Credit cards that help you avoid those dreaded airline fees

Last Updated on January 29, 2022
First posted on January 28, 2019


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

 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

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.

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

Travelling lightly through the airport and saving on baggage fees. Primary Cardholders, Additional Cardholders, and travel companions (up to eight) travelling on the same reservation will all enjoy their first checked bag free (up to 23kg/50lb) when your travel originates on an Air Canada flight. Similar to the WestJet and Alaska card you are looking at some significant savings each time you and your family or travelling companions check baggage! Learn more about this card here.

American Express® Aeroplan®* Card

Travelling lightly through the airport and saving on baggage fees. Primary Cardholders, Additional Cardholders, and travel companions (up to eight) travelling on the same reservation will all enjoy their first checked bag free (up to 23kg/50lb) when your travel originates on an Air Canada flight. Similar to the WestJet and Alaska card you are looking at some significant savings each time you and your family or travelling companions check baggage! Learn more about this card here.

MBNA Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard

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 those who fly out of the Motor City. 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)

Travelling lightly through the airport and saving on baggage fees. Primary Cardholders, Additional Cardholders, and travel companions (up to eight) travelling on the same reservation will all enjoy their first checked bag free (up to 23kg/50lb) when your travel originates on an Air Canada flight. You are looking at some significant savings each time you and your family or travelling companions check baggage! Learn more about this card here.

American Express® Aeroplan®* Reserve Card

Travelling lightly through the airport and saving on baggage fees. Primary Cardholders, Additional Cardholders, and travel companions (up to eight) travelling on the same reservation will all enjoy their first checked bag free (up to 23kg/50lb) when your travel originates on an Air Canada flight. You are looking at some significant savings each time you and your family or travelling companions check baggage! 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.

 


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Baggage Fees

 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:

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 $50 of that $250 credit to be applied towards seat selectione 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.


Airport Fees

 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.

American Express® Aeroplan®* Reserve Card

The American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card has several benefits for flying out Toronto Pearson International Airport. Two of them can save you some money and those are complimentary valet service at the Express Park and Daily Park as well as a 15% discount on parking rates at the Express Park and Daily Park. You will receive a statement credit after the charge has been posted to your account! 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 parking 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.

Platinum Card from American Express®

The Platinum Card from American Express has several benefits for flying out Toronto Pearson International Airport. Two of them can save you some money and those are complimentary valet service at the Express Park and Daily Park as well as a 15% discount on parking rates at the Express Park and Daily Park. You will receive a statement credit after the charge has been posted to your account! Learn more about this card here.

Visa Infinite Privilege Cards

All Canadian issued Visa Infinite Privilege cards receive discounts on parking or valet services at Montreal, Ottawa and Vancouver airports.

  • Montreal: 10% discount on Valet parking
  • Ottawa: 20% discount on standard parking fees in the parkade (plus Visa Infinite Privilege branded dedicated parking spots located in P3 of the parkade on a first-come-first-serve basis)
  • Vancouver: Gateway Valet parking discount of 20% (plus dedicated parking spots close to the terminal)
Recommended Reading:
Rewards Canada's Guide to Business Class Lounge Access

The ultimate guide to accessing business class lounges for Canadians!

Check it out here





Other Fees

 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 allow you to do this:

 

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