Save Time AND Money: Why NEXUS Is a Better Deal Than Global Entry for Many Families!
Signing up for credit cards through partner links earns us a commission. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. Here’s our full advertising policy: How we make money.Update: One or more card offers in this post are no longer available. Check our Hot Deals for the latest offers. Jasmin: Saving time at the airport is top priority for many folks in the miles and points hobby. And if you’re traveling with kids, it’s even more important! Because patiently waiting in long lines is not always their strong suit. 😉 We’ve written about Global Entry a lot, because it’s a terrific way to skip lines at security and customs. And Million Mile Secrets team member Meghan shared how she saved ~$500 on Global Entry application fees for her family by having certain credit cards.
But there’s another trusted traveler program that can be a much better deal for families with children. Because it’s free for kids under 18 years old!
I’ll explain why I’m considering signing up the kids and myself for NEXUS. And help you decide if it makes sense for your family.
NEXUS Is Like Global Entry, but Cheaper and Better
Link: Global Entry
Why Is Global Entry So Popular?Global Entry is super handy if you travel a lot. Once you’re approved, you get a “Known Traveler Number” (KTN) that you can add to your reservations on eligible airlines. Doing so usually gets you TSA PreCheck, which can save you a ton of time getting through security at participating airports.
When returning to the US, you’ll also get a much faster lane through US customs. It’s a much more civilized way to travel!
Because certain credit cards will reimburse the $100 Global Entry application fee, it’s easy to erase the out-of-pocket cost for a membership (even for family or friends).
For example, these cards come with a Global Entry fee credit every 4 or 5 years (depending on the card):
- The Platinum Card® from American Express
- The Business Platinum® Card from American Express
- The Platinum Card® from American Express Exclusively for Mercedes-Benz
- Chase Sapphire Reserve
- Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card
- Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®
- Citi Prestige® Card
- U.S. Bank Altitude™ Reserve Visa Infinite® Card
That said, one of the downfalls of Global Entry is that you have to pay a separate $100 fee for every member of your family – even babies! And while kids under 13 can tag along with their parent or guardian through TSA PreCheck lanes without a Global Entry membership, they must have their own card to skip the lines at US customs.
This can get pricey if you have a big family and not enough credit cards to cover everyone’s enrollment fee. That’s why NEXUS is a good alternative!
NEXUS Has More Benefits Than Global Entry, and Kids Are Free
Folks with NEXUS membership get the same perks as Global Entry members. Plus, they’re able to access NEXUS kiosks at certain Canadian airports and border crossings, for speedier entry into Canada. Global Entry does NOT provide shorter waits at the Canadian border.
But the big money saver is that NEXUS membership is free for children under 18 years of age. And an adult membership is only $50 for 5 years, instead of $100 with Global Entry.Note: If you submit a paper application for your NEXUS membership, you’ll pay 50 Canadian dollars (~$41) for the fee. If you don’t mind the paperwork instead of applying online, that’s another little savings. But it can take longer to process a paper application.
Are There Pitfalls to NEXUS?
You can NOT use US credit card perks to offset the cost of the NEXUS application fee. So you’ll spend $50 for your own membership, but your minor children will be free.
So this might not be practical for folks who live far away from the Canadian border or don’t have plans to visit a Canadian airport enrollment center.
That said, if you have several minor children, it could be worth making a special trip!
What About Interview Wait Times?
A common complaint is the amount of time it can take to get a Global Entry interview. But there are ways to speed up the process. When I applied for Global Entry, I got an interview date at Niagara Falls ~4 months after being conditionally approved.
I haven’t applied for NEXUS yet, so I don’t have personal experience with wait times. But a friend in Toronto was able to get an interview ~3 months after first submitting an application. And the Canadian NEXUS website says it currently takes ~18 business days for a conditional approval.
I’ll be applying with my 3 kids very soon. And I’ll report back on the whole process in a future post!
You’ll get the same perks, like shorter security lines and expedited customs clearance when you return to the US. But with NEXUS, children under 18 do NOT pay a fee!
For adults, the NEXUS application fee is $50 (US or Canadian dollars) for 5 years, compared to $100 for everyone (even infants) with Global Entry. So this could be a big cost savings for a larger family!
Keep in mind, there are fewer NEXUS enrollment centers. And they’re all at Canadian airports or near the Canadian border. Also, you can NOT use statement credits from certain US credit cards to offset the NEXUS application fee.
I’ll write another post after my family and I apply for our NEXUS memberships, to help guide you through the process. But if you have experience applying for NEXUS with your family, please share in the comments!Come back each Wednesday for a new installment in our Family Travel series!
The Platinum Card® from American ExpressAPPLY NOW
The Platinum Card® from American Express
Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum Card®, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.
Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings, which requires a minimum two-night stay, through American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®.
$240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Audible, Disney+, The Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, Peacock, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
$155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax. Plus Ups are excluded.
American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. There are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
$200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one select qualifying airline.
$200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only.
Get up to $300 back per calendar year on the Equinox+ digital fitness app, or eligible Equinox club memberships when you pay with your Platinum Card. Enrollment required. Learn more.
Breeze through security with CLEAR® lanes available at 100+ airports, stadiums, and entertainment venues and get up to $189 back per calendar year on your membership when you use your Card. Learn more.
$695 annual fee.
See Pay Over Time APR
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! :)