When you're traveling, packing is stressful enough without having to worry about going over the airline's weight limit for checked baggage. No one wants to be hit with those hefty over-limit fees, which is why it's worth investing in a luggage scale. These handy little devices make it easy to weigh both checked and carry-on bags, so you won't be surprised at the airport. All you have to do is hang your bag from the scale's hook, and it registers the bag's weight, usually on a digital display. A luggage scale is fairly accurate, too, so you'll know almost exactly what the airline's scale will say when you check your bag.

With our convenient buying guide, you'll have all the facts you need to find the best luggage scale for your next trip. We've even included some specific product recommendations, such as our top choice, the Tarriss Travel Gear Jetsetter, which can weigh bags as heavy as 110 pounds and offers precision accuracy within 0.2 pounds.

For a luggage scale, accuracy is the most important criteria when you're shopping. In general, expensive high-quality scales are the most accurate, so you have to be careful with affordable models. Any scale that you consider should be accurate within one pound or less.

A luggage scale has to be sturdy enough to hold a fully packed bag. You want it to be compact and lightweight, too, so you're able to take it with you and weigh your bag for return trips. You don't want it to add weight to your checked bag, so look for a model that's small enough to keep in a handbag, carry-on bag, or even a pocket. For the most compact design, look for a scale that weighs seven ounces or less.

You need a luggage scale to be able to handle the weight of any suitcase you might pack, so its weight capacity is an important feature to pay attention to. The majority of scales can handle bags that weigh as much as 100 to 110 pounds, which is suitable for most people. Some models only have a capacity of 80 pounds, though. Opt for a scale with a higher weight capacity than you think you need just to be safe.

A digital luggage scale needs batteries to power it. You can choose from models that use standard replaceable batteries or those with rechargeable batteries. Scales that use replaceable batteries usually take AA or AAA, which are easy to find anywhere. But if you opt for a scale with a rechargeable battery, you never have to worry about buying replacements. In most cases, you can recharge the scale with a USB cable; though some require an AC adapter.

No matter what type of batteries it uses, choose a scale with a battery indicator light, so you always know when it requires replacement batteries or recharging.

When you're holding a luggage scale with your bag attached, it should be easy to read, so you don't have to strain too much. A digital model with an LCD display is usually the best because its screen is extremely clear. A backlit display is especially helpful because you'll be able to read it even in low-light situations.

For the most convenience, though, opt for a scale whose LCD display offers a battery indicator light and an overweight warning, too, which illuminates if your bag is over the limit that most airlines adhere to.

Some luggage scales can display your bag's weight using either imperial or metric measurements. Most travelers prefer models that allow you to switch between pounds and kilograms based on where you're traveling.

A scale with an auto-lock feature locks a bag's weight after it's been stabilized for about 10 seconds. That makes it easier to receive a reading because you don't have to worry about the weight rising and falling as you attempt to read the display.

You don't want to waste your scale's battery, so an auto-shutoff feature helps save battery power by turning the scale off if it's not used for a certain amount of time.

For added versatility, some luggage scales have a built-in USB port. You can charge a phone or tablet through the scale when you're on the road, so you don't have to worry about being caught with a dead battery.

To keep your scale safe in your purse, carry-on, or pocket, opt for a model that includes some type of case. Some come with a soft pouch, while others have a hard case that protects it from damage.

You'll usually pay between $5 and $70 for a luggage scale. Basic digital models with few special features typically go for $5 to $16, while advanced digital models with some special features generally cost between $16 and $42. For a high-end digital luggage scale with plenty of special features, including charging ports, you'll pay between $42 and $70.

A. Even if your suitcase is under the weight limit when you leave home, there's no guarantee it still will be when you arrive at the airport for your return flight -- especially if you're bringing home souvenirs and other goodies. You'll definitely want to have your luggage scale with you to weigh your bag before your return flight to avoid fees, too.

A. Most people use their scale before plane trips, but cruise lines and even some long-distance bus companies also have weight limits for luggage.

Our take: An excellent high-performing luggage scale that stands out for its 100% satisfaction guarantee and lifetime warranty.

What we like: Offers a slim compact design that's easy to bring with you. Can handle as much as 110 pounds. Boasts a precision accuracy of 0.2 pounds. LCD display is easy to read. Runs on a rechargeable lithium battery.

Our take: An affordable luggage scale that's compact for easy storage and offers an LCD display with room temperature reading.

What we like: Handle features rubber paint for a more comfortable grip. Offers precision accuracy within 0.1 pounds. Display offers room temperature to serve as a portable thermometer for travel. Features low battery and overweight indicator lights.

What we dislike: Display isn't backlit. Battery's lifespan isn't as long as the batteries in other models.

What we like: Has a digital LCD display that offers low battery and overweight indicator lights. Battery charge is long-lasting thanks to auto-off and tare functions. Easily changes from kilograms to pounds or vice versa. Offers an auto-lock feature.

Jennifer Blair is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

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