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Credit cards that help you avoid those dreaded airline fees

 

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If you are as old as I am you'll remember the days of yesteryear when you bought an airline ticket and that ticket included two checked bags, meals, and seat selection. Fast forward to the last decade and a half or so and ancillary fees have become the norm as airlines unbundled their pricing. Ancillary fees charged by most airlines range from seat selection, checking luggage, buy on board food and more. They are huge revenue generators for the airlines so unfortunately these fees will never go away. Granted you could fly for the lowest cost possible by not checking luggage, only selecting seats at check in and so on - but sometimes, you need to know that you will be sitting together with your travel companions and if you may be traveling for an extended period of time where you'll have to check some luggage. So how do you go about saving yourself some money by avoiding those fees? The good news is that some credit cards in the Canadian market will cover these fees being dished out by the airlines. Some always cover checked bags, while others provide annual credits that can be used for the various fees charged by airlines and even airports. Here are the cards that can be used to cover these dreaded airline fees:

Baggage Fees

This is probably the most disliked fee of all that airlines charge their customers. Unless you choose to fly on a more expensive fare, which defeats the purpose of saving money while travelling, you can avoid baggage fees by utilizing the following credit cards:

WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard

This the most popular baggage fee saving card out there and it makes sense why. Traveling within Canada, to the U.S., to sun destinations and even to Europe, this card covers the first checked bag fee for the cardholder and up to 8 guests on the reservation. With the first checked bag now costing C$30 or US$30, you can see how quickly this card will save you money. A family of four going to Disney World (or anywhere else for that matter) would save no less than $240 in baggage fees just by having this card. Truth be told, we've had many of our readers tell us this is the sole reason they have the card! It doesn't matter that it comes with that great companion fare benefit as well. Learn more about this card here.

Similar to the WestJet card, the MBNA Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard offers the first checked bag free on Alaska Airlines flights for up to 6 guests. Alaska Airlines only flies to Victoria, Vancouver, Kelowna, Edmonton and Calgary so this benefit makes most sense for residents in those areas. However Alaska does fly to Detroit and that city is used a lot by people living in Southern Ontario as their jumping off point for their travels, which means the benefit could be useful for who fly out of Detroit. Alaska charges $30 for the first checked bag, again saving at least $240 for a family of four for a round trip flight! Learn more about this card here.

TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege Card (also available on the CIBC version)

This card provides a complimentary first checked bag to the primary cardholder who travels on a flight operated by Air Canada, Air Canada rouge or under the Air Canada express banner. There are no benefits extended to guests travelling with the cardholder or to additional cardholders. Like the WestJet and Alaska cards, this benefit is unlimited and will provided a savings of at least $30 each time you plan to check a bag. Learn more about this card here.

American Express AeroplanPlus Reserve Card

This card has a limited baggage fee benefit whereby it provides a complimentary first checked bag on flights operated by Air Canada. It is limited however as it only provides the benefit for up to 5 bags annually. This benefit of 5 bags annually is also extended to additional card members on the account. Air Canada charges between $30 and $35.40 for the first checked bag on most flights except for Economy Basic fares to Europe where to fee is currently $60 to $70.80! Learn more about this card here.

BMO World Elite Mastercard

Right now this card has a limited time offering of a $100 travel bonus that is issued as a statement credit. After you apply for and receive the card, you will be able to pay for any airline fees such as baggage fees (must be at least $100 in one transaction) on the card and you should see the credit issued soon after. The purchase must be made within six of months of opening your account. This offer only applies to new approved applications that are submitted by February 28, 2019. Learn more about this card here.

HSBC World Elite Mastercard

The HSBC World Elite Mastercard offers a $100 annual travel enhancement credit that they state can be used as follows: charge your select airline seat upgrades, baggage fees or airport lounge passes to your HSBC World Elite Mastercard, and then redeem your travel enhancement credit to cover these charges. This travel credit renews each year on your card anniversary date. Learn more about this card here.

National Bank World Elite Mastercard

This card offers up to $250 of credits towards additional fees that are levied by airlines and airports. It allows $100 of that $250 credit to be applied towards baggage fees. Once you charge the fees to your card you need to submit a request to NBC and submit the supporting documents (baggage fee receipt) to receive the credit. This is an annual benefit that renews on your card anniversary date. Learn more about this card here.

TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card (also available on CIBC version)

This card provides a complimentary first checked bag to the primary cardholder who travels on a Aeroplan award flight operated by Air Canada, Air Canada rouge or under the Air Canada express banner. There are no benefits extended to guests travelling with the cardholder or to additional cardholders. The primary limitation to this benefit is that it has to used on an Aeroplan award flight and will provided a savings of at least $30 each time you plan to check a bag. Learn more about this card here.

 


Seat Selection Fees

Dreaded almost as much as baggage fees, although somewhat more avoidable if you simply choose to check in for your flight 24-48 hours beforehand as most airlines don't charge the fee at that time. However if you want to make sure you have the seats you desire, want to sit with your travel companions or maybe you want to upgrade at time of check in you'll have to pay the seat selection or upgrade fees. These are the cards that offer a travel credit that can be used to offset these fees:

BMO World Elite Mastercard

Right now this card has a limited time offering of a $100 travel bonus that is issued as a statement credit. After you apply for and receive the card, you will be able to pay for any airline fees including seat selection or upgrades (at least $100 in one transaction) on the card and you should see the credit issued soon after. The purchase must be made within six of months of opening your account. This offer only applies to new approved applications that are submitted by February 28, 2019. Learn more about this card here.

HSBC World Elite Mastercard

The HSBC World Elite Mastercard offers a $100 annual travel enhancement credit that as they state can be used as follows: charge your select airline seat upgrades, baggage fees or airport lounge passes to your HSBC World Elite Mastercard, and then redeem your travel enhancement credit to cover these charges. This travel credit renews each year on your card anniversary date. Learn more about this card here.

National Bank World Elite Mastercard

This card offers up to $250 of credits towards additional fees that are levied by airlines and airports. It allows $50 of that $250 credit to be applied towards seat selection fees. Once you charge the fees to your card you need to submit a request to NBC and submit the supporting documents (seat selection fee receipt) to receive the credit. This is an annual benefit that renews on your card anniversary date. Learn more about this card here.

 


Airport Fees

Airport fees aren't like the airline ones however if your drive yourself to the airport you will likely be stuck with parking fees or maybe you want to access a business class lounge before your flight and have to pay the entrance fee. These are the cards you could use to pay for such fees:

HSBC World Elite Mastercard

For airport fees, this card's credit can be used towards business class lounge access. The HSBC World Elite Mastercard offers a $100 annual travel enhancement credit that as they state can be used as follows: charge your select airline seat upgrades, baggage fees or airport lounge passes to your HSBC World Elite Mastercard, and then redeem your travel enhancement credit to cover these charges. This travel credit renews each year on your card anniversary date. Learn more about this card here.

National Bank World Elite Mastercard

This card offers up to $250 of credits towards additional fees that are levied by airlines and airports. It allows $100 of that $250 credit to be applied towards airport parking fees. Once you charge the fees to your card you need to submit a request to NBC and submit the supporting documents (seat selection fee receipt) to receive the credit. This is an annual benefit that renews on your card anniversary date. Learn more about this card here.

 



Other ways to save on airline fees

There is another way that you can save on baggage and other airline fees. This is with proprietary credit card programs that allow to redeem points for any travel. Typically baggage and airline fees will appear as a charge from the airline, hence it is considered a travel charge. You can redeem your points against those charges once they post to your account. You can choose to cover the entire cost or only a portion of it if you so desire. The following programs are the ones that you can do this with:

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Do you have any other tips for save on airline and airport fees? Do you use any of the cards listed above to save on these fees? Tell us in the comments section below or join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter!

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