5 Low-Fee Credit Cards That Can Get You Free TSA PreCheck and Global Entry
With annual fees below $100, these travel credit cards help you get through domestic security and U.S. immigration faster at no extra cost. Plus, they currently have excellent introductory offers.
AFAR partners with CreditCards.com and may receive a commission from card issuers. This site does not include all financial companies or all available financial offers. Compensation may impact how an offer is presented. Our coverage is independent and objective, and has not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are entirely those of the AFAR editorial team.
All information about the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card has been collected independently by AFAR.
Delays and overcrowding are par for the course these days at airports, so any and all opportunities to alleviate stress—and save time—are most welcome. The easiest way to seek calm within the chaos is by getting TSA PreCheck, which allows travelers to breeze through U.S. airport security checkpoints in designated lanes at over 200 domestic airports, with no need to remove shoes, laptops, 3-1-1 liquids, belts, or light jackets. According to data provided by the Transportation Security Administration in October 2023, 99 percent of TSA PreCheck–enrolled travelers waited less than 10 minutes to get through security. To skip the lines on the way home from an international flight, Global Entry is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) trusted traveler program that allows preapproved travelers to fast-track through immigration and customs upon returning to the USA.
Because TSA PreCheck and Global Entry are such seamless, time-saving programs, it’s natural to assume they come with a hefty price tag. However, they cost just $78 and $100, respectively, and membership is valid for five years. It’s also possible to get a BOGO within these trusted travel programs. How? Global Entry automatically includes TSA PreCheck (but not vice versa), so it’s possible to access all the fast-track lanes with only one application.
Even better, numerous travel credit cards—including some with annual fees under $99—offer a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit as a benefit to cardholders. These cards also carry other travel perks aplenty and come with attractive welcome offers. Here are five low-fee travel credit cards willing to pick up the tab for Global Entry and TSA PreCheck.
Which low-fee travel credit cards cover Global Entry and TSA PreCheck?
It’s a misconception that only high-fee travel credit cards come with generous statement credits to offset travel costs and annual fees. In fact, there are five solid consumer cards with annual fees under $99 that offer statement credits for trusted traveler programs, effectively covering program application fees in their entirety. At press time, these credit cards promise a $100 statement credit every four years for Global Entry or an $85 TSA PreCheck credit every four years. At some point soon, we expect the fine print to reflect last year’s PreCheck price drop to $78 (and $70 for renewals), plus an extension of membership length in both programs from four to five years.
In any case, you simply need to use the card to pay the fee, and then your application fee will be refunded as a statement credit within one to two billing cycles.
The low fee cards offering this perk (ranked) are :
- Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card (annual fee: $95)
- Aeroplan® Credit Card (annual fee: $95)
- United℠ Explorer Card (annual fee: $0 intro for the first year, then $95)
- Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card (annual fee: $95)
- IHG One Rewards Premier Credit Card (annual fee: $99)
Should I apply for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck?
Since Global Entry comes with TSA PreCheck, it seems smartest to apply for Global Entry. However, the application for Global Entry is lengthy and application approval can take up to 11 months (at press time). Meanwhile, a TSA PreCheck application takes 5 minutes online, followed by a painless 10-minute in-person visit at a local enrollment center, where an enrollment provider will take your fingerprints and photo, verify your identity documents, and collect your payment. Depending on how soon you are traveling, you might want to do the TSA PreCheck now and save Global Entry for the future.
More details on these five low-fee travel credit cards
Fortunately, TSA PreCheck and Global Entry statement credits are just the beginning for these travel credit cards.
1. Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Our top pick, Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, has an impressive welcome offer and a strong earnings structure: New cardholders earn 75,000 miles after spending $4,000 within three months from account opening and earn a minimum of two miles per dollar spent. These miles are exceptionally versatile and can be transferred to 15 airline and 3 hotel transfer partners, with a transfer ratio to 1:1 for most partners. What’s more, cardholders receive two complimentary visits per year to Capital One Lounges or Plaza Premium Lounges. It’s a rather remarkable suite of benefits for a general travel card with a $95 annual fee.
2. Aeroplan® Credit Card
Coming in a strong second place, Air Canada’s U.S.-centric credit card, the Aeroplan® Credit Card, is courting Americans with the opportunity to earn up to 100,000 bonus points: 75,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months and another 25,000 points after spending $20,000 on purchases in the first 12 months. Cardholders earn triple points for each dollar spent at grocery stores, on dining at restaurants, and Air Canada directly. Aeroplan points can be redeemed in several ways, including statement credits toward travel—with any travel merchant at a rate of 1.25 cents apiece—through a Pay Yourself Back feature. You can also use them on Air Canada’s frequent flier program, Aeroplan, which has more award partners than any other loyalty program in the world. With such options, that equates to $1,250 in travel credits or enough points to use on a business-class ticket on the 40+ airlines within the Aeroplan network.
3. United℠ Explorer Card
The United℠ Explorer Card slides into third, sweetening the deal in year one by waiving the annual fee. The sign-up bonus isn’t as strong as its peers but it’s still solid: Earn 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months your account is open. The card also gives double points on dining, hotel stays, and United purchases, which is a plus.
4. Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Credit Card
Next, the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card also boasts a great introductory offer of 60,000 online bonus points after spending $4,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening. The card awards 2 points for every $1 spent on travel and dining purchases and 1.5 points for every $1 spent on all other purchases. Overall, this is not as strong as the Capital One Venture Rewards Card but still a solid earnings structure and welcome bonus.
5. IHG One Rewards Premier Credit Card
Finally, the IHG One Rewards Premier Credit Card is rewarding new cardholders with the opportunity to earn 140,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. This card is best for IHG loyalists (or even those who occasionally stay at properties within the IHG portfolio) who can take advantage of the card’s earnings potential: Earn up to 26 points total per $1 spent when you stay at IHG Hotels & Resorts.
While the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is the strongest of the group thanks to its impressive introductory offers, earnings structure, and ease in redeeming miles, any of these cards is a smart choice and a cost-effective way to diminish the stress of airport travel by getting Global Entry or TSA PreCheck 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.