TSA Precheck vs Global Entry vs Clear

In This Post:

    1. Introduction
    2. What Is TSA Precheck?
      1. How much does it cost?
      2. Which credit cards offer a statement credit for TSA Precheck?
    3. What Is Global Entry?
      1. How much does it cost?
      2. Which credit cards offer a statement credit for Global Entry?
      3. What is Clear?
      4. How much does it cost?
      5. Which credit cards offer a statement credit for Clear?
      6. Can I get Clear at a discounted price if I don’t have a credit card?
      7. Comparison
      8. Conclusion
Airport Security lines
Airport security lines continue to get longer

Traveling can be a delight, but getting through security and immigration is possibly the worst part of the whole process. The lines take forever, so you have to go to the airport hours early just to get through the line in time. 

While waiting in the long security line, you have probably noticed other passengers getting through the line faster via programs like TSA PreCheck, Global Entry, or Clear. You may be wondering what these three programs are, and if they will help you at all. 

If you travel often, TSA PreCheck, Global Entry and CLEAR could be something that can save you both time and money. This post discusses the differences between the three, a cost breakdown, and what credit card rewards include the program.

What is TSA Precheck?

TSA PreCheck is a program that is focused on departures from U.S. airports. There is a special security line for these passengers, so they can zoom through the line faster. With TSA PreCheck you don’t have to take off your shoes, belts, or light jacket. There is also no need to remove your laptop and liquids from your carry-on. This makes the process more convenient and faster. It is estimated that TSA PreCheck holders wait less than 5 minutes on average in line. 

The application process for TSA PreCheck is quite simple. It begins with a short online application, then an in-person appointment to take your fingerprints. TSA will run a background check to see if you are able to receive TSA PreCheck. U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals and lawful permanent residents may apply. 

Delta Sky Club
Instead of a long security line, spend your time in an airport lounge, enjoying free food and drinks
If you travel more domestically than internationally, TSA PreCheck could be a great option for you. Global Entry is more focused on arrival to the US from other countries, so you may not need it if you travel within the country.

How much does it cost?

The current application fee for TSA PreCheck is $85, but lasts for 5 years. At the time of writing this post, it costs $70 to renew. The renewal is for another 5 years.

Which credit cards offer a statement credit for TSA Precheck?

There are many credit cards that have TSA PreCheck as a part of their rewards program. TSA PreCheck is in more rewards programs than any other program on this list.   These cards have annual fees that range from $85 to $100.

  • United Explorer Card
  • Capital One® Venture® Card
  • Capital One® Spark® Miles Card
  • IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card 
  • Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Credit Card

How much does it cost?

While TSA PreCheck is more for departures, Global Entry is focused on arrivals. The program was created by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). It makes arrivals much faster for low-risk travelers. 

When you arrive in the U.S. from another country, you will go to one of the Global Entry automatic kiosks. These machines read your passport and your fingerprints to complete your customs declaration. You will receive a transaction receipt and head straight to baggage claim. There is no need to wait in lines and go through all the other hassles of going through immigration upon arrival. 

Airport Arrivals
Go through arrivals faster with Global Entry

Global Entry has a much more rigorous process than TSA PreCheck. The CBP does an in-depth background check and holds an in-person interview for each applicant before enrollment. This process tends to take longer than that of TSA PreCheck. 

Though it is possible for you to still get randomly selected for further examination, there is one huge benefit of Global Entry. Thanks to its in-depth application process, securing Global Entry also gives you access to TSA PreCheck. There is no need to apply for both if you can get Global Entry access. 

How much does it cost?

It costs $100 to have Global Entry for five years. The renewal fee is also $100 for another 5 years. Despite it being more expensive, it does include TSA PreCheck in the price. For $15, you can have the two programs for your travels. It is especially helpful for those who travel internationally on a regular basis.

Which credit cards offer a statement credit for Global Entry?

There are over 20 credit cards that offer a statement credit when you use your card to pay for Global Entry, below is a list of cards that have an annual fee under $100.  These cards represent a tremendous value and some even feature a signup bonus and additional benefits such as lounge access. 

  • United Explorer Card
  • Capital One® Venture® Card
  • Capital One® Spark® Miles Card
  • IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card 
  • Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Credit Card
Global Entry
Check if your credit card offers a statement credit for Global Entry

What is CLEAR?

CLEAR is quite a new program to get you through airport security lines faster. Similar to Global Entry, it CLEAR uses your eyes and fingerprints for verification. However, CLEAR does not use your ID to check your identity – only biometrics. 

If you decide to use CLEAR, this is how the airport process works. When you get to the airport, you report to a CLEAR kiosk and start scanning your eyes or fingerprints. Then, someone will come to take you to the security checkpoint. The process is quite smooth and easy. 

One pro that CLEAR has over the other two programs on this list, is that it works for some events as well. Not only can it be used at the airport, but it can get you through qualifying sports music event security lines faster as well. If you go to many sports games and concerts, CLEAR could be a great option for you.

Clear
Get through security lines faster at concert and sports venues with Clear

Similar to the other programs, CLEAR requires both an online application and an in-person meeting. The background check is not as rigorous as the other two programs, but it will still take some time to get approved.

Since CLEAR is relatively new, not many airports use it at this time. As of now, only 35 U.S. airports use CLEAR. If the airport closest to you is not one of these 35, then CLEAR may not be the best option for you.

How much does it cost?

Out of the three programs on this list, CLEAR is the most expensive sitting at $179 annually. It does not include Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. This cost does include CLEAR Sports, which can get you through sports events and concert lines faster. 

Which credit cards offer a statement credit for Clear?

Currently there are three American Express cards that offer a full statement credit for Clear and six cards that offer a partial statement credit.

Cards that offer a Full Statement Credit
  • The Platinum Card
  • The Business Platinum Card
  • The Centurion Card
Cards that offer a Partial Statement Credit
  • American Express Green Card
  • Delta Skymiles Gold Business Card
  • Delta Skymiles Platinum Card
  • Delta Skymiles Platinum Business Card
  • Delta Skymiles Reserve Card
  • Delta Skymiles Reserve Business Card

Can I get Clear at a discounted price if I don’t have a credit card?

Yes you can!  You can sign up for free to become a member of Delta Airlines loyalty program, Delta Skymiles.  Clear is offering a membership to Delta Skymiles members for only $119 per year.  You have Diamond status with Delta it is completely free.  Platinum, Gold and Silver Medallion members can get it for $109.

Clear Discount for Delta Skymiles

Comparison

  TSA Precheck Global Entry Clear
Cost (USD) $85 for 5 years $70 renewal $100 for 5 years $100 renewal $179 annually 
Pros Cheapest option, Don’t have to remove shoes, etc. in security line, Part of many credit card reward programs, Best for domestic-only travel Includes Global Entry and TSA PreCheck, Part of many credit card reward programs, Best for international travel Covers sports and music events, Doesn’t use a traditional ID to get through the line
Cons Only includes TSA PreCheck and Depending on staffing, you may not get PreCheck benefits Rigorous background check Only available in the USA at a limited number of airports and sports venues.
Credit Card Reward Program? Yes Yes Yes

Conclusion

Even if you do not fly every week, these programs could still benefit you. Waiting in security lines is not enjoyable, but any of these three security programs can get you through the line way faster. 

Depending on your travel needs, one of these programs could be better than the other. Out of the three, Global Entry is likely the best one. Since it comes with TSA PreCheck included, you can get faster passage during the departure and arrival process. This benefit only costs $15 more than buying TSA PreCheck alone. Global Entry is also part of quite a few credit card rewards programs, unlike CLEAR which is only featured on certain American Express credit cards.

Whichever you choose, they can cut down your wait time significantly.  We highly value these programs and suggest signing up for one of the credit cards that offer it for free!

Leave a Reply