7 Reasons you need Global Entry (And how to get your application fee covered)

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Global Entry is the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) system that allows pre-approved, low-risk travelers to have expedited entry back into the United States after an international trip. After filling out an application, paying a fee, completing an interview and getting approval, you’ll receive your Global Entry card.

Upon your return to the U.S. after an international trip, you’ll go straight to the kiosks marked Global Entry, where you’ll scan your passport and fingerprints, answer a few questions on the screen and get a printed receipt. You’ll take this receipt to an agent (usually without having to wait in line) and be on your way.

Still, many travelers aren’t sure if the application process and interview is worth the hassle, especially if they don’t travel internationally often. But it definitely is, and here are all the reasons why:

Global Entry is one of the best ways to save time at the airport. (Photo by @artkitect/Twenty20)

1. It makes international arrivals a breeze

Having Global Entry allows you to get through customs quickly by skipping the main lines.

Although you may hear an occasional story of how the mobile passport line was shorter than the Global Entry line, generally speaking, you’ll rarely have to wait when entering the country using Global Entry. I’ve used the service for almost five years now, entering the US 10-15 times per year, usually through airports such as New York (JFK), Chicago (ORD), Miami (MIA) and Dallas (DFW). I can’t recall a single time when I waited more than a minute or two, if that.

Using the kiosk is easy. The biggest issue you could encounter is that it won’t recognize your fingerprints. If this happens, try again, or move to another kiosk, which typically solves the problem.

2. You also get TSA PreCheck

TSA PreCheck allows low-risk travelers expedited security screening at airports. PreCheck customers go to a different (and usually much shorter) line than the regular security queue and don’t have to take off their shoes or take out their laptops/toiletries. The service is offered in more than 200 airports.

Normally, to get this service, you would have to pay $85, submit an application and have an interview with a background check and fingerprinting, but PreCheck is included with Global Entry.

Once you’re approved for Global Entry, you’ll receive your Known Traveler Number. Enter this number into your frequent flyer accounts, and after checking in for your flight, you should automatically see TSA PreCheck on your boarding pass.

3. You can get the Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee covered with certain credit cards

Many credit cards offer a statement credit for Global Entry (up to $100). This means when you charge the $100 fee to your credit card, you’ll soon see a statement credit for the $100. This benefit is usually available on your card once every four to five years, depending on the card. Here are some of the cards that reimburse the up to $100 charge:

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve®
  • IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card
  • The Platinum Card® from American Express
  • The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
  • Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®
  • Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
  • and more

For more cards that offer this reimbursement benefit, click here.


4. It’s valid for five years

Once you are approved for Global Entry, it’s valid for five years. A year before it expires, you can begin the renewal process to ensure there’s no interruption to your benefits.

5. You don’t need to carry the card around with you

Although you’ll receive a Global Entry card upon approval, you won’t need to show this when arriving at the airport. You’ll already be in the system, and your information will pop up on the Global Entry kiosk screen. You won’t be asked at any point to show your card.

You won’t need to carry your Global Entry card with you but it does serve as a federal ID. (Photo by Arne Beruldsen/ Shutterstock)

6. But the card does serve as a form of federal ID

It’s always useful to have a second form of valid ID in addition to your driver’s license or state ID, and this card serves as one. Although you don’t need to take it with you on your international trips, you may end up carrying it around, especially if you lose or misplace your main form of ID.

7. You can do your interview upon arrival

The main inconvenience when applying for Global Entry is the interview, especially if you don’t live near an airport or close to an interview center. Sometimes interviews aren’t available for a few months when the system gets backed up. But you don’t actually have to schedule one. More than 49 airports allow you to do your interview upon arrival, which is an easy alternative to scheduling one. The next time you go through customs after an international trip, look for signs that say ‘Enrollment Upon Arrival,’ or ask a customs agent where to go.

The interviews (both scheduled and upon arrival) are typically only a few minutes long, and agents may ask you about your travels, stamps in your passport or other information. Then, you’ll get fingerprinted, have your photo taken and be on your way.

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Meghan Hunter is an editor for Million Mile Secrets. She covers points, miles, credit cards, airlines, hotels and general travel. Her work has also appeared in The Points Guy.

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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