If you’re someone who flies a lot, you don’t need us to tell you that waiting is not fun. There’s truly nothing more devastating than being faced by a line that you have no choice but to wait in. It’s during those times that you really reflect on how you can avoid this issue next time. However, sometimes you can resolve the issue right then and there with programs like CLEAR that make signing up quick and easy.
If you’re still in that reflection stage, you’re probably familiar with some of the options you have. First, there’s CLEAR which expedites the identity screening portion of the process. On the other hand, TSA PreCheck speeds up the physical screening portion of the process. Finally, Global Entry is the international version of the latter. Let’s take a closer look at what each program entails. We’ll also discuss what happens when those services overlap.
Those with a CLEAR membership are able to bypass the identity verification portion of the security checkpoint. An ambassador escorts the member directly to a CLEAR pod where the member’s identity is verified by either a finger or an eye scan. It’s super convenient especially when lines are long, since you’ll no longer have to wait to have your ID examined by a TSA agent at the podium.
CLEAR is a private company that’s been certified by the Department of Homeland Security. It’s available in over 60 airports, stadiums, and venues nationwide. Plus, it seems like they’re always adding new locations. We’ve outlined a full list of locations here.
A CLEAR membership normally costs $179 per year. However, the Pointster is offering one year of CLEAR for just $149 here or with “POINTSTER149” at checkout. Or you can sign up for a free two month trial here or with “POINTSTER2” at checkout. You’ll be able to complete the process quickly and easily next time you visit a participating airport.
Those already enrolled in the program are able to add up to four family members for just $50 each per year. Not to mention, certain airlines like Delta and United offer discounted rates to members of their respective frequent flyer programs.
TSA PreCheck also has separate lanes for its members. Those flying with TSA PreCheck can leave on their shoes and a light jacket, and leave their large electronics and 3-1-1 liquids in their bag. Plus, there’s no use of a body scanner. Passengers simply walk through a metal detector to be screened.
Along with Global Entry, TSA PreCheck is a government-fun program. It’s available at over 200 airports nationwide, with 73 airlines participating in the program. Find out where it’s available on their website.
Many will be surprised to learn that TSA PreCheck enrollment only costs $85 and covers you for five years. Not to mention, you could potentially get reimbursed for the application fee with certain premium credit cards. Check with your credit card company to see if this option is available to you, it’s literally a steal!
Global Entry is the same as TSA PreCheck, but for international traveling. Members are able to bypass traditional customs declaration lines and use a kiosk instead. You’ll insert your passport, scan your fingers, take a photo and answer a few questions. Since the initial screening is more thorough than PreCheck, Global Entry offers fewer locations for the interview to be held at. However, it’s still a relatively quick an easy process.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection has arrangements with 13 parter countries, view the full list on their website. So, this means if you have Global Entry, you’ll have access to their respective expedited security programs. View the full list of domestic and international airports with Global Entry kiosks here.
The price of a Global Entry membership is $100 for five years. Plus, it includes enrollment in TSA PreCheck as well. Don’t forget to check with your credit card about reimbursement for this program as well.
We’ve learned that both TSA PreCheck and CLEAR work similarly, but they are definitely not the same. When you’re enrolled in both programs, CLEAR will allow you to bypass whatever line that has formed at TSA PreCheck. Some airports even have TSA PreCheck + CLEAR lanes that are totally separate.
Since CLEAR expedites the identity verification portion of the process and TSA PreCheck expedites the physical screening, there’s not much more to it. I’d say it’s totally worth it to have both, especially if you’re traveling during busy times like the holidays when TSA PreCheck lines can get backed up.
CLEAR has not expanded internationally yet, but as we’ve discussed, Global Entry grants you a membership with TSA PreCheck as well. So pairing CLEAR with Global Entry will also work nicely.