If you love the film “Catch Me If You Can” or hold fond memories from the “golden age” of flying, you almost certainly despise basic economy fares. Though airlines tout them as “customization”, allowing you to take control of your journey, they’re really just a way to force you into buying more expensive tickets while advertising prices as low or lower than their competitors. The good news is that there’s a really easy work around if you live in the U.S..

Get Your Most Frequented Airline’s Credit Card (U.S.)…

The U.S. credit card market is more cutthroat than the catwalks of high fashion. Each U.S. airline offers significant benefits to holders of their credit card, most notably Zone 1 Boarding, a free checked bag for everyone on your reservation and often discounts on food and beverage purchases on board. If you’re unsure about the whole credit card thing, read here.

Because Credit Card Benefits Can’t Be Taken Away…

Basic economy fares mean paying for luggage, boarding last and being restricted with carry on luggage. Due to consumer protection in the US, all those devaluations go straight out the window, even if you buy one of these fares, since you’re still entitled to your card benefits. 

And You Can Save Money By Booking Basic Economy Fares And Still Board First And Check A Free Bag…

Basic economy fares are generally reaching new lows, so if you have your most frequented airline’s credit card you can book their cheapest “basic economy” ticket without worry, knowing that all the things they’d like to take away from you cannot be taken away. The only thing you’ll potentially miss out on is full elite status qualifying miles, though that varies by airline.