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What is CLEAR, and what does it include?

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    If you're looking to improve your travel experience, you may be considering a CLEAR membership. While there are several programs designed to expedite airport security screening, CLEAR has a few features that make it distinct from its counterparts.

    What is CLEAR?

    One big difference between the CLEAR traveler program and similar programs is that it's privately owned and operated. Programs like TSA PreCheck® and Global Entry, by contrast, are government programs run by the Department of Homeland Security. 

    Another main difference is that CLEAR uses biometrics to confirm your identity rather than traditional identification documents. When you arrive at a CLEAR kiosk, you scan your boarding pass, and the kiosk machine will scan your fingerprints and irises. This allows CLEAR members to skip the initial security line where TSA agents review a passenger's travel identification, such as passport or driver's license. 

    Once your identity has been authenticated by the biometric scan, a CLEAR ambassador will escort you to the screening lines to proceed as usual.

    Benefits of a CLEAR membership

    One of the main benefits to the CLEAR program is skipping the initial TSA line. This helps expedite your overall security experience by reducing waiting times. 

    Another benefit is the ability to stack CLEAR with other programs, such as TSA PreCheck. If you're registered with both programs, you're able to skip the identity verification line and use the often-shorter TSA PreCheck screening line. 

    CLEAR has the further benefit of being accepted at some major sports stadiums, giving it value outside of the airport. While you will still be subject to physical screenings or bag searches, you'll have access to CLEAR lines (where available), which are often shorter and faster. 

    You may also find CLEAR useful if you travel with children, as anyone under the age of 18 can use the CLEAR lanes for free when traveling with an adult who is a member.

    Cost of CLEAR

    CLEAR membership does differ from other traveler programs in cost. While TSA PreCheck is currently $78 for a five-year membership and Global Entry is $100 for a five-year membership, CLEAR currently costs $189 annually. You can add up to three family or friends to your account for an additional $60 each, which is not an option with other expedited security programs (as of April 2023). 

    There are a couple of potential ways to reduce the cost of the CLEAR traveler program or be reimbursed for it completely. One way is to explore frequent flyer programs. Some airlines may offer discounts on a CLEAR membership if you're a program member. 

    Another way is to research travel credit cards. Some credit cards may offer a discount on the cost, while other cards may reimburse you for the total amount. Other cards, such as Chase Sapphire Reserve®, do not reimburse fees for CLEAR if the card is used to pay the application fee. Be sure to read your card's terms and benefits carefully. 

    You may also want to keep an eye out for promotions. CLEAR sometimes runs sales or offers discount codes on its website, so consider checking regularly if you're hoping to save some money. These promotions can sometimes be paired with other discounts, such as from a credit card or frequent flyer program, to get an even better deal.

    In summary

    For travelers looking for another way to make security at airports a bit smoother, a CLEAR membership could be an option. It uses biometrics to bypass the TSA identity verification line and comes with the additional benefit of use at participating venues outside of the airport.

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