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.
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 worksA 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.
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 feesAmerican 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
- Delta Diamond Medallion members: complimentary membership
- Delta Platinum, Gold and Silver Medallion members: $109 per year
- Basic cardmembers of the Delta co-branded credit cards: $109 per year
- General SkyMiles members: $119 per year
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
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.
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!
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