A few American Express cards now offer annual CLEAR credits, which can save you time at the airport. With both The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express having recently added CLEAR credits as a benefit, in this post I wanted to take a closer look at how exactly that works.
Which Amex cards offer CLEAR credits, what is CLEAR, how do you sign-up, and how do you get the best value?
Which Amex cards offer CLEAR credits?
Currently there are three American Express cards offering CLEAR credits as a perk:
- The Platinum Card® from American Express (review) offers up to a $189 annual CLEAR credit
- The Business Platinum Card® from American Express (review) offers up to a $189 annual CLEAR credit
- The American Express® Green Card (review) offers up to a $100 annual CLEAR credit
What are the restrictions associated with these CLEAR credits?
- The credits are per calendar year (based on when the transaction appears on your card)
- The credits can be used across multiple transactions, if you’re in a situation where you’re being charged the maximum credit amount by CLEAR
- The credits apply to purchases directly with CLEAR
- Purchases by the primary cardmember and additional cardmembers are eligible, though additional cardmembers don’t get additional credits
- You can buy a CLEAR membership for anyone (including friends and family), as long as you pay with your card
- The statement credits will post within two to four weeks of an eligible purchase
What is CLEAR?
CLEAR is essentially a technology company that stores biometric data to expedite clearing security at airports, and at select stadiums and other venues.
The way CLEAR makes your life easier is by allowing you to bypass the ID check at airports. While you still have to go through security, you simply go up to a CLEAR checkpoint at an airport, then your fingerprints or eyes are scanned, and then you bypass the ID check (though in some cases you may still be asked at random to show your ID).
It doesn’t matter whether you have Pre-Check or just “regular” security, as the CLEAR associate will direct you past the ID checker and into the appropriate line.
Where is CLEAR available?
CLEAR is currently available at 50+ venues — this consists mostly of airports, though also includes some stadiums and other venues. Not all terminals at eligible airports have CLEAR, though you can expect to find CLEAR in some capacity at the following 35+ airports:
- Atlanta (ATL)
- Austin (AUS)
- Baltimore (BWI)
- Birmingham (BHM)
- Boston (BOS)
- Chicago (MDW & ORD)
- Cincinnati (CVG)
- Cleveland (CLE)
- Dallas (DAL & DFW)
- Denver (DEN)
- Detroit (DTW)
- Fort Lauderdale (FLL)
- Houston (HOU & IAH)
- Las Vegas (LAS)
- Los Angeles (LAX)
- Miami (MIA)
- Minneapolis (MSP)
- New Orleans (MSY)
- New York (JFK & LGA)
- Newark (EWR)
- Oakland (OAK)
- Orlando (MCO)
- Phoenix (PHX)
- Sacramento (SMF)
- Salt Lake City (SLC)
- San Antonio (SAT)
- San Francisco (SFO)
- San Jose (SJC)
- Seattle (SEA)
- St. Louis (STL)
- Washington (DCA & IAD)
- Westchester (HPN)
How do you sign up for CLEAR?
The process of signing up for CLEAR is super easy. You can initially register online, which should take just a couple of minutes. Your payment will already be processed when you register.
Then the next time you’re at an airport with CLEAR you can simply see a company representative, and they’ll walk you through the registration process, which consists of them taking your biometric data. Unlike with Global Entry, there’s no “interview” required here. CLEAR is essentially just verifying your biometric data, so the company isn’t assessing how “risky” of a passenger you are.
How does CLEAR compare to TSA PreCheck?
CLEAR, TSA PreCheck, and Global Entry, are complements and not substitutes:
- CLEAR gets you expedited ID checking at eligible airports
- TSA PreCheck gets you expedited security screening at eligible airports, as you don’t have to take off your shoes, or take liquids or laptops out of your bags
- Global Entry gets you expedited immigration when entering the United States, allowing you to go straight to a kiosk and skip the main lines
When it comes to memberships:
- A Global Entry membership gets you Global Entry and TSA PreCheck, but not CLEAR
- A TSA PreCheck membership just gets you TSA PreCheck
- A CLEAR membership just gets you CLEAR
The ideal situation is to have a Global Entry membership and a CLEAR membership, as you’re then covered for all three programs.
How do you maximize value with CLEAR?
Ordinarily, a CLEAR membership costs $189 per year. You might be thinking “great, the Amex Platinum Card offers a $189 credit, so I’m all set.” Not so fast, because you can do much better than that. You can actually get CLEAR for two people with that $189 credit, and then some.
So let’s look at some of the strategies to maximize your Amex CLEAR credits.
CLEAR should cost no more than $119 per year
At the absolute most you should be paying $119 per year for CLEAR, before factoring in any potential Amex CLEAR credits. Why? Just for being a member of Delta SkyMiles or United MileagePlus you get a reduced CLEAR membership rate of $119 per year. Signing up for these programs is free and takes just a couple of minutes.
No status is required, but rather the discount is offered just for being a member of these programs:
- Follow this link to get the preferential Delta SkyMiles pricing
- Follow this link to get the preferential United MileagePlus pricing
Save even more with airline status or credit cards
You can save even more on a CLEAR membership if you have airline status or select co-brand credit cards:
- CLEAR is free for Delta SkyMiles Diamond Medallion members
- CLEAR costs $109 for Delta SkyMiles Platinum, Gold, and Silver Medallion members, as well as those with a co-branded Delta SkyMiles Credit Card
- CLEAR is free for United MileagePlus Premier 1K members
- CLEAR costs $109 for United MileagePlus Platinum, Gold, and Silver Premier members, as well as those with a co-branded United MileagePlus Credit Card
Amex credits can be applied towards any of these discounted CLEAR membership opportunities.
Get CLEAR for $50 with family plans
CLEAR memberships are individual, so you can’t bring friends or family along with you, aside from children under 18, who can tag along for free without registering.
The good news is that CLEAR also offers family plans. With CLEAR’s family plans, you can add up to three people to your account for $50 each per year. The people you add don’t even have to be immediate or biological family. As CLEAR describes it, you can even add “chosen family, or friends that feel like family.”
There are no tricks here — you can just sign up for an individual membership, and then later can add people to your family plan.
The best CLEAR strategy with Amex credits
- Sign up for the $119 annual CLEAR membership through the Delta SkyMiles or United MileagePlus links, and charge your Amex card for it
- Sign up a friend or family member through the family plan option for an additional $50, and charge your Amex card for it
You’ll now be looking at two people getting CLEAR for $169, which is more than covered by the Amex Platinum $189 credit. That’s better than using up that entire credit on just one person, eh?
Meanwhile let’s say you’re a Delta SkyMiles Diamond Medallion member or United MileagePlus Premier 1K member, who gets CLEAR for free. If I had the Amex Platinum, my strategy would be to use the family plan option to add three people to my account for $50 each. The $150 in fees would be more than covered by the $189 annual credit.
Three American Express cards now offer CLEAR credits, and in particular both the personal and business version of the Amex Platinum offer a $189 annual CLEAR credit.
While $189 will cover a CLEAR membership for a year, you can actually get CLEAR for two people at that price. Just sign up through Delta or United so you pay $119, and then use the family plan option to add someone to your account for $50.
It’s awesome to see Amex add CLEAR credits, as it’s a nice alternative to the TSA PreCheck and Global Entry credits we’ve historically primarily seen.
If you have an Amex card with a CLEAR credit, what has your strategy been?