Known Traveler Number: Your Key to Speeding Through Security

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Known Traveler Number: Your Key to Speeding Through Security

Andrew WKnown Traveler Number: Your Key to Speeding Through SecurityMillion Mile Secrets Team

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If you don’t like waiting in long airport security lines, you’ll definitely want to get your hands on a Known Traveler Number (KTN).  That’s because having a KTN is your key to unlocking the world of expedited screenings!

Imagine being able to speed through security in just a matter of minutes, instead of having to wait in a long line.  This is possible if you have a KTN.  According to the TSA’s website, 93% of those who went through their TSA PreCheck expedited screening waited less than 5 minutes for the month of November 2018.

Normally, you’ll have to pay a fee to obtain a KTN, but some cards, like the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card, reimburse you for certain program application fees!

Having a Known Traveler Number (KTN) Is Your Key to Saving Time at the Airport!

Let’s go through what a KTN is, and how you can get one.

What Is a Known Traveler Number and Why Should You Get One?

A KTN, otherwise known as a Known Traveler Number, is issued when you apply for a trusted traveler program like TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, and being issued this number requires you to undergo some sort of background check and/or in-person interview to confirm your eligibility.

In addition to shorter lines, the benefit of having access to expedited security screening generally means you won’t have to remove your jackets, belts, or laptops from their bags, and you can keep your shoes on.  So not only do you save time, you also get through the security process with much less hassle!

How Do You Get a Known Traveler Number?

To obtain a KTN, you’ll have to apply through a trusted traveler program:  TSA PreCheck, Global Entry, NEXUS, or SENTRI.  While each program has its own unique requirements, the general process is roughly the same for each.  You apply online, pay the applicable fees, undergo a background check, then visit an enrollment center to conduct an in-person interview.

So what do you get with these trusted traveler programs?

  • For those who exclusively fly domestically, TSA PreCheck will afford you the opportunity to use the expedited security lanes when you’re traveling within the US.
  • If you travel internationally, Global Entry is an excellent choice because it allows for expedited clearance through customs when you return to the US.  Membership also includes TSA PreCheck so you’ll also have access to the shorter security lines when flying domestically.
  • Those who frequently travel between the US and Mexico can consider SENTRI, which also includes Global Entry and TSA PreCheck.  They do, however, only have a small handful of enrollment centers for the required in-person interview, so it may not be feasible for everyone to register for this program.
  • On the other hand, if you travel between the US and Canada regularly, you may want to consider NEXUS.  Like SENTRI, it also includes Global Entry and TSA PreCheck. Enrollment centers can also be difficult to find if you’re not located near the US/Canada border.

What Does It Cost?

Each of the 4 trusted traveler programs mentioned above have different fees:

  • SENTRI:   $122.50 for a 5-year membership
  • NEXUS:   $50 for a 5-year membership
  • Global Entry:   $100 for a 5-year membership
  • TSA PreCheck:   $85 for a 5-year membership

If you’re looking to save money, remember that there are many credit cards that will reimburse you for either the TSA PreCheck or Global Entry fees, including:

It’s important to make this distinction, because fees for NEXUS and SENTRI are not covered.

How Do You Use a Known Traveler Number?

After you receive notification of your approval through one of the trusted traveler programs and have received your KTN, the first thing you’ll want to do is enter this number to each of your frequent flyer profiles with any airlines you fly!

Make Sure to Enter Your Known Traveler Number on All of Your Frequent Flyer Profiles!

As a disclaimer, entering your KTN is not a guarantee that you’ll be able to use the expedited security lanes, although it should work an overwhelming majority of the time.

You’ll know you can use the expedited security lines if you print your boarding pass and see the words “TSA PreCheck” somewhere on your ticket!

Bottom Line

If you don’t like waiting in long lines at the airport, you’ll definitely want to consider obtaining a Known Traveler Number (KTN).  Having this allows you to go through expedited security screening at the airport where you also will not be required to take off your belts, jackets, or shoes.  So you can get through security with much less hassle, and save tons of time as well!

The most common way to obtain a KTN is to apply through a trusted traveler program, like TSA PreCheck or Global Entry.

Once you’ve been approved through one of these programs, make sure to input your KTN to your frequent flyer profiles, or whenever you purchase a plane ticket.  You’ll know you can use the expedited security lines if you see the words “TSA PreCheck” on your boarding pass.

And don’t forget, some travel credit cards reimburse you for Global Entry/TSA PreCheck fees, like the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card.

Let us know your experiences with having a KTN and how much time it has saved you at the airport!

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Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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If Nexus is only $50 for 5 years and includes TSA Precheck and Global Entry, why would anyone who travels near venues with Nexus facilities opt for the more expensive Global Entry fee?

LOVE our Global Entry and KTN. After coming back from overseas and seeing all the people waiting in line, we go to the kiosks and process our paperwork. Never had to wait. Got all 3 of ours when Citi Executive came out and churned through a couple. I think ours expires in 2020, so we will have to get cards that reimburse it again. Definitely worthwhile if you travel often.


Do you know if the processing of new applications for KTN numbers has been affected by the government shutdown?


Hi Steve – you can still submit an application, but in-person interviews aren’t available as Global Entry offices are closed.