A chance to save time at the airport could be useful sometimes but necessary at other times. Here is where a Trusted Traveler Program (TTP) like TSA PreCheck® or Global Entry® comes in. Membership in either program provides access to certain airport security lanes designed to be simple and fast, so travelers can get on their way without sacrificing security.
TSA PreCheck and Global Entry are popular for several reasons, and while they provide similar benefits, they are distinct programs. Let's review the differences and see if we can help you decide if either one is right for you.
The difference between TSA PreCheck and Global Entry
TSA PreCheck allows you to access certain lanes at airport security in many U.S. airports. Global Entry gives you access to certain lanes at U.S. Customs checks while also providing TSA PreCheck. Security screenings take place before you depart on a flight, so that's when you'd use TSA PreCheck. Customs checks typically occur when you enter the U.S. after an international trip. However, this may occur before departure if you're flying to the U.S. from any airport that offers pre-clearance for customs.
TSA PreCheck is available to U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals and lawful permanent residents. To enroll in Global Entry, you don't have to be a U.S. citizen. Lawful permanent residents and citizens of several countries are eligible for Global Entry. Those countries currently include Taiwan, Switzerland, South Korea, Singapore, Panama, Germany, United Kingdom, Columbia, India and Argentina.
Faster security screening
The programs are comparable in this regard. TSA PreCheck's core benefit is providing access to designated security lanes, which often make security screening a faster process. Global Entry members can also enjoy TSA PreCheck, so it's a benefit of both programs. For international travel, though, only Global Entry will provide access to fasttrack lanes at U.S. Customs.
You may find that the Global Entry enrollment process is a bit more demanding than that of TSA PreCheck. Here are some reasons why:
- Documentation: Global Entry requires a passport, which takes some paperwork and has its own cost if you don't have one already.
- In-person portion: You'll have to visit an enrollment center to finish enrolling in either TSA PreCheck or Global Entry. For TSA PreCheck, you visit a center primarily to be fingerprinted and present certain documentation. The in-person portion of Global Entry, however, is more of an interview.
- Enrollment: TSA PreCheck has hundreds of enrollment centers where you can finish applying, but most centers where you finish enrolling in Global Entry are located in major airports. In general, there are fewer enrollment centers that handle Global Entry than there are TSA PreCheck enrollment centers.
The cost of Global Entry vs TSA PreCheck
As of May 2023, the initial cost of TSA PreCheck enrollment is $78, and Global Entry enrollment costs $100. Membership in both programs lasts five years, and the renewal fees may vary. Some credit cards, such as Chase Sapphire Reserve®, provide a benefit that reimburses the application fee for enrolling in TTPs like TSA PreCheck and Global Entry every four years.
How to get Global Entry reimbursed
If you have Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card, you can receive a statement credit of up to $100 every four years as reimbursement for the application fee for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry. The card has several other travel rewards and benefits, too, like airport lounge access. Other travel credit cards with annual fees may reimburse the TSA PreCheck fee, as well.
Is TSA PreCheck included with Global Entry?
Yes, a Global Entry membership includes TSA PreCheck without requiring an additional application or fee. After you successfully enroll in Global Entry, you'll be provided a Known Traveler Number. Enter this when booking or checking in for flights, and you can access TSA PreCheck security lanes at airports, not just fast-track screenings through U.S. Customs.
Should you choose Global Entry or TSA PreCheck?
Global Entry and TSA PreCheck have similar benefits and price points for initial enrollment. The following considerations may help you choose a program that best fits your travel habits.
How often you travel
The amount you travel can help you decide if the membership is worth the application fee. If you travel just once per year, it may not be worth your time to go through either program's application process.
Where you travel
Global Entry might be preferred particularly by travelers who re-enter the U.S. often. That's because Global Entry offers access to exclusive lanes at U.S. Customs. Although this can be very useful, so can TSA PreCheck, which is included in Global Entry membership. If you don't travel internationally very often, TSA PreCheck may provide great value to your travel experience.
How easily you can complete the process
Global Entry enrollment will require a valid passport and an interview. If you don't have a passport, or if you're not close to an enrollment center, the entire process of getting Global Entry may take months. To learn more about the enrollment process, visit CBP.gov/GlobalEntry.
Many travelers take advantage of Global Entry and TSA PreCheck every day. Both programs can be helpful when traveling internationally or domestically. TSA PreCheck helps quicken security screenings, and Global Entry includes that benefit while also easing re-entry into the United States.
When trying to choose a TTP, remember some of the key aspects: eligibility, cost and the application process. Also, the Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card offers reimbursement for the application fee charged to your card every four years.