TSA Pre-Check: Everything You Need To Know (Plus How To Get It With A Credit Card)

TSA Pre-Check: Everything You Need To Know (Plus How To Get It With A Credit Card)

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While there are aspects of the US travel experience that have gotten worse over the years, there have also been some innovations that have made air travel more pleasant. Specifically, TSA Pre-Check and Global Entry are among those.

In this post, I wanted to take a closer look at TSA Pre-Check. How does it work, which airlines are participating, how can you get TSA Pre-Check included with a credit card, and more?

What is TSA Pre-Check?

TSA Pre-Check offers expedited security for eligible travelers at US airports. When using a TSA Pre-Check lane you don’t have to take off your shoes, and also don’t have to take your laptop or liquids out of your bag. Furthermore, you get to go through the metal detector rather than through the full-body scanner.

Because of this being a streamlined process, you’ll generally find that the lines also move much more quickly.

Do note that not all US airports have Pre-Check, and even at those airports that do have it, it’s not always open.

Global Entry vs. TSA Pre-Check

Often there’s confusion regarding the difference between Global Entry and TSA Pre-Check, and then NEXUS is thrown into the mix as well. These are all great programs that can help travelers, though what’s the difference between them?

Before we look at the details of these, I should note:

  • Enrolling in Global Entry (which costs $100) automatically gets you TSA Pre-Check, but enrolling in TSA Pre-Check (which costs $85) doesn’t automatically get you Global Entry; that’s why I always recommend applying for Global Entry if you’re eligible
  • Global Entry works regardless of which airline you’re flying, while for TSA Pre-Check you have to be flying select airlines

To make sure that your itinerary is eligible for TSA Pre-Check, make sure that you enter your Known Traveler Number (KTN) at the time you make your reservation. This can usually be entered on the same page where you enter your other personal details.

TSA Pre-Check can save you time at security

What is Global Entry?

Global Entry is a parallel program to TSA Pre-Check, though it has different benefits. Global Entry gets you expedited customs & immigration when returning to the US from abroad. You can use a kiosk at immigration, and just have to provide your fingerprints, have your picture taken, and answer a few questions, and you’ll be on your way.

This is a very nice complement to TSA Pre-Check. Global Entry saves you time when arriving on an international flight, while TSA Pre-Check saves you time when departing from a US airport.

Global Entry can save you time at immigration

What is NEXUS?

There’s yet another program worth being aware of, and that’s NEXUS. Joining NEXUS costs just $50, and gets you both TSA Pre-Check and Global Entry, and also gets you expedited immigration in Canada.

So, what’s the downside? Two things:

  • There aren’t as many centers where you can enroll for NEXUS, since it’s primarily intended for those traveling frequently between the US and Canada
  • If you have a credit card offering a Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check credit, it’s not valid for NEXUS

What is CLEAR?

In the interest of being thorough, it’s also worth mentioning CLEAR. This is separate from TSA Pre-Check and Global Entry, and isn’t run by the government. CLEAR is a technology company that stores biometric data to expedite clearing security at airports, and at select stadiums and other venues.

With CLEAR you can confirm your biometric data, and then you can typically skip the ID check, and head straight into the security line (if you have Pre-Check you can get into that line, or otherwise you can get into the standard line).

It’s worth nothing that the Amex Platinum offers an annual CLEAR credit of up to $179 nowadays, which could more than cover your membership cost.

Save time at security with CLEAR

Registering for Global Entry & TSA Pre-Check

While you can pay to register for TSA Pre-Check directly, you’re much better off registering for Global Entry, as it also comes with TSA Pre-Check (TSA Pre-Check, on the other hand, doesn’t come with Global Entry).

The process of enrolling in Global Entry can be a bit cumbersome. You have to fill out a long application (including sharing your travel history), and then you’ll typically be conditionally approved within a few weeks. At that point you’ll have to schedule an interview to get final approval. The interview used to only be possible in-person, while nowadays you can also schedule it virtually.

Once approved, Global Entry is valid for five years. Fortunately the renewal process is a bit easier, and generally doesn’t require an interview.

How to get TSA Pre-Check for free

There are quite a few credit cards that offer either a TSA Pre-Check or Global Entry fee credit. In the case of all cards offering this benefit:

  • You receive the benefit either every four or five years
  • You just have to charge the $85-100 enrollment fee to your card, and it will automatically be reimbursed
  • There’s no requirement for you to be signing yourself up; you can sign up a friend or family member, and just give them your credit card to pay with, and it will be reimbursed

The best credit cards for TSA Pre-Check

Some of the best credit cards for TSA Pre-Check or Global Entry fee credits include the following:

One statement credit every four years Authorized users also eligible
The Platinum Card® from American Express
One statement credit every four years Authorized users also eligible
The Business Platinum Card from American ExpressThe Business Platinum Card® from American Express
One statement credit per account, every four years
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
One statement credit per account every four years
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
One statement credit per account, every four years
Capital One Spark Miles for Business
One statement credit per account, every five years
Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®
One statement credit per account, every four years
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card
One statement credit per account, every four years
United℠ Explorer Card
One statement credit per account, every four years
United Club℠ Infinite Card
One statement credit per account, every four years
IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

Which airlines belong to TSA Pre-Check?

As mentioned above, individual airlines have to register for TSA Pre-Check, so you’ll only be able to use Pre-Check lanes if you’re flying an eligible airline. The good news is that quite a few airlines are participating, including virtually all US airlines, and most foreign airlines as well.

US airlines participating in TSA Pre-Check

The following US airlines participate in TSA Pre-Check:

  • Air Choice One
  • Alaska Airlines
  • Allegiant Air
  • American Airlines
  • Boutique Airlines
  • Breeze Airways
  • Cape Air
  • Contour Aviation
  • Delta Air Lines
  • Eastern Airlines
  • Elite Airways
  • Frontier Airlines
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • JetBlue Airways
  • Key Lime Air
  • Omni Air International
  • Seaborne Airlines
  • Silver Airways
  • Southern Airways Express
  • Southwest Airlines
  • Spirit Airlines
  • Sun Country Airlines
  • Ultimate Jet Charters
  • United Airlines
  • World Atlantic
  • Xtra Airways
Frontier Airlines participates in TSA Pre-Check

International airlines participating in TSA Pre-Check

When TSA Pre-Check first launched it was only available for domestic flights, but nowadays it’s available on international itineraries, including on select foreign airlines. Now that TSA Pre-Check for international flights is a thing, let’s take a look at the international airlines participating in Pre-Check:

  • Aerolane Lineas Aereas Nacionales del Ecuador
  • AeroMexico
  • Air Canada
  • Air France
  • Air India
  • Air Serbia
  • Alitalia
  • All Nippon Airways
  • Aruba Airlines
  • Asiana Airlines
  • Austrian Airlines
  • Avianca
  • Azul Airlines
  • British Airways
  • Brussels Airlines
  • Cathay Pacific Airways
  • China Airlines
  • Condor Airlines
  • Copa Airlines
  • Edelweiss Air
  • Emirates
  • Etihad Airways
  • EVA Air
  • Finnair
  • Flycana
  • Icelandair
  • InterCaribbean Airways
  • Interjet
  • Japan Airlines
  • KLM Royal Dutch Airlines
  • Korean Air
  • LAN Peru S.A.
  • LATAM Airlines
  • Lufthansa
  • Norwegian Air
  • PAL Express
  • Philippine Airlines
  • Porter Airlines
  • Qantas
  • Qatar Airways
  • Scandinavian Airlines
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Sunclass
  • Sunwing Airlines
  • Swift Air
  • Swiss International Air Lines
  • Swoop
  • TAM-Linhas Aereas S.A.
  • TAP Air Portugal
  • Turkish Airlines
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • VivaAerobus
  • Volaris
  • WestJet
Emirates participates in TSA Pre-Check

Bottom line

TSA Pre-Check and Global Entry are awesome programs that can make the airport experience much more pleasant for frequent travelers.

While you can use Global Entry regardless of which airline you’re flying, only select airlines participate in TSA Pre-Check (though nowadays most airlines participate). If you’re trying to decide between registering for TSA Pre-Check and Global Entry, I’d always recommend Global Entry, since that also comes with Pre-Check.

The best part is that there are quite a few credit cards that give you a statement credit, meaning you can sign up without paying anything out of pocket.

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  1. gnowhb

    I currently have precheck so wondering when renewal comes up if it will be easier process to go with Global Entry or would it be a brand new application?

  2. SMW

    In Canada, TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite and Visa Infinite Privilege Cards have this benefit " Enroll for NEXUS and once every 48 months get an application fee rebate (a value of up to $125^, assumes both the Primary Cardholder and Additional Cardholder use the NEXUS Benefit)"

  3. Eskimo

    Big Brother is collecting all your biometrics and you are giving away your only key (30 years from now) easily.

    Just like trusting Equifax with our credits, Facebook with our personal lives, Colonial Pipeline for gas, and a Nigerian Prince who promise you fortunes.

    1. DCS

      Just because you're paranoid does not me that they aren't out to get you! ;-)

    2. Eskimo

      On the contrary, I don't think there is much you can do about it anymore so no point in being paranoid. Like global warming, it might be too late to undo anything but at least someone should still do some reality check and slow down the timer. Or in this case, make it harder for a Nigerian Prince to send you some money.

      Even Jeff Bezos lost his marriage because his iPhone (yes Apple who...

      On the contrary, I don't think there is much you can do about it anymore so no point in being paranoid. Like global warming, it might be too late to undo anything but at least someone should still do some reality check and slow down the timer. Or in this case, make it harder for a Nigerian Prince to send you some money.

      Even Jeff Bezos lost his marriage because his iPhone (yes Apple who pride it's security).
      I don't think Big Brother is out to get (most of) you (except Edward), it's the bad actors who hacked Big Brother that people should be worried about.

  4. DCS

    I got it all by signing up for NEXUS and getting CLEAR pro bono through UA as a 1K.

    The expiration date for my NEXUS is next November, which will give an excuse to do a quick hop to spend a weekend in Montreal, a favorite city of mine, and take the opportunity to renew NEXUS at Trudeau Intl Airport...

  5. Creditcrunch

    My Global Entry expired last year, and due to the pandemic was unable to arrange a renewal as based in the U.K. however they offered zoom type interviews which I booked a slot but before the due date I received an email confirming my GE had been automatically renewed. Very surprised and pleased to say the least, I wonder if this be an option when the next renewal is due.

  6. 767

    At airports that do not offer precheck or if the dedicated lanes are closed, they usually allow you to follow pre check procedures such as the WTMD, keeping shoes on, etc.

  7. Ivan X

    If including CLEAR for the sake of being comprehensive, I think it’s also worth mentioning Mobile Passport, which can function as a functional, registrationless, and free alternative to Global Entry. Especially useful to those who can’t get GE or would have to wait months. You need to look for the often hidden Mobile Passport line on arrival, and have pre-prepared the app while on flight.

  8. Anon

    You might want to add the process of just signing up for TSA Pre without Global Entry

  9. Julio

    Please change the following wording to make it clearer from

    "Global Entry works regardless of which airline you’re flying, while for TSA Pre-Check you have to be flying select airlines"

    to:

    "Using Global Entry on arrival at immigration does not depend on your airline, but for the TSA Pre-Check benefits to apply you'll need to be flying an eligible airline."

Featured Comments Load all 11 comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Eskimo

On the contrary, I don't think there is much you can do about it anymore so no point in being paranoid. Like global warming, it might be too late to undo anything but at least someone should still do some reality check and slow down the timer. Or in this case, make it harder for a Nigerian Prince to send you some money. Even Jeff Bezos lost his marriage because his iPhone (yes Apple who pride it's security). I don't think Big Brother is out to get (most of) you (except Edward), it's the bad actors who hacked Big Brother that people should be worried about.

gnowhb

I currently have precheck so wondering when renewal comes up if it will be easier process to go with Global Entry or would it be a brand new application?

SMW

In Canada, TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite and Visa Infinite Privilege Cards have this benefit " Enroll for NEXUS and once every 48 months get an application fee rebate (a value of up to $125^, assumes both the Primary Cardholder and Additional Cardholder use the NEXUS Benefit)"

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