Want to make your airport experience faster and with fewer hassles? TSA PreCheck and Global Entry are airport security programs that allow you to bypass long lines and enjoy smoother experiences at airport security and customs. Instead of paying $85 or $100 to apply, you can get either expedited screening program for free with a travel rewards credit card.
Here's a look at how TSA PreCheck and Global Entry work and which credit cards are best for getting this valuable travel perk for free.
What Is Global Entry and TSA PreCheck?
TSA PreCheck and Global Entry are both expedited screening services that make it faster and easier to get through airport security and/or customs. TSA PreCheck allows you to use special (and much shorter!) security lanes at airport security with a less intrusive screening process. Global Entry does the same thing but it also offers expedited entry through United States customs when you return to the U.S.
TSA PreCheck makes use of a trusted traveler program with the federal government. After passing a background check to verify you are low-risk, you will be issued a Known Traveler Number that can be added to airline reservations and frequent flier accounts. With a KTN, you usually get PreCheck status for your flight to access the shorter security lanes with a lighter screening process.
PreCheck allows you to keep your shoes and belt on, keep your laptop in its case, and keep liquids in your carry-on luggage.
Global Entry is a program offered by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) that allows you to clear U.S. customs in minutes, not the typical 60+ minutes you may expect. With Global Entry, you can use an airport kiosk to complete the customs process without the traditional long lines. You can also use expedited processing and Canadian and Mexican land borders.
It costs $85 to apply for TSA PreCheck and $100 to apply for Global Entry. Both memberships last for five years. The good news is there are many travel rewards credit cards that offer Global Entry for free, including credit cards with annual fees below $100.
What's the Difference Between Global Entry vs TSA PreCheck?
TSA PreCheck and Global Entry are very similar: both are expedited screening services that help you get through the airport faster.
TSA PreCheck, operated by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), is the more basic service as it only gives you an expedited airport screening process. It's more affordable than Global Entry at $85 versus $100, but both last for five years before you need to apply again.
Global Entry, operated by Customs and Border Protection (CBP), is more comprehensive as it offers everything that TSA PreCheck does, but it also offers an expedited customs process when you re-enter the United States. If you ever travel outside of the United States, you can benefit from Global Entry.
Keep in mind Global Entry has a more in-depth application process that requires a valid passport and an in-person interview that you need to schedule in your area.
Should You Get Global Entry or TSA PreCheck?
TSA PreCheck is really only better than Global Entry if you're sure you aren't going to leave the United States in the next five years. Even then, the cost difference is minimal and credit cards that offer free TSA PreCheck also offer free Global Entry so you can simply choose Global Entry instead with no out-of-pocket cost.
Global Entry is preferable for frequent travelers because it does the same thing as TSA PreCheck but with the added benefit of expedited customs.
The main drawback of getting Global Entry instead of TSA PreCheck? The application process is a bigger hassle.
To get approved for Global Entry, you need a valid passport. While TSA PreCheck and Global Entry both require visiting an enrollment center for an ID check and fingerprints, Global Entry requires an in-person interview and you may need to wait weeks for availability in your area. There are also fewer places you can apply for Global Entry than TSA PreCheck. You mostly need to apply in large airports, CBP offices, and a handful of enrollment centers while TSA PreCheck has more than 380 enrollment locations.
Applying for just TSA PreCheck may be a better option for you if you don't think your Global Entry application will be approved. TSA is not as stringent as Customs and Border Protection which may deny applicants for seemingly tiny issues.
Which Credit Cards Pay for Global Entry
Want to enjoy the perks of Global Entry without paying the high fee? There are plenty of travel credit cards that offer free Global Entry as a perk. You can even find this benefit on some travel cards with annual fees lower than the cost of a Global Entry application!
Here are the credit cards that will pay for Global Entry and what you should know.
Mid-Range Travel Rewards Cards
Capital One Venture Rewards Card
Annual fee: $95 (waived the first year)
Use your Venture card to pay the application fee for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck and get reimbursed up to $100 as a statement credit. Capital One will reimburse you once every 4 years with the statement credit processing within two billing cycles.
If you already have Global Entry, you can pay for someone else's application.
Because the $95 annual fee is waived the first year, you can essentially get Global Entry for free for five years when you try out the Venture card at no cost.
United Explorer Credit Card
Annual fee: $95 (waived the first year)
The United Explorer card from Chase earns United miles and perks when you fly like the first checked bag for free. The card also comes with a few travel benefits like 25% back on United in-flight purchases and free Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.
Like other Chase cards, the free Global Entry is given as a statement credit. You can get the credit every 4 years when you charge the application fee to your card. You should see the statement credit posting within 24 hours of paying the application fee.
IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
Annual fee: $89
The IHG Rewards Club Premier card offers a statement credit for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry once every 4 years. The statement credit will post to your account within 24 hours of the application fee being charged to your credit card.
You can pay for someone else's application with your IHG card if you already have Global Entry.
The IHG Rewards Club Premier card has one of the lowest annual fees of cards that offer free Global Entry, although the annual fee isn't waived the first year. It also posts the rebate to your account very quickly.
Bank of America Premium Rewards Credit Card
Annual fee: $95
The Bank of America Premium Rewards card is often overlooked, but the card has a lot to offer. In addition to a $100 annual airline incidental statement credit, you get a credit of up to $100 toward Global Entry or TSA PreCheck every 4 years.
As with other cards, you can pay for someone else's application with your Bank of America card if you already have Global Entry.
U.S. Bank FlexPerks Gold American Express
Annual fee: $85
The U.S. Bank FlexPerks Gold American Express offers impressive travel perks for a mid-range travel rewards card, and it has the lowest annual fee of all credit cards on this list. The card includes a $25 airline incidental credit per year plus complimentary Boingo Wi-Fi and an automatic statement credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.
You can get a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck statement credit once every 5 years. It may take up to 6-8 weeks for the statement credit to post to your account.
Expedia+ Voyager Card from Citi
Annual fee: $95
The Expedia+ Voyager co-branded card from Citi offers up to 4.2% back on Expedia purchases, but it delivers a low rewards rate on other purchases. The $100 annual air travel fee credit can offset this drawback, however. The $100 credit you get each year can be used for airline incidental fees like checked bags or it can be used for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry.
SunTrust Travel Rewards Credit Card
Annual fee: $89 (waived the first year)
This cash back rewards card comes with two valuable travel benefits: free Global Entry and LoungeKey airport lounge access that includes two free lounge visits per year which, unfortunately, isn't as good as the Priority Pass Select membership that comes with credit cards like the Hilton Honors Surpass card from American Express.
The Global Entry statement credit is available once every 5 years. It may take 1 to 2 billing cycles for the credit to post to your account.
Premium Travel Rewards Cards
Citi/AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard
Annual fee: $450
If you fly with American Airlines often, the Citi/AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard may be worth the $450 annual fee. The card includes a range of travel perks like Admirals Club membership (including access for your authorized users) worth up to $650 plus perks on American Airlines flights and free Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.
The Global Entry statement credit perk with Citi cards is only available once every 5 years, unlike other cards that offer a statement credit every 4 years. It may take 8 to 10 weeks after applying for Global Entry to see the statement credit post to your account.
Chase Sapphire Reserve
Annual fee: $450
If you travel frequently, free Global Entry is just one of the many perks of the Chase Sapphire Reserve card you can enjoy. The travel perks of the Chase Sapphire Reserve more than make up for the $450 annual fee if you travel frequently. The card comes with $300 in statement credits per year to reimburse you for travel expenses plus free airport lounge access with Priority Pass Select.
The Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee credit is offered every 4 years. You can also use the credit to offset the application fee for someone else if you already have Global Entry.
Annual fee: $495
The Citi Prestige card was revamped in 2019, taking away or devaluing many of the perks that made the card so great like unlimited Admirals Club access and unlimited 4th nights free on all paid hotel stays. The annual fee was also increased from $450 to $495. Fortunately, perks like Priority Pass membership and free Global Entry remain.
An important distinction with the Citi Prestige Global Entry or TSA PreCheck rebate is it's only available every 5 years. Most other credit cards, even the ones with annual fees below $100, offer a credit every 4 years.
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant from American Express
Annual fee: $450
While you expect free Global Entry with general and airline travel cards, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card from American Express is one of the few hotel rewards cards to offer this travel perk. The similar Hilton Honors Aspire card from American Express does not offer free Global Entry.
In exchange for the $450 annual fee, you get a free annual night award, Marriott Bonvoy elite status, up to $300 in statement credits for Marriott purchases, up to a $100 property credit at participating Marriott brands, free Boingo airport Wi-Fi, Priority Pass lounge access, and free Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.
The Global Entry credit can be used to cover someone else's application fee on your Marriott Bonvoy card. Note that this benefit isn't available to Additional Card Members, unlike other premium American Express credit cards with free Global Entry.
Platinum Card from American Express
Annual fee: $550
The Platinum Card from American Express has one of the highest annual fees on this list, but the travel benefits alone can make up for the $550 you pay each year. The card comes with a host of travel perks including access to the American Express Global Lounge Collection (including Centurion Lounges and Priority Pass lounges), Gold elite status with Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy, and complimentary membership in Avis Preferred, Hertz Gold Plus Rewards, and National Car Rental Emerald Club Executive.
The statement credits with the Platinum Card from American Express include:
- Up to $200 in annual airline incidentals
- $100 Saks credit each half of the year
- Up to $200 in Uber credits (split into monthly credits for U.S. rides)
- Up to $100 for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck
One of the best parts of free Global Entry with the Platinum Card from American Express? The benefit is also available to Additional Card Members. You need to pay $175 to add up to three additional cardholders, but it can be worth it. When you add authorized users to your account, they also enjoy complimentary lounge access, Gold Hilton and Marriott status, and free Global Entry credits. Just make sure they charge the application fee to their card.
You can use the free Global Entry benefit every 4 years or the TSA PreCheck credit every 4.5 years.
Business Platinum Card from American Express
Annual fee: $595
The Business version of the Platinum Card from American Express card also includes free Global Entry or TSA PreCheck with the same terms as the consumer Platinum card. All authorized users are eligible for the same credit every 4 years for Global Entry or 4.5 years for TSA PreCheck as long as the application fee is charged to their card.
Other Credit Cards with Free Global Entry:
- American Express Centurion: $2,500 annual fee (by invitation only)
- Barclaycard Mastercard Gold Card: $995 annual fee
- Mastercard Black Card: $495 annual fee
Credit Cards that Only Offer Free TSA Precheck:
- HSBC Premier World Mastercard
- HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard
How Does the Credit Card Global Entry Fee Reimbursement Work?
Every credit card that offers free Global Entry or TSA PreCheck works in the same basic way: you need to pay the application fee for the program with your card and wait for a statement credit to reimburse you for the cost.
How long you need to wait for the statement credit depends on the card issuer. With the IHG Rewards Club Premier card, for example, you should have the statement credit within 24 hours of paying the application fee. Some card issuers may state that it takes up to 8 to 10 weeks or up to two billing cycles -- although you may get lucky and see the statement credit sooner.
How to Get TSA PreCheck and Global Entry With a Loyalty Program
Do you belong to a rewards program and aren't sure what to do with your points? One option may be redeeming points for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fees -- or even getting Global Entry or TSA PreCheck for free. Here are some options for getting Global Entry for free without a credit card.
Orbitz Rewards Platinum members can choose a free membership to LoungeBuddy or TSA PreCheck.
IHG Rewards Club
You can redeem 30,000 IHG points for TSA PreCheck. This definitely isn't a good value for your points, however.
You can redeem 25,000 Marriott Bonvoy points for TSA PreCheck. This isn't the best value for your points, though.
You can redeem 60,000 Radisson Rewards points for TSA PreCheck -- but you'll get a poor value of around 0.13 cents per point.
You can redeem 10,000 United MileagePlus miles for TSA PreCheck, but this isn't the best value at 0.85 cents per mile.
If you are a Platinum or Medallion member, you can get a Global Entry voucher for free as part of your Choice Benefits.
How do I apply for Global Entry?
The first step is creating a Login.gov account and submitting your application on the Trusted Traveler Program website. You will need to pay the $100 fee. Make sure you use your credit card if you get a Global Entry credit. Next, schedule an in-person interview at your nearest enrollment center and bring two forms of approved ID to the interview. You can learn more about the Global Entry application process here.
How do I apply for TSA PreCheck?
Applying for TSA PreCheck is as easy as visiting the TSA PreCheck website and submitting an online application. You will need to schedule an in-person interview that may be within 1 to 4 weeks and bring 2 forms of approved ID. The $85 application fee will be paid at the time of the interview. Learn more about applying for TSA PreCheck here.
What credit cards waive Global Entry fees?
No credit card can waive the Global Entry fee, but there are many that give you a statement credit to reimburse the application fee. The most common credit cards include Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant, Citi Prestige, Chase Sapphire Reserve, IHG Rewards Club Premier, Bank of America Premium Rewards, Capital One Venture, and United Explorer.
How does the credit card Global Entry fee reimbursement benefit work?
All credit cards that offer free Global Entry work in the same way. You need to use your credit card to pay the Global Entry application fee. You will receive an automatic statement credit of $100 that will post to your account anywhere from 24 hours to 10 weeks later, depending on the card issuer.
Can I use my Global Entry/TSA PreCheck fee credit for others?
Yes, if you already have Global Entry or TSA PreCheck -- or you really don't want them -- you can pay for someone else's application fee and receive a statement credit. This can be done every 4 or 5 years, depending on the credit card.
Which is better: TSA PreCheck or Global Entry?
Global Entry is considered better than TSA PreCheck because it does everything that TSA PreCheck does but also offers an expedited customs process when returning to the United States. It's harder to qualify for Global Entry, however.
Can I upgrade TSA PreCheck to Global Entry?
If you already have TSA PreCheck, there's no way to upgrade to Global Entry, with or without a discount. The only way to get Global Entry is to pay the full $100 application fee and go through the full application and screening process.
How long does it take for a Global Entry interview?
The interview process is actually very short and lasts just 10 to 15 minutes. You will be asked about your application and why you're interested in joining Global Entry. Depending on how busy the enrollment center is, you may need to wait up to 20 minutes for your interview or there may be no wait at all.