How to get TSA PreCheck for free
Many travel credit cards offer plenty of travel benefits to cardholders, often including airport lounge access and upgraded hotel status. One of these benefits may be reimbursement for the fee paid when applying for TSA PreCheck®. This program itself is quite helpful to travelers because it may expedite the airport security process.
What is TSA PreCheck?
TSA PreCheck is a trusted traveler program run by the TSA. Members of the program may experience expedited security screening ahead of all domestic and select international flights. Any U.S. citizen, U.S. national or lawful permanent resident may qualify for the program.
When you become a TSA Precheck member, you don't have to remove your belt, shoes or lightweight jackets at security checkpoints. Large electronics can also stay in their cases. In addition, not every passenger who passes through security has TSA PreCheck. As a result, members may experience shorter lines in the security lanes designated for TSA PreCheck.
How do I get TSA PreCheck?
After taking several straightforward steps, you can be on your way to more efficient experiences at the airport.
Apply online on TSA.gov
The application has simple steps. You'll enter certain information about yourself, schedule an in-person appointment and name documents needed at that appointment. To complete the application, you'll pay a fee for 5 years of membership.
Schedule an appointment at an enrollment center
An important part of the application process is attending an in-person appointment at a TSA Precheck enrollment center. These appointments are approximately 10 minutes, during which you'll give fingerprints and submit to a background check.
Receive a decision
If the TSA approves you, you'll receive a Known Traveler Number (KTN). You'll enter this when you book tickets or check in for a flight, then you can use the TSA PreCheck lines at airport security.
Can you get TSA PreCheck with a credit card?
When you apply for TSA PreCheck, you'll have to pay the application fee, and credit cards are accepted. Travel credit cards are the most common type of card to reimburse you for this TSA PreCheck application fee. If your card has this benefit, a common form of reimbursement is a statement credit the card issuer applies to your account after you've paid the fee.
If you have a credit card, visit your issuer's website or contact them to find out if they reimburse the TSA PreCheck or another program's application fee. If you don't yet have a card, read on to learn about Chase cards with TSA PreCheck and similar programs like Global Entry and NEXUS.
When to consider using Global Entry or NEXUS
Global Entry — run by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection service — provides expedited screening similar to TSA PreCheck. In fact, Global Entry includes TSA PreCheck. When entering the country, Global Entry members may pass through U.S. Customs faster than passengers without Global Entry. The application process and fee is about as straightforward as that of TSA PreCheck. You can get started at the Department of Homeland Security's website.
With the U.S. government's NEXUS program, entering the United States and Canada can be faster for pre-screened travelers. It's another program that offers members dedicated processing lanes at designated ports of entry at the U.S.-Canada border, including marine reporting locations. If you're an American citizen, you can apply online at the U.S. government's trusted traveler programs website.
Is it worth it to get a credit card just for TSA PreCheck, Global Entry or NEXUS?
Having a travel card for the Global Entry credit card benefit may be most worthwhile for frequent travelers who also want an exciting rewards program. Cards with Global Entry or TSA PreCheck membership benefits often come with other perks, such as annual travel credits and airport lounge access. Cards with member benefits may have annual fees, but you may find that your fee is worth the rewards and benefits of the card.
Chase credit cards that offer TSA PreCheck
With Chase Sapphire Reserve, Global Entry, TSA PreCheck or NEXUS fees can be reimbursed every four years. But that's one of many benefits of the card. Others include:
- 3x points on travel and dining worldwide: Includes eligible takeout and delivery services. Earn one point per dollar spent on everything else.
- $300 annual travel credit: Get reimbursed for up to $300 of your travel each anniversary year.
- Points are worth 50% more when redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards: For example, 30,000 points are worth $50 toward travel.
- Airport lounge access: Enroll in Priority Pass and gain access to over 1,300 airport lounges in more than 500 cities worldwide.
- Special hotel and resort benefits: Experience special benefits such as late checkout at select hotels and resorts.
- Travel and purchase coverage: To protect your money and the parts of your adventures that you can't always predict.
By nature, travel cards have similar, travel-related benefits. Many cards could even get you TSA PreCheck, Global Entry or NEXUS for free. That's because the credit card issuer might reimburse the fee you pay when applying for one of those trusted traveler programs.
Besides the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card, several airline credit cards may reimburse some or all of the TSA PreCheck application fee. Compare cards today to see which benefits of travel credit cards appeal most to you.