From: Scott's Cheap Flights - Monday Jun 06, 2022 07:07 pm
Scott's Cheap Flights | Cheap Airline Tickets, Airfare and Flight Deals
PreCheck and Global Entry and CLEAR, oh my.
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Issue 100: TSA PreCheck vs Global Entry.
TSA PreCheck, Global Entry, CLEAR...what does it all mean? What’s the difference and which one should you get?
TSA PreCheck offers an expedited screening process through an airport’s security checkpoint. Access is typically through a dedicated lane at the checkpoint, allowing you to skip what can sometimes be long waits for the regular security line.

The screening process itself is also much more straightforward. You go through a regular metal detector instead of a body scanner, so you only have to take metal objects like your phone, keys, and coins out of your pockets to pass through, rather than completely emptying your pockets. Your shoes stay on and you don’t need to unpack anything from your bag–those liquids and laptops can all stay safely stowed. Passing through the checkpoint is as breezy as dropping your bag on the belt and walking right on through with no need to undress or unpack. PreCheck costs $85 and is valid for 5 years.
Global Entry is another Trusted Traveler program that is run by the Customs and Border Protection service and expedites crossing the border into the U.S. Returning to the U.S. with Global Entry is lightning fast–the first time I used mine I was traveling with just a carry-on and was at the airport curb less than 10 minutes after walking off the plane. You simply walk smugly past all of the folks waiting in the immigration line and go to the Global Entry kiosks. The kiosk snaps a photo of you and pulls up your info and even has your flight details already loaded. The kiosk then prints out an approval to cross the border, you hand that to the agent at the exit, and you’re done. No need to fill out that customs form on the plane and inevitably ask everyone around you if they have a pen you can borrow. It’s unbelievably simple.

The best thing about Global Entry is that it includes TSA PreCheck access, so for one application process you get both benefits. The application fee for Global Entry is $100 and, just like PreCheck, is valid for 5 years.

The only downside to Global Entry is that there are fewer enrollment sites than for PreCheck. Whereas PreCheck has many options for where you can get interviewed—you can even do it at some Staples locations—since Global Entry is administered by the CBP, you need to go to a location with a border patrol office. Generally this means you have to go to an international airport or a land border crossing.

At the time I enrolled in Global Entry I was living in a slight enrollment site desert—the closest location was an hour drive and the soonest appointment they had was many months away. A Google search revealed that although it isn’t widely publicized, almost all enrollment sites accept walk-in appointments once your application is conditionally approved. Because I was traveling soon and wanted to use the benefits, I figured I’d try it out. I went in without an appointment and said I was a walk-in when I checked in. Most folks report shorter wait times at the very beginning of the day, but I went at the end of the day and had to wait a couple of hours. But ultimately I was successful in getting interviewed and I received my Global Entry approval by the time I was back at my car.
Unlike the other two programs, CLEAR is run by a private company and not a government agency. They operate their own dedicated security lines for the ID and document check portion of the security checkpoint. CLEAR’s kiosks use biometrics like an eye scan to verify your identity, and then you’ll be escorted to the security checkpoint. CLEAR itself doesn’t include PreCheck, so unless you get it separately and combine the two you’ll still need to take off your shoes and take out your liquids and laptops from your bags, but without the wait. At some congested airports the PreCheck line can be as long or even longer than the regular security line, so CLEAR can be a serious time saver.

CLEAR isn’t just limited to airports, either–they have checkpoint locations in stadiums and event venues as well. The standard price of an annual CLEAR membership is $189 per year.
If you frequently cross the Canadian or Mexican land borders, there are two other programs specifically to expedite those experiences as well.

NEXUS is a joint program between the U.S. and Canada and allows expedited land, sea, and air crossings both ways–going into Canada and crossing back into the U.S., while SENTRI allows expedited entrance into the U.S. only from Canada and Mexico. Both programs include TSA PreCheck–but not Global Entry. NEXUS costs $50 and SENTRI costs $122.25. Both are valid for 5 years and both require an interview at a land border crossing.
CLEAR and all of the U.S. Trusted Traveler programs (PreCheck, Global Entry, NEXUS, and SENTRI) are available to any U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
Many travel-focused credit cards will reimburse your PreCheck or Global Entry application fee as a perk of card membership. A handful of cards also offer free or discounted CLEAR membership.

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