If you’re a frequent traveler and a US citizen or national, you will want to look into the Transportation & Security Administration’s (TSA) PreCheck and Global Entry Trusted Traveler Programs. Basically, these give you special privileges which allow you to save TONS of time going through airport security. Read on for more details.
PreCheck vs. Global Entry
PreCheck and Global Entry are different and you can opt for one or both.
- PreCheck – this is for domestic travel in the United States only. Your final destination must be in the USA to use this.
- Global Entry – this is for international travel outside of the United States.
How Much Does It Cost?
TSA PreCheck currently costs $85 total for 5 years and does NOT include Global Entry. That’s $17 a year.
Global Entry costs $100 total for 5 years and DOES include TSA PreCheck. That’s $20 a year.
Basically, if you pay $15 more (total) you get Global Entry for 5 years as well as PreCheck. The cost to renew both is the same.
Benefits of Global Entry & PreCheck
- Under 5 Minute Security Line Waits – In February 2019, 92% of TSA PreCheck passengers waited less than 5 minutes!
- 7 Million People have already joined TSA’s PreCheck program
- Over 200 airports and 65 airlines work with PreCheck. See the list here.
- You only have to renew your membership every 5 years and it costs $20 or less per year
- You get a special line at airport security which is ALWAYS faster
- At security you don’t need to remove your shoes, laptops, liquids, belts, or light jackets
Should I Get TSA PreCheck?
If you fly on domestic flights in the United States more than twice a year, it’s worth it to get PreCheck. This is especially true for business travelers, families, and people on tight schedules.
Should I Get TSA Global Entry?
If you regularly fly internationally at all, it’s worth it to get Global Entry. Most international US airports have VERY busy Customs areas, and getting to skip most of the line in Customs make it worth it. Do you really want to wait in 1+ hour lines because you didn’t get Global Entry?
What About My Kids/Family/Travel Buddies?
Kids 12 years old and under can fly through security as long as their parent or guardian has TSA PreCheck or Global Entry.
Everyone ages 13 and up will need their own TSA PreCheck or Global Entry status to get the same perks. So tell your boyfriend and your mom to get it so everyone can get through airport security in under 5 minutes!
How Do I Sign Up for TSA PreCheck?
TSA PreCheck is pretty easy to sign up for.
- Fill out the online application – takes about 5 minutes
- Schedule an in-person appointment, choosing from 380 enrollment centers
- Go to the appointment where they will do a background check, take your picture, and fingerprint you. This takes about 15 minutes.
- A week or two later you will get an email from TSA with your Known Traveler Number
How Do I Sign Up for TSA Global Entry?
Sign up for Global Entry by starting your application here. The process is almost identical to the TSA PreCheck process but it goes through a different government agency.
US Military Member Priveleges
As a thank you for serving the country, TSA offers FREE TSA PreCheck for active duty military members (uniform not required) and DoD civilians. Find out more details here.
Credit Cards & Loyalty Program Perks
Certain credit cards and loyalty programs offer free or discounted TSA PreCheck as part of their perks! You can also use some frequent flyer miles/points to pay instead of cold hard cash. See the list of existing credit card programs that will get you PreCheck.
How Do I Use These Perks?
Once you have your Known Traveler #, add it in the appropriate box when booking a flight online. Your ticket will now have a special mark on it, show this ticket to the airport employee at the beginning of the line and they will usher you into your special line.
My PreCheck Review, 2 Years Later
I’ve had TSA PreCheck for about 2 years now and I’m SO happy I decided to enroll. Here are some of my thoughts on it:
- In Summer 2018 I flew back from visiting a friend in Orlando, Florida and avoided a 2 HOUR security line full of families decked out in Disneyworld apparel. That line would’ve made me miss my flight.
- I’ve used PreCheck on approximately 8 business trip flights where I did NOT have to struggle to get my laptop out
- LAX (Los Angeles International) is one of the busiest airports in the US but I managed to get through their PreCheck security line at peak time in less than 10 minutes.
Chances are that if you’re a frequent traveler you’ve considered TSA PreCheck or Global Entry. It makes sense for those who fly on business, those who fly with kids under 12 years old, and for those who are chronically late to their flights. Overall, TSA PreCheck is totally worth it!