I Paid for TSA PreCheck – But I Watched as Hundreds (Thousands?) of Travelers Received It for Free Last Week
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.
A membership to TSA PreCheck means you won’t have to remove your toiletries or computer from your bag, or even take off your jacket at security checkpoints! You even get your very own dedicated TSA lane.
Membership to TSA PreCheck costs $85. Though there are 2 ways to get TSA PreCheck for free.
First, you can pay for it with a card that reimburses you the application fee, such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve or the United℠ Explorer Card. Second, the TSA can randomly select you for the privilege the day of your flight.
I’ve said before, I don’t much like the latter. It cheapens the TSA PreCheck membership that many of us made an effort to acquire. And on my way home from this past Thanksgiving, I witnessed hundreds of travelers pre-selected for TSA PreCheck!
Heading into the security checkpoint at the Dallas airport, TSA officers were busily announcing that “everybody has TSA PreCheck today.” They had to continue screaming for everyone to keep their jackets, belts, and shoes on, and to stop removing laptops from bags. Huge swathes of travelers were being waved through the metal detectors like a big unscreened conga line.
This display didn’t help the TSA’s argument that they are any more than just “security theater,” an agency that exists just to make everyone feel safer. If I were of the opinion that the TSA is an effective line of defense against terrorism, I would have felt a little unsafe with the laxity I experienced over Thanksgiving weekend.
But I have to say, I can’t remember a faster and more enjoyable TSA experience! I used to worry that if too many travelers enrolled in TSA PreCheck, the dedicated lane would be just as long and arduous as the regular TSA lanes. But a world where everyone has TSA PreCheck is actually the ideal situation!
Check out our full guide to TSA PreCheck here to see how much time and effort you can save at the security checkpoint during your travels.
And if you’re ready to learn the secrets of traveling for much less by using miles & points, then subscribe to our newsletter.
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! :)