Traveling isn’t as easy as it used to be.
There are plenty of rules and regulations about how large bags can be and how many you can have, sometimes you have to arrive at the airport waaaaaay earlier than you think, and don’t even get us started on those TSA Security lines. Going through airport security doesn’t have to be a headache with expedited services like PreCheck and Global Entry, though. But which one is right for you? We’re breaking it all down.
No liquids over 3 ounces. Remove your shoes. Take your laptop out of your bag. Spin around three times and do some jumping jacks. Okay, they might not actually ask you to do that last part at airport security, but sometimes it might feel like it.
We’re always looking for ways to help make your travels easier, so we’re breaking down the different ways you can skip the line and save yourself some trouble — whether it’s TSA PreCheck, Global Entry, or something else!
TSA PreCheck is run by the US Department of Homeland Security, meaning it’s a government program. The biggest perk to PreCheck is expedited security at more than 200 airports throughout the United States and it is intended for travel within the US. It’s the best option for travelers looking to skip the line but may not have a US Passport.
TSA PreCheck means your security screening process will be less invasive — you typically don’t have to remove your shoes, belt, light jacket, laptop, or approved liquids from your luggage. Plus, the PreCheck line is often much, much shorter than the regular TSA security line. There are no age requirements for PreCheck either!
You can apply for TSA PreCheck online, and will have to attend a quick appointment for a background check and fingerprinting. The cost is $85, but that’s for a five-year long PreCheck membership, so once you have it you don’t have to renew for another five years. TSA PreCheck might be good for you if you travel within the US frequently but not so much internationally.
Global Entry is another government program, but this one is run by US Customs and Border Protection as Global Entry is intended for international travel. With Global Entry, there is expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers returning to the US after international trips at more than 200 airports. Think of it like the express lane at Customs and Immigration.
For Global Entry, you must be a US citizen with a passport or a US lawful permanent resident. You can be a resident of select other countries as well, but will have to go through a different screening process. There is an application with a $100 nonrefundable fee, and there are only certain locations where the in-person appointment can be done — so you might have to travel for that depending on where you live.
But, Global Entry also lasts for five years and includes all the benefits and perks of TSA PreCheck when traveling within the US. Expedited security, less rigorous screenings, and less of a headache for you overall. And, like PreCheck, there are no specific age requirements.
There are some other services that function like PreCheck and Global Entry that might not be as well-known. Nexus and Clear are two other options that could be right for you based on your travel needs. Let’s take a look.
Nexus is a program designed specifically for frequent travel between the United States and Canada. It’s a joint program run by both countries that offers expedited crossings at land, marine, and air borders between the two nations. In addition to designated lanes at road and air crossings, there’s a faster border questioning process for those with Nexus.
And, when you’re flying, Nexus includes all TSA PreCheck and Global Entry benefits at airports across the United States. Since it’s a program from both countries, applicants do have to speak with border patrol officers of both countries as part of the application and interview process. But, it’s the cheapest of all the options at $50 for a five year membership.
Out of all the options we’ve mentioned, Clear is the only one that is privately run. It’s designed to speed up airport security by using fingerprint and retinal scans instead of traditional forms of ID. Clear doesn’t include TSA PreCheck, so you’ll still have to remove your shoes, belt, etc. when going through security.
As of now, it’s available in 45 airports in the US, but is limited to travelers ages 18 and up, so if you’re traveling with kids they won’t be able to utilize this service. It’s also the most expensive of all the options despite offering the fewest benefits at $179 per year.
At the end of the day, only you can determine which service is right for you and your next trip. Keep in mind that what makes the most sense for one vacation might not be the most logical choice for another. But, we’ll be sure to keep bringing you the latest travel tips and information you can use before your next trip — like in the posts below:
- How To Be Prepared for Lost Luggage
- The MOST and LEAST Reliable Airlines in the US
- The CHEAPEST Time To Fly to Disney World in 2023
- BEST Airport To Use for a Disney World Trip
Stay tuned to DFB for the latest travel news and more!
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Our Best Tips For Flying Through the Orlando International Airport
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Do you use any of these services? Let us know in the comments!
Dean Sonntag says
My wife and I travel a lot. We both have Global Entry and Clear. Clear is especially helpful at Orlando International Airport. When our four year old grandson travels with us we take him through Clear and TSA pre approved
Jerry Drumm says
For Ohioans, the only place you will get an interview is either Minnesota or Michigan. It’s an easy way for global entry to make money. To me, it’s a scam.