Top Credit Cards with TSA Precheck or Global Entry Travel Credits
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Even for the most seasoned travelers, airports can be filled with stress. Oftentimes, this starts not long after entering the terminal as long lines may greet them at security. On the bright side, programs such as TSA Precheck can help flyers reduce the time they spend in line. What’s more, with the right credit card, travelers may be able to see their application fee for TSA Precheck or Global Entry covered by a statement credit.
If you’ve dreamed of having TSA Precheck but don’t want to pay for it out of pocket, let’s take a look at a few credit card options that can help you out.
TSA Precheck vs. Global Entry vs. Clear — What Are They?
Before we get to the credit cards, let’s first review what these different known traveler programs are, how they work, and how much they cost.
What is TSA Precheck?
If you’ve been through a domestic airport any time in the past few years, you’ve likely at least heard of TSA Precheck. The headline of this program is that approved travelers can not only save time in security lines but also enjoy a more convenient screening process. In a perfect scenario, those with Precheck will be able to keep their shoes and a light jacket on, not have to remove laptops or 3-1-1 liquids from their bags, and will pass through a metal detector instead of a full body scanner.
However, as I’ve experienced from visiting a variety of airports, Precheck procedures can vary between airports, different checkpoints at the same airport, and even different times of day at the same checkpoints at the same checkpoint. That said, at the very least, I’ve at least been able to keep my shoes on even if I’m begrudgingly forced to pull my laptop out for one reason or another.
Currently, TSA Precheck has an $85 application fee and the membership last for five years.
What is Global Entry?
Personally, I’ve always thought that the name “Global Entry” was a bit misleading. Rather than this program helping you get into other countries, it instead expedites your arrival back into the United States. Approved Global Entry travelers can avoid the regular immigration and customs line at many U.S. airports by heading to a Global Entry kiosk and exiting through a designated lane. Plus, there may also be benefits when returning to the U.S. by land. For example, we were able to take the NEXUS lane when returning from Canada — saving us an hour in line!
Global Entry also lasts for five years but costs $100. If you’re someone who doesn’t travel abroad much, you might be assuming that this isn’t really worth it for you. However, this is when I should inform you that Global Entry includes TSA Precheck benefits. In other words, you’re really paying $15 for the Global Entry component itself (and most credit cards that credit these programs go up to $100). That said, Global Entry has experienced a heavy influx of applications that apparently might lead to delays. But, assuming you can get processed in a timely enough fashion, this would be my personal recommendation.
What is Clear?
Lastly, while it’s not as widely known to travelers or as common a perk on credit cards, I did want to mention Clear. Although many assume this is a competitor to TSA Precheck, that’s actually not the case at all. I’d explain it this way: you know how you need to wait in line to have your boarding pass checked before you enter the line for the security screening? Clear impacts that boarding pass check part of the process while TSA Precheck adjusts the screening. Thus, when used in tandem, you can sail through security ASAP.
As cool as Clear may be, it’s also a lot pricier than the other options. At this time, a single membership is $189 — and that’s only for a year, not five like TSA Precheck. Luckily, as we’ll discuss, you may be able to get a discount or free membership with certain cards. By the way, for more on Clear, you can check out my review of the service.
Travel Card Options with TSA Precheck/Global Entry Credits
Capital One Venture/Venture X
- Annual fee: $95/$395
One of the lower-annual-fee options on this list is the Capital One Venture card. With this card, customers can earn 2 miles per dollar spent on any purchase. These miles can then be redeemed for any travel purchase. As for the Global Entry/TSA Precheck credit, cardholders can take advantage of it every four years.
For those who don’t mind spending more to get more, the newer Capital One Venture X may also be a good option. That card does have a $395 annual fee but offers a $300 credit on eligible Capital One Travel purchases. Either way, both of these cards are well-regarded and could be your ticket to Global Entry or TSA Precheck status.
U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve
- Annual fee: $400
I’ve mentioned before that this is a card I’ve had my eye on for a while — and happens to be another to offer a Global Entry/TSA Precheck credit (available once every four years). What makes this card interesting is that it earns 3x points on eligible travel purchases as well as on purchases made via mobile wallets, such as Apple Pay. And, while it has a $400 annual fee, there’s a $325 annual credit that can be used for travel or dining. Also, when redeeming points for eligible travel purchases, they’ll be worth 50% more.
Previously, the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve card was exclusive to existing U.S. Bank customers. However, it seems that the requirement has since been dropped. So, if it’s Global Entry or TSA Precheck you’re after, this might be an interesting option.
American Express Platinum Card
- Annual fee: $695
I’d be remiss if I didn’t include this one on my list. And while that $695 can certainly be intimidating, the Platinum card has plenty of perks and credits that may make it worth it (and do, in my opinion). Among those credits is up to $189 in statement credits for Clear — in addition to the Global Entry/TSA Precheck credit. Thanks to this benefit, I’ve been able to revolutionize my airport security experience. Then, once through security, the Platinum card has allowed me to enjoy airport lounge access from Amex’s own Centurion Lounge to Delta SkyClubs (when flying Delta), as well as Priority Pass lounge network locations.
There’s obviously plenty more to the Platinum card than what I can fit here. Therefore, I’ll shamelessly recommend you read my full review. But the bottom line is, if you want to have the best airport experience possible, this card can help make that a reality.
Chase Sapphire Reserve
- Annual fee: $550
Rounding out this list is another classic: the Chase Sapphire Reserve. One interesting note as it pertains to the known traveler programs at hand, this card not only includes TSA Precheck or Global Entry in its once-per-four-year credit but also offers NEXUS as an option. That program might be useful for those who regularly visit Canada as they’ll enjoy expedited entry into that country as well as back into the United States.
As for the Sapphire Reserve itself, the $550 annual fee is partially offset by a $300 annual travel credit among other benefits. Also, similar to the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve, cardholders can redeem their points for 50% more when booking travel — although, in this case, you’ll need to book using Chase’s Ultimate Rewards portal. Overall, the Sapphire Reserve is a beloved card for a number of reasons, with the TSA Precheck/Global Entry/NEXUS benefit being just one of them.
Airline Co-Branded Card Options with TSA Precheck/Global Entry Credits
Seeing as these known traveler programs are most useful to frequent flyers, it only makes sense that a number of airline co-branded credit cards also offer credits for these programs. So, let’s quickly review a few of them.
Delta SkyMiles cards
Two of Delta’s co-branded cards from American Express include TSA Precheck/Global Entry credits. First, there’s the $250 annual fee Delta Skymiles Platinum card. Or, if you want to get fancy, the $550 annual fee Delta Skymiles Reserve will get you the same credit but also entitle you to complimentary SkyClub access when you fly Delta. Of course, both also include other perks for Delta flyers, so be sure to check out the benefits of both before making your decision.
American Airlines AAdvantage Executive card
If American Airlines is your carrier of choice, then the Citi/AAdvantage Executive card has a lot to offer. Most notably, the card features an Admirals Club membership. That alone would normally cost you $650 but is included in this card’s $450 annual fee. There are other perks as well — but, between lounge access and the TSA Precheck/Global Entry credit, what more do you need?
United credit cards
Finally, not one, not two, but three United co-branded cards offer TSA Precheck/Global Entry credits. What’s more, one of them is a $95 annual fee card that waives that fee for the first year. That particular option is the United Explorer card. Meanwhile, the $250 annual fee United Quest card and $525 annual fee United Club Infinite card (which also includes United Club membership) feature the credit. Also, with these cards being issued by Chase, all three cards also make NEXUS an option for your credit if you prefer.
As I can tell you from personal experience, having Global Entry, TSA Precheck, and even Clear is game changing for the travel experience. That’s why a number of credit cards now make it easier for their customers to join the ranks of known travelers and save time at the airport. Ultimately, with so many different options including this credit, it’ll be up to you to find the card that has the other perks you want at an annual fee that makes sense for you. Happy travels!
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