These memberships allow you to skip the long airport security lines that cause you to stress the night before a trip and compel you to arrive hours early for your flight for fear of missing it.
But the convenience of skipping lines comes with a price. Both TSA PreCheck and Global Entry require membership and some background work before you can put them to use.
Thankfully, many credit card issuers see this as an opportunity to provide value to their members by offering complimentary subscriptions.
Money expert (and self-described travel nut) Clark Howard is a huge fan of skipping the lines at airports with his membership. And he thinks getting access to TSA PreCheck or Global Entry through your credit card is a great way to save money and travel in style.
“In most airports, PreCheck is going to be a reliable and really quick way through security,” Clark says. “But people are asking: ’85 bucks? I don’t fly that often! Why would I spend that money?’ Well, now there are a lot of credit cards that will pay for your PreCheck.”
In this article, we’ll better explain what these programs offer and reveal which credit cards offer them as a perk.
Table of Contents
- What Are TSA PreCheck and Global Entry?
- Which Credit Cards Offer TSA PreCheck or Global Entry for Free?
- Some Cards Don’t Give You Free Memberships But Still Might Help
- Final Thoughts
What Are TSA PreCheck and Global Entry?
Skipping lines at the airport sounds great!
But if you’re new to this concept, you’re likely wondering what these programs entail. Or perhaps you’re unsure which one makes the most sense for you.
Team Clark takes a deep dive into these options when comparing TSA PreCheck and Global Entry to CLEAR.
Here’s a quick rundown of the first two before we get into how to get them for free through your credit card.
TSA PreCheck is built for domestic travel in the United States. It costs $85 for a five-year membership.
TSA says that more than 200 airports and 83 airlines participate in the PreCheck program, which allows you to go through a specially designated line at airport security under less scrutiny.
Upon completion of your application, you’ll be required to complete an in-person appointment that includes fingerprinting for a background check. The TSA says this process typically takes 10 minutes.
Once approved, you’ll be able to skip time-consuming security measures like taking your shoes and belt off or removing your laptop and liquids from your baggage.
According to the TSA, 94% of PreCheck passengers waited less than five minutes to get through airport security in June 2022.
Global Entry is built for international travelers. It costs $100 for a five-year membership.
If you’re a member of Global Entry, you’re also eligible to participate in the TSA PreCheck program. So you’re already getting the benefit of that $85 membership with this program.
Paying the extra $15 for Global Entry will help you expedite your international travel by being approved for the Trusted Traveler Program offered by U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Some of the perks to this membership are that you’re able to reduce wait times by using self-service kiosks or e-gates that use facial comparison technologies as well as avoiding paperwork upon arrival for international flights.
Application for this program also includes an in-person interview with a government official. On a recent episode of his podcast, Clark indicated that securing these interview times has become increasingly difficult as the program’s popularity surges.
Which Credit Cards Offer TSA PreCheck or Global Entry for Free?
Travel credit card issuers often try to find ways to entice customers to apply and then stay with their brands for the long term. One of the ways they do that is with “freebie perks” that give added value to the consumer beyond the spending power and rewards program of their credit cards.
An increasing number of these cards are offering free access to TSA PreCheck or Global Entry. This usually involves a statement credit that covers the cost associated with applying for either service, provided that you pay for your application with the credit card. Limitations of one $100 statement credit per five years are usually in the fine print.
Let’s look at some of our favorite credit cards that offer this perk, and then I’ll provide a more exhaustive list to help you know if one of the cards you already have offers it.
Best Credit Cards That Offer Free TSA PreCheck or Global Entry
While there is not a no annual fee card that offers this perk, there are some low-cost cards that may be worth your time.
The Navy Federal Visa Signature® Flagship Rewards card may be the best chance to get this perk at a low annual fee, but you need to qualify for membership with the credit union to be eligible.
Venture Rewards from Capital One and the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Credit Card are a couple more options for free access to TSA PreCheck or Global Entry under the $100 per year annual fee threshold.
Low Annual Fee Cards
|Credit Card||Annual Fee||Other Top Perks|
|Navy Federal Visa Signature® Flagship Rewards||$49||3x points on travel, free Amazon Prime subscription|
|Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Credit Card||$95||Get 50,000 online bonus points (a $500 value) after you make at least $3,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.|
|Venture Rewards from Capital One||$95||Earn 75,000 bonus miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening.|
If you’re a more serious traveler, you may find that a travel rewards card with a higher annual fee actually makes sense for your wallet.
You may be surprised to learn that Clark says the Platinum Card® from American Express, which carries a $695 annual fee, is worth it for travelers who are able to take advantage of most of the card’s long list of valuable perks.
Clark carries the Venture X from Capital One in his wallet and speaks highly of the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, both of which are high-annual-fee credit cards that allow travelers a chance to earn that annual fee back.
High Annual Fee Cards
|Credit Card||Annual Fee||Other Top Perks|
|Venture X from Capital One||$395||Receive up to $300 back in statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel.|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve®||$550||Automatically receive up to $300 in statement credits as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.|
|Platinum Card® from American Express||$695||Earn statement credits of up to $1,500 in value each year on select purchases, including hotels booked with Amex Travel and select flights.|
These Credit Cards Also Offer Free TSA PreCheck or Global Entry
- American Express Gold Corporate Card
- American Express Centurion® Card
- Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World EliteTM MasterCard®
- Citi Prestige® Card
- Commerce Bank® World Elite Mastercard®
- Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Card
- Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Card
- Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business Card
- Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business Card
- Expedia® Rewards Voyager Card from Citi
- HSBC Elite World Elite Mastercard®
- HSBC Premier World Mastercard®
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card
- PenFed Pathfinder® Rewards Visa Signature® Card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card
- Truist Business Travel Rewards Credit Card
- Truist Enjoy Beyond Credit Card
- Truist Enjoy Travel Credit Card
- UBS Visa Infinite Credit Card
- United Club SM Infinite Card
- United SM Explorer Card
- United Quest SM Card
- US Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite® Card
Some Credit Cards Don’t Give It To You As a Perk But Still Provide a Path
While I’ve highlighted some great travel cards that give this membership to you for free, it’s worth noting that you still have a path to TSA PreCheck or Global Entry access through other credit cards without using money in your wallet.
Some rewards credit cards will offer the chance to claim a membership by using your rewards points. Log in to your credit card’s online portal and search for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry in your rewards redemption options.
If you have a redemption option on your card, you’ll then need to do the math on the points or miles conversion to ensure that it’s a prudent use of your hard-earned credit card rewards.
The value of using your rewards points to claim this perk may vary from card to card.
This strategy for membership also extends to travel rewards programs you may have outside of your credit card. For example, Marriott allows you to redeem 25,000 Bonvoy rewards points for a TSA PreCheck membership.
Like many credit card perks, the usefulness of this one is in the eye of the beholder.
If you’re a travel nut like Clark, you’ll probably find that one of these line-skipping subscriptions is a “must have” for your excursions. And given that, earning it for free with one of the credit cards in your wallet makes a lot of sense.
Since many travel rewards cards are the ones offering this perk, perhaps you’d be best served to pick a travel card that both meshes with your spending habits and provides a complimentary TSA PreCheck or Global Entry subscription.
If you’re not into traveling via airplane often, this perk likely falls pretty far down the list of credit card benefits that will provide you value. You may want to skip on making this a priority and opt for things like a higher rate of cash back return on all purchases.
Do you have a credit card that pays for your TSA PreCheck or Global Entry membership? We’d love to hear about your experiences in the Clark.com community!