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Navigating Airport Security Hassles: Your Guide to Traveler Programs

Traveler Programs: What You Need to Know

If you’re someone who travels often, whether for work or pleasure, you’re probably familiar with the hassle of airport security. Long lines, strict rules, and invasive searches can take the fun out of travel and add unnecessary stress to your trip.

Luckily, there are several traveler programs available that can help expedite the security process. In this article, we’ll cover the

TSA PreCheck,

Global Entry, and

CLEAR programs, who they’re right for, and how to apply.

TSA PreCheck

TSA PreCheck is a trusted traveler program that allows eligible passengers to go through a dedicated security lane at participating airports. This means you can keep your shoes on, leave your laptop in your bag, and keep your liquids and gels in your carry-on.

The program is available to U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents, as well as members of certain Trusted Traveler Programs (more on that later). To be eligible for

TSA PreCheck, you must undergo a background check, provide biometric information (like fingerprints), and pay a fee of $85 for five years of membership.

Benefits and Availability

The benefits of

TSA PreCheck are clear: less time spent in security lines, fewer items to remove from your bags, and a more streamlined overall experience.

TSA PreCheck is available at over 200 airports in the United States, and over 70 airlines participate in the program.

To use

TSA PreCheck, simply enter your Known Traveler Number (provided upon approval) when booking your flight or add it to your frequent flyer profile.

Eligibility and Application Process

Not everyone is eligible for

TSA PreCheck. If you have a criminal history, a history of violating transportation security regulations, or a history of immigration violations, you may not be approved for the program.

Additionally, if you have been convicted of certain crimes (like espionage or treason), you will be permanently disqualified from

TSA PreCheck. To apply for

TSA PreCheck, you’ll need to submit an online application and schedule an appointment at one of over 400 enrollment centers across the country.

At your appointment, you’ll provide biometric information and undergo a background check. You should receive a decision within a few weeks.

Who is

TSA PreCheck right for?

TSA PreCheck is best for frequent travelers, as well as those who value the convenience of a dedicated security lane. If you’re someone who travels just a few times a year, the program may not be worth the $85 fee.

Additionally, if you frequently travel internationally, you may want to consider

Global Entry instead (more on that later). Lastly, if you’re someone who is uncomfortable with the physical security screening process (like pat-downs), you may not enjoy

TSA PreCheck, as it still includes a metal detector and X-ray machine.

Global Entry

Global Entry is a Trusted Traveler Program (TTP) that includes

TSA PreCheck and gives you expedited clearance when entering the United States from abroad. In addition to

TSA PreCheck benefits,

Global Entry allows you to skip the regular customs and passport control lines. This means you can bypass long wait times and get to your final destination more quickly.

The program is available to U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, and citizens of certain other countries (Canada, Mexico, and several others) who meet eligibility requirements.

Benefits and Availability

As mentioned,

Global Entry offers all the benefits of

TSA PreCheck, plus expedited customs and passport control. This is especially valuable if you travel internationally often, as international flights can entail long waits for customs and immigration.

You can use

Global Entry at over 70 airports in the United States and at international entry points at several Canadian airports. To use

Global Entry, simply present your passport or permanent resident card at a

Global Entry kiosk and provide your fingerprints.

Eligibility and Application Process

To be eligible for

Global Entry, you must undergo a background check and an in-person interview. The process is similar to that of

TSA PreCheck, but there is an additional fee of $100 for five years of membership.

As mentioned,

Global Entry is only available to certain countries’ citizens, so you’ll need to check the eligibility requirements before applying. If you’re approved for

Global Entry, you’ll receive a Known Traveler Number that includes

TSA PreCheck benefits. Who is

Global Entry right for?

Global Entry is best for those who travel internationally frequently and value the convenience of expedited customs and passport control. If you’re someone who travels domestically more often than internationally,

TSA PreCheck may be sufficient.

Additionally, if you’re not interested in

TSA PreCheck and only need expedited customs and passport control, you may want to consider the newer Mobile Passport app, which allows eligible travelers to complete customs and passport control forms on their mobile devices.

CLEAR

CLEAR is a secure ID platform that uses biometric technology (like fingerprints or iris scans) to verify your identity, allowing you to skip long security lines at participating airports. The program is available at over 60 airports in the United States and is expanding rapidly.

To use

CLEAR, you’ll need to enroll at a

CLEAR kiosk and provide your biometric information. The program costs $179 per year, but discounts are available for members of certain loyalty programs (like Delta SkyMiles).

Benefits and Availability

CLEAR offers an even more streamlined security experience than

TSA PreCheck or

Global Entry, as you can skip all ID check and document verification lines. This means you can arrive at the airport later, with less stress, and still make your flight on time.

CLEAR is also expanding to other venues, like stadiums and amusement parks, giving you even more opportunities to use the program. To use

CLEAR, simply provide your biometric information at a

CLEAR kiosk and proceed to the dedicated

CLEAR security lane.

Eligibility and Application Process

CLEAR is available to anyone over the age of 18 with a valid government-issued ID. There is no background check required, as the program only verifies your identity using biometric technology.

The enrollment process takes just a few minutes, and once you’re approved, you can use

CLEAR immediately. Who is

CLEAR right for?

CLEAR is best for those who value the most streamlined travel experience possible and don’t mind paying a premium for it. If you’re someone who frequently travels through airports with long security lines, or if you’re often cutting it close to your flight times,

CLEAR may be worth the investment. Additionally, if you’re someone who attends concerts, sporting events, or amusement parks often, you may find value in

CLEAR’s expansion into these venues.

Conclusion

In summary, there are several traveler programs available to make your airport experience more convenient and less stressful.

TSA PreCheck,

Global Entry, and

CLEAR each offer their own unique benefits, so it’s important to consider which program is right for you based on your travel habits and preferences. By enrolling in one of these programs, you can save time, streamline your experience, and get to your final destination with less hassle and more satisfaction.

Global Entry

If you’re an international traveler looking for a hassle-free airport experience,

Global Entry may be the right option for you.

Global Entry is a Trusted Traveler Program (TTP) created by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States. In this article, we’ll cover eligibility requirements, the application process, benefits, and availability, as well as who

Global Entry is right for.

Eligibility and Application Process

To be eligible for

Global Entry, you must be a U.S. citizen, U.S. lawful permanent resident, or a citizen of certain other countries who meet specific eligibility requirements. You must complete an online application and pay a $100 non-refundable fee.

Once the application is accepted, you will be invited to interview with a CBP officer, either at the

Global Entry enrollment center located within a U.S. airport or at a CBP office in the United States for international applicants. During the interview, the CBP officer will verify your identity, review your application, and take your fingerprints.

Once you are approved, you will receive a Known Traveler Number (KTN) that will be valid for five years.

Benefits and Availability

The

Global Entry program is designed to provide expedited entry procedures at participating U.S. airports, and also at select airports in certain other countries. One significant benefit of

Global Entry is that you can skip long lines for passport control and customs when you enter the United States. Once inside the airport, members can proceed to touchless kiosks, instead of waiting in line at a traditional passport control booth.

At the kiosk, you’ll verify your identity and fill out any necessary forms. For expedited clearance, all you need to do is present the kiosk receipt to the CBP officer, who will then inspect your travel documents and make sure you are cleared to enter the country.

Who is

Global Entry right for?

Global Entry is an excellent program for those who frequently travel internationally. It offers expedited customs clearance and is available at 50 U.S. airports and 16 Preclearance locations worldwide.

The program can help you save time and streamline your travel experience, but it is not the best option for everyone. If you only travel domestically,

TSA PreCheck may be a better option, as it comes at a lower cost and offers similar expedited screening benefits.

However, if you are a frequent international traveler and value the benefits of a quick customs and border clearance process,

Global Entry is the best option.

CLEAR

CLEAR is a traveler program that provides a quick and convenient way to move through security checkpoints at participating airports, stadiums and arenas. The program uses biometric technology to verify your identity at predetermined security checkpoints, and it is considered one of the best ways to avoid long security lines.

In this section, we’ll cover eligibility requirements, the application process, benefits, availability, and who

CLEAR may be right for.

Eligibility and Application Process

Nearly anyone is eligible to apply for

CLEAR, including U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and foreign nationals. The application process is straightforward and begins with an online application that requires you to input your personal information and biometrics (fingerprints and irises).

You can ensure a faster process to enroll by bringing your government-issued identification, such as your driver’s license or passport, to a

CLEAR enrollment center. Once your application is accepted and you have completed the process of verifying your biometric information, you’re all set to use

CLEAR the next time you fly.

Benefits and Availability

CLEAR provides access to a separate security lane that can be used in conjunction with

TSA PreCheck and

Global Entry or as a standalone line at participating airports. The

CLEAR program is available at more than 60 airports throughout the United States and expanding into other venues like sports stadiums and concert venues. Using

CLEAR allows you to bypass the standard line and go directly to the front of the screening line. Additionally,

CLEAR also offers COVID-19 screening certification, which is highly valuable in this current environment. Who is

CLEAR right for?

CLEAR is a good option for anyone who values their time and wants to avoid long security lines at participating airports. It is particularly valuable for those who have

TSA PreCheck or

Global Entry and want an additional expedited screening process. If you frequently travel through airports that experience long lines,

CLEAR can be a particularly valuable upgrade to help you save time. While it can be expensive, it provides a lot of convenience when time is at a premium.

On the other hand, if you’re willing to wait in line and have more time to spare,

CLEAR may not be necessary.

Comparing Credit Cards

If you are a frequent traveler, you may be interested in applying for a credit card that has

TSA PreCheck and/or

Global Entry benefits. Here, we will compare four popular credit cards that offer

TSA PreCheck and/or

Global Entry benefits: The

Chase Sapphire Reserve,

United Explorer Card,

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, and the Platinum Card from American Express.

Chase Sapphire Reserve

The

Chase Sapphire Reserve is a premium travel rewards credit card, offering many travel-related benefits, including

TSA PreCheck or

Global Entry fee credit. Cardholders can receive up to a $100 statement credit for either

TSA PreCheck or

Global Entry every four years. Additionally, cardholders can earn three points per dollar spent on eligible dining and travel purchases.

The annual fee for the

Chase Sapphire Reserve is $550.

United Explorer Card

The

United Explorer Card comes with some unique benefits for United Airlines frequent fliers, including

TSA PreCheck or

Global Entry fee credit. Cardholders can receive up to a $100 statement credit for either

TSA PreCheck or

Global Entry every four years. Cardholders also earn two miles per dollar spent on United Airlines purchases and at restaurants, and one mile per dollar spent on all other purchases.

The annual fee for the

United Explorer Card is $95.

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

The

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is a solid travel rewards credit card that also offers

TSA PreCheck or

Global Entry fee credit. Cardholders can receive up to a $100 statement credit for either

TSA PreCheck or

Global Entry every four years. With the

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, cardholders will earn two miles per dollar spent on every purchase, every day.

The annual fee for the

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is $95.

The Platinum Card from American Express

The Platinum Card from American Express is a premier travel rewards credit card that offers a wide range of travel benefits, including

TSA PreCheck,

Global Entry, and

CLEAR access. Cardholders receive an annual statement credit of up to $100 for

TSA PreCheck or

Global Entry and can also enroll in

CLEAR and receive a $179 annual statement credit. Additionally, cardholders can earn five Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on eligible flights and hotels, and one Membership Rewards point per dollar spent on all other purchases.

The annual fee for the Platinum Card is $695.

FAQs

TSA PreCheck vs.

Global Entry

TSA PreCheck and

Global Entry are both Trusted Traveler Programs designed to make travel easier for eligible passengers.

TSA PreCheck is primarily meant for domestic travel, while

Global Entry offers expedited clearance for pre-approved low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States from abroad. If you’re someone who primarily travels within the United States,

TSA PreCheck may be sufficient, while frequent international travelers should consider

Global Entry.

TSA PreCheck vs.

CLEAR

TSA PreCheck and

CLEAR are both programs aimed at making airport security checkpoints faster and more efficient.

TSA PreCheck is included in the Trusted Traveler Programs and allows expedited screening at select U.S. airports.

CLEAR, on the other hand, allows you to bypass security lines entirely using biometric technology. While

TSA PreCheck is focused on expedited security screening,

CLEAR is a comprehensive service that aims to expedite the entire airport experience.

Global Entry vs.

CLEAR

Global Entry is mainly designed to allow expedited clearance for pre-approved low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States from abroad, while

CLEAR is a comprehensive service that streamlines the overall airport experience.

Global Entry is particularly valuable for international travelers who want to avoid long lines upon arrival in the United States, while

CLEAR is best for frequent travelers who often experience long security lines at participating airports.

Membership Benefits

Both

TSA PreCheck and

Global Entry offer expedited clearance at security checkpoints,

TSA PreCheck for domestic travel and

Global Entry for international arrivals in the United States.

TSA PreCheck comes with a shorter application process, lower cost, and provides faster screening at over 200 airports.

Global Entry provides expedited customs clearance for international travelers, allowing you to bypass long lines at airports.

CLEAR provides expedited access to security checkpoints using biometric technology and is expanding into other venues like stadiums and amusement parks. In conclusion, traveler programs like

TSA PreCheck,

Global Entry, and

CLEAR can significantly expedite the airport security process and offer more convenience for frequent flyers and travelers alike. Credit cards like the

Chase Sapphire Reserve, the

United Explorer Card, the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit

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