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 rewardsYou want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2018, including those best for:
- Airline miles and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®).
- Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card (Earn unlimited 2 miles per dollar on every purchase).
- Premium travel rewards: Chase Sapphire Reserve® (Get 3 points per dollar on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases).
- No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card (Earn unlimited 1.5 points per dollar spent on all purchases, with no annual fee).
- Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express (Get 5 points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or through American Express Travel, plus get access to the Global Lounge Collection). Terms Apply.
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