TSA PreCheck, Global Entry, and CLEAR are membership programs that help expedite and make your airport experience more pleasant, especially at security checkpoints. Since having one of these program memberships I have saved numerous hours at the airport and can spend more time in airport lounges. Each program has it’s own selling points, let’s take a look at these points and help you decide which program is right for you.
UPDATE: Click here to learn about which cards offer a fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) offers TSA PreCheck and focuses on getting you through security as soon as possible. TSA PreCheck is the recognized gold standard for those wanting to breeze their way through airport security. With PreCheck, you get to keep your shoes and light jacket on and your laptop in your bag. You also get to leave those full body scanners behind and settle for an old school metal detector.
TSA PreCheck costs $85 for a 5-year membership.
If you travel only domestic, I recommend TSA PreCheck over the competition.
The U.S. Customers and Border Protection (CBP) offers Global Entry and provides expedited customs when coming back in the United States plus TSA PreCheck. With Global Entry you won’t have to wait in line at customs or the security checkpoint!
Back in August 2016, Global Entry saved me hours of waiting at Customs in Atlanta when returning from St. Lucia. In fact, I heard of people missing their connecting flights due to the long lines to clear Customs.
Global Entry also grants you access to the NEXUS and SENTRI lanes. With Global Entry, Customs and Border Patrols offer expedited processing when entering the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
Global Entry costs $100 for a 5-year membership, only $3 more per year than TSA PreCheck.
If you plan on doing ANY international traveling, I recommend Global Entry over the competition.
CLEAR is a private company that contracts with the TSA at certain airports around the United States. Think of CLEAR as a security agent who walks you to the front of the line.
Since CLEAR doesn’t have their dedicated employees or security lines, you still have to go through general security unless you also have a TSAPreCheck or Global Entry membership.
CLEAR costs $179 annually and you can add an adult family members for $50.
If you enjoy skipping to the front of lines, but like going through general security, and waiting at U.S. customs for hours on end, I recommend CLEAR over the competition.
The Bald Thoughts
The advantage of TSA PreCheck and Global Entry include dedicated security lines not accessible by the general public. All CLEAR does is put you in the front of the general security line… I don’t see the appeal of CLEAR considering you must go through general security checkpoints, wait in line at Customs AND it costs 895% more than Global Entry and 1052% more than TSA PreCheck.
If you plan on doing any international traveling, I recommend Global Entry as it expedites the Customs process and includes PreCheck! If you don’t do any international traveling TSA PreCheck is your best option.
Based on your travel habits, which program is right for you? Who has a membership to the above-mentioned programs?