We have three young kids so we don't fly a lot.
But when I do, maaaaan, I love TSA PreCheck.
A few years ago, my lovely wife signed me up up for TSA PreCheck and it's been awesome. It's available at most busy airports and it lets you skip the main TSA checkpoint lines. It's becoming more popular, which means lines are growing, but you can skip some of the security theater at the airport like taking off your shoes.
TSA PreCheck has an international version, called Global Entry, but we don't travel enough to have considered it.
Did you know that a lot of travel credit cards are now offering free Global Entry and TSA PreCheck as a perk? They are themselves five year renewal programs that cost $85 or $100, depending on the program (more on that below), but a lot of cards offer a fee credit when you pay the application fee with that card.
Cards with Global Entry / TSA PreCheck Fee Credit Offers
The key to getting Global Entry or TSA PreCheck for free is to get a credit card that offers an application fee credit. Many travel cards offer this perk every 5 years, corresponding to the renewal period of each program.
What's great about this reimbursement is that you usually don't even need to contact the card. Just pay for the application with the card offering the benefit, then wait. Depending on the issuer, it can be as quickly as a few days or it may take a couple billing statements. If you recently renewed, you can pay for someone else's application and get a reimbursement.
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card will refund you the application fee for either Global Entry or TSA PreCheck every four years.
The card also offers a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. 50,000 miles is valued at $500 in travel.
There is a $95 annual fee that is waived for the first year.
Platinum Card from American Express
The Platinum Card from American Express will reimburse you the application fee for Global Entry. This card has a lot of travel perks, including access to airport lounges, $200 annual air travel credits, and even $250 in Uber credits each year.
You also get 100,000 membership Reward points when you meet certain spending requirements and it's one of the most popular 100,000 point credit cards.
This card has a $450 annual fee.
Chase Sapphire Reserve
I love Chase cards because the Chase Ultimate Rewards program is so versatile. The Chase Sapphire Reserve card offers a $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. You can use this perk for yourself or someone else, you just have to pay for it with the card and they'll credit you.
You also get $300 in annual travel credits as well as access to airport lounges via Priority Pass Select. Those are just a few of the many travel rewards of the card.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve card also has a new sign up bonus of 50,000 bonus points after you spned $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
The Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card
The Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card has a $300 annual travel credit perk that you can use on Global Entry fees. It's not as good as some of the other cards that also offer a travel credit perk because on those cards the Global Entry fee benefit is a separate one.
The United Explorer Card
If you fancy United Airlines (and even if you only fly infrequently), the United Explorer Card has a $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee credit. This is on top of two United Club one-time use passes each year and priority boarding.
As an added incentive, they have a limited time offer of 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 in the first three months plus a $100 statement credit after your first purchase. It's a solid bonus for new card holders.
It also has a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year that is normally $95 in subsequent years.
You should be able to find a good travel credit card that gives you the Global Entry fee reimbursement perk.
Even if you have to pay for it yourself, the fee covers five years. Even at $100, that's $20 a year to get into an expedited line or skip the line altogether!
What is Global Entry?
Global Entry is a program by the US Customs and Border Protection. You apply for the program and have to go through a screening and clearance process. If and when Global Entry is granted, you can go through an expedited customs process. The screening and clearance process involves a background check and an in-person interview.
Instead of going through the customs line, you can go to the Global Entry kiosks and simply scan your fingerprints. You fill out a customs declaration and are sent on your merry way.
Global Entry has a $100 fee that you pay when you submit your application. This fee is non-refundable even if your application is denied. Global Entry is good for 5 years and when you get it, you get TSA PreCheck for free!
What is TSA PreCheck?
TSA PreCheck is similar to Global Entry except it's just for TSA checkpoints at airports. You go through a background check and in-person interview but when you are cleared, you are issued a Known Travel Number (KTN). You add that number to your bookings and the airlines will add a little TSA Pre✓ to your boarding passes so you can go through the expedited lines.
Children under 12 don't need TSA PreCheck and can go through the line with you when you go through. Children 13 and older will need their own TSA PreCheck.
In those lines, you don't need to take off your shoes, belts, or light jackets. You can keep your laptops and liquids in your bag. The size rules are still in place but you don't need to remove the containers.
TSA PreCheck costs $85 and is good for five years.