Loyalty programs have increasingly been adding opportunities for members to enroll in TSA Pre-Check. Some airlines have given TSA Pre-Check memberships away to elite members for free, while others have been allowing members to redeem points for them. On top of that, several credit cards offer Global Entry and TSA Pre-Check fee credits, like The Platinum Card® from American Express and the Citi Prestige® Card.
For example, a few months ago I wrote about how Alaska Airlines now lets you redeem 10,000 points for the $85 TSA Pre-Check enrollment fee. That’s a horrible value at 0.85 cents per mile, given that I value Alaska miles at ~1.8 cents each. Perhaps an even worse value is Club Carlson’s recent offer to redeem 65,000 points for the $85 TSA Pre-Check enrollment fee.
Now you can add United to the list of airlines that will let you redeem miles for the TSA Pre-Check enrollment fee. United will let you redeem 10,000 MileagePlus miles for the TSA Pre-Check enrollment fee.
Personally I value United miles at ~1.4 cents each, so to me those 10,000 miles are worth ~$140; I certainly wouldn’t redeem them for an $85 credit.
Not only is that a bad value in comparison to the cash cost of the TSA Pre-Check enrollment fee, but beyond that in 99% of instances it doesn’t make sense to even enroll in TSA Pre-Check. Why?
- You can instead spend $100 to get Global Entry, which gets you expedited immigration; this comes with TSA Pre-Check, so it’s well worth spending the extra $15 and getting it all bundled
- The very best value is signing up for NEXUS, which costs just $50, and gets you expedited screening at US and Canadian borders; on top of that it also comes with Global Entry and TSA Pre-Check, so it’s the best kept secret, as it’s the most comprehensive membership (the catch is that you have to go to a NEXUS enrollment center, and they’re more limited than Global Entry/Pre-Check enrollment centers)
Ultimately loyalty programs offering bad redemption opportunities is nothing new, and I think more choices are a good thing. After all, not everyone can get outsized value from these programs. As much as it kills me, there are plenty of people out there who use their miles for merchandise and other redemptions, getting them less than a cent per mile of value.
So more options are a good thing, though still, please don’t redeem your miles for TSA Pre-Check. If it were the Global Entry enrollment fee and you didn’t want to part ways with the cash I’d kinda sorta understand it, but no way for Pre-Check!
As airlines add this redemption opportunity, I don’t get why they don’t give members the option of redeeming for Global Entry as well.
Would you ever redeem your miles for TSA Pre-Check?
(Tip of the hat to The Points Guy)