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CLEAR vs. Global Entry: Which is better for you?

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    CLEAR® and Global Entry are time-saving membership programs with some similarities and differences. The benefits that can quicken your travel experience in airports are often associated with both programs. However, there are several important distinctions that greatly separate CLEAR and Global Entry.

    Ahead, we'll review the differences between CLEAR and Global Entry and what you might want to consider if you've yet to apply for either program.

    The differences between CLEAR and Global Entry

    There are several prominent aspects of CLEAR and Global Entry that distinguish the programs.

    Where they are used

    The main difference between CLEAR and Global Entry is where their membership benefits are used.

    • CLEAR: Members may pass through secure locations at various places. By partnering with specific businesses and facilities, CLEAR is available in select airports, stadiums, arenas and other U.S. venues. Some features of CLEAR also make it helpful when checking in for various things, such as hotel stays, car rentals and events.
    • Global Entry: The main benefit of the program provides an opportunity to expedite processing at certain border crossings when traveling internationally. Global Entry is used mostly at U.S. Customs screenings, but member benefits are also available upon entry into certain countries through the program's international arrangements.

    How they are run

    Both CLEAR and Global Entry prescreen applicants. However, the applicant vetting and enrollment processes are different given how each program is run.

    Global Entry is run by the Department of Homeland Security. This is why members can skip immigration paperwork and use dedicated processing when entering select countries, namely the United States. CLEAR, on the other hand, is a private business. It has agreements with different venues and no direct government partnership.

    Who is eligible

    Both CLEAR and Global Entry have specific eligibility requirements, but both are available to U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents. Global Entry is also available to citizens, nationals and permanent residents of certain other countries. In terms of age restrictions, individuals of all ages need a Global Entry membership to use the program's benefits. By contrast, children under 18 can accompany a CLEAR member into CLEAR lanes for free when traveling together.

    How does CLEAR work?

    In most places where CLEAR is available, you can skip or pass through normal screening lines because of CLEAR's identification technology and partnership with the venue you're visiting. CLEAR uses biometric information to confirm your identity. You may have to scan your fingerprints at a CLEAR kiosk, for example.

    There is another level of CLEAR membership available: CLEAR Plus, which allows members to move through airport security faster by using designated lanes. CLEAR Ambassadors are also available at these sites to help members through the screening process.

    The cost of CLEAR and Global Entry

    CLEAR charges a $189 annual membership fee, and the Global Entry application fee is $100 (as of May 2023). Global Entry membership lasts five years but is reimbursable through certain travel credit cards. Chase Sapphire Reserve®, for example, provides up to $100 as a statement credit every four years if you pay the Global Entry application fee with your card. A similar benefit may be available for these programs through your credit card. Contact your issuer for details.

    CLEAR vs. Global Entry: Is one program better?

    CLEAR and Global Entry have very different purposes even though they both provide their respective members with access to quicker security screenings. To determine which one might be a better fit for your lifestyle, consider the following questions:

    Are CLEAR and Global Entry available where you want to go?

    You might want to review all the places members of either program can access benefits to better inform your decision. A CLEAR membership could save you time whenever you enter places where the program is available. CLEAR lanes are available at a variety of participating venues, including airports, arenas and stadiums. Global Entry is available in many U.S. international airports and other international ports of entry.

    Do you fly often?

    If you fly frequently, either CLEAR or Global Entry may be useful. Both programs can have time-saving benefits in airports. With CLEAR Plus, you may pass through TSA security checkpoints more efficiently in participating U.S. airports. Global Entry, on the other hand, is more useful for international travel. Members can access dedicated processing lanes and automated kiosks, particularly when arriving in the United States.

    Would you use the additional benefits?

    You might be interested in some of the additional benefits of the programs if you're considering CLEAR and Global Entry memberships.

    CLEAR's additional benefits

    There are several benefits to consider if you're wondering whether CLEAR is worth getting. For example, we've mentioned how CLEAR Plus can help you through security faster in select airports. Additional CLEAR benefits include virtual age verification, health passes and credential checks. These may be used for various things you want to do, such as renting cars and checking in to hotels.

    Global Entry's additional benefits

    Most Global Entry members are eligible for TSA PreCheck®, a TTP that can make TSA checkpoints in specific airports smoother and faster. Plus, Global Entry members may be able to enter certain countries more efficiently through the program's international arrangements. U.S. citizens with Global Entry, for example, can use dedicated lanes when arriving in New Zealand and Australia.

    Can you get both CLEAR and Global Entry?

    Yes, you may apply for CLEAR and Global Entry. The programs have different benefits and are run by different agencies. As such, they're not affiliated, and they have different applications and eligibility requirements. Having membership in both programs may be beneficial for their time-saving benefits, particularly for frequent flyers.

    Remember that the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card has a reimbursement benefit for Global Entry. If you pay for Global Entry with your Sapphire Reserve card, you are eligible for up to a $100 statement credit every four years. You might also enjoy this travel card's other benefits, perks and rewards.

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