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As the holidays approach, so do the year’s busiest travel days. Airports grow ever more crowded, and those dreaded lines for security, immigration, and customs grow, well, ever more dreadful. This year the long lines feel extra worrisome: the “new normal” at airports already skews crowded and chaotic. You’re not alone if you’ve gasped at recent media images or personal sights of endless airport security lines extending deep into check-in areas, crammed with passengers panicked about missing flights.
The good news is that you can avoid becoming one of those flustered, freaked-out travelers. With TSA PreCheck, it’s possible to breeze through U.S. airport security checkpoints—in October 2021, 95 percent of TSA Precheck-enrolled travelers waited less than five minutes to get through security. For an equally seamless journey through immigration and customs, Global Entry speeds up the immigration and customs process after returning to the U.S. from an international destination.
This may sound too good to be true, but it’s not—and it gets even better. How so? First, Global Entry automatically includes TSA PreCheck (but not vice versa), so it’s possible to access all the fast-track lanes with just one application. Second, numerous travel credit cards offer a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit as a benefit to cardholders. They’ll refund your application fee as a statement credit and do so every four years (when your membership is up for renewal).
Here’s how your travel credit card can pick up the tab for Global Entry and/or TSA PreCheck to get you on your way to a less stressful airport experience.
Determine if your credit card covers Global Entry and TSA PreCheck
Travel credit cards feature a variety of benefits to help offset annual fees. One of the most popular is a $100 statement credit every four years for Global Entry or an $85 TSA PreCheck credit every four years. These credits cover program application fees in their entirety. (Terms apply.)
Among the cards with high annual fees offering this benefit are:
- Chase Sapphire Reserve® ($550 annual fee)
- Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card ($550 annual fee, see rates and fees)
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card ($450 annual fee, see rates and fees)
- The Business Platinum Card® from American Express ($695 annual fee, see rates and fees)
- The Platinum Card® from American Express ($695 annual fee, see rates and fees)
- United Club℠ Infinite Card ($525 annual fee)
A number of midrange annual fee cards also provide a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit:
- Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card ($250 annual fee, see rates and fees)
- Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card ($250 annual fee, see rates and fees)
- Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card ($199 annual fee)
- United Quest℠ Card ($250 annual fee)
Even a few cards with low annual fees grant cardholders the perk:
- IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card (Annual Fee: $99)
- United℠ Explorer Card (Annual Fee: $0 intro for the first year, then $95)
Apply online and use your travel credit card
Your applications for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck begin online. (First, understand how these trusted traveler programs differ to decide which is right for you.)
Typically, when applying for Global Entry online, you’ll be prompted to pay a nonrefundable $100 fee during the application process. Use a credit card that offers a Global Entry credit, and a statement credit will appear days to weeks after the fee clears, offsetting the charge.
The charge for TSA PreCheck works a bit differently. You’ll complete your TSA PreCheck application online and then schedule an in-person appointment at an Enrollment Center to finalize the process. During your in-person appointment, you will pay the nonrefundable $85 program fee, which will later be reversed as a statement credit.
Note that you cannot receive separate credits for Global Entry and TSA PreCheck within a four-year period—it’s one or the other. If you apply for TSA PreCheck now and decide to upgrade to Global Entry within four years, you won’t get the second fee reimbursed. However, if you apply for Global Entry, TSA PreCheck is automatically included with it, so no need to do the separate PreCheck application. The $100 fee ends up covering both programs.
Two cards extend statement credits to each additional cardholder
With almost every credit card, the Global Entry/TSA PreCheck statement credit is reserved to one per account, regardless of additional cardholders or authorized users. There are two exceptions, however:
These two cards extend statement credits to every additional cardholder. For example, someone who has an Amex Platinum and three additional users on their account can get a total of four credits (up to $100 each), one per card.
Abate the stress of airport travel by getting Global Entry or TSA PreCheck and breeze through security, immigration, and customs at U.S. airports. Charge your program fee to the right travel credit card, and enjoy the benefits of these programs for free.
While the offers mentioned above are accurate at the time of publication, they are subject to change at any time, and may have changed or may no longer be available.