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INSIDER SECRET: You can get an $85 TSA PreCheck membership for free if you pay with the right credit card (I’ll show you how).
In just a couple months, the TSA will roll out a contraption that’ll make millions of lives much easier: New CT scanners that will render a 3D image of the items in your bag.
That’s one small step for terrorism avoidance (the TSA doesn’t prevent anything), one giant leap for traveler convenience. With these new scanners, you won’t have remove your laptop and toiletries from your carry-on bag at the airport security checkpoint!
TSA PreCheck members have enjoyed this benefit for years. It’s one of the main perks of the membership. So now that this new technology is coming to the TSA, is it still worth enrolling in TSA PreCheck?
Is TSA PreCheck Still a Necessity?
The TSA’s current scanners only render 2-dimensional images for examination by security officers. For this reason, they require you to remove certain items from your bag to help them better interpret the items you’re bringing aboard the plane.
But with 3-dimensional images, this will no longer be necessary. Airports like New York (JFK) and Los Angeles have been testing these new scanners for a while, but more airports will receive them this summer. We don’t know which airports will be first to receive the new tech — but we know 300 more scanners will be installed in the US. The rest of the country will receive them incrementally in the coming years.
Even if your home airport is one of the first to receive these scanners, TSA PreCheck is still a worthwhile investment. Here are a few reasons why:
1. You Don’t Need to Remove Your Shoes, Belt, or Jacket With TSA PreCheck
I can’t imagine these new scanners will have any bearing on the crap the TSA wants to scan outside your bag.
Without TSA PreCheck, you’ll still need to remove your shoes, belt, and light jacket, and feed them through the scanner. The fact that I don’t have to take off my shoes is probably my favorite part of TSA PreCheck. It feels demeaning.
2. The TSA PreCheck Security Lane Will Be Shorter
TSA PreCheck members have a dedicated security lane located beside the regular lane. Frequently (but not always) this line is MUCH shorter. So even with the new technology coming to the regular TSA lanes, you should still reach the other side of security way faster than everyone else.
3. Nearly Every US Airport Participates in TSA PreCheck
Even if your home airport is the first to get the new CT scanners, it could be years before they’re installed at the airports to which you travel. TSA PreCheck is common practice in nearly every commercial airport in the US.
4. You Can Earn Global Entry and TSA PreCheck at the Same Time
There are plenty of credit cards that reimburse you for the $85 fee for enrolling in TSA PreCheck. A few of the most popular are:
- Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
- United℠ Explorer Card
- The Platinum Card® from American Express
- Chase Sapphire Reserve®
But here’s the thing: These cards each come with a credit that reimburses you for either TSA PreCheck OR Global Entry.
Global Entry gives you expedited clearance through US customs. It’s great for overseas flyers because it’s designed to get you through customs more quickly when you return to the US (it’s saved me hours and hours). And the best part is that a Global Entry membership automatically gives you a TSA PreCheck membership.
Check out Meghan’s post on TSA PreCheck vs Global Entry to figure out if Global Entry is a worthwhile pursuit for you.
Considering the 4 reasons above, making the effort to acquire a TSA PreCheck membership is still very worthwhile. And it’ll remain that way until either the regular TSA lanes eliminate some of their security requirements or America realizes that the TSA is largely pointless.
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