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Airline credit cards to charge fees for previously free benefits

American Airlines and United Airlines have partnered with Citi and Chase banks to provide new credit cards that charge fees for benefits that customers have previously been provided for no charge.

Americans’ new card with Citi, the Citi Executive AAdvantage World Elite, is offering a free checked bag on domestic flights and priority check-in and boarding.  Both services were offered for free up until recently, according to Portfolio.com.

United Airlines’ new card with Chase, the MileagePlus Explorer Card, provides customers with a free checked bag, priority boarding and a guarantee that United miles won’t expire. These are also services that had previously been offered to all customers for no charge.

Without offering these arrangements, airlines may be unprofitable as ongoing businesses, according to Portfolio.com. Airlines generate tens of billions of dollars of profitable credit card charges each year.

Joe Brancatelli, a business travel consultant with Portfilio.com, said smart travelers can still use cards to claw back some of the perks that have been taken away if they are able to separate the “wheat from the chaff” among the hundreds of airline branded cards in the confusing and fractious market.

Branctelli said the American Platinum Card and the Amex Platinum both offer higher value-for-money propositions for business travelers. 

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