CLEAR Airport Security: What Is It and Is It Worth It?
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CLEAR is a paid program that expedites security screening at airports, stadiums, and more. In this review, we explore how it works and whether it is worth the money.
Aside from delayed flights and lost luggage, waiting in long lines is the most stressful and annoying part about flying. Thankfully, CLEAR can help travelers speed through airport security and get to their destination faster.
By now, you’ve likely seen the CLEAR lines and machines at an airport security checkpoint. As a private company working to streamline traditional ID checks, the CLEAR airport security program uses your fingerprint or an iris scan to check you in and get you where you want to go more quickly than before.
Whether you’re traveling on a budget, embarking on your dream vacation, or you want to get into a concert quicker, there are benefits and drawbacks to the program. But, is CLEAR worth it? Let’s find out.
What Is CLEAR?
CLEAR is a private security program designed to help you save time at airports, stadiums, and more. By scanning your eyes and fingertips, it accelerates the identification process, allowing you to get where you’re going more quickly. At some venues, it even replaces the need for carrying ID cards and tickets.
Lines to get into a concert or sporting event can be excruciatingly long. At the airport, you can occasionally run into the same mess.
With CLEAR, the process is shorter and faster.
- Instead of waiting in the ID line with everyone else, you’ll have a separate lane for faster check-in.
- In the CLEAR lane, all you have to do is scan your eyes or finger at the kiosk to verify that you are who you say you are.
- Then, use TSA PreCheck to expedite the physical screening process and get going even faster.
Rather than fumbling with your documents and ID, you can keep them safely tucked in your wallet and advance directly to the physical screening.
If you’re worried about the security of this process, don’t be. It’s approved by the Department of Homeland Security and is compliant with the SAFETY Act, meaning you can have peace of mind knowing that proper security measures are still in place for a safer flying experience.
Save Time at Airports & Stadiums – Avoid long security lines at stadiums and airports and save time with CLEAR. Start your 2 month free trial here.
Is CLEAR Different than TSA PreCheck?
You may find yourself wondering how CLEAR compares to TSA PreCheck. That’s a great question because CLEAR doesn’t allow you to skip the entire security screening process. It can, however, get you through even faster.
At the airport, CLEAR actually works best as a compliment to TSA PreCheck. Your CLEAR membership allows you to bypass the ID check and fast-forwards you to the physical screening.
The physical screening is where some of the best benefits of TSA PreCheck begin. With PreCheck, you can leave your laptop in your bag, keep your shoes on, and avoid the longer lines typically used by passengers without PreCheck.
While it’s never guaranteed, in many cases, using CLEAR and TSA Precheck together should be able to help you clear airport security lines in as little as ten minutes! Here’s how that works:
- You jump ahead of the ID line by using the CLEAR lane
- Your identification is verified at a CLEAR kiosk
- You move quickly to the physical screening
- TSA Precheck helps you move through the physical screening faster
If you don’t have TSA Precheck yet, you should get it. Even though there is a cost involved, you can easily get TSA PreCheck free with a credit card. Having both TSA PreCheck and CLEAR can significantly reduce the time you spend waiting in line at the airport and cut down on your stress when traveling, too.
Where Is CLEAR Available?
The CLEAR program is expanding throughout airports and stadiums across the US. Though it started at a limited number of locations, CLEAR can now be found at over 50 of the nation’s busiest airports and stadiums.
Not all airports have CLEAR set up at every terminal, but here’s a current list of airports where CLEAR kiosks can be found:
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In this time of COVID restrictions and vaccine requirements, CLEAR has made it easier for you to travel with ease. You can now connect your vaccine info to the CLEAR app for faster processing wherever CLEAR is available.
If you’re a sports fan, you’re also in luck. CLEAR now has scanning stations located across the country. Enjoy your CLEAR benefits at places like Yankee Stadium, Staples Center, Target Field, and more.
How Does CLEAR Protect My Data?
If safety is a concern and you’re worried about your biometric data being stored in the cloud somewhere, CLEAR wants you to rest easy. Just like safety and security measures are of great value at airports, the company behind CLEAR is also committed to customer security.
Using double encryption technology, the company keeps your data private and secure. So, as you breeze through the security process with ease, you can have peace of mind knowing your information is stored securely.
Thankfully, this time-saving convenience isn’t even that expensive. Your annual membership is only $189, and it allows children under the age of 18 to use all the CLEAR services for free as long as they’re traveling with you.
Once you have a membership, you can add up to three additional family members to your account for $50 per member. This is a huge discount and is definitely worth the added cost to save your sanity the next time you fly.
How to Get CLEAR for Free
How would you like to get CLEAR for free? Now you can with card_name.
card_name card offers a host of benefits, including a $189 credit toward CLEAR. As a cardmember, you’re eligible to redeem this statement credit every year. Of course, enrollment is required and terms apply.
Additionally, the Amex Platinum card offers an 80,000 point welcome bonus when you make $6,000 in purchases during the first 6 months. You’ll also enjoy an annual $200 airline fee statement credit, an annual $200 statement credit toward prepaid hotel bookings at Fine Hotels & Resorts or The Hotel Collection (minimum 2-night stay required), up to $240 in annual statement credits toward select streaming services, and much more. Complimentary access to Centurion Lounges, Priority Pass airport lounges, and Delta SkyClubs (when flying Delta) is also included.
There is an annual fee of annual_fees (card_name), but it can definitely be worth it if you use several of the card’s benefits. Terms apply.
Learn how to apply | Read our full review
How to Apply for CLEAR
Getting started is easy. Try CLEAR FREE for 2 months when you enroll here.
Once you register, you’ll be required to visit an enrollment center to set up your fingerprint or other biometric information. You don’t need to schedule an appointment ahead of time, and you can start using the CLEAR lanes that very same day.
To get CLEAR, the membership requirements are pretty straightforward. You must be a US citizen or legal permanent resident and be at least 18 years old. You’ll also need to have a valid, unexpired photo ID, which can be a US driver’s license, state-issued ID, US military ID, US passport, US passport card, or a US-issued permanent resident card.
If you had a CLEAR membership before but let it expire, you can use your old account. Though the original CLEAR company went bankrupt in 2009, this current company is a resurrection of the previous CLEAR program, and you can easily reactivate your account online.
All of your biometric information is likely safely stored in your former membership profile, and you shouldn’t need to provide new scans or prints to turn your account back on. You may also be pleasantly surprised to know that any remaining time you had on your old account will transfer to your new reactivated membership.
Final Thoughts: Is CLEAR Worth It?
If you don’t qualify for TSA PreCheck, or if you want to move through even faster, CLEAR may be worth it for you. Additionally, if you frequent stadiums for sporting events, concerts, and more, CLEAR may be a good fit.
Remember that the CLEAR program and the TSA PreCheck process are different. Even if you already have TSA PreCheck, you can benefit from adding a CLEAR membership. Having CLEAR will lets you jump to the front of the line and expedite the ID screening process, although you’re still required to complete the physical scanning process.
When you combine CLEAR with TSA PreCheck, you can also slide through the physical screening faster because you don’t have to dig out your liquids or your laptop – they can stay safely packed in your bag. You also won’t be bothered with taking off your shoes or your belt, which saves time for you and everyone else in line, too.
If you don’t have TSA PreCheck and want it, here’s a list of credit cards will let you get TSA PreCheck for free. After all, that’s more money you can spend on souvenirs, right?
We hope this CLEAR airport security program review has been helpful! Thanks so much for reading, and happy traveling!
Get a FREE Trial Membership – Save time and hassle in airport security lines. Try CLEAR FREE for 2 Months here.
* Additional reporting by Greg Johnson
To see rates and fees for the American Express cards featured, please use the following links: Amex Platinum Card: card_name
CLEAR Airport Security Review Summary
CLEAR Airport Security Review Summary
CLEAR may be worth it if you don’t qualify for TSA PreCheck or if you want to move through security lines even faster. Having CLEAR lets you jump to the front of the line and expedite the ID screening process, though you still have to complete the physical scanning. Additionally, if you frequent stadiums for sporting events, concerts, and more, CLEAR may be a good fit.
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I suggest getting Global Entry through the US Homeland Security Web site. It does everything TSA Pre-Check does and helps you get through customs much quicker if you travel internationally. The process is simple, but wait times to get the very quick interview after application can be VERY long. (In the San Francisco Bay Area it can be 6 months!) Many people go to the airport and wait around to see if no-shows occur.
Yep, we have Global Entry as well (which automatically comes with TSA Pre). As somebody who frequently travels internationally, I prefer that route. With that said, if you go to a lot of sporting events or concerts, CLEAR may be a nice addition to TSA Pre.
I always thought with tsa pre you skip to the front also?
I had both at one time and used to travel with a CEO who had a prior felony record so Clear was his only option since he couldn’t get on tsa pre. Tsa pre always seemed so much easier though since you didn’t need to take anything off but I was the only one who had it so had to go through Clear with him .