Credit Cards With Benefits That Can Help Make Traveling In Basic Economy Tolerable

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Basic economy fares are gaining traction among travelers for their no-frills pricing. There is no advanced seat assignment and there are no ticket changes. Only a small personal item that fits under the seat is acceptable as baggage for American and United; Delta does allow a standard carry-on though. Unfortunately, just about the only thing you’ll get besides the lower price is a seat.

These credit cards provide extra benefits to ease the lack of benefits with basic economy fares.


Eligible Citi® / AAdvantage® or AAdvantage® Aviator Mastercard® cardmembers can erase almost all the downsides of a basic economy fare. It’ll allow a carry-on, you can keep your checked bag benefits, and you can maintain priority boarding privileges. About the only thing missing is the advanced seat assignment. You can still pay for that separately so you may want to see if the price difference between paying for the seat assignment and a main cabin fare is worth it.


While Delta’s standard baggage policy applies, basic economy passengers board last when most overhead bin space may already be utilized. However, Delta SkyMiles American Express credit card holders will enjoy their Priority Boarding benefits. Tickets booked with that card will also receive your first checked bag free.


Normally United will charge $25 for a full size carry-on. Primary cardmembers of a qualifying MileagePlus Credit Card will be able to bring a full size carry on for free as well as maintain their priority boarding status.


If you can travel without a full size carry-on, without advanced seat assignment, and are OK with boarding last, then basic economy fares are right up your alley. If you love the pricing but still want to maintain a modicum of civility when traveling, these cards can help with that. You can even gain most of the benefits of the next cabin up with one of the AAdvantage cards.


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