Why TSA PreCheck is a Game Changer During the Government Shutdown

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TSA PreCheck is looking pretty good right now.

When the US Government shut down on December 22, 2018, most people groaned about the proximity to the holidays, understanding that a minor inconvenience can seem like a bigger deal during that time of the year.  I’m not sure anyone expected the shutdown to extend for over a month (at this point).

The shutdown extends into so many areas that involve travel, and it’s possibly most obvious when you’re standing in the security line at the airport.  Recently, the TSA (a government-funded agency) noticed that large numbers of their agents started to call in sick.  Coincidentally, these calls began right around the time government employees were about to miss their first paycheck.  The “blue flu,” as some started to call it, has been perceived as an indication of TSA employees’ frustration with the shutdown and having to essentially work for free.

TSA security line wait times have skyrocketed.  Some people are showing up to the airport hours in advance to account for the delays.  Which is one reason I am so grateful to have TSA PreCheck with my Chase Sapphire Reserve® credit card.

With Fewer TSA Agents Working at Airports Due to the Government Shutdown, TSA PreCheck Seriously Reduces My Airport Anxiety

Here’s Why TSA PreCheck Is So Important Right Now

The impact of the shutdown extends into so many different areas that we typically don’t even consider.

Over the holidays, my husband and I spent some time in Joshua Tree National Park.  It’s easy to rejoice in the fact that there is no park entrance fee and that there are far fewer people crowding the trails.  But looking around at the trash piling up outside of the bathrooms, and footprints wandering off-trail, you realize how quickly and easily the delicate ecosystem of the desert is destroyed.  There was a real sentiment from the volunteers in the nearby town of Joshua Tree that the latest government shutdown was seriously hurting their most precious resource.  Since then, the park has completely closed to the public.

With the government shutdown, TSA employees are starting to skip work.  Their paychecks are withheld until the government actually “opens” again.

Annoying, right?  I don’t know how long I’d show up for work after finding out my paycheck would be held for the foreseeable future. It probably wouldn’t take long until I called in sick as well.

Airports are now starting to feel the strain.  The Miami airport actually closed one of their terminals due to TSA screener shortages, citing that they couldn’t safely provide security with their current staff levels.  With fewer workers, the security process slows down drastically.  That creates longer wait times.  Which means that if you don’t have TSA PreCheck, you can expect to stand in outrageous lines.  That’s not fun.

If you do have TSA PreCheck, you’ll pass through an expedited security screening. Expedited = faster.  That’s a nice perk on any normal day, but when TSA is super short staffed, it might mean the difference between making your flight or not.

Cards That Offer TSA PreCheck credit

There are several different credit cards that offer this benefit, so you’ll want to see which one works best for you.

That said, if this doesn’t seem like the card for you, there are several other cards that offer this benefit and have a lower annual fee:

  • Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card – How about a welcome bonus of 50,000 miles (worth $500 in travel) after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months and no annual fee the first year?  Sounds like a pretty good situation. With this card, you’ll get a long list of perks, including a $100 credit towards Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.
  • United℠ Explorer Card –  I loved this card (I used to have it), it’s ideal for anyone who lives near a United Airlines hub.  For the money, I think this is one of the best airline cards.  There’s a $95 annual fee for this card, waived the first year. One of the benefits of this card is 2 complimentary, one-time United Airlines lounge passes on your credit card anniversary.  Not to mention the $100 credit towards Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.
  • IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card – It didn’t really occur to me that a hotel rewards card would offer a credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, but the IHG rewards card does!  This card has an $89 annual fee(waived for the first year) and you’ll currently receive 150,000 IHG points after spending $3,000 in purchases in the first three months.  That’s so many points!  If you’ve got any left over, maybe you’ll treat me to a night at one of the Kimpton Hotels? 😉

Have you noticed longer lines at airport security since the government shutdown?  I’ve had a few friends show up early just to wait for an hour longer than they usually would to get through.  Let me know if this situation has had an impact on your decision to sign up for a credit card that offers TSA PreCheck.  I know I’m so glad I’ve got this option!

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Erin Lizzo is a contributor for Million Mile Secrets where she covers points, miles, credit cards, airlines, hotels and general travel. Her work has also appeared in the Matador Network.

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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