CLEAR review: Fingerprint or eye scan your way to the front of the security line

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Speeding through airport security can make your travel journey less stressful. I know lots of folks use TSA PreCheck (free when you sign-up and pay with certain cards) to get expedited security screenings and avoid having to take off shoes or remove laptops from bags.

But at certain airports or during peak travel times, even going through the TSA PreCheck line could require you to wait. So if you’re a frequent traveler, you might consider enrolling in CLEAR.

Here’s our review of CLEAR.

(Photo by BCFC/Shutterstock)

What Is CLEAR?

CLEAR is a privately operated expedited security program that allows you to scan your eyes or fingerprints as a means of identification. After passing through the designated CLEAR line, you’ll be escorted to the front of the security line where the screening phase begins.

The benefit of having CLEAR is you skip any of the TSA lines and don’t have to present your ID to the TSA agent or scan your boarding pass. It can also be a completely touchless process, which is something some may value right now during the coronavirus pandemic.

Is CLEAR better than TSA PreCheck?

TSA PreCheck is another way to get through airport security faster. With TSA PreCheck, you don’t have to take off your shoes, belt, or jacket. But you will have to have your ID and boarding pass checked by a TSA official. 

Check out this post to help you decide if you should sign up for CLEAR instead of TSA Precheck.

If you live near one of the airports served by CLEAR, it might be worth a try, especially if you aren’t eligible for trusted traveler programs because of a criminal record.

How CLEAR works

A CLEAR membership lets you use biometric authentication (fingerprint or eye scan) at a kiosk instead of waiting for a TSA agent to inspect your ID and boarding pass.

Anyone enrolled in CLEAR will first go through the dedicated CLEAR lane at TSA airport checkpoints, where you can then visit the kiosks to scan your eyes or fingerprints and boarding pass. Next, a CLEAR concierge will escort you to the front of the TSA or TSA PreCheck security line (depending on if your boarding pass has a TSA PreCheck designation). And finally, you’ll go through the standard security screening process (“hands up, feet on the yellow stickers body scan”).

Where does CLEAR work?

CLEAR is available at select airports these U.S. cities:
  • Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) in Austin, Texas
  • Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) in Baltimore, Maryland
  • Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport (BHM) in Birmingham, Alabama
  • Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) in Boston, Massachusetts
  • Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) in Hebron, Kentucky
  • Cleveland Hopkins International Airport (CLE) in Cleveland, Ohio
  • Dallas Love Field Airport (DAL) in Dallas, Texas
  • Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) in Dallas and Tarrant counties, Texas
  • Denver International Airport (DEN) in Denver, Colorado
  • Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW)
  • Dulles International Airport (IAD) in Washington, D.C.
  • Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) in Fort Lauderdale, Florida
  • George Bush International Airport (IAH) in Houston, Texas
  • Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) in Atlanta, Georgia
  • John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in New York, New York
  • LaGuardia Airport (LGA) in New York, NY
  • Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in Los Angeles, California
  • Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY) in New Orleans, Louisiana
  • McCarran International Airport (LAS) in Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Miami International Airport (MIA) in Miami, Florida
  • Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport (MSP) in Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) in Newark, New Jersey
  • Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC) in San Jose, California
  • O’Hare International Airport (ORD) in Chicago, Illinois
  • Orlando International Airport (MCO) in Orlando, Florida
  • Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) in Phoenix, Arizona
  • Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) in Arlington, Virginia
  • Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) in Salt Lake City, Utah
  • San Antonio International Airport (SAT) in San Antonio, Texas
  • San Francisco International Airport (SFO) in San Francisco, California
  • Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) in Seattle, Washington
  • St. Louis Lambert International Airport (STL) in St. Louis, Missouri
  • Westchester County Airport (HPN) in White Plains, New York
  • William P. Hobby Airport (HOU) in Houston, Texas

And at select entrances at sports stadiums  during some events in these cities:

  • Atlanta — SunTrust Park
  • Austin — University of Texas
  • Baltimore — Oriole Park at Camden Yards
  • Cleveland — Progressive Field
  • Dallas — Globe Life Park
  • Denver — Coors Field
  • Detroit — Comerica Park
  • Los Angeles — Banc of California Stadium
  • Los Angeles — Staples Center
  • Miami — American Airlines Arena
  • Minneapolis — Target Field
  • New York — Citi Field
  • New York — Madison Square Garden
  • New York — Yankee Stadium
  • Oakland — Oakland Coliseum
  • San Antonio — AT&T Center
  • San Francisco — Oracle Park
  • San Francisco — Ring Central Coliseum
  • San Jose — Avaya Stadium
  • Seattle — CenturyLink Field
  • Seattle — T-Mobile Park

Expedited security at sports stadiums can be a big time-saver. Team member Scott said when he went to Citi Field, there was no one on the CLEAR line, but the regular line to enter the stadium had a 20-minute wait.

With CLEAR, you can get expedited security beyond airports at venues like Citi Field. (Photo by Alan Tan Photography/Shutterstock)

How much does CLEAR cost?

CLEAR has an annual membership fee of $179, or ~$15 per month.  You can add an adult family member for $50 per year, and your children can come through with you free.

How to avoid CLEAR application fees

American Express® Green Card cardholders will receive up to a $100 annual credit when they use their American Express Green Card to purchase a CLEAR membership.

Also, CLEAR has partnered with both Delta and United to offer special discounts to loyalty program members:

United MileagePlus discounts

  • United 1K members: complimentary membership
  • United Platinum, Gold and Silver members: $109 per year
  • Basic cardmembers of the United co-branded credit cards: $109 per year
  • General United MileagePlus members: $119 per year

Delta SkyMiles discounts

To take advantage of these rates, simply apply your SkyMiles or MileagePlus number during enrollment or link your SkyMiles or MileagePlus account after enrolling.

How to sign-up for CLEAR

Any U.S. citizen or permanent resident age 18 and over can sign-up for CLEAR as long as they have:

  • A U.S. Passport or U.S. issued Permanent Resident card, AND
  • A secondary ID such as drivers license or military ID

CLEAR does not do background checks. They just verify your right to travel and your residency.

Because CLEAR doesn’t do the security screening, folks with criminal records (who might otherwise be ineligible for trusted traveler programs like Global Entry or TSA PreCheck) can apply for CLEAR.

Registration is a two-step process.

Step 1.  Complete the Online Registration Form 

First, complete the CLEAR enrollment application online. Unlike the Global Entry application, which can take a lot of time to complete, the CLEAR application is straightforward and takes ~2 minutes.

Review Of CLEAR
Completing the CLEAR enrollment form takes less than two minutes.

Step 2.  Provide biometrics at CLEAR kiosk 

After completing the online application, you can visit a CLEAR enrollment kiosk (usually at a TSA airport checkpoint) to finish the sign-up process.

This step takes less than 5 minutes, and a CLEAR employee will walk you through:

  • Biometric scan (fingerprints and eye scan)
  • Scanning your ID
  • Answering questions confirming your identity

There’s no processing time after completing your enrollment, so you can use CLEAR right away. For example, I completed the process when we were at the airport for a flight and were able to use CLEAR right away.

Once you’re registered, you just have to scan your boarding pass and fingerprints at the CLEAR airport kiosk. Then, the concierge will walk you to the front of the TSA security line.

Is CLEAR worth it?

It’s usually possible to get some sort of free trial of CLEAR, so you can decide for yourself whether it’s worth it.

It most likely depends on how frequently you travel and whether your home airport and the airports you regularly travel through are served by CLEAR. Many of us on the MMS team have tested CLEAR, and while it saved us time, having TSA PreCheck seems to be enough.

Bottom line

Members of the CLEAR expedited security program can skip to the front of lines at airports and stadiums in several U.S. cities.

It’s easy to sign-up. Just complete an online application (takes less than 2 minutes). Then visit a CLEAR kiosk at the airport to scan your fingerprints, irises and ID. The in-person portion only takes a few minutes, so you can do it on a day you’re flying.

CLEAR is a time-saver, but it costs $179 per year, or ~$15 per month, to sign-up. For folks with TSA PreCheck, you might not need both unless you’re a frequent flyer at an airport that typically has a long TSA PreCheck line.

If you use CLEAR, we’d love to hear your experience!

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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Mike Gallivan
1 month ago

I have generally had a good experience with having a CLEAR membership. I think it is worth the $79 annual price. THere have been at least 3-5 times per year for each of the past 3 years when having a CLEAR membership has saved me at least 20 minutes (maybe more) of waiting in lines. However, the other people submitting comments, below, are correct that sometimes CLEAR lines are closed when you expect them to be open (e.g., if you like to fly at nigh especially), and there are DOZENs of complaint about fraudulent billing practices on the Better Business Bureau (BBB) website. This existing complaints mostly involve CLEAR billing someone the full price after they use a free trial membership, even after the airport employees insist that it’s completely free. I had an even worse, and more unbelievable experience with CLEAR, where they have stolen $531 from me via 2 separate credit card bills. Read on!

have been a CLEAR member for ~ 7 years. During this long time period, I have agreed to pay an individual membership. I believe the current 1-year annual membership rate is $79 (although it’s possible that it was higher or lower in previous years). I recently discovered that CLEAR has been billing me for multiple membership (TWO separate memberships), just because I happen to have 2 different email accounts. Imagine if every company started double- or triple-billing every customer who has more than one separate email account! Most upsetting, I learned that CLEAR has been billing me for a “Family” membership rate, a more expensive membership type that I never signed up for and NEVER agreed to. The Family membership rate was $279 in 2019, and now it’s $252 in 2020 (slightly lower). So, in addition to charging me on 1 credit card for the $79 indivdual rate (which is OK), they have been separately charging me those rates that are 3 or 3.5 times HIGHER for the so-called “Family Rate,” which I never ever agreed to. I just spoke to a Customer Service person. I asked him the questions of (1) how they could be billing me on 2 different credit cards a the same time for just one membership? and (2) how they could bill me for the much higher ($279 or $252) “Family membership” if I never agreed to it. He had no clear answer for either question. I have noticed, over the past few years, that CLEAR likes to send emails to you offering to give you 3 free “trial membership” for 3-months each that you can forward onto friends or family members. Last year, I did exactly that with some family members (e.g., I forwarded the 3-month ‘free” trial to them). I don’t even know that the family members ever bothered to use it. However, the Customer Service rep now tells me that, because they have my brother’s name and sister’s name in their files, that’s why I am being billed at the Family Membership rate of $279. I repeat that I NEVER agreed to pay this much higher membership rate, and I don’t even know whether my family members bothered to use the 3-month free trials that I invited them to use. At this point, CLEAR has ripped me of for $531 (at least during the past 13 months). Now I have to look back to my older credit card statements to see if they also ran the same “scam” on me before 2019.

1 year ago

Waste of money. Every time I try to use it the terminals are shut. Con job. At Dulles 10.10pm. Shut.

1 year ago

Inefficient, lack of knowledge with their own service, money grab , completely unnecessary. ATL airport

1 year ago

DONT DO IT!!! Personally I had a very bad experience with CLEAR. They are in some airports, but not as many as you would imagine considering the price. After I realized this, I cancelled my membership before my trial period was over so that I could sign up for TSA Pre Check.

I canceled my membership and called to see if I could confirm with someone that everything was set and my membership was over. I got no response, left my phone number to get a call back when an agent was available. Nothing. Surely enough, the day my trial period was supposed to end, I get charged $179 for a service I had already cancelled. I am very upset, to say the least. Moreover, I’ve been trying to contact them via chat on their website, phone number, and literally every email they have listed. Crickets. No response whatsoever in the last 48 hours.

Get TSA Pre Check. They at least have better customer service, charge like 85 bucks for 5 years, and will save you just as much time.

1 year ago

Here is what i sent them. ……
When i was at the airport you representative told me about clear and signed me up and told me 30 days free and if i sign up for delta rewards i would drop down from $179 to $99 after the 30 days. I am on Social Security Disability. So i live check by check. You guys charged me instantly and caused 5 bounce checked charges at $30 each for my bills. So you cost me $150. Clear is a total scam by your sales staff. So you refunded my $179 ( which is a totally a exuberant amount ) but now i owe my Credit Union $150 in bounced fees. The $99 would have been worth it. So i will never recommend your company, and i Garentee i will let people to stay away from Clear. That your sales people LIE LIE LIE. I will also go on yelp, Better Business Bureau, and any other sight i can let people know. I know this will be read by some person that probably won’t care, and end up in the junk mail box. But i wrote this anyway. So further down the line i have my proof i did notify Clear.