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The holiday season is filled with family, friends, egg nog, and extremely long lines at airport security. While there isn’t much any of us can do with the crowds, there is a great way to save yourself from painfully long TSA lines. It’s called Global Entry (and it comes with TSA PreCheck)!
And if you’re looking to get Global Entry or TSA PreCheck for free, check out these cards that will reimburse your application fee.
What Are TSA PreCheck & Global Entry?
Global Entry is a trusted traveler program that allows expedited clearance through US customs for pre-approved, low-risk travelers when arriving in the United States. Global Entry is also great because it includes TSA PreCheck, which gets you an expedited security check at many US airports.
When you arrive into the United States from a foreign country, your customs line will look like this with Global Entry.
During a busy holiday season, the normal Customs line can potentially take hours! In my experience, I have been able to get in and out in under 10 minutes each time with Global Entry. It is a real time and stress saver.
So How Do I Get Global Entry?
Global Entry is a 5 year membership and costs $100, and includes TSA PreCheck benefits. So it boils down to being a ~$1.67 per month membership. And the best part is that a number of travel rewards credit cards, including The Platinum Card® from American Express, will reimburse your application fee as a free perk to their cardholders! Recently, I used my American Express Platinum card to pay for the $100 application charge, and I was on my way to getting Global Entry.
So How Does It Work Once You Apply?
As part of the Global Entry application, you’ll to choose a date and time for an in person interview. However, the wait for an interview can be months! At my home airport of Salt Lake City, the closest date I can get is at the end of April 2019!
This can create a real problem for travelers.
Here’s My Global Entry Trick and How I Found It!
My wife and I both got the American Express Platinum card and scheduled our appointments for our Global Entry interview. I scheduled hers in Los Angeles (LAX) on the day we arrived home from our honeymoon in the Cook Islands. Of course, I goofed on the date and scheduled it a day before our arrival (yes, she was annoyed with me). For myself, I scheduled my appointment at San Francisco (SFO) in September 2018 as I was flying in for a work conference.
We asked if we could get her interview done even though she was technically a day late. The agent said “not a problem,” and 15 minutes later she was approved. As he was processing her paperwork, I mentioned I had my interview in September in San Francisco and he said “Do you want to just do it now?”
I obviously said “sure!”
I was done with the interview in 10 minutes.
So the trick here is you don’t have to be at your scheduled airport and time to complete your interview! There are many airports that accept walk-in Global Entry interviews.
The TSA agent at LAX also mentioned that there is an effort among Customs officers to be more understanding and accommodating as there aren’t enough resources to complete Global Entry interviews across the country. Just as an example, Salt Lake City only offers interviews from 3:30 to 5 pm Monday thru Friday…yes, it is ridiculous.
Customs agents want to process more people for Global Entry to make airport security a smoother process. It is a win-win for everyone.
Global Entry is absolutely worth it, especially when it is free with certain travel rewards credit cards. Even if you are only traveling 2 or 3 times a year, that could potentially save you hours if you get stuck in a horrendous TSA line with people heading home for the holidays.
Get your appointment scheduled where it fits in with your travels, but don’t be afraid to see if you can get a walk-in interview. The worst they can say is no.
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