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Avoid lines at the airport and learn how to get Global Entry or TSA Precheck for free. We’ll show you how!
Waiting in line is the worst. It is excruciating. In fact, it’s got to be one of my top five most hated things ever.
I hate standing in line at the grocery store. I hate standing in line at an amusement park. And, I most definitely hate standing in the security line at the airport. Seriously, I’d rather jam a spoon into my eye than wait 45 minutes to walk through a body scanner – even if there is a possibility of being frisked afterward. #wasthatawkwardenoughforyou
Luckily, there is a way around all this airport waiting. It’s called TSA Precheck and Global Entry.
If you’ve ever been stuck waiting in an airport security or immigration line, you’ve probably been envious of the fancy business people skipping those long lines and heading straight through. Thankfully, you don’t have to beat them; you can join them when you purchase TSA Precheck and Global Entry!
Now, you might think it costs a fortune to get into these programs. You’d be wrong.
If you pay for it, TSA Precheck is only $85 while Global Entry costs just $100. Both memberships last for 5 years. Here’s the best part though: You can actually get Global Entry or TSA Precheck for FREE. (Yes, I said free.) All you have to do is find a good travel rewards credit card that offers a reimbursement!
So, where do you find these unicorn cards that can help you breeze through those brutally long airport lines? Don’t worry, I got them right here. Here’s a list of my top 7 rewards cards that can help you get Global Entry and TSA Precheck for free!
7 Credit Cards to Get Global Entry and TSA Precheck Free
As you probably know by now, credit card rewards have helped us travel for free all around the world. While the points and miles are obviously the main draw, many of these cards offer some excellent side benefits – like trip cancellation insurance and statement credits that make Global Entry and TSA Precheck free.
Since card benefits are constantly changing, it’s almost impossible to keep up to date with every benefit on every card. Although this list isn’t all-inclusive, these cards can definitely help you get Global Entry or TSA Precheck for free!
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
When it comes to my favorite rewards cards, the Capital One Venture Rewards Card earns a respectable spot in the top five. In terms of getting Global Entry or TSA Precheck for free, however, it’s number one in my book!
Let’s start with the biggest draw – the welcome offer. Currently, you can earn 75,000 miles (valued at $750 in statement credits) when you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months. And, because this is a completely flexible rewards card, there are never any blackout dates for hotels or flights.
Like most other good travel cards, there are no foreign transaction fees. You’ll also earn 5x miles on hotels and rental cars booked through the Capital One portal and 2x miles on all other purchases.
As you might expect, the card also offers a credit of up to $100 toward application fees for either TSA Precheck or Global Entry. This is more than enough to cover the $85 TSA Precheck fee, and it also covers the entire $100 fee to apply for Global Entry.
The annual fee on this card is just $95, which is more than covered by the benefits – especially if you earn the welcome bonus! Honestly, this is a really great travel card. With benefits this awesome, it’s hard to go wrong.
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Want to know how to get Global Entry and TSA Precheck free? Look no further than the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.
Quite frankly, I think the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card is the best card on the market for frequent travelers. For starters, it comes with an impressive 60,000 point signup bonus after you spend at least $4,000 in the first 3 months. That’s good for $900 worth of travel when redeemed through the Chase portal. Better yet, since these are Chase Ultimate Rewards points, you can transfer your points to more than a dozen partner loyalty programs and redeem them for even more value.
If you’ve ever had an airport layover lasting a few hours, you know how uncomfortable it can be to wait in those chairs by the gate. Well, this card also provides access to over 1,300 Priority Pass airport lounges across the world. Trust me, this is a MUCH more comfortable way to pass the time.
There is also a $300 travel credit included with the card, allowing you to claim a statement credit on travel expenses like baggage fees, rental cars, and more. After the first $300 you spend on travel, the card earns 10x points on hotels and rental cars and 5x points on air travel booked through the Chase travel portal. You’ll also earn 3x points on dining and other travel purchases while earning 1 point per dollar on everything else.
Oh yeah, and for our purposes, you’ll also get a $100 credit for application fees associated with TSA Precheck, Global Entry, or NEXUS. Again, this is enough to cover the fee for these programs, and the credit is available once every four years.
Now, here’s the (kinda) bad news: This card has a hefty annual fee of $550. With that said, while you can’t use the travel credit to pay your annual fee, the $300 travel credit essentially makes the fee $225. Plus, if you travel a lot, the benefits (including the new one-year Lyft Pink membership and free delivery on DoorDash orders of $12+) are more than worth it.
Honestly, this is the one card that you’ll always find at the top of my wallet. If you travel frequently, I highly recommend it for you as well.
Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card
The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card is one of the best premium travel cards available. It also allows you to get Global Entry or TSA Precheck for free.
Like the other cards on our list, the Capital One Venture X includes up to $100 in statement credits toward TSA Precheck or Global Entry fees. That covers the cost of either program, so you can pick which one better suits your needs.
The Venture X Card also comes with a 75,000 mile welcome bonus, which is worth $750 in statement credits toward travel expenses. You have to spend $4,000 on the card in the first 3 months to earn the bonus, which is relatively achievable for most people.
Additionally, cardmembers receive $300 in annual statement credits toward travel purchased through the Capital One Travel portal. Members also receive 10,000 bonus miles every year on their account anniversary. Those miles are worth $100 when redeemed as a statement credit, which means the card effectively provides up to $400 in annual travel credits.
To top it off, the card earns up to 10x miles on travel purchases. It also comes with access to all Capital One Lounges and over 1,300 Priority Pass airport lounges around the world. With an annual fee of only $395, this is definitely a premium travel rewards card that frequent travelers should consider.
The Platinum Card® from American Express
The Platinum Card® from American Express is another premium travel card that deserves your consideration.
With this card, you’re eligible to receive a reimbursement for TSA Precheck or Global Entry fees once every four years. The Platinum Card also comes with a 80,000 point welcome bonus after you spend $6,000 in the first 6 months. These points come in the form of Amex Membership Rewards. While I prefer the Chase rewards program slightly more, Membership Rewards are also some extremely valuable points to have.
In addition, you’ll earn 5x points on flights booked directly through airlines or through Amex Travel (up to $500,000 in purchases per calendar year). You’ll also earn 5x points on hotels booked through the Amex travel portal.
There are also a bunch of different credits that come with the card – including a $200 annual statement credit toward airline fees and an annual credit of up to $100 at Saks Fifth Avenue stores (enrollment required). The card also includes free access to the Amex collection of airport lounges around the world.
Again, this card comes with a pretty stiff annual fee of $695 per year. (See Rates and Fees.) However, if you actually use the included benefits, the card could definitely be worth it. I carried it for years and loved it.
Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Business Performance Credit Card
If you’re a business owner who flies Southwest on the regular, the Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Business Performance Credit Card should be right up your alley.
The biggest draw of this card is the signup bonus – you earn a whopping 80,000 Rapid Rewards points when you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months. That should be plenty of points to book a Wanna Get Away round-trip flight within the Continental U.S. or to the Caribbean. Heck, depending on when and where you want to go, that might even be enough to get you three or four!
The icing on the cake? Those bonus points count towards the 110,000 points you need to qualify for the crazy-desirable Southwest Companion Pass.
Having the Companion Pass allows someone to fly with you for free each time you book a flight. It’s good for the calendar year in which you qualify for the benefit and the entire next year, which is SUPER sweet. You have to pay taxes and fees, but still. It offers incredible value, especially if you qualify early in the year.
The rewards rate on the Southwest Rapid Rewards Business Performance Card ain’t bad either. You earn 4 points per $1 on Southwest purchases, 3 points per $1 with hotel and rental car partners, 2 points per $1 on eligible business expenses, and 1 point per $1 on everything else. (BTW, some eligible business expenses include social media and search engine advertising, cable, phone, and internet).
You also get 9,000 bonus points on your annual cardmember anniversary just for holding the card. That’s worth a pretty good chunk of change when it comes to Wanna Get Away fares.
IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card
If you’re a fan of IHG properties – think brands like Holiday Inn, Intercontinental, Staybridge Suites, and more – the IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card may be for you.
First, you can earn a welcome bonus of 175,000 points when you meet the minimum spending requirement of $3,000 in the first 3 months. You’ll also receive a credit of up to $100 as reimbursement toward TSA Precheck or Global Entry fees. Like several cards offering similar credits, this is available once every four years.
With the IHG Rewards Club Premier Card, every year on your account anniversary, you’ll earn a free night’s stay at eligible IHG properties around the globe. Additionally, when you redeem your points at IHG hotels for a stay of four consecutive nights or more, you’ll enjoy a reward night during your stay. The card also entitles you to Platinum Elite status for as long as you hold the card.
The annual fee on this card is $99 a year, so it isn’t too bad. Keep in mind, though, that not all IHG hotels are eligible for the annual free night benefit. For me, that’s kind of a bummer. While I don’t think it’s the best card on the list, it may be a good fit for the right situation.
UnitedSM Explorer Card
Last, but not least, is the UnitedSM Explorer Card. This co-branded airline card may be a good fit for United Airlines customers looking to get free TSA Precheck or Global Entry.
The card offers a welcome bonus of 50,000 miles for spending $3,000 within the first 3 months you have the card. Like the other cards on the list, you’ll also get a $100 credit once every four years toward fees for either TSA Precheck or Global Entry.
Additionally, you’ll get a number of different discounts and privileges through United – including priority boarding, 25% back on in-flight food/beverage/wifi purchases, one free checked bag, and more. There is an annual fee of $95, but it’s waived for the first year.
In most cases, I prefer a more flexible rewards card to a co-branded card like this. However, this card might make sense if you fly with United on a regular basis.
Why Get TSA Precheck or Global Entry?
So, why would you want to get TSA Precheck for free? Simple. It saves you time.
That is great, but what is the difference between Global Entry and TSA Precheck? Which is the right program for you?
Both TSA Precheck and Global Entry are trusted traveler programs that can help you avoid long waits in airport security or customs lines. TSA Precheck is available through the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) while Global Entry is offered through the U.S. Customs and Border Protection department.
TSA Precheck can be found at over 200 airports across the United States. According to the TSA, in August of 2018, 94% of those with TSA Precheck waited less than 5 minutes. So yeah, having TSA Precheck usually means you move through security pretty fast.
You also don’t have to remove your shoes, belts, light jackets, liquids, or computers from your bag. Children under 13 without TSA Precheck may even accompany an adult through the line who has it. As somebody who travels a lot with their kids, I find this all to be freakin’ awesome.
Again, the regular cost of the program is $85, but you can also get TSA Precheck for free by enrolling in one of the cards mentioned above. Your enrollment is good for 5 years.
Global Entry is a bit different. This program is designed to make the immigration and customs process go smoother and quicker. Since we travel internationally several times a year, I also love this program.
With Global Entry, you’ll enjoy an expedited immigration and customs experience. It costs $100 for a 5-year enrollment, and TSA Precheck is also included. Like TSA Precheck, you can get Global Entry for free using any of the credit cards mentioned above. Unlike TSA Precheck, however, children without Global Entry may not proceed through the Global Entry line with you. They must be enrolled in the program.
Free TSA Precheck and Global Entry: Final Thoughts
As somebody who travels a ton, I absolutely love these programs. They have saved me countless hours of waiting in line at the airport. That alone has been worth enrolling.
The application process is relatively easy, especially if you’re just doing Precheck. And, since you can get both Global Entry and TSA Precheck for free with a credit card, there’s no reason not to apply.
Again, the list of cards above is not all-inclusive, but it is definitely enough to get you started. If you’d like to see more options, you can compare the best travel rewards cards here.
Thanks for reading and happy traveling!
To see rates and fees for the American Express cards featured, use the following links: American Express Platinum Card: See Rates and Fees.