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Update: After delaying the reopening from July 6 to August 10 and then again to September 8, CBP Trusted Traveler enrollment centers finally reopened on September 8, 2020. This post has been updated to reflect these changes.
Since March 19th, Trusted Traveler Program enrollment centers have not conducted interviews for new applicants. But, after months of delays, enrollment centers reopened on September 8, 2020. Health regulations are in place for both employees and applicants, but you can currently schedule appointments.
What Are Trusted Traveler Programs
Trusted Traveler Programs are programs of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency and allow pre-screened travelers a quicker travel experience when entering and traveling through the United States. Programs include TSA PreCheck, Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, US-Mexico FAST, and US-Canada FAST.
If you aren't sure which program is right for you, CBP offers an easy-to-fill survey at the bottom of the TTP homepage:
Interviews for most of these programs resumed starting September 8. Start here to check availability for a location near you. Some locations are wide-open. For example, the Global Entry enrollment center in New York's JFK airport has interview availability every day through the end of November 2020.
Which Program is Right for You
Launched in 2011, the TSA PreCheck is a screening program available to U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, or lawful permanent residents. The program costs $85 and includes a background check and in-person interview. Once accepted, enter your Known Traveler Number in your airline reservation to get access to the TSA PreCheck screening lane. Membership lasts for 5 years, and you can renew it up to six months before the expiration date.
Perks of the TSA PreCheck screening lane include not having to remove your shoes, belt, or a light jacket when going through security. Plus, you can leave your laptop and liquids in your bag. Children under 12 can accompany you in the screening lane without their own membership.
TSA PreCheck is available in over 200 airports across the nation for eligible passengers of 73 airlines:
TSA Pre✓ Participating Airlines
|Aeromexico||Latin America and the Caribbean|
|Air Canada||North America|
|Air India||Indian Subcontinent|
|Alaska Airlines||North America|
|All Nippon Airways (ANA)||Asia|
|Allegiant Air||North America|
|American Airlines||North America|
|Aruba Airlines||Latin America and the Caribbean|
|Avianca||Latin America and the Caribbean|
|Azul Airlines||South America|
|Boutique Airlines||North America|
|Cape Air||North America|
|Contour Aviation||North America|
|Copa Airlines||Latin America and the Caribbean|
|Delta Air Lines||North America|
|Eastern Airlines||North America|
|Elite Airways||North America|
|Etihad Airways||Middle East|
|Frontier Airlines||North America|
|Hawaiian Airlines||North America|
|InterCaribbean Airways||Latin America and the Caribbean|
|JetBlue Airways||North America|
|Key Lime Air||North America|
|KLM Royal Dutch Airlines||Europe|
|Miami Air International||North America|
|Porter Airlines||North America|
|Qatar Airways||Middle East|
|Scandinavian Airlines (SAS)||Europe|
|Seaborne Airlines||North America|
|Silver Airways||North America|
|Southern Airways Express||North America|
|Southwest Airlines||North America|
|Spirit Airlines||North America|
|Sun Country Airlines||North America|
|Sunwing Airlines||North America|
|Swift Air||North America|
|Swiss International Air Lines||Europe|
|TAP Air Portugal||Europe|
|Turkish Airlines||Middle East|
|United Airlines||North America|
|World Atlantic||North America|
|Xtra Airways||North America|
Global Entry is kinda like TSA PreCheck for international arrivals into the United States. Travelers arriving in the U.S. from abroad by air, land, or sea receive an expedited immigration and customs experience.
With your membership, you will gain access to automated kiosks to complete your arrival interview. This expedited arrivals process is available in 75 airports around the U.S. and in dozens of international airports around the world. Even better, Global Entry comes with TSA PreCheck. That makes it the preferred program to enroll in if you do any international travel.
Global Entry is open to U.S. citizens, U.S. national or lawful permanent resident, as well as passport holders from Argentina, Colombia, Germany, India, Mexico, Panama, South Korea, Singapore, Switzerland, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom.
Global Entry has a $100 application fee, although you're not guaranteed membership if you don't pass the screening process. If accepted, your membership will last 5 years.
Credit Cards That Reimburse TSA PreCheck or Global Entry Application Fees
Spending $85 or $100 on a Trusted Traveler Program might not seem like a great deal, especially if you don't travel regularly. However, there are dozens of credit cards that will reimburse the fee for your TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application. Some of the cards offering this deal are as follows:
Our Take On Using Trusted Traveler Programs
With travel at a standstill, it might be a hard sell to pay the enrollment fee for one of the Trusted Traveler Programs. However, you might as well take advantage of this opportunity if you have one of the many credit cards that reimburse the Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee.
If you're considering paying the application fee anyways, it could actually be cheaper to sign up for low annual fee credit card that comes with this perk. For example, the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card charges an annual fee of $95. Plus, you can earn a 100,000-mile signup bonus when you spend $20,000 on purchases in the first 12 months from account opening, or still earn 50,000 miles if you spend $3000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
Worst case, these Trusted Traveler Programs might only knock a few minutes off your wait at security. But once travel returns to normal, Global Entry might save you as much as a couple of hours. Plus, it makes the screening process a lot more pleasant. I can't tell you how many times I've had my laptop and tablet swabbed when going through security at the airport, or arguing whether a couple of small packets of mayonnaise for my sandwich lunch counted as a liquid.
For rates and fees of the cards mentioned in this post, please visit the following links: Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card (Rates & Fees), The Business Platinum Card® from American Express (Rates & Fees), and The Platinum Card® from American Express (Rates & Fees)
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