What is Global Entry and TSA PreCheck?
Both Global Entry and TSA PreCheck are services administered by the federal government to provide expedited security screening. TSA PreCheck allows for expedited screening for flights that depart from the United States. Global Entry provides expedited U.S. customs screening for international travelers that enter the United States. Global Entry members receive TSA PreCheck as a part of their membership.
When members qualify, their status with both programs will last for five years and members are eligible to renew their membership. Application cost for Global Entry is $100, which is slightly more expensive than TSA PreCheck’s application cost of $78.
Related: 7 ways to get free or discounted TSA PreCheck, Global Entry and Clear
With any of the cards above, you’re eligible for a fee credit every four or five years for either Global Entry or TSA PreCheck when you pay for the membership with the card. Note that you don’t need to be paying for your own membership: as long as the application fee is charged to the card and you haven’t already utilized the perk, the credit should automatically be applied to your next statement.
Related: 14 things you should know about Global Entry before your next trip
How we chose the best cards for Global Entry and TSA/PreCheck
The most obvious requirement for being chosen for this list is that each card has a statement credit benefit for your Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee. But this isn’t an exhaustive list of cards that offer these credits. Instead, it represents the cards that provide the perk and offer the most valuable additional benefits to card holders, such as airport lounge access or travel credits.
We also considered whether authorized users also receive the benefit, the card’s sign-up bonus and other factors when narrowing down the list to our favorite cards.
Should I get TSA PreCheck or Global Entry?
TSA PreCheck and Global Entry are both trusted traveler programs. TSA PreCheck gets you expedited security screening when you’re flying with a participating airline and 73 airlines (and counting) that are part of the program. If the TSA PreCheck security lane is available (and operating) at the airport, you’ll not only have access to a much shorter line, but you won’t need to remove your shoes or belt and you can leave your laptop or liquids in your bag. This can be a lifesaver if you’re running late for a flight. The TSA PreCheck application fee is $85 and after submitting your application you’ll need to complete a background check and in-person interview. A TSA PreCheck membership is valid for five years.
The process for applying for Global Entry is similar to TSA PreCheck, but the application fee is $100 and there are almost always much longer wait times to schedule an interview. You can get around this by getting an interview on arrival at some locations. Once you’re approved for Global Entry you’ll have access to TSA PreCheck security lanes and you’ll also get expedited customs when returning to the U.S. through any of these airports. Global Entry is also valid for five years, so for only $15 more you’re getting TSA PreCheck expedited security plus you can speed through U.S. Customs.
Unless you aren’t in a position to wait the extra time it takes to be approved for Global Entry that’s the one you’ll want to apply for. Otherwise, get TSA PreCheck and just use Mobile Passport when returning to the U.S. Just keep in mind that you can’t use Mobile Passport and Global Entry at the same time.
Related: 12 things to know about TSA PreCheck
Security checkpoints and passport control desks can make or break your travel day, adding unnecessary delays and hassles to an already stressful transit experience. Wouldn’t it be nice to not only speed through these lines but also do so for free? As you can see, there are many valuable travel rewards credit cards that provide application fee waivers for either Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. If you’re still planning your next trip and want to save some time, consider adding one of the best travel credit cards to your wallet now. Then try not to laugh at the poor souls in the “regular” traveler lines as you breeze your way through the airport.
For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum card, please click here.
Additional reporting by Benét J. Wilson.
Featured photo by Arne Beruldsen/Shutterstock.