Are you ready to take that long-awaited vacation? If you want to skip the security line at the airport, there is no need to pay.
Are you ready to start traveling again after a year in which your most significant excursion was probably a trip to the grocery store's parking lot and back? People are once again taking to the skies, thanks to the fact that more than 140 million Americans have been fully immunized and that travel restrictions have been lifted. If you're ready to resume air travel after the pandemic, don't begin your post-pandemic vacation by waiting in a long security line. If you're worried about making your flight, you've waited far too long.
Airport security programs such as TSA PreCheck, Global Entry, and Clear allow you to breeze through airport security. However, before you spend your hard-earned money on these program fees — and after you've digested the security and privacy concerns associated with participating in such a program — you might want to consider one of the many credit cards that will cover the expenses. TSA PreCheck, Global Entry, and Clear memberships can all be obtained for free by redeeming loyalty points or frequent-flyer miles in a similar manner.
To save you the time and effort of combing through the fine print of your next credit card statement or rewards program FAQ page, I've compiled a list of credit cards and loyalty programs that offer full or partial reimbursement for TSA PreCheck, Global Entry, or Clear. Look through the lists and links provided below.
What do these programs do?
TSA PreCheck and Global Entry are run by the US government, while a private company operates Clear.
- TSA PreCheck is run by the US Transportation Security Administration and expedites the airport security screening process. This gets you access to a faster PreCheck line (where available) and you won't have to remove your shoes, belt, jacket or laptop during the security screening.
- Global Entry, run by the US Customs and Border Protection, includes all of the advantages of TSA PreCheck and adds an express line through customs and immigration for international travelers returning to the US.
- Clear is privately operated and lets you bypass the main security line or the TSA PreCheck line at the airport. After checking in at a kiosk, you'll be escorted to the front of the security line, where you won't be required to show your ID. Then you'll go through a security screening as usual -- unless you also have PreCheck. Clear also offers a free version of its service called Clear Sports that provides expedited entry into a handful of stadiums around the country.
How much do these programs usually cost?
TSA PreCheck costs $85 for five years. Global Entry costs $100 for five years. Clear is considerably more expensive at $179 per year. The ideal combination is Global Entry and Clear, letting you breeze through the security line, then going through screening without reorganizing your entire wardrobe. But that's expensive, so, read on.
How to get TSA PreCheck or Global Entry for free
Typically, if your credit card offers a TSA PreCheck or Global Entry benefit, you will have the option of receiving a $100 credit to cover the cost of Global Entry or a $85 credit to cover the cost of TSA PreCheck. I'm not sure why you would choose the latter option if both are available for free. Keep in mind that Global Entry includes all of the benefits of TSA PreCheck as well as a faster route through US customs and immigration in the United States. Some cards, on the other hand, only provide a $85 credit, which would leave you with a $15 balance to cover the cost of Global Entry registration.
Credit cards from the following issuers provide up to a $100 credit every five years, at the very least, to cover the cost of a five-year membership to TSA PreCheck or Global Entry:
- Arvest Visa Signature Credit Card
- Bank of America Premium Rewards card
- BB&T Spectrum Travel Rewards card
- Capital One Spark Miles card
- Capital One Venture card
- Certain American Express cards
- Chase Sapphire Reserve
- Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard
- Citi Prestige card
- Commerce Bank World Elite MasterCard
- Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card
- Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card
- Diners Club Carte Blanche Corporate card
- Expedia Rewards Voyager Card from Citi
- HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard credit card
- IHG Rewards Club
- Marriott Bonvoy
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card
- MasterCard Black card
- MasterCard Gold card
- Navy Federal's Visa Signature Flagship Rewards card
- Orbitz Rewards
- PenFed Pathfinder Rewards American Express card
- Provident World+ Travel
- Radisson Rewards
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business card
- SunTrust Travel Rewards World Elite MasterCard
- UBS Visa Infinite Credit Card
- United ClubSM Infinite Card
- United Explorer card
- US Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite card
- US Bank FlexPerks Gold American Express card
In addition to credit cards, there are a handful of traveler loyalty programs that let you trade points or miles for a free membership to TSA PreCheck.
- United MileagePlus: Redeem 10,000 United MileagePlus miles for TSA PreCheck
- Marriott Bonvoy: Redeem 25,000 points for an $85 credit for TSA PreCheck
- IHG Rewards Club: Redeem 30,000 points for an $85 credit for TSA PreCheck
- Radisson Rewards: Redeem 65,000 points for an $85 credit for TSA PreCheck
- Orbitz Rewards: Platinum members get a free TSA PreCheck membership every five years
How to get Clear for free
There are fewer ways to get a free or discounted Clear membership, but they do exist. Delta and United frequent flyers as well as Hertz members can get a deal on Clear.
For Delta flyers, Clear is free for Diamond Medallion members, $109 a year for Platinum, Gold and Silver Medallion members, and $119 a year for General SkyMiles members.
On United, Clear free for Premier 1K members, $109 a year for United credit cardmembers in the US and Platinum, Gold and Silver Premier members. And it's $119 a year for MileagePlus members.
Hertz Gold Plus Rewards members can get Clear for a discounted rate of $129 a year -- a savings of $50.
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