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For any frequent flyer, waiting in long security processing lines can start to get old. Anything that can expedite the security process is a godsend for the frequent flyer.

That’s where TSA PreCheck®, Nexus, CLEAR® Plus and Global Entry membership can all help. 

In this article, we’ll break down the differences between each membership, where you can use it, how to enroll, as well as which travel rewards credit cards can get you discounted membership.

What is TSA PreCheck?

TSA PreCheck is a trusted traveler program offered by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which expedites the security screening process for air, sea and land travelers considered low-risk.

Where available, TSA PreCheck members have access to a separate TSA PreCheck security line. Members don’t have to remove belts, shoes, light jackets, liquids or laptops during the security check. The entire security process is less intrusive and thus quicker.

Children under 12 years old can accompany a parent or guardian enrolled in TSA PreCheck through the expedited security process without restrictions. Children aged 13 to 17 can accompany enrolled adults as long as they’re traveling on the same reservation and have the TSA PreCheck indicator on their boarding pass.

According to TSA, 88% of TSA PreCheck members waited five minutes or less at security when traveling nationwide in June 2023.

You should keep in mind that although you may be a TSA PreCheck member, TSA still has the right to put you through non-TSA PreCheck security lines and subject you to normal screening procedures.

Airport Security PreCheck

How to Enroll in TSA PreCheck

To enroll in TSA PreCheck, you need to be a United States citizen, national or lawful permanent resident. U.S. citizens, nationals and lawful permanent residents already enrolled in Global Entry, Nexus or Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection (SENTRI), and Canadian citizens enrolled in Nexus, are also able to use TSA PreCheck.

You can start by going directly to the TSA PreCheck website. From here, you can choose to enroll either through Idemia or Telos, two third-party vendors that process applications.

Idemia has 600+ enrollment centers across the U.S. and charges $78 for first-time enrollment. Subsequent in-person renewals cost $78, while online renewals cost $70.

In contrast, Telos has 26 centers only across the U.S. It charges a first-time enrollment fee of $85, with subsequent online and in-person renewals costing $70.

Given this, it’s important to consider which provider offers enrollment centers close to you. 

You can fill out and submit an enrollment form online via either one of these providers. Once this is done, you can select an enrollment center near you and schedule an interview. The interview will include a background check and fingerprinting, normally lasting around 10 minutes.

Once approved, you’ll receive your Known Traveler Number (KTN) which you can include on reservations to expedite the security process. It typically takes two to five days to receive your KTN, although in extreme cases it can take up to 60 days.

TSA PreCheck membership lasts for five years at a time.

Where Is TSA PreCheck Available?

TSA PreCheck is available at more than 200+ U.S. airports as well as with 90+ airlines.

Remember that the airline you’re flying with must participate in TSA PreCheck if 

you want to benefit from expedited security.

What is Global Entry?

Global Entry offers pre-approved low-risk travelers expedited entry into the U.S. It’s a trusted traveler program run by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency, and is perfect for making international travel a breeze.

With Global Entry, you won’t need to fill out any paperwork or wait in time-consuming processing lines.

Instead, you’ll be able to use a Global Entry kiosk, which will verify your identity via facial recognition technology. You’ll also have the ability to complete a customs declaration if necessary. At some airports, the kiosk will issue you a receipt which you can then present to a CBP officer. However, many airports have now simplified the process, removing receipt printing.

In the event that kiosks are unavailable, you’ll enjoy front-of-the-line privileges in the nearest passport control queue.

On top of this, Global Entry includes TSA PreCheck membership, making your airport experience even easier and justifying the higher membership price of $100.

Keep in mind that every traveler needs to have a Global Entry membership to benefit from expedited security processing. Unlike with TSA PreCheck, infants and children under the age of 18 are required to have Global Entry membership (with parental permission).

How to Enroll in Global Entry

To enroll in Global Entry, you’ll need to create a trusted traveler account via the U.S. CBP online portal.

After providing relevant information and paying a non-refundable application fee of $100, a background check will be run. Once your application is approved conditionally, you’ll need to schedule an interview at your nearest Global Entry enrollment center.

You also have the option to complete your enrollment interview upon arrival at 60+ participating U.S. and international airports. You’ll need to bring supporting documents, such as your passport, permanent resident card and proof of residency (when applicable).

Once you’re approved, you can expect to receive your Global Entry card in the mail after two to four weeks. Membership is valid for up to five years.

Global Entry

Where is Global Entry Available?

Global Entry is available in the U.S. and abroad at 70+ participating airports.

Select international airports have U.S. preclearance, which allows travelers to clear customs and immigration with internationally posted CBP officers before entering the U.S. The following airports are U.S. preclearance locations:

  • Abu Dhabi (AUH)
  • Aruba (AUA)
  • Bermuda (BDA)
  • Calgary (YYC)
  • Dublin (DUB)
  • Edmonton (YEG)
  • Freeport (FPO)
  • Guam (GUM)
  • Halifax (YHZ)
  • Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau (YUL)
  • Nassau (NAS)
  • Ontario (ONT)
  • Ottawa-Macdonald-Cartier (YOW)
  • Saipan (SPN)
  • Shannon (SNN)
  • Toronto-Pearson (YYZ)
  • Vancouver (YVR)
  • Winnipeg (YWG)

You can also use your Global Entry card when entering sea and land ports in the U.S. Global Entry cards use radio frequency identification (RFID) chips, meaning you can use them at SENTRI and Nexus travel lanes when entering the U.S. However, when entering Canada, you won’t be able to use your Global Entry card to access a Nexus lane.

What is Nexus?

Nexus is another trusted traveler program run by both the U.S. CBP as well as the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) that expedites security processing for entry into the U.S. and Canada.

Nexus membership includes the benefits of TSA PreCheck as well as Global Entry, with the addition of access to Nexus kiosks when entering Canada.

When entering Canada, you’ll have access to facial-recognition Nexus kiosks, which issue you a receipt that enables you to go directly to baggage claim (assuming you have nothing to declare).

And when entering the U.S. you’ll be able to whisk through security processing via Global Entry kiosks.

Keep in mind that your Nexus card won’t gain you access to Global Entry kiosks in preclearance locations outside of Canada.

Just as with Global Entry membership, Nexus requires every traveler, including children and infants, to be enrolled—not just adults.

How to Enroll in Nexus

To enroll in Nexus, you need to create a trusted traveler account and submit an online application. A non-refundable application processing fee of $50 applies per adult applicant, with children under the age of 18 being able to apply for free.

Both the U.S. CBP as well as the CBSA will perform a background check on you.

Once your application receives conditional approval, you can schedule an in-person interview at your nearest Nexus enrollment center.

Officers from both the U.S. CBP as well as the CBSA are required to interview you, making this process somewhat more involved than that for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.

The easiest way to go about doing this is to complete a two-step interview whilst traveling from Canada to the U.S. through Enrollment on Arrival (EoA).

When flying from one of the eight preclearance Canadian airports, you can interview with CBSA officers first. You can then proceed to an interview with U.S. CBP officers, as long as the Canadian airport is one of the following preclearance locations:

  • Calgary (YYC)
  • Edmonton (YEG)
  • Halifax (YHZ)
  • Montréal-Pierre Elliot Trudeau (YUL)
  • Ottawa-Macdonald-Cartier (YOW)
  • Toronto-Pearson (YYZ)
  • Vancouver (YVR)
  • Winnipeg (YWG)

You’ll need to bring your passport, proof of residency and permanent resident card (when applicable) to these interviews.

Upon successful completion, you’ll be issued your Nexus card within four to six weeks of approval. Keep in mind that you’ll need to activate your card via your trusted traveler account to be able to use it.

Where Is Nexus Available?

Nexus kiosks are available at the eight Canadian airports listed above. Nexus includes Global Entry in its membership, which means Nexus grants you access to all Global Entry locations in the U.S.

What is CLEAR Plus?

CLEAR Plus is a paid membership program that speeds up the identity verification process in airports, getting you to the physical screening part faster.

However, you’ll still need to go through the standard rigmarole of taking your shoes, belt and jacket off, as well as unpacking laptops and liquids. That’s why having both CLEAR Plus and TSA PreCheck membership can prove beneficial.

CLEAR Plus uses biometrics, such as fingerprinting and iris scanning, to verify your identity at dedicated CLEAR kiosks, avoiding the need for a TSA agent to verify your identity. That being said, TSA is now performing random identity checks, meaning there’s a risk that you may still have to join the standard queue.

How to Enroll in CLEAR Plus

Compared to the other three expedited security programs, CLEAR Plus is easy when it comes to enrollment. However, it’s also the most expensive of all four programs. 

You can either begin your enrollment online and finish it at a CLEAR kiosk at an airport, so that your biometric data can be collected. Or you can complete the entire enrollment at a CLEAR kiosk.

To enroll in CLEAR, you need to be a minimum of 18 years old, a U.S. citizen or a legal permanent resident. You’ll need to present a valid ID, answer several identity verification questions, and have your iris and fingerprints scanned. Unlike with the other three programs, you won’t need to attend an interview—in fact, the whole enrollment process takes about five minutes.

CLEAR Plus membership costs $189 per year and is valid for one calendar year.

CLEAR Plus is free for children under the age of 18 accompanying an adult, as they aren’t required to enroll. Likewise, as a CLEAR Plus member, you can add up to three friends or family members for a fee of $60.

Where Is CLEAR Plus Available?

CLEAR kiosks are available at 50+ airports nationwide.

Best Credit Cards for Discounted CLEAR Plus, Global Entry, TSA PreCheck and Nexus Membership

As if expedited security wasn’t already good enough, there are also a range of travel rewards credit cards that reimburse fees for CLEAR Plus, Global Entry, TSA PreCheck and Nexus Membership. These reimbursements are issued in the form of statement credits.

Without further ado, here are all the credit cards that reimburse membership and application fees for CLEAR Plus, Global Entry, TSA PreCheck and Nexus:

Aeroplan® Credit Card

Annual fee: $95

The co-branded Aeroplan® Credit Card from Air Canada’s loyalty program, issued by Chase, offers a statement credit of up to $100 every four years as a reimbursement for a Nexus, Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee when you pay using your card.

American Express Green Card

Annual fee: $150 (see rates and fees)

The American Express Green Card offers a statement credit of up to $189 per year as reimbursement for CLEAR Plus membership, when paid for using your card.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Annual fee: $695 (see rates and fees

The Platinum Card® from American Express stands out as it offers statement credit fee reimbursements for Global Entry, TSA PreCheck and CLEAR Plus.

The card offers either a $100 statement credit every four years for a Global Entry application fee or a statement credit up to $85 every four and a half years for a TSA PreCheck (through a TSA official enrollment provider) application fee, when charged to your American Express Card. Card Members approved for Global Entry will also receive access to TSA PreCheck at no additional cost.

On top of this, your $189 CLEAR Plus membership will be reimbursed every year you pay with your card.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $8,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum Card®, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.

LEARN MORE

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express

Annual fee: $695 (see rates and fees)

Just like its consumer card version, The Business Platinum Card® from American Express offers statement credit fee reimbursements for Global Entry, TSA PreCheck and CLEAR Plus.

The card offers either a $100 statement credit every four years for a Global Entry application fee or a statement credit up to $85 every four and a half years for a TSA PreCheck (through a TSA official enrollment provider) application fee, when charged to your American Express Card. Card Members approved for Global Entry will also receive access to TSA PreCheck at no additional cost.

Additionally, your $189 CLEAR Plus membership will be reimbursed every year you pay with your card.

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express

Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $20,000 on eligible purchases with your Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.

LEARN MORE 

Bank of America Premium Rewards Credit Card

Annual fee: $95

The Bank of America Premium Rewards credit card offers a statement credit fee reimbursement of up to $100 for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, every four years.

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Annual fee: $95

The Capital One Venture Rewards Card offers up to $100 in statement credits toward TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fees, every four years, when you pay for membership with your card.

Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

Annual fee: $395

The Capital One Venture X Rewards card offers up to $100 in statement credits toward TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fees, every four years, when you pay for membership with your card.

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Annual fee: $550

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® card offers a statement credit fee reimbursement of up to $100 every four years for Global Entry, TSA PreCheck or Nexus when you pay using your card.

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. 

LEARN MORE 

Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®

Annual fee: $595

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® offers a statement credit fee reimbursement of up to $100 every four years for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck when you pay with your card.

IHG One Rewards Premier Credit Card

Annual fee: $99

The IHG One Rewards Premier credit card offers a statement credit fee reimbursement of up to $100 every four years for Global Entry, TSA PreCheck or Nexus when you pay using your card.

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card

Annual fee: $650 (see rates and fees)

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card offers either a $100 statement credit every four years for a Global Entry application fee or a statement credit up to $85 every four and a half years for a TSA PreCheck (through a TSA official enrollment provider) application fee, when charged to your American Express Card. Card Members approved for Global Entry will also receive access to TSA PreCheck at no additional cost.

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card

Earn 95,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new Card to make $6,000 in purchases within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

LEARN MORE 

Mastercard® Black Card™

Annual fee: $495

The Mastercard® Black Card™ offers a statement credit fee reimbursement of up to $100 for Global Entry or $85 for TSA PreCheck, every five years when you pay using your card.

U.S. Bank Altitude® Reserve Visa Infinite® Card

Annual fee: $400

The U.S. Bank Altitude® Reserve Visa Infinite® Card offers a statement credit fee reimbursement of up to $100 every four years for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck when you pay using your card.

U.S. Bank Altitude® Connect Visa Signature® Card

Annual fee: $95 ($0 for the first year, $95 thereafter)

The U.S. Bank Altitude® Connect Visa Signature® Card offers a statement credit fee reimbursement of up to $100 every four years for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck when you pay using your card.

Delta SkyMiles and United MileagePlus CLEAR Plus Discounts

Through Delta SkyMiles and United MileagePlus, you can receive discounts on CLEAR Plus membership.

All Delta Diamond Medallion® members receive a complimentary CLEAR Plus membership worth $189 per year. General SkyMile members receive a $10 discount, making annual membership $179.

Platinum, Gold and Silver Medallion members, in addition to Delta SkyMiles American Express cardholders, receive a $40 discount off CLEAR Plus membership, reducing the annual membership fee to $149. The following American Express cards come with this discount:

  • Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card ($150 annual fee see (rates and fees), waived in the first year)
  • Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card ($350 annual fee (see rates and fees), which includes either a $100 statement credit every four years for a Global Entry application fee or a statement credit up to $85 every four and a half years for a TSA PreCheck® application fee)*
  • Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card ($650 annual fee (see rates and fees), which includes either a $100 statement credit every four years for a Global Entry application fee or a statement credit up to $85 every four and a half years for a TSA PreCheck® application fee)*
  • Delta SkyMiles® Gold Business American Express Card ($150 annual fee (see rates and fees), waived in the first year)
  • Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card ($350 annual fee (see rates and fees), which includes either a $100 statement credit every four years for a Global Entry application fee or a statement credit up to $85 every four and a half years for a TSA PreCheck® application fee)*
  • Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card ($650 annual fee (see rates and fees), which includes either a $100 statement credit every four years for a Global Entry application fee or a statement credit up to $85 every four and a half years for a TSA PreCheck® application fee)*

*Receive either a $100 statement credit every 4 years for a Global Entry application fee or a statement credit up to $85 every 4.5 years for a TSA PreCheck® (through a TSA official enrollment provider) application fee, when charged to your American Express Card. Card Members approved for Global Entry will also receive access to TSA PreCheck at no additional cost.

With United Airlines, you can receive CLEAR discounts. Premier 1K & Global Services members receive complimentary CLEAR Plus membership. Premier® Silver, Gold or Platinum, as well as United cardholders, receive a discounted CLEAR Plus membership for $149 per year. And standard MileagePlus members receive a $10 membership discount, making it $179 per year.

The following United cards confer CLEAR Plus membership discounts:

  • UnitedSM Explorer Card ($95 annual fee which is waived in the first year, including a $100 statement credit for Global Entry, TSA Precheck or Nexus membership every four years)
  • United GatewaySM Card ($0 annual fee)
  • United QuestSM Card ($250 annual fee, including a $100 statement credit for Global Entry, TSA Precheck or Nexus membership every four years)
  • United ClubSM Infinite Card ($525 annual fee, including a $100 statement credit for Global Entry, TSA Precheck or Nexus membership every four years)
  • United Club Business Card ($450 annual fee)
  • UnitedSM Business Card ($99 annual fee)

United Quest℠ Card

Earn 60,000 bonus miles + 500 Premier qualifying points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.

LEARN MORE 

You can access these membership benefits either by linking your existing CLEAR Plus membership to your SkyMiles or United MileagePlus account or by entering your SkyMiles or United MileagePlus member number upon enrolling with CLEAR.

Given that it’s free to become a SkyMiles and United Mileageplus member, anyone can enroll and receive at least a $10 discount off CLEAR Plus membership.

Final Thoughts

If you’re a frequent flyer, TSA PreCheck, CLEAR Plus, Global Entry and Nexus can make your air travel experiences much easier and quicker.

CLEAR Plus membership will speed you through the identity verification process, getting you to the front of the security line faster. You’ll also find that receiving an annual statement credit via a credit card to cover the membership cost is a huge benefit.

But once you hit physical security screening, you’ll need a TSA PreCheck membership to avoid taking your shoes, belt and jacket off, as well as to keep your laptop and liquids stored away. This is why combining CLEAR Plus and TSA PreCheck can be a sensible decision for speeding you through airport security lines.

Both Global Entry and Nexus membership include TSA PreCheck.

If your travel mainly revolves around domestic flights, TSA Precheck and CLEAR Plus membership will have you more than covered. However, if frequent international travel is on the menu, then opting for a Global Entry membership will pay off.

Likewise, if much of this travel involves flights between the U.S. and Canada, Nexus membership—and the somewhat more arduous interview process—could well be worth the expedited security processes.