Do I Still Get My Credit Card Perks on Basic Economy Fares?

Apr 12, 2017

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“Reader Questions” are answered three days a week — Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays — by TPG Senior Writer Julian Mark Kheel.

With American and United now joining Delta in marketing stripped-down Basic Economy fares in an effort to compete with the low-cost carriers, TPG reader Lillian is wondering how this affects her co-branded credit card benefits…

If I purchase an American Basic Economy fare, do my Citi AAdvantage credit card perks still come into play?

TPG Reader Lillian

Customers who want to pay the cheapest prices on routes where these new fares are being offered can expect to get a lot less than they’re used to, including minimal advance seat assignments, restrictions on carry-ons and ineligibility for elite upgrades, amongst other limitations.

But this is where the power of your co-branded airline credit card comes into play. Because if we dive into the restrictions on American’s Basic Economy fares, we find that credit card holders are exempt from some of the restrictions.


So even if you buy a Basic Economy fare on AA, you’ll still get the promised 1+1 carry-on, a free checked bag and Group 5 boarding as long as you have a credit card like the Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard.

If you’re wondering if the other two legacy carriers offer the same, the answer is yes.


United gives the primary cardmember of its United MileagePlus Explorer Card a standard carry-on allowance and credit card priority boarding privileges, plus you’ll still get a free checked bag as well.


And in guidance to its travel agents, Delta notes that its Basic Economy fare has exceptions on checked baggage and priority boarding for folks holding the Reserve, Platinum or Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express. One note on Delta, though: You cannot use your companion certificate on a Basic Economy fare.

So Lillian, go ahead and buy a Basic Economy ticket — you’ll still get all the benefits your co-branded card promised you. Thanks for the question, and if you’re a TPG reader who’d like us to answer a question of your own, tweet us at @thepointsguy, message us on Facebook  or email us at

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