If you’re already dreading security queues at airports and post-pandemic travel fever, Global Entry or TSA PreCheck membership can make your life easier.
“TSA PreCheck is the only reason you can leave 30 minutes before your flight and still have time for your coffee,” says Sarah Stocking, travel expert and destination editor for Lonely Planet, which, like NextAdvisor, is owned by Red Ventures.
To register for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, you will undergo a background check and other selection processes to ensure that you can be considered a “Trusted Traveler”. With this designation, you will bypass many standard airport security procedures and save time and hassle at the airport.
What is the difference between Global Entry and TSA PreCheck?
Global Entry and TSA PreCheck offer similar benefits and eligibility conditions. The main difference is that Global Entry is better for international travelers.
While TSA PreCheck enables expedited security screening benefits for flights departing from US airports, Global Entry simplifies customs procedures for travelers entering the United States from overseas. You don’t need TSA PreCheck if you have Global Entry – the benefits of TSA PreCheck are included with your Global Entry membership. But if you only have TSA PreCheck, you won’t have expedited customs clearance when you return to the United States from another country.
The other main difference is the cost of the programs. TSA PreCheck costs $ 85 for a 5-year subscription. Global Entry costs $ 100 for a 5-year subscription.
|TSA PreCheck||Global entry|
|Benefits of Faster Security Screening for Flights Departing from U.S. Airports||TSA PreCheck benefits, plus expedited U.S. customs clearance for international travelers entering the United States|
|$ 85 for a 5-year subscription||$ 100 for a 5-year subscription|
Benefits of Global Entry and TSA PreCheck
Global Entry and TSA PreCheck can both reduce the wait times you’ll face at airports. Not only are the actual security lines shorter for travelers who pay for these programs, you’ll spend less time going through security checks, as trusted travelers are exempt from some of the more time-consuming airport security measures.
“You’ll save a little time, but a lot of frustration,” Stocking says. “Especially if you are traveling with technology.”
You won’t need to unpack the devices and technology from your carry-on baggage; take liquids or aerosols out of your bag; or take off your shoes, belt or jacket.
In addition, you will go through a separate line, usually much shorter. TSA reported that 100% of TSA PreCheck passengers waited less than 5 minutes to go through security in February 2021.
Global Entry gives you all the benefits of TSA PreCheck, plus easy return to the United States after traveling abroad. Global Entry members can check in at a kiosk and go straight through customs. This means: no processing lines, no paperwork and reduced waiting times.
You don’t need TSA PreCheck if you have Global Entry – the benefits of TSA PreCheck are included with your Global Entry membership.
How to Apply for Global Entry or TSA Preclearance
The application and approval processes for Global Entry and TSA PreCheck are similar:
- Start by determining which program is right for you based on your travel needs, then begin your application for either program.
- Make sure you have important documents ready to verify your identity, including (but not limited to): social security number, driver’s license or other government ID and passport. A passport is not required for TSA PreCheck, but for Global Entry. Global Entry will also require verification of your residence. Your driver’s license or passport will work if your address is up to date. Otherwise, you’ll need to provide something like a mortgage statement, rent payment statement, or utility bill.
- For both programs, you will need to pay your non-refundable fee in advance ($ 100 for Global Entry, $ 85 for TSA PreCheck). This means that you will not be reimbursed if you do not meet the qualifications for the program.
- After you have applied or created your profile, you will need to register for an in-person appointment at an eligible TSA or Global Entry registration center. Your appointment will include things like a face-to-face identity verification and fingerprinting for a background check. Prepare to follow standard COVID protocols and mask requirements for now. You can also wait a bit longer than usual, with reduced or staggered appointment availability to minimize interactions.
- Confirm if you need to bring physical copies of your documents with you to your appointment (you most likely will).
- If you are eligible, you should receive your TSA PreCheck membership verification approximately 2-3 weeks after your appointment. Global Entry requires a more extensive background process and can take anywhere from 6 months to a year to process.
Where can I use Global Entry and TSA PreCheck?
You may not be able to use the benefits of your program at all airports. TSA PreCheck is currently available at over 200 participating airports, and Global Entry is offered at even fewer.
Make sure your local airport, or the airports you fly to most often, have the program before you apply. Otherwise, membership may not be worth the cost to you.
How do I use Global Entry Once or TSA PreCheck once I have it?
After being approved for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, you will receive a Known Traveler Number, or KTN. For Global Entry, this number is also known as PASSID. You must include your KTN along with the rest of your traveller’s information (such as your name, address, and frequent flyer number) when you book future flights to enjoy the benefits of your program.
When downloading or printing your boarding pass, look for a TSA PreCheck indicator. This may vary between the type of boarding pass (mobile, printed) and the airline. Some variations include TSAPRECHK, TSA PRE, or TSA PreCheck®. Here is an example of a JetBlue mobile boarding pass:
If this caption is missing from your ticket, check if you’ve entered all of your other personal information correctly, such as your full name, date of birth, and license or passport number. All of this information should be identical to the information submitted on your TSA PreCheck application.
If you still don’t see your check, arrive at the airport early and speak to an agent at your airline’s check-in counter.
How can I find my known traveler number?
Have you lost that first e-mail with your number? Do not panic.
For TSA PreCheck, you can easily search for your known traveler number using other information such as your name, address, and social security number.
Global Entry members can find their PASSID (KTN) by logging into their portal through the Trusted Traveler program website.
How much does it cost to get Global Entry and TSA PreCheck?
Global Entry membership costs $ 100 for five years and TSA PreCheck costs $ 85 for five years.
“Frankly, I would have [Global Entry] even if I only left the country once or twice, ”Stocking says. “Just because it would make this trip even better. ”
Plus, there are easy ways to get these memberships for free, including signing up for a credit card that will cover the cost of either program.
Here are some of our favorite cards with a TSA PreCheck or Global Entry fee credit. Each offers up to $ 100 in credits for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck membership every four years when you use your card to pay the fees:
These cards can also provide you with other travel rewards and benefits to maximize your spending on every trip to the airport.
* All Capital One Venture Rewards and Capital One Spark Miles for Business credit card information has been independently collected by NextAdvisor and has not been reviewed by the issuer.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take to get TSA PreCheck certification?
TSA PreCheck approval typically takes 2-3 weeks after your in-person registration appointment. Global Entry, however, can take anywhere from 6 months to a year.
How much do TSA PreCheck and Global Entry cost?
TSA PreCheck membership costs $ 85 for 5 years and Global Entry costs $ 100 for 5 years.
Do I need both Global Entry and TSA PreCheck?
You don’t need both Global Entry and TSA PreCheck. TSA PreCheck can speed up security at US airports, while Global Entry is a good choice for international travelers who need to clear customs on their return. If you have Global Entry, you will also enjoy all the benefits of TSA PreCheck.