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Arguably, one of the least enjoyable parts of air travel is the security checkpoints. In the U.S., the agency in charge of security screenings at airports, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), bears the brunt of any frustration associated with air travel. Fortunately, though, the TSA does offer a program in which most people can enroll that makes going through security at the airport a breeze.
What is TSA Pre✓?
Imagine going through security screenings at the airport in less than 5 minutes and without having to remove your shoes, laptop, liquids, belts and light jackets. For a fee of $85, which includes a 5-year membership, that is what you get with TSA Pre✓.
TSA Pre✓ is available to U.S. citizens, nationals, and legal permanent residents. All you need to do to enroll is submit an online application, which should take 5 minutes according to the TSA, and schedule a background check appointment at one of 380+ enrollment centers where you will be fingerprinted. Assuming you successfully complete your background check, you will be enrolled in the TSA Pre✓ program within a couple of weeks.
Once you are enrolled, you will be assigned a Known Traveler Number, which can be added to your frequent flyer accounts and/or air travel reservations so that airlines are aware of your membership. This will allow participating airlines to add a TSA Precheck indicator on your boarding pass, which, in turn, allows you to use the Precheck security lines at participating airports. Please note that enrollment in the TSA Precheck program does not guarantee your boarding passes will be printed with this indicator every time (although it should happen most of the time).
Is Global Entry a Better Alternative?
Global Entry is a program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States. Global Entry membership includes enrollment in TSA Pre✓. At $100, the membership fee is only $15 higher than the TSA Pre✓ fee. This fee also covers a 5-year membership period.
If you fly internationally at least once within a 5-year period, Global Entry membership is likely the better choice. However, if you know for a fact you will not be flying internationally in that window, then a TSA Pre✓ membership will cover the objective of getting through security screening as quickly as possible.
TSA Pre✓ Participating Airlines and Airports
|Aeromexico||Latin America and the Caribbean|
|Air Canada||North America|
|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|
|Boutique Airlines||North America|
|Cape Air||North America|
|Contour Aviation||North America|
|Copa Airlines||Latin America and the Caribbean|
|Delta Air Lines||North America|
|Dominican Wings||Latin America and the Caribbean|
|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|
|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|
|Thomas Cook Airlines (Scandinavia)||Europe|
|Thomas Cook Airlines (UK)||Europe|
|Turkish Airlines||Middle East|
|United Airlines||North America|
|Via Air||North America|
|World Atlantic||North America|
|Xtra Airways||North America|
The number of international airlines participating in the TSA Pre✓ program is expected to grow significantly over the next few years.
There are more than 180 airports that participate in TSA Pre✓, including all major airports in the U.S.
Credit Cards that Provide TSA Pre✓ Enrollment or Renewal Fee Credit
Thanks to a large number of credit cards that provide credits in connection to applications or renewals for TSA Pre✓ or Global Entry, you can enjoy all the advantages provided by either of these programs just by having the right card. These credit cards include the following:
|Chase Sapphire Reserve®||4 years|
|The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card||4 years|
|The Platinum Card® from American Express||4 years|
|The Business Platinum® Card from American Express||4 years|
|United℠ Explorer Card||4 years|
|IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card||4 years|
|Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card||4 years|
|Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®||5 years|
|Citi Prestige® Card||5 years|
|U.S. Bank Altitude™ Reserve Visa Infinite® Card||4 years|
|TravElite American Express® Card||5 years|
|Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Credit Card||4 years|
|PenFed Pathfinder Rewards American Express® Card||5 years|
|HSBC Premier World Mastercard® credit card||5 years - TSA Pre✓® only|
|HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard® credit card||5 years - TSA Pre✓® only|
TSA Pre✓ can be worth it even for the infrequent traveler. While enrollment does require a small amount of cost and effort, frustration saved can easily be worth it. For those that travel internationally, Global Entry is the better option, as you get all of the TSA Pre✓ benefits plus the perks of expedited immigration processing with dedicated Global Entry Kiosks at many major international airports throughout the country. Make sure to pay for your application or renewal fee with one of the credit cards we mentioned to receive a full credit. And, if you've already got TSA Pre✓ or Global Entry, you can use your card for someone else to receive the statement credit on any of those cards. Check out each card for the specific terms and conditions of the benefit.
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