Get an Airline Credit Card, Avoid Baggage Fees

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Airlines are offering to waive $25 checked baggage fees if you sign up for a branded credit card, But are these offers a good deal?

The Detroit News took a look and says the offers by carriers including Continental and Delta come with a catch: The cards themselves have annual fees - $85 for the Continental OnePass card with Chase and $95 for the Delta Gold Skymiles card with American Express.

"They're giving with one hand and taking away with the other," Daniel Ray, editor in chief of the CreditCards.com card comparison site, told the News.

Bill Hardekopf, CEO of credit-card comparison site LowCards.com, says the card issuers are raising money through the fees, telling the newspaper, "they're using the (baggage) rewards as an add-on to justify the fee."

Elite frequent flyers are exempt from baggage fees, but for those who have to pay the News advises if you aren't checking bags very often you may be better off paying the fees, "instead of shelling out for annual credit card memberships."

But of course with carriers charging $50 per checked bag on a round trip, if you know you are going to check bags on two or more round trips a year, you can save by getting a card.

Ray said he expects other carriers to launch similar card offers. He points out in addition to bringing in fees, the cards are also useful to carriers in building brand loyalty.
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