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TSA PreCheck or Global Entry? Here’s How to Decide Which Is Right for You

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TSA PreCheck or Global Entry?  Here’s How to Decide Which Is Right for You

Meghan HunterTSA PreCheck or Global Entry?  Here’s How to Decide Which Is Right for YouMillion Mile Secrets Team

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.

INSIDER SECRET: Cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card offer up to a $100 statement credit for the application fee for either TSA PreCheck or Global Entry once every four years.

No one likes waiting in long security and customs lines at the airport, and it’s such a hassle to remove your shoes and take large electronics out of your bags. That’s why travelers appreciate trusted traveler programs like TSA PreCheck and Global Entry.

Both of these programs expedite the screening process and get you to your flight (or home to bed) faster. But choosing the right program is a little more complicated. Many of the benefits overlap.  So here are the advantages of each — and how to the get TSA PreCheck or Global Entry fee reimbursed.

With TSA PreCheck or Global Entry (and the right credit card!), it’s easy to avoid long security lines and delays at customs. (Photo by Meinzahn/iStock)

Here’s what you’ll want to consider.

Picking the Right Trusted Traveler Program

The main factors to consider when deciding between TSA PreCheck and Global Entry are:

  • Cost
  • Eligibility
  • Ease of enrollment

TSA PreCheck costs $85 for a five-year membership, and Global Entry costs $100 for a five-year membership. But cost shouldn’t be a deciding factor, because there are plenty of credit cards that will reimburse you for the cost of the application fee. For example, if you have a card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve® or the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card, you’ll get up to a $100 statement credit for the application fee (for either trusted traveler program) once every four years.

The next thing to consider is the eligibility requirements of each program. You do not need a passport to apply for TSA Precheck, but a passport is required when applying for Global Entry. That makes sense. Global Entry is used at customs when you’re returning to the US and it also includes the benefits of TSA PreCheck. But if you don’t plan on traveling outside the US and are only looking for expedited security during domestic travel, TSA PreCheck will serve you just fine.

It’s also been reported that the requirements for Global Entry are more strict. I’ve heard stories about people innocently forgetting to mention a brush with the law from their younger years on an application and getting rejected from the program. It’s called a “trusted” traveler program for a reason — they want to be able to trust you coming and going without extra screening.

Last, consider the ease of enrolling in each of the programs. The process of getting cleared for Global Entry is far more tedious than what’s required for TSA PreCheck.  

With TSA PreCheck you can pre-enroll online and make an appointment before visiting an enrollment center. Plus, walk-ins are accepted at most TSA Precheck enrollment locations. There are even Staples locations (yes, the office supply store) that offer TSA PreCheck enrollment.

By comparison, you must apply for Global Entry online, wait for a conditional approval, and then schedule an appointment for an in-person interview at a Global Entry enrollment center. This process can take months because many of the enrollment centers have a backlog of available interview times.

For travelers who don’t live near a major international airport (like me), the task of getting that Global Entry interview can be incredibly inconvenient. The closest Global Entry interview location to me is a four-plus-hour drive north to the Canadian border. I have zero reasons to be heading in that direction, so I ended up scheduling my interview in Austin, Texas, during a work trip.

To sum things up, folks who only plan to travel domestically will do fine with TSA PreCheck and can avoid the hoops you have to jump through for Global Entry. But anyone who travels abroad a couple of times a year could end up saving boatloads of time at customs when re-entering the US, so getting Global Entry is likely worth it.

Either way, if you decide to apply for one of these trusted traveler programs, be sure to use a credit card that will reimburse you for the TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fee.

For the latest tips and tricks on traveling big without spending a fortune, please subscribe to the Million Mile Secrets daily email newsletter.

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

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  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
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  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,000+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select
  • Up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®

More Info

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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Nexus or Sentri is only $50/5 years and it includes GE & Pre-Check!

I found the Global Entry enrollment process was painless if you have a nearby enrollment office.

Government shutdown =no global entry interview. My mom and dad couldn’t do their interviews last week Saturday and have to walk in to the office when the shutdown ends.

The entire premise of this article is flawed. If you are approved for Global Entry, you automatically get TSA Pre✔ There’s no “choice” to be made. And if you have history that prevents you from getting Global Entey, the reality is that you probably won’t be approves for Pre✔…they are still running a check on you.

I’ve had both for six years, and it’s worth every penny.

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