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.
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’d like a 2-month free trial, use our referral link to sign up. This offer is good through December 31, 2017.
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.
Best of all worlds
You can actually combine the benefits of Global Entry/TSA PreCheck with CLEAR for the shortest wait at airport security possible.
If you have CLEAR, you can go through their dedicated lines and avoid the wait in the normal security lines or the PreCheck lines, which are getting longer and longer with so many people signing up.
Then, once you use CLEAR to go through security really fast, then you’ll use Global Entry/TSA PreCheck to zoom through the body & bag scanning. It’s the 1-2 punch we use to get through security and into the comfort of the airport lounges as quickly as possible.
The Bald Thoughts
The advantage of TSA PreCheck and Global Entry include dedicated security lines not accessible by the general public. CLEAR’s best benefit is that it puts you in the front of the general security line… I don’t see the appeal of CLEAR without combining it with Global Entry or TSA PreCheck to avoid the “nudie scan” machines and the hassle of having to remove 3-1-1 liquids, laptops, shoes, etc. However, when you combine the benefits of both, then you’re really living the good life.
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 the option for you.
Based on your travel habits, which program is right for you? Who has a membership to the above-mentioned programs?