding to cardholders and travelers on the same reservation.

Meanwhile, New United Club℠ Infinite Card holders get Premier Access, which includes priority boarding, luggage handling, check-in and security. Benefits apply to travel companions on the same reservation.

Upgrades

Upgrades are the ultimate elite status perk. Thanks to some airline credit cards, you can earn elite status faster. The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® offers 10,000 Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) after $40,000 spent every calendar year. The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card offers 15,000 bonus miles and 15,000 MQMs after you spend $60,000 in eligible purchases. Terms apply.

It’s also possible to use the travel credits from cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and Citi Prestige® Card to pay for airline seat upgrades.

All information about the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®, Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express CardDelta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card and Citi Prestige® Card has been collected independently by NerdWallet. The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®, Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express CardDelta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card and Citi Prestige® Card are no longer available through NerdWallet.

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 2020, including those best for: