skip airport security: tsa pre-check vs global entry

Do you ever find yourself wishing you had one more hour on vacation? Or do you travel with kids and dread waiting through the security line with them? Or maybe you’re like us and carry a lot of electronics traveling and hate unpacking and repacking them every time you arrive at the airport? We’ve got your solution. Here’s how to hack your way to the front of the security line for FREE. 

If you’ve been in the travel game for very long, and you’re based in the US, you’ll know that arguably the worst part of the airport is the security check. After 9/11, this has been the bane of traveler’s existence, and for good reason. I’m all about airport security, but it can take- a while. Today we’re going to talk about whether it’s worth it, what exactly it is and which one you should go for. Plus we’ll give you a hint on how to get it for free so don’t skip it just because you don’t want to add to the travel budget. PLUS- we’re so excited to bring you our very first crazy travel stories from our Facebook Community. Today we have Alan’s story and let me tell you- I had to call Bruce over to immediately read it- it’s just so good. So stay tuned! 

Enter TSA Precheck/ Global Entry. Let’s start by saying- you can get these services FOR FREE with many low annual fee cards. Capital one venture card, for example, has this benefit. The Capital One Venture x, Sapphire Reserve and AMEX Platinum also have this benefit, along with a dozen or so more cards. So just like airport lounges, don’t skip this episode because you don’t want to pay for the luxury of it. You probably won’t have to! 

Check out which credit cards we have and how we use them here! PS: our Capital One Venture and Venture X are the ones that got Bruce and I free Global Entry!

First, you must be a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, or a permanent resident to apply for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. Additionally, if you have a passport from any of these countries, you can apply for Global Entry.

      • Argentina
      • Brazil
      • Colombia
      • Germany
      • India
      • Mexico
      • Panama
      • Singapore
      • South Korea
      • Switzerland
      • Taiwan
      • United Kingdom

Okay- so let’s start with TSA Precheck. TSA precheck is $78 for 5 years and allows you to use the TSA Precheck line instead of regular security. Typically this means a shorter line (sometimes no line at all) and you don’t have to take your shoes off, take liquids out or electronics out of your bag. 

It’s very easy to apply- and usually very quick approval. I told my dad his was free with his card and he found an appointment while in our house in New England- on a Wednesday I think, the next day- did the interview (at like a CVS) and had TSA precheck on his flight home on Saturday. Assuming you don’t have any red flags, which you can read all about on the homeland security website, you should be in and out without issue and you can use it immediately. 

To use your TSA Precheck- you just enter your known traveler ID into your booking. You can do this when you book originally or you can go back into your reservation and add it after the fact. My dad just stopped at the counter when he got to the airport- but we like to do early check-in too much to wait for that.

So that’s TSA Precheck- what’s Global Entry? First it’s good to note that if you have Global Entry- you also have TSA Precheck. It’s like a two for one. It also allows you to use a separate line for passport control/customs when re-entering the US- a MAJOR time saver in many cases. 

 So why wouldn’t you just do that? Well it’s $100 for 5 years (again- many premium cards reimburse this every 5 years) but it also has a much more intense application process. For this one, you apply online- almost like a background check. Then you wait for pre-approval, which can take 4-6 months. Once you have pre-approval, you have to do an “interview”. I know you can’t see me but I’m doing air quotes because it’s really just making sure you are who you say you are- at least in our case. Now finding an interview can be tricky, but we did one on arrival after our Uganda trip. It was super easy- we got to skip the line, just like we had global entry and we went to an interview counter. He asked us a few questions and that was that. We got our trusted traveler number and were able to use it immediately. 

And we have totally loved it. Between TSA Precheck and Lounge access, we definitely feel like we do the airport right. 

Really quickly- there’s also Nexus, which is expedited border control for Canada and Sentri which is the same thing, but for Mexico- worth looking into if you do that trek often. And then there’s CLEAR, which allows you to skip the guy you check in with at the security checkpoint and instead go straight to drop off your bags. We’ve never felt a need for that, but TSA precheck lines can also get busy and that would be a way to bypass that line as well. It comes with a few AMEX cards as a perk. 

Check out the homeland security website for all the information: 

Okay- now on to this crazy travel story straight from Alan on our Facebook Community 

In 2015 I went to Moscow and St Petersburg Russia. I was worried about the taxi system there and had read reports of fake taxis taking tourist outside the city and demanding money to take them back. So, I decided I would Uber, which was my first experience with Uber. On my return Uber trip to LED airport the driver seemed lost and then turned down an alley. He stopped and started to make a phone call. I was actually riding in the front passenger seat and started texting my son that Uber driver had taken me down an alley and wasn’t sure what was going on. I guess I thought he could pull a Liam Neeson if needed and come rescue me. The Uber driver then handed me the phone and the voice on the other line asked my what time my flight was and then asked to speak back to the driver. I then used a translation app to ask the driver what was going on. Turns out he had gotten lost and thought we were going to be late. He ended up getting me to the airport and would not take a tip, since he had gotten lost. I went to check in my bags and felt a tap on my shoulder. It was the Uber driver with my hat in his hand, I had left it in the car.

Alan- Travel More Insider

I just think that’s such a great story and captures the soul of traveling (for better and worse!). Thank you so much Alan, who is also a great community member over on the group. Remember to go tell us about your crazy stories on the group and let us know below in the comments whether you use TSA Precheck or Global Entry and if it’s worth it! 

Meet the Bargers

Bruce and Shelly are a 30-something couple always on the lookout for cheap eats, wildlife sightings and a good brewery. They started traveling together ten years ago and haven't looked back. They travel internationally at least three times a year and have been to 42 states, all while holding those pesky 9-5 jobs. They hope you can take these travel tips and live the life you've only dreamed about!

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