Too Many Global Entry Credits: One Way Card Issuers Could Stand Out

Filed Under: Credit Cards
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Nowadays most premium credit cards offer a suite of benefits. For the most part the issuers don’t expect that every cardmember will take advantage of every benefit, which is logical enough, since many of these benefits are costly.

Most major premium credit cards offer some sort of a Global Entry and/or TSA Pre-Check credit. For example:

Cards offering Global EntryFee credit terms
The Platinum Card® from American ExpressOne statement credit every four years, authorized users also eligible
The Business Platinum Card® from American ExpressOne statement credit every four years, authorized users also eligible
Chase Sapphire Reserve®One statement credit per account, every four years
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit CardOne statement credit per account every four years
Capital One® Spark® Miles for BusinessOne statement credit per account, every four years
Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®One statement credit per account, every five years
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit CardOne statement credit per account, every four years
United℠ Explorer CardOne statement credit per account, every four years
United Club℠ Infinite CardOne statement credit per account, every four years
IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit CardOne statement credit per account, every four years
Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit cardOne statement credit per account, every four years

As you can see, each of those credits can be used for either TSA Pre-Check or Global Entry. The credits are only valid every 4-5 years, since that’s roughly how long a membership is valid for. If you’re like me and have multiple of these cards, the good news is that you can use this benefit to pay for someone else’s fee. There’s no requirement that the names match, but rather all that matters is that the card with the credit is the one charged.

This probably isn’t a huge cost for most credit card companies. When you allocate the cost of the benefit over years, it’s like paying a maximum of $20-25 per year, and that assumes that someone uses the benefit at all. I have four credit cards that offer these credits, and I’ve only used one of them in the past five years.

Global Entry and TSA Pre-Check are both useful, so I always recommend signing up for Global Entry ($100) rather than TSA Pre-Check ($85). Both are valid for five years, and if you sign up for Global Entry you’ll also be included in TSA Pre-Check (while the inverse isn’t true).

Anyway, reader Byron left a comment on a previous post that I thought was worth talking about separately. Obviously the current Global Entry and TSA Pre-Check credits are better than nothing, though I’d love to see a card issuer add a credit that can be used for another great airport perk. Specifically, CLEAR offers expedited airport security that will get you to the front of the Pre-Check or regular security lane. It’s a huge time saver, and mainly I appreciate the consistency it provides, since you’ll always be through security in a matter of minutes.

To me this has become just as valuable as Pre-Check or Global Entry, and I love using it at eligible airports. CLEAR costs $179 per year, though no one should be paying that, given the special partnership between CLEAR and Delta, which offers further discounts:

  • Just for being a Delta SkyMiles member you get your membership fee reduced to $99 (even without status or anything)
  • If you’re a Delta SkyMiles elite member, your membership fee is reduced to $79
  • If you have a co-branded Delta credit card, your membership fee is reduced to $79
  • If you’re a Delta Diamond Medallion member, you get a free membership

Presumably a credit card issuer could negotiate the price way down, certainly to $99 per year at most, but probably even less than that. They might even be able to get it for free, with the understanding that if someone is given it once every five years, they’re more likely to get hooked and pay for it themselves in separate years. I understand a credit card issuer wouldn’t want to pay this fee for members every year, but I’d even be thrilled to see them introduce this as a benefit every 4-5 years, just like the current Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check credit.

Anyway, I figured this was worth a post in case any credit card issuer was looking for ideas that could innovate the current fee credit that several card issuers offer nowadays.

Would you value a CLEAR credit of some sort with a premium credit card?

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  1. Previously there was a Visa Signature benefit for 6 months free of Clear, then a discount for renewal. But I think that was before the Delta deal.

  2. If they could make the global entry application a little less of a prostate exam … feels like applying for security clearance

  3. I recently had an Amex Offer on my Platinum card for $79 off a $179 purchase, IIRC … which was useless given the Delta discounts that are readily available, as you mention above. But a tightened-up version of that offer would be very appealing.

  4. I hope not, right now having CLEAR sand PreCheck is like having PreCheck 18-24 months ago where you basically walked through security. Nowadays every Tom Dick and Harry has PreCheck (and many are clueless as to what that means and slow things down with coat, belt, shoe removal. If we have CLEAR out to many more people we’d need yet another program to jump in front of the newly created long lines at CLEAR

  5. I’d also like to see a couple of them differentiate by covering Nexus. It’s actually a better option for those who drive to Canada from time to time.

    And while on the topic of differentiation, wouldn’t it be nice to see a card offer 2X points on medical expenses?

  6. I enrolled in Clear many years ago before they went belly-up. When they reappeared a few years after shutting down, they tried to get me to sign up again. However they were located at only a few airports that it wasn’t useful for me.
    Have they expanded to enough major airports to make Clear a viable option again?

  7. @Ryan:

    Exactly my thoughts. SAN’s TSA has recently decided that bomb-sniffing dogs make everyone TSA-PreCheck eligible so those of us with legitimate TSA-Pre are stuck behind people who don’t know the process and invariably make TSA-Pre even slower. I love flying through LAX (I know, I know…who even says that?!) and DCA because security is so quick with the Clear/TSA-Pre combo. Add the T4 connector to TBIT for those airlines that are members, and you can be airside in 3-4 minutes. My concern is that I rarely have to wait at Clear, which seems great externally, but worries me that their business model won’t be sustainable much longer and Clear will disappear again.

  8. What made CLEAR worth it for me (as a big NY sports fan) is they have it at Yankee stadium, Citi field, and MSG.

    There are other ways to get a bargain on it too. If you’re an Inspirato member, for example, you get 6 months free on top of the discounted Skymiles membership rate

  9. Barclay Aviator Silver card has Global Entry / TSA PreCheck reimbursement. But, it’s Barclay so it doesn’t get mentioned in any OMAAT postings.

  10. I can see this being offered on the Delta American Express Reserve Card given Delta’s pushing CLEAR throughout their system. I checked into the Skyclub at FLL yesterday using a CLEAR fingerprint reader. The agent at the desk gave it mediocre reviews saying “it works 50% of the time.”

  11. Great idea! I’d love it!

    Can’t see paying the fee, given TSA pre check line is never more than 10 minutes, but I’d love it down to 1 minute!

  12. @AdamR – Minneapolis has also added a “dog” to the TSA Pre-check lanes which has REALLY slowed down the process. Last time I was through there the dog was more interested in the yellow ball the handler was holding that it was supposedly sniffing bags. I fail to see how the addition of a bomb-sniffing dog somehow makes EVERYONE TSA Pre-check eligible without having also gone through the required background check. Like a lot of people, I paid for Pre-check and I paid for CLEAR, and at airports like San Diego and Minneapolis (and others to come?) I’m not getting the benefits of either.

    Way too many people have Pre-check. Add to that the seniors and kids who get Pre-check benefits for free based solely on their age; like they couldn’t possibly be a threat… I for one would pay a lot more for Pre-check if it meant I didn’t have to wait in long lines with the non-vetted and inexperienced general public with their water bottles, Bubba belt buckles, hidden foams, creams, and jellies, baby strollers, and everything else that makes the security process a nightmare.

  13. I love CLEAR, but gosh if they could expand faster it would be awesome. I’m based in NYC and only Terminal 4 has it at JFK, which is incredibly limited.

  14. Too bad TSA is now making Clear check ID for every 5th person coming through Clear. TSA is going to mess it up like they have with pre check.

  15. I had no idea about the Delta tie-in. Thanks for noting that, it’s really put me closer to making the leap to Clear. I’m also one of those previous Clear customers, but it seems that they’re pretty stable these days, so I’m less gun shy.

  16. CLEAR suxx as you cant get it if you dont have an US passport or drivers license. Global Entry you can get without above requirements and even with a foreign passport. I wish I could use clear but they trust faked US drivers licenses probably more than a passports from other countries.

  17. The last few times I’ve used CLEAR, I was subjected to a random ID check. It defeats the whole purpose of CLEAR. For a point of reference, this was out of T4 at LAX.

  18. I wonder why the credit card companies don’t give a credit for Nexxus…….which is only $50 and includes both Global Entry and TSA Prescheck….as well as the expedited lanes at land border crossings to and from Canada. I’d much rather have Nexxus than Global Entry. And it would cost my credit card issuer half as much. Seems like a no-brainer. Oh, and I also couldn’t live without my Clear membership. 😉

  19. hello. a clear benefit would be nice, but just like the centurion lounge its of no use to me because my home airport (HNL) as well as the airports I fly to don’t use clear.

  20. CLEAR is only at about 30 airports, where TSA PRE lanes are at over 150 airports. If you are receiving CLEAR for free, it would be a benefit, but to pay $179 a year (or the discounted $79) is not worth it. The only airport I have personally seen CLEAR at -is Denver. In the past 6 years, I have seen an average of less than 1 person use the CLEAR line per visit. They have at least one employee servicing the line. I’m not sure how they make money. CLEAR basically Leases open space in the security line and puts up their own equipment to conduct their operations. Even during the Christmas Rush, with tons of people standing in line, only 1 person used CLEAR and I was in the TSA Pre line for almost 20 minutes. Usually the TSA Pre line there is less than 10 Minutes.
    If memory serves me, I recall where CLEAR has had financial problems in the past and almost went out of business. I believe their specialty is Sporting events. I don’t expect to see them in DEN for very long.

  21. Nexus, Nexus, Nexus!

    To be honest, I thought Clear went bust and that was the end of them — I’ve not seen them in the airports I’ve been in lately.

    Also, with Global Entry / TSA Pre, do we really need yet another Trusted Traveler program? All we need is TSA to clean up TSA Pre by only allowing people who are actually members of the program to use the TSA Pre lanes and that’ll take care of it. I can’t believe the number of times I’ve seen people who have no f’ing clue as to what TSA Pre is being shoved into the TSA Pre line. Where’s the security in that? I would concur the group of non-English speaking Asian tourists in front of me in ROC posed absolutely no issue to flight safety, but they clearly had no idea what TSA Pre was and the subcontractor employees (no TSA at ROC) were pleasant but truly confused as to how to handle 15+ non-English speaking people in the TSA Pre line.

  22. As Peter notes, the requirements for Global Entry and CLEAR are different. In his case it works against him. In mine, it works in my favor. As an Australian citizen with a US ID, I’m not eligible for Global Entry or TSA Precheck. I am eligible for CLEAR. I also quite like CLEAR. In addition to quick clearance through security, while traveling with family sometimes the CLEAR agents actually help me handle my luggage through the scanners (with my permission).

    I’d really welcome CLEAR as a credit card perk.

  23. I will toss another comment on the CLEAR issue. CLEAR is not a trusted traveler program, it is a membership program, like Costco or Sams club. You simply pay your money and you are in. The first thing I thought of when I saw the CLEAR line was- Why are people paying $179 a year when Global Entry is $100 and TSA PRE is $80 for 5 Years. The requirements for TSA Pre are not that tough. You can have a criminal background and as long as time as passed, you are good to go. GE is more stringent.
    That being the case, one might assume that people that are using CLEAR are probably people whose backgrounds are so bad, they could not get the real clearance and probably should go to a special line where they get triple searched, like an inmate. Even though Delta bought a stake in CLEAR and has this as one of their perks, that thought is still with me whenever I see someone in the CLEAR Line.

  24. @anon & @andy: Applying for precheck is NOTHING like applying for a security clearance and you’re not getting one. I suspect it’s not even a basic background investigation (BI). Although the fingerprinting and questions give them much of the info in a basic BI, I don’t believe it includes everything that would be considered for the BI that you’d need to, say, be employed in any position in a federal IT department. I have a (currently inactive) security clearance and I can tell you they got a lot more info from me than they did for precheck. I got precheck before i received my first clearance, but I’ve always thought they should give precheck to anyone with a clearance. It was be easy enough and save a lot of hassle.

  25. H*ll yeah, I would be more differential to a card if it offered this benefit! Living in DC, I’m a United and American loyalist and I have no Delta status. Still, I pay $99/ year with the DL discount for Clear since it’s literally saved me hours at my home airports of IAD and DCA. The predictability of knowing you’ll be through security in less than 5 minutes, TSA Pre-Check eligible or not (if you’re flying some foreign carriers) is well worth the investment and I’ll definitely keep or apply for any card that offers a Clear credit.

  26. Why is Global entry so much more than Nexus? I was told that with my Nexus I get global entry and TSA pre-clearance in the US along with Trusted Traveler at all equipped Canadain Airports. So really if you travel in Canada at all Nexus over global entry is a no-brainer (there is the headarch of going to a crossing to get it)

  27. @BDBrown20: You get to cut the line—PreCheck or not—if you’re enrolled in CLEAR. As pointed out by others, even the PreCheck lines are getting crowded. Some folks are willing to shell out extra to get bumped straight to the front. No criminal background needed.

  28. I hope this doesn’t happen. TSA Pre lines have now gotten out of hand at some airports (such as LAX). CLEAR is another layer to save time and cut in front of the plebs.

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