Do you like waiting in line? Me neither.
If you’re like most travelers, you probably want a fast airport experience so you can get to your destination as quickly as possible. After all, you’ve already put tons of hours and a lot of money into this vacation, right?
While you can plan for layover wait times, you can’t control the length of airport security lines. Waiting in these lines is a waste of time and one of the most unpredictable parts of flying.
Luckily, there are few options to get you through the screening process faster. Of course, they all come with a fee, but the benefits can far outweigh the costs involved. When considering Global Entry vs TSA Precheck (and CLEAR), here’s what you need to know.
Table of Contents
Imagine getting in and out of customs quickly and without worry. Is that possible? If you have Global Entry, it can be. And, with the right credit card rewards, you could even get Global Entry for free.
With reduced wait times and the chance to get it without paying the $100 application fee, you can stress less on your next world travel vacation.
Perfect for global travelers who hate waiting in line, applying is easy. After you submit your application, you’ll need to complete an interview. These interviews are scheduled ahead of time, but you can take your chances with just walking into an Enrollment Center if you’re in a hurry.
Either way, make sure you bring these with you to your interview:
- Valid passport or permanent resident card
- A printed letter of your conditional approval
- Evidence of residency, like a driver’s license or utility bill
When considering Global Entry vs TSA Precheck, Global Entry is a great deal because it also includes the benefits of TSA Precheck. Not only do you get through customs faster, but you’ll speed through the security process, too.
Global Entry benefits include:
- Expedited US customs screening
- Skip the long lines at TSA security screening (TSA Precheck is included)
- It’s good for five years
- Available for US and Canadian citizens, and citizens of select countries
Who Should Have It
US citizens and permanent residents are eligible for Global Entry. But it doesn’t stop there. More than five million citizens of the US and select countries have already applied and are getting faster clearance.
If you travel to the US from places in Argentina, South Korea, India, Columbia, Singapore, Germany, Panama, Switzerland, Mexico, Canada, the Netherlands, Taiwan, and the UK, you can take advantage of this program.
Before your next global trip, think about how much more comfortable your airport experience could be. But don’t wait until the last minute to start the application process. It usually takes three to four weeks to process your application after you submit it to get approved.
The last time you waited for physical screening, were you eyeing the mostly empty “TSA Precheck Only” line? Not all travelers value their time enough to pay the extra fee and jump to the front of the line.
But time is money. And the more time you spend at the airport, the less time you have to relax and enjoy your travel.
The best part? Some credit cards will help you get TSA Precheck for free. Before you complete the application and part with $85 of your hard-earned cash, see if your credit card rewards program offers a reimbursement.
TSA Precheck has average wait times of five minutes or less, saving you time and eliminating stress during the security process. It’s only available at US airports, making it perfect for domestic travel. Since it’s good for five years, you won’t have to renew it annually.
What you get with TSA Precheck:
- Available at US airports only
- Valid for five years
- Expedited security screening
- Can leave liquids and laptops in your carry-on bag
Who Should Have It
TSA Precheck is a must if you want to save time and reduce the stress that comes with air travel. It’s also perfect for light travelers who stick to a carry-on bag, or for heavy-packers who travel with a carry-on in addition to their checked luggage.
To skip the trouble of taking off your shoes, your jacket, and your belt, TSA Precheck lets you leave them on. Plus, you can keep your 3-1-1 liquids and your laptop safely stored in your carry-on, saving even more time.
If you’re considering Global Entry vs TSA Precheck and most of your travel is domestic, TSA Precheck might be the better choice.
Unlike Global Entry and TSA Precheck, CLEAR is an entirely separate service that compliments the other two programs. Where Global Entry speeds up the US Customs and Border Protection process and TSA Precheck gets you through security faster, CLEAR works with the airport security authorities to jump ahead of the long ID verification line. (TSA Pre also offers this benefit.) Additionally, CLEAR kiosks are located at many major stadiums throughout the country, helping you expedite security checks there as well.
Instead of waiting with everyone else, you’ll have access to the CLEAR Lane for faster check-in and ID verification through fingerprint or iris scanning at a kiosk. Sounds high-tech and futuristic, right?
Don’t worry. It’s approved by the Department of Homeland Security and compliant with the SAFETY Act. You can have peace of mind knowing that airport security measures are still in place and your data is kept safe and secure.
When you get to the airport, you can skip the long line and head right for the CLEAR Lane. Once you’re there, you’ll scan your fingerprint or iris at the kiosk to confirm you are who you say you are.
Air travel is stressful enough. With CLEAR, the process is quick and easy from start to finish. It can make your trip that much better.
What you get with CLEAR:
- Bypass the ID verification checkpoint
- Access to the CLEAR Lane for faster check-in
- Biometric scanning to prove you are you
- Speedy check-in gets you to physical screening sooner
- Low cost to add family members to your plan
Who Should Have It
CLEAR is a popular choice for frequent flyers. It’s more expensive than Global Entry or TSA Precheck and costs $179 each year. For that reason, it isn’t recommended for the occasional traveler. With that said, it works well in combination with both Global Entry and TSA Precheck.
With that said, if you frequent a major stadium that offers a CLEAR security line, CLEAR may be a nice addition to Global Entry and/or TSA Precheck.
If you have kids under the age of 18, they can use your CLEAR membership when they’re traveling with you. And you can add up to three more family members for only $50 per person, making this an excellent choice for families that fly often.
Which Program to Choose
Take a look at your current and future travel plans to see if you can benefit from Global Entry. If most of your travel is within the US, TSA Precheck might be your best option. For the ultimate airport experience, consider CLEAR to save you even more time when checking in for your next flight.
When comparing Global Entry vs TSA Precheck vs CLEAR, you can’t go wrong with any program. Each comes with unique perks, and all three have significant benefits for travelers.
Again, here are a couple of links to help you get started:
Thanks for reading! Until next time, happy traveling!
Have you used Global Entry, TSA Precheck, or CLEAR? Let us know what you think in the comments below!