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Is CLEAR worth it?

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    Is CLEAR worth the cost? That may come down to saving time at the airport. CLEAR eye and fingerprint scans can help travelers pass through airport security lanes, and other secure locations, thereby reducing time at the airport, among other benefits. Additional features for CLEAR users include virtual age verification, check-ins at hotels and other locations, health passes, queueing ahead in lines and credential checks. 

    Do all these benefits make CLEAR worth it?

    What is CLEAR at the airport?

    Perhaps its greatest benefit, CLEAR can help get you through the airport and to your flight quickly. Instead of waiting in the standard lines when you reach the airport, you can find a CLEAR kiosk. That's where your ID and boarding pass can be verified with biometrics through an iris and fingerprint scan. After verification, a CLEAR agent will typically escort you to the front of security with little to no waiting.

    CLEAR offers additional benefits

    CLEAR may be best known for reducing wait time at the airport but there are several more benefits. From providing age verification, health documents or credentials on your mobile device to holding your place in line or easing the check-in process, CLEAR benefits extend beyond the airport.

    CLEAR credentials

    Your CLEAR account includes your state identification, certifications and licenses. Access to your CLEAR account through your mobile device can help keep your workplace or school up to date on necessary documents and certifications. These credentials are auto updated in your CLEAR account by the source, such as the DMV database. So, you can share your CLEAR account credentials with work or school today and the data stays current if they check it again later.

    CLEAR age verification

    With a CLEAR account you can use the application on your mobile device to prove your age at participating events and locations without the need for a physical ID.

    Health passes with CLEAR

    The CLEAR application includes a simple health screener. This enables businesses you interact with to scan the app in your mobile device and check your clearance for standard health checkpoints, such as required vaccinations. That can reduce the need for paperwork and help protect your privacy.

    Virtual queues with CLEAR Reserve

    Reserve is a service CLEAR provides that works as a virtual queue for waiting in line at participating airports. This use of your account in the CLEAR app can help you save a spot in airport lines from the convenience of your mobile device.

    CLEAR check-ins

    CLEAR check-ins can work for rental cars, hotels, offices and events. These check-ins offer an automated digital way for you to verify your identity for a more seamless entry where you next plan to visit.

    How much is a CLEAR airport pass?

    CLEAR membership is currently $189 per year, which includes the airport pass and additional benefits listed above. 

    You can start enrollment online at the CLEAR website and then complete your application at the airport. Membership enrollment begins with entering your name, email address, zip code and birthdate into the website. Then you can add up to three adult family members (over 18 years old) for $60 each (fees subject to change). Children under 18 don't need to be enrolled at all as they can pass through the CLEAR line with the enrolled member without being added to the account. Children under 18 are not asked to present photo ID at the airport.

    You process the annual payment at signup. After payment verification, CLEAR lets you know what documentation to bring to the airport for your next application step. That's how you can set yourself on the way to yielding the benefits of CLEAR.

    CLEAR vs. TSA PreCheck and Global Entry

    Although it's a private company, CLEAR is offered alongside government pre-screening services such as TSA PreCheck and Global Entry. Each program has its pros and cons. These include the application process, costs, functions and the number of airports where they work. 

    Application: As government agencies, TSA PreCheck and Global Entry applications usually involve in-person interviews with government agents as part of the application process. You can finish CLEAR enrollment at a participating airport the next time you fly after signing up. All three entities use biometrics including fingerprints as part of their application process. Each of the three travel services also requires government identification documents for membership and you can begin the applications online. 

    Cost: Global Entry charges $100 whereas the application and membership fee for TSA PreCheck is $78. Global Entry and TSA PreCheck memberships both remain active for five years. In comparison, CLEAR membership charges an annual fee of $189 (as of May 2024). 

    Along with standard membership costs, you may want to consider that these services sometimes have substantial discounts or reimbursement from certain credit cards. It could be worth the effort to check your card membership agreements before choosing which one of these services may work best for you. 

    Functions: TSA PreCheck functions in a comparable manner to CLEAR because it can help expedite the security process for airport departures. CLEAR also offers benefits outside of the airport, as discussed above. Global Entry serves a different purpose at airports and borders, although it can also expedite and ease traveler experiences. Global Entry helps expedite border crossings between certain countries across the globe. 

    Airport availability: CLEAR has specialty lanes in various U.S. airports. Global Entry services airports around the world with kiosks and entry lanes. There are also many Global Entry units at land and seaports across the globe. TSA PreCheck works in about 200 airports nationwide because it's tied to domestic U.S. travel.

    In summary

    CLEAR offers expedited passage through airports and everyday situations such as waiting in line. But a relatively high membership cost might raise the question, is CLEAR worth it at this price? Other memberships such as TSA PreCheck and Global Entry can offer frequent travelers less costly alternatives for different expedited travel benefits. Chase Sapphire Reserve® does offer reimbursement for CLEAR (not Clear PLUS), but does offer a statement credit every four years if the card is used to pay the TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fee. You might not be up for what can be a more challenging application process with these government agencies, though. CLEAR may be worth it for you if its offering meets your needs.

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