CLEAR Increases Membership Costs For SkyMiles Members

Filed Under: Security/TSA

I’m a huge fan of CLEAR, and have written about it quite a bit in the past. I signed up for it a couple of years ago, and it has saved me a significant amount of time.

What is CLEAR?

The benefit of being a CLEAR member is that instead of lining up to have your ID checked in the regular line or Pre-Check line, you can go to the CLEAR line, scan your fingerprints, and then you’re escorted past the ID checker. With TSA Pre-Check lines sometimes being longer than the regular lines nowadays, this lets you skip to the front of even that line.

It doesn’t always save me time, though what I appreciate is that it makes my airport experience consistent. I’m always on my way within a few minutes.

The catch is that CLEAR isn’t available at all airports, though you can find their locations here.

The best way  to get a CLEAR membership

In the past the best way to become a CLEAR member has been through Delta SkyMiles. The normal price for joining CLEAR is $179 per year, though no one should be paying that much.

Instead through Delta SkyMiles the pricing has been as follows:

  • Diamond Medallion members get a complimentary membership
  • Platinum, Gold and Silver Medallion members get a $79 annual membership
  • Delta SkyMiles Credit Card members get a $79 annual membership
  • General SkyMiles members get a $99 annual membership

So just for joining SkyMiles (which anyone can do for free), you’re saving $80 per year. In other words, no one should be paying more than $99 per year to join CLEAR.

In the meantime CLEAR also has a partnership with United.

The cost to join CLEAR has just increased

Delta SkyMiles has just announced that the cost for members to join CLEAR has increased as of April 5, 2019. This new pricing applies to new members, while existing members can continue to get the old pricing.

The new pricing will be as follows:

  • Diamond Medallion members get a complimentary membership
  • Platinum, Gold and Silver Medallion members get a $109 annual membership ($30 price increase)
  • Delta SkyMiles Credit Card members get a $109 annual membership ($30 price increase)
  • General SkyMiles members get a $119 annual membership ($20 price increase)

Again, this new pricing just applies to those who aren’t enrolled in CLEAR prior to April 5, 2019, so if you’re already enrolled you’ll continue to get the old pricing. You’ll even have access to the old structure if your status changes.

Bottom line

While Diamond Medallion member will continue to get a free CLEAR membership, other SkyMiles members who aren’t yet enrolled in CLEAR are looking at a $20-30 per year price increase going forward.

While CLEAR isn’t raising their regular prices for a standard membership, in reality everyone should have been benefitting from the reduced SkyMiles pricing, which is why I’m viewing this as an effective price increase.

However, I’m at least happy to see that they’ll continue to offer the lower pricing for existing members.

(Tip of the hat to Rene’s Points)

  1. In the last five years of having PreCheck, Clear would have only benefitted me once – when I flew a non-PreCheck airline out of SJC. The only other time Clear could have benefitted me would have been during the early morning rush-hour at PIT, but PIT doesn’t have Clear. Also, PreCheck often gets you expedited screening at airports without PreCheck as well as in Canada (if you have GE), Clear does not. Overall, Clear is a useless product.

  2. I’ve read so many reviews on CLEAR and it seems they are mildly more convenient in a very narrow range of cases. Even as a frequent traveler I can find much better use of my $99, and this price hike only makes my decision easier.

  3. I know nothing of Clear’s financial situation. Clear is a great idea if you are traversing an airport and concourse which has Clear. I assume it is a race for them to expand service and become more useful before running out of money.
    Since the outlay is for one year at a time, I am allowing my plan to renew and hope they succeed. Other than some dirty looks from people being bypassed, I have found Clear to be helpful.

  4. I’m curious if anyone has any privacy concerns with regard to a membership with Clear. I was considering a membership, but our friend (who works in intelligence) advised that we wait until they beef up their security/tech.

    Of course, I can’t say I have tremendous faith in the security/privacy efforts of most companies, and of course I interact with them daily.

  5. One clever way to get around this is do not tell them you are a skymiles member. That way, there is no price increase

  6. A complete waste of time & money unless one lives in San Francisco
    It works horrible at LAX terminal 4 and almost all airports where I travel
    It adds extra time to end up in well pre check!
    Likely never again
    Pre check mostly is superior just the way it is
    I wasn’t planning on renewing after a one year experiment with clear and now no chance in h###
    If I could get my money back I would happily

  7. I am fundamentally against the principle of clear (paying a private company to cut in line of everybody else). Tsa Pre is a great program because it actually speeds up security for everybody without compromising security, and the application fee for it pays for the background check and is very reasonable for what it is. Clear n the other hand, just lets you cut in line, burdening everybody else. If everybody joined clear, we’d actually be worse off than without Clear, because the fingerprint check takes slightly longer than the ID check by the DHS agent.
    The clear line also takes up valuable space that could be used for the security check area.

    Very few airports have Clear anyway, and those that do, the TSA pre line isn’t that long. (SFO and DEN are the only ones I’ve flown through regularly where it might save you 5 minutes of time if you have TSA Pre, during the most busy hours)

  8. Not only are you giving up your biometrics to a private company, you even throw them extra money.

    The whole choke point is not where TSA positively ID you but where TSA (ineffectively) scans you for threat.

    I disagree with airport security should be shorter for the rich because I can afford CLEAR and PreCheck. Yes airlines are for profit, but airports should be a public service.

    Ambulance shouldn’t take longer for people with less money.
    Police shouldn’t shoot faster if you are not white.

    In a few years, CLEAR will be the new PreCheck, everyone has it and it’s not faster. By then someone will sell PreCLEAR which will jump the CLEAR and PreCheck line. Few years after that an ExpressPreClear will jump that line and on forever. Which means, nothing has changed.

    Again, the choke point is not IDing the flyer it is screening them. The hold up is when 5 people in front of you brought drinks with them or didn’t take out their laptops or didn’t empty their pockets. The new TSA rule, separate food would make travel safer? Really, a sandwich can now conceal weapons or explosive devices?

    I miss pre 9/11, and face it on 9/11 happened because the cockpit got breached not because they had weapons. Shoe/underware bomber made it all the way on board. Others never made it to the airport (thanks to intels). TSA failed undercover tests and even let loaded weapons through, but not once since 9/11 did a cockpit got breached.

  9. Thanks for sharing as it is new news to me and I am glad that old members are grandfather clause in.

  10. Never bothered because they still don’t have Clear at ORD, and that’s the hub I’m mostly going through. Never had any problems at LAX waiting more than 5 minutes with PreCheck.

  11. Maybe I’m slow, but is there a reason to get CLEAR instead of TSA Precheck (which is available at pretty much every major airport?)

  12. @Anastasia – There are a lot of people enrolled in Pre-Check and that means longer wait times. If you live/travel to an airport with CLEAR frequently, then it can help you save time by not waiting in the long Pre-Check lane.

  13. @anastasia, typically you will benefit from pre-check more than CLEAR, depending on your airport. Precheck is everywhere, CLEAR is and will be at limited airports. I actually have both and being a DEN origin flyer, I actually save a lot of time with CLEAR since at DEN, the Precheck lines just to get thru the ID check are often times long. With CLEAR and Precheck, I breeze thru ID check and then only have to wait behind 4 to 5 people in the scanning line (at the max). At some airports where the pre-check lines are usually not that long, you wouldn’t get much benefit from CLEAR.

  14. @Eskimo
    I am a health professional and as such, my State required fingerprints for licensing. My fingerprints are out there already. The same might be true for many, some professional exams also require fingerprints today.
    With Clear you are paying a private firm to do the portion normally done by TSA. If this bothers you you should be clamoring about the fact that TSA charges on flights are the same regardless of cost of ticket or class of ticket. Why then do we allow airlines to arrange shorter lines for those travelling in premium classes? Why do we allow airlines to also offer shorter lines to elites?

  15. I have clear complimentary as Diamond with Delta. I bought my husband and mom clear for $49 each as I was Clear already. I’ve never seen this written anywhere but was happy to do. Only problem with clear. Mom has no idea what her address was right out of college – the only address of hers I don’t recognize so she’s still not clear

  16. I get benefot from CLEAR in ATL most days….. But early Morning Mondays most times there are over 100 people in the clear TSA line in a single scan line. While TSA Precheck normally has 2 lines…. WHY??????

  17. @Donato

    Since you are a health professional I’ll let this one go. Yes, everything about us is out there somewhere. I’m not suggesting anyone to lay low and be off the grid. I’m just trying to delay the inevitable. Now the more location out there means more risk of losing it. I don’t think government is more secured that private. No, the government doesn’t invest NSA level security for our privacy, they invest the other way around. And FYI, for CLEAR it’s also Iris data, your state definitely doesn’t have that.

    For the TSA charges, what bothers me is the TSA charges itself. Why do I pay them for crappy security. I don’t mind if my $5.60 goes to making the cockpit harder to breach. But instead, it goes to an agency with ~80% failure rate and depressed Air Marshalls who stalks you all day and confiscate your seat up front.
    Shoe and underware bomber were both stopped by passenger and flight crew NOT Air Marshalls. The only guy FAM shot was killed and he is not even a terrorist.

    Now for the special line for elites and premium cabin, I believe airlines actually foot the bill for that (or contributed something). How much or where it really goes to, I don’t know. Could also be part of agreement to maintain a hub at airport.

  18. My wife and I have had Clear for years. Our home airport is Minneapolis/Saint Paul (MSP) and 80% of the flights out of here are on Delta. Clear is good for all flights out of terminal 1, which is all major carriers except Southwest. It works very well here. There is Clear at Delta facilities in LGA, LAX, and SAT, our most frequent airports.

  19. Living in NYC, I actually use CLEAR more at Yankee stadium and MSG. I’ve found it hugely helpful at both. At first there were s me small issues, but that’s the case with any new technology.
    Yes it’s not that widespread yet, but I find it is definitely worth the money. And to the comments about putting your info with a private company – if you think your info is not already out there/accessible, you are in for a rude awakening…

  20. As a weekly traveler out of SFO/SJC and DCA/IAD, clear is well worth the time savings. Clear may not be everywhere precheck is but I’ve used in in many many airports (ATL, Aus, dfw, den, las, lax, map, PHX, and sea).

    And thats before mentioning using it at sports events too.

  21. Glad to pay more as long as they keep adding new airports. As others have noted ATL needs a major CLEAR expansion due to peak time overcrowding.

  22. A third of the airports that I regularly travel through for work don’t even operate PreCheck lines. When PreCheck becomes universal in the U.S. I might consider paying even more to participate in security theater. Until then, I’ll pass on Clear.

  23. I fly 50+ flights a year to various airports and have yet to see any benefit in Clear. If it was in every airport that had TSA Precheck, I might see the value. But I rarely see it in the terminals I use. The annual cost (versus a 5 year membership) just seems like a waste of money for the minimal benefit. I don’t fly Delta so it sounds like it may be better for their passengers.

  24. I fly SIC TO SAN every week and can pretty much get through security in under 5 minutes so it is well worth the cost. Worth noting kids under 18 are free as well so it comes in handy whwn paired with pre check. It is not meant for someone who flies once a month.

    As for the rich cutting the line, the fees are nominal and the airports are entitled to the money the same way they are gate fees, parking fees, etc. When you think about the amount of airports in the US compared to other parts of the world it is these fees which allow us to have such a high airport density.

    Worth noting that when you enter most foreign countries now they scan your prints and do a retinal scan so the privacy concerns stated above are somewhat moot.

  25. Don’t waste your money on Clear. Precheck takes 30 seconds in front of the agent to scan your boarding pass and have the agent look at you and your ID. Clear takes just as long, or longer. You show your boarding pass to a clear worker, go to a kiosk when open, scan your bio, wait, scan your boarding pass, then wait in line to see the very same TSA agent to show them your boarding pass. No different after in going through scanning. Clear actually is slower, is an additional cost and is actually just private company scam. Oh, and about 30% of the time you will get tapped for additional screening which puts through the normal TSA process anyway. Don’t waste your money.

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