If you're like many people, you've probably heard that TSA PreCheck ® is a great way to save time and reduce hassle when it comes to airport security. As with most things that can make our lives easier, TSA PreCheck costs money to enroll, so you might be wondering what's in it for you. Let's review some benefits of TSA PreCheck, what enrollment entails and how to tell if TSA PreCheck is worth your while.
How much does TSA PreCheck cost?
As of May 2023, the cost to enroll in TSA PreCheck is $78. If approved for a membership, you won't have to renew for five years. Initial enrollment and renewal costs can change, so please check the TSA website for the most recent information.
An exciting fact about the TSA PreCheck enrollment fee is that it can be reimbursed by certain travel credit cards. Some travel credit cards my also include other useful benefits like airport lounge access. One card that does offer a reimbursement for the TSA PreCheck application fee is the Chase Sapphire Reserve® Credit Card.
Benefits that can make TSA PreCheck right for you
The benefits of TSA PreCheck may be relative to the amount that you travel. Members do tend to have convenient and brief experiences at airport security screenings. More specifically:
- You won't have to remove shoes, belts or light jackets.
- Laptops and 3-1-1 compliant liquids can stay in your carry-on bag.
Does TSA PreCheck actually save time?
Yes, TSA PreCheck can save you time at airport security. Many TSA PreCheck members spent an average of five minutes in airport security in February 2023, according to the TSA website. If you've ever waited in line for a security screening at the airport, you know getting through can take much longer than five minutes.
TSA PreCheck membership provides access to lanes that are designated for select travelers. Although many people are eligible for TSA PreCheck, many travelers don't have it. Therefore, the designated TSA security lanes often have fewer people waiting which often leads to shorter wait times. There's also the convenience of not removing shoes, devices, etc. You could pack and dress to make the security process easier; however, not having to unpack or undress can be much faster than having to do so.
How long does it take for TSA PreCheck approval?
The time it takes for a TSA PreCheck approval varies because of several factors, including the processing of fingerprints and background checks. After a successful in-person appointment, you could receive your Known Traveler Number in several days. That's what you add to flight reservations or check-ins to ensure your boarding pass gets a TSA PreCheck indicator.
TSA PreCheck applications can also take several weeks or months to process after your in-person appointment. It depends on a range of factors.
Is TSA PreCheck really worth it?
Although every member receives the same program benefits, here are some factors that only you can evaluate to decide if TSA PreCheck is worth it.
PreCheck lines tend to be shorter
One reason is that standard security screenings require that travelers remove certain clothing and carry-on items. These processes vary from person to person but often create slower-moving and longer lines.
Security scans might be more comfortable
With TSA PreCheck, you can leave on shoes, belts and light jackets. There's also no fumbling with large electronic devices—they can stay in your carry-on if you have TSA PreCheck. The result is usually a comfortable, seamless experience that doesn't sacrifice security.
The enrollment process can be straightforward
Enrollment requires an online application, an in-person appointment, then a review conducted by the TSA. The in-person appointment is usually a brief affair when you schedule ahead of time. There are hundreds of enrollment centers around the country, and one may be closer to you than you expect.
How to get TSA PreCheck
The first step in enrolling in TSA PreCheck is completing an application—it's a relatively straightforward process you can do on the TSA website. Your eligibility will be confirmed with a brief questionnaire, then you can schedule an in-person interview at a TSA enrollment center.
When you visit an enrollment center, you'll have to submit your fingerprints and present documents that verify your identity. Those are outlined when you apply online. This is also the point in the enrollment process when you pay the application fee.
If you're interested in ways to be reimbursed for the TSA PreCheck application fee, consider a travel credit card. Some offer reimbursement for the TSA PreCheck fee as a benefit. The Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card is one such credit card. Check your card issuer's terms and conditions to learn about potential fee reimbursement.