Clever TSA PreCheck Work-Around Plan For Impatient Travelers Now That Global Entry Approval Is Ridiculously Slow

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INSIDER SECRET: If you have extra TSA PreCheck/Global Entry credits from the top credit cards for Global Entry and TSA PreCheck, you can use them to give your friends and family free membership!

6.5 million US travelers have Global Entry. That’s less than 2% of the country.

If you’re not one of them, you’re wasting time at the airport. Global Entry gives you expedited entry back into the US after an international trip. You can skip the outrageous immigration lines and cavort directly to a special kiosk where you scan your passport and fingerprints. It’s really one of the biggest steps you can take towards becoming a secret agent.

But according to the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP):

The extended partial government shutdown and the ongoing humanitarian and security crisis on our southern border has resulted in a substantial backlog of CBP’s Trusted Traveler Programs applications and renewals.

In fact, some Global Entry enrollment centers have even shut their doors indefinitely. So what should you do if you want the benefits of Global Entry but don’t want to wait? I’ll show you an easy workaround!

Global Entry makes both domestic and international travel easier. (Photo by Arne Beruldsen/Shutterstock)

In the Back of the Global Entry Queue? TSA PreCheck and Mobile Passport Make a Good Stopgap

The Global Entry site states that you may be waiting up to 100 days for your Global Entry application to be processed.

CBP says that they’re able to process nearly 70% of applications within 15 days, while about 25% of applications take 90+ days to process. They say that if you need to reschedule your appointment, availability will be limited through September 30, 2019.

Here are two steps to concocting a faux Global Entry membership without having to wait.

Step 1. Download the Mobile Passport App

Link: Mobile Passport App

Mobile Passport is a free service you can use when returning to the US. Just open the app, enter your passport info, answer some immigration questions, and snap a picture of your face. You can then walk to a Mobile Passport kiosk (extremely similar to Global Entry), and you’ll be out of there in no time!

Before getting Global Entry, our Managing Editor, Scott Lieberman, used Mobile Passport at Fort Lauderdale airport and got through immigration very quickly.

A downside is that Mobile Passport isn’t as widely accepted as Global Entry. You can use Mobile Passport at the following 26 US international airports and three sea ports of entry:

  •     Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)
  •     Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI)
  •     Boston Logan International Airport (BOS)
  •     Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD)
  •     Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)
  •     Denver International Airport (DEN)
  •     Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL)
  •     Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH)
  •     William P. Hobby Houston International Airport (HOU)
  •     Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
  •     Miami International Airport (MIA)
  •     Miami Seaport
  •     Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport (MSP)
  •     John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)
  •     Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)
  •     Orlando International Airport (MCO)
  •     Palm Beach Seaport (PBI)
  •     Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX)
  •     Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT)
  •     Port Everglades (PEV)
  •     Portland International Airport (PDX)
  •     Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU)
  •     Sacramento International Airport (SMF)
  •     San Diego International Airport (SAN)
  •     San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
  •     San Jose International Airport (SJC)
  •     Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA)
  •     Tampa International Airport (TPA)

Note that Chicago Midway isn’t on this list, which is a major hub for Southwest. If you fly Southwest to international destinations (like Cancun), you won’t be able to use it when traveling through Chicago.

Step 2. Get TSA PreCheck for Free

One of the biggest benefits of Global Entry is that it comes with TSA PreCheck.

TSA PreCheck comes with a dedicated (and usually shorter) security lane. You can even keep your toiletries and laptop in your bag — and you won’t have to remove your shoes, jacket, or belt when you walk through that grey door frame.

TSA PreCheck costs $85 every five years. But you can get get it for ZERO dollars by paying with one of the top cards for TSA PreCheck. I recommend the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card, which offers an up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.

I’ve got three cards that come with a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credit. Many of the best credit cards for travel come with this credit, and I’ve been able to gift my extra credits to family members. You can use them for whoever you like!

Global Entry is definitely the better deal than TSA PreCheck, but if you’re sick of waiting on your Global Entry appointment, TSA PreCheck and Mobile Passport can work well.

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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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All-Purpose Guru
1 year ago

One note is that you do NOT need to do the GE appointment at your local airport. When we got Global Entry, SFO (my home airport) had 24 hour Global Entry appointments, dozen s of new, temporary staff, and STILL was completely swamped by the demand. (you couldn’t even book an appointment without running a script to try for cancelled bookings.

So, I discovered that IAH (Houston International) had appointments available on a day I was traveling there, so I booked an appointment THERE and got in and out in about 30 minutes.

1 year ago

Dallas Love is not an international airport.

Mobile Passport remains free but passport info cannot be saved. It must be entered on each arrival into the U.S. Info may be save if you buy the app.

1 year ago

Sooo, this article is basically an ad for a credit card.

All-Purpose Guru
Reply to  Fsurfer
1 year ago

Do you READ this blog? The ENTIRE blog is an advertisement for credit cards.

Reply to  All-Purpose Guru
1 year ago

Only noticed afterwards. Do YOU read this blog? Calling this site a blog is painfully disignenious.

All-Purpose Guru
Reply to  Fsurfer
1 year ago

Now now, you don’t like the place, you can leave.

There’s an occasional nugget of useful information here, but it’s getting harder and harder to find it.

At some point I suppose I’ll bow out, I only drop in occasionally to offer a helpful comment, like doing GE interviews in a different city.

Neal F
1 year ago

Just for your info, Mobile Passport is not free service anymore, they used to be, but now charge!

1 year ago


1 year ago

I have had TSA Pre-Check since 2016, and used Mobile Passport in February 2018 for the first time. It worked flawlessly. However, I used it it in May of this year in ATL and it didn’t save any time because ATL was doing reconstruction and they really had no dedicated lines for mobile passport. Even though global entry is free with my credit card, I have no plans on applying as I’m never in that much of a hurry to get back to the usa. When I’m leaving is when I want the ease of getting through security. I’ve used CLEAR for getting through security. And I don’t usually have checked baggage, so no further waiting anyway. I’ll just use mobile passport where available and if not just stand in line. Not in any hurry 🙂

Reply to  Skooby
1 year ago

During my lazy trip to ATL in July, the Pre-TSa lines were open again as normal