Travel Tips

TSA PreCheck or Global Entry: Which Is Best for You?

Explore the details of TSA PreCheck and Global Entry, learn about the application processes, and weigh the pros and cons of each program.
March 28, 2024
TSA PreCheck or Global Entry: Which Is Best for You?

Deciding between TSA PreCheck vs. Global Entry can feel like trying to choose the faster line at the coffee shop during rush hour. However, it’s more than about just speeding up the airport security process. It’s about choosing the right fit for your travel lifestyle.

Learning the details of each program can show the ways they simplify airport security and customs, giving you back time savings and reducing travel anxiety. Whether you're a frequent international traveler or someone who sticks closer to home, understanding these programs is key to making the right decision for you.

Exploring the details of both TSA PreCheck and Global Entry, we’ll cover the process of applications, weigh the pros against cons, and uncover how specific credit cards can influence the overall equation. So buckle up—we're setting off on a journey to make every trip smoother.

Understanding TSA PreCheck and Global Entry

What Is TSA PreCheck?

For those traveling within the U.S., TSA PreCheck simplifies TSA by allowing participants to glide past checkpoints without removing shoes, pulling out laptops, pouring out liquids, unbuckling belts, or taking off jackets. It’s your fast pass for over 200 airports nationwide. It's why more than 15 million travelers have jumped on board. For details on how you can join them and simplify your travel experience within the U.S., get started here with your TSAPreCheck application.

The beauty of TSA PreCheck doesn't just end with skipping long lines; it’s designed to make life easier for frequent flyers overall. And yes, while there's an application process with background checks and an interview, $78 and an hour of your time gets you five years of hassle-free flying.

What Is Global Entry?

If international travel is more your style, Global Entry may be a better fit for eligible travelers—it’s your ticket to expedited customs clearance when entering the United States from abroad. (To confirm you’re eligible, go here.)This includes all the perks of TSA PreCheck plus access to uncrowded kiosks at select airports where you can skip right past the customs agent (and their questions) after scanning your passport.

Another huge perk to Global Entry is that it automatically enrolls you inTSA PreCheck too. Not only do you get streamlined entry back into the U.S but short lines and smooth security during domestic travel for five years as well. The cost for global entry is much like TSA PreCheck. There is a fee ($100) and an application and interview process you can read more about below.

Application Process and Requirements for Expedited Travel Programs

How to Apply for TSA PreCheck

If you're looking to cut time and lines without ever removing your shoes, then getting into the TSA PreCheck program is a no-brainer. With this amenity, traveler scan access their PreCheck benefits at over 200 airports nationwide, making it a must-have for frequent fliers.

To get started, visit the TSAPreCheck website and fill out an online pre-application form. After this, you'll need to schedule an in-person interview at one of their enrollment centers where you’ll be fingerprinted and photographed. Make sure to come to your interview with any one of their approved forms ofID.. Once you’re background checked and approved, you’ll get a unique number to apply to your flight profiles that will set you free at the airport.

Navigating the Global Entry Application Process

For international travelers looking to speed up their entry process back into the U.S., applying for Global Entry is a must. With a fee of just $100 every five years—which includes free TSA PreCheck—it's a steal considering the time it saves. To apply and get started, follow these simple steps.

1.     Create a Trusted Traveler Programs(TTP) account.

2.     Log in to your account and complete the application.

3.     Schedule an interview at one of their enrollment centers.

4.     Come to your interview with your passport, alternate form of ID, and permanent resident card for those applicable.  

And as of February 2024, conditionally approved applicants can complete the interview process at Dulles International Airport before boarding their flight.

Both Global Entry and PreCheck have specific eligibility criteria aimed primarily at lawful permanent residents or citizens proving themselves low-risk travelers through an extensive vetting processes—including your in-person interview and background check—designed by the Transportation Security Administration(TSA) and Customs Border Protection (CBP).

Comparing Costs and Benefits of Trusted Traveler Programs

Evaluating TSA PreCheck's Value

For those who find themselves often traveling across the U.S., TSA PreCheck revolutionizes the airport experience with expedited security checks through exclusive lanes and fewer pat-downs. With over 15 million members, it's clear that travelers see value in its $78 fee every five years. Considering the time saved at airports—no need to remove shoes or laptops—it’s easy to see why so many swear by it. TSA PreCheck isn't merely a fast track—it's the first step to a smooth and stress-free journey.

The Comprehensive Benefits of Global Entry

If international travel is more your style, then Global Entry might be up your alley. At $100 for five years—which includes TSA PreCheck—it offers expedited US customs clearance through self-service kiosks at airports. Plus, being recognized as a trusted traveler can streamline entry into several other countries too.

Not only does this program include all the benefits of TSA PreCheck but it also extends its courtesy abroad with expedited processing in countries such as Germany, India, South Korea, Switzerland, and Taiwan, among others through reciprocal agreements.

Add-On Options: CLEAR and NEXUS

When it comes to zipping through airport security, TSA PreCheck and Global Entry are the headliners. But let's not forget about their cousins, CLEAR and NEXUS. Every one of these services brings its own special touch to enhance your journey.

CLEAR speeds up the identity verification part at airports and stadiums, making it an ideal partner for trusted traveler programs. While TSA PreCheck simplifies U.S. airport security, and Global Entry fast-tracks US customs clearance for international travelers, CLEAR cuts down the time you spend in line even more. You’ll use a kiosk to scan your irises and get escorted directly to physical screening—bypassing what can often be one of the longest parts of getting through security.

Meanwhile, NEXUS speeds up crossing between the U.S. and Canada but requires separate enrollment even though it’s under the Trusted Traveler umbrella like Global Entry.

The choice between these programs often boils down to how frequently you fly internationally versus domestically—and whether those extra minutes saved are worth the fees involved (CLEAR, $189/year; NEXUS, $50/five years). Ultimately, choosing between them hinges on where you fly most often and how much those streamlined experiences are worth to you personally.

Credits Cards That Offer Travel Program Benefits

Understanding the right credit cards that come packed with travel perks can truly transform the way you fly. Certain credit cards not only cover the application fees of TSA PreCheck and Global Entry but also provide additional perks that enhance the overall travel experience.

American Express Platinum Card: A Leader in Travel Credits

The American Express Platinum Card stands out by offering a statement credit for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fees every 4 years. But this card goes beyond just covering your initial signup cost; it wraps up your travel with luxury benefits including access to exclusive airport lounges and elite hotel statuses. Certain terms do apply, so make sure you're aware of the eligibility criteria.

What's more intriguing is how these credits make applying for trusted traveler programs less of a financial burden. Imagine the time you get back thanks to quick TSA PreCheck lines or Global Entry self-serve kiosks after an international flight—all because your card has got the fee covered.

Rewards Credit Cards

Rewards credit cards are another avenue where travelers can find significant value. Beyond covering application fees for expedited security programs like TSA PreCheck and Global Entry, some rewards cards offer additional points on travel purchases that can be redeemed for flights or hotel stays—making every dollar spent work harder toward future adventures.

Leveraging these credits from select premium and rewards credit cards offers an effective way to reduce costs while potentially elevating travel experiences globally. Check out this list for some of the best travel credit cards.

FAQs about TSA PreCheck vs. Global Entry

Which is better, Global Entry or TSA PreCheck?

Global Entry often edges out TSA PreCheck for frequent international travelers by speeding up customs. For domestic flights, TSA PreCheck nails it.

Can I have both TSA PreCheck and Global Entry?

Absolutely. When you get Global Entry, it includes TSA PreCheck. So you're set for both domestic and international travel.

Is there a downside to Global Entry?

The initial application process takes more effort with an interview and background check. Plus, the higher fee might be a drawback for some.

Do I need TSA PreCheck if I have Global Entry?

Nope. If you've got Global Entry, you automatically get the perks of TSA PreCheck included in your membership package.


TSA PreCheck shines for domestic flyers; Global Entry is a must for international trips. Each streamlines security lines but in its own arena.

Credit cards can ease the cost burden, offering rebates on application fees. Remember this perk when choosing your next travel card.

In deciding which path best suits your lifestyle, weigh costs against benefits carefully. The decision you make now will improve every trip you take in the future.

Making informed decisions means less time in line and more peace of mind traveling—every flyer's dream come true by understanding TSA PreCheck vs global entry.

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