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TSA PreCheck vs. Global Entry Vs. CLEAR: costs and benefits of each

  TSA Security Control at Denver International Airport

John Greim / Getty Images

Standing in line at the airport is not a way to start a vacation. And there is certainly no way for frequent travelers to fly. You've probably heard of various programs that promise to get you through airport security faster and you've probably tried to investigate them when you've painfully slowed down TSA checkpoint . Maybe you are just reading these words while standing in the security line of an airport!

We know your pain. Here at CNET, we are always on the go to report on the latest news, congresses or trade fairs. And after all the time at the airport, we learned a thing or two about the three main options to make the wait shorter: TSA PreCheck, Global Entry and CLEAR. So before you take off your shoes and belt and take your laptop and fluids out of your carry-on bag read on to find out more about the cost, application process, and benefits.

TSA's automated security strips are designed to accelerate holiday travel.


The following decisions and opinions are based on independent reviews by our editors. Please note that CNET may receive a portion of the revenue when you buy or subscribe to our website.

Travel services in comparison

Our recommendations

Detailed tests of the services follow, here however the express version.

Global entry is the best overall option. A CNET writer once called it "the best $ 100 I've ever spent," and if you're using it for the first time, you'll agree. Global Entry brings all the benefits of TSA Pre – much faster and less invasive TSA security controls – and provides an express link between customs and immigration from international destinations to the United States. If you have a passport, this is to get.

TSA Pre is the best option if you do not have a passport. If you only travel inland, TSA Pre makes flying much easier. But if you go on an international journey for the next five years, you can convince yourself if you do not pay an additional $ 15 for Global Entry.

CLEAR is not recommended at the current price. The base price of CLEAR just feels unaffordable. It's nearly $ 200 a year, compared to just $ 20 for Global Entry. And this membership fee does not give you the faster TSA security check, so you probably still want to invest in Global Entry or TSA Pre. Without a price erosion or an extended service level, CLEAR just does not seem to be worth it. However …

CLEAR Sports pays off for sports fans and concertgoers in certain cities . No, that has nothing to do with airports or travel. However, with the free-of-charge level of CLEAR, called CLEAR Sports, you'll have fast entry into 16 stadiums across the country. If you live in one of the cities where it is offered – and you agree with the company Clear, which has your biometric data this free service is worth a visit.

And, as you might suspect, if you're a true privacy advocate, you can skip all this.

Want to delve deeper into these things? Continue reading.

TSA PreCheck

With more than 7 million members, TSA PreCheck is the most popular of the accelerated airport security screening programs. It is operated by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and allows you to use a special TSA PreCheck line at the airport rather than struggling with everyone else through the main security checkpoint. In addition to the shorter line, the check itself is speeded up as you do not have to take off your shoes or laptop while going through a TSA PreCheck checkpoint. According to TSA, 92 percent of TSA PreCheck members lasted less than 5 minutes last May.

For whom?

Air travelers within the USA. To be eligible, you must be a US citizen or have a lawful permanent residence. Even children under the age of 12 of TSA PreCheck members can go through the TSA PreCheck line with their parents.

What does it matter?

The TSA PreCheck queue is not only likely to be shorter than the airport's regular security checkpoint, but you'll also need to get through faster, because you do not have to take off your shoes, belt, or light jacket, or take out your laptop or liquids.

  Security validation "data-original =" https://cnet3.cbsistatic.com/img/gRX-KfbcKGqGZkvUQjTVE8hf6Zw=/2019/06/11/40ac144c-947e-4523-b87b-5b545c378cf4/security-screening.j [19659024] Security Check


Where can I use it?

At more than 200 participating US airports and 67 participating airlines in the US.

What does it cost?

TSA PreCheck costs $ 85 for five years.

How do I apply?

This is a two-step process:

1. Complete an online application and arrange a personal appointment for a background check. There are more than 380 enrollment centers for the personal interview. Unlike the early years of the program, not all are in airports anymore.

. 2 Go to the event to get answers to background review questions and get a fingerprint.

The TSA estimates that completing the online application will take five minutes and the personal appointment will take ten minutes.

How does it work?

Once you have been approved and have paid your $ 85, you will receive a Known Traveler Number (KTN). When booking a flight, you must add your KTN to your reservation to use the TSA PreCheck lane at the airport.

Global Entry

Global Entry is a breeze if you like the idea of ​​TSA PreCheck and travel internationally. This program which is carried out by the US Customs and Border Protection Agency (CBP), contains TSA PreCheck and offers the possibility of getting through customs more quickly when entering from abroad.

For whom?

International travelers by air, land or sea. To be eligible, you must be a US citizen, lawful permanent resident or citizen of the following countries: Argentina, Colombia, Germany, India, Panama, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan or the United Kingdom. Children need their own Global Entry membership for the same price as adults.

What does it matter?

This will allow you to skip the long customs queue and paperwork and unpleasant conversation with a customs agent on your return to the US. Instead of this unpleasant process, Global Entry members can use a self-service kiosk to skip customs clearance. When leaving the US, Global Entry also includes TSA PreCheck to help you get through airport security faster.

  global-entry "data-original =" https://cnet1.cbsistatic.com/img/2EENvr-FO0sQ9XUk74udcS_7tvE=/2019/06/11/8e766ed3-2b48-4cb1-98ba-0011427a617f/global-entry.jpg


Where can I use it?

You can use Global Entry at dozens of airports in the US, including Guam, Saipan and Puerto Rico. It is also available at some major Canadian airports (Calgary, Edmonton, Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and Winnipeg) as well as at several other international locations (Abu Dhabi, Aruba, Bermuda, Dublin, Grand Bahamas, Nassau). This adds to the benefits of a full TSA Pre membership, which you can use at over 200 domestic US airports.

What does it cost?

Global Entry costs $ 100 for five years – only $ 3 more per year than TSA PreCheck.

How do I apply?

Similar to TSA PreCheck, you must complete an online application. First, create an account for the Trusted Traveler program. Then complete the Global Entry application (which includes the $ 100 non-refundable fee). Once accepted under certain conditions, arrange a personal appointment at a registration center and pass a background check. For your personal interview, you need a valid passport and other ID such as a driver's license or ID card. Legally settled residents must submit their machine-readable permanent residence permit.

How does it work?

No other documents are required beyond your otherwise unmodified US passport. If accepted, simply check with Customs for the appropriate Global Entry kiosks when you enter the US at participating airports. The ATM-style kiosk takes a picture and asks you five questions on the same questions you get with handwritten immigration forms (bring in fruit, you have $ 10,000 in cash) that you answer on the touch screen. If the answer to these questions is no, you can pass the printed receipt to an immigration officer who checks your passport. In just 2 minutes you are on the way to the luggage belt.

You will also receive a Global Entry ID card, which is required only for land and sea port entries from Mexico or Canada. (Unless you're familiar with the SENTRI and NEXUS programs that apply to crossings to and from your country, you probably do not need to worry about that.)


Unlike TSA PreCheck and Global Entry CLEAR is operated by a private company and not by the government. This allows you to jump directly in front of the main safety line or the TSA PreCheck line at the airport. Instead of waiting in the queue to show your ID card and boarding pass to the TSA agent, you can use a CLEAR kiosk to scan your eyes and fingerprints and direct them to the front of the security line.

You may still want to use it with TSA PreCheck or Global Entry because it will only allow you to skip the queue. You must continue to take precautions by removing shoes, belts, laptops, and fluids unless you also enjoy TSA PreCheck benefits.

For whom?

Air travelers with eyes and fingers hating long lines. To be eligible, you must be at least 18 years of age and must have one of the following IDs: US driver's license, US passport, US passport, US Permanent Resident Card, state issued ID card, or US Military ID.

What does it matter?

CLEAR allows you to skip the airport security line, but you still need to perform the regular security checks. It saves you from having to present your identity card and boarding pass to a TSA agent after you have been on the security line to do so. Instead, you can use a CLEAR kiosk to scan your iris and fingerprints before a CLEAR representative accompanies you directly to the first set of security checks. You'll need to take off your shoes and belt and remove your laptop and liquids from your carry-on bag unless you have TSA PreCheck, which speeds up the review process.

  clear-kiosk "data-original =" https://cnet4.cbsistatic.com/img/IZdY0xPDCdN-yr65Lv1553EbN-Y=/2019/06/11/e336c8ff-d6cb-4fb3-a3be-eb1e4e2ea5a6/clear-kioskiosk .png


Where can I use it?

CLEAR is not as common as TSA PreCheck or Global Entry. It is available in a select number of airports and in a handful of stadiums to bring you through safety and get you to the game or concert faster.

What does it cost?

CLEAR is more expensive than TSA PreCheck or Global Entry. It costs $ 179 a year and you can add up to three family members for $ 50 a year. Children under 18 can use the CLEAR kiosk when traveling with a CLEAR family member.

Delta members can get a deal for CLEAR. It is free for Diamond Medallion members, $ 109 per year for Platinum, Gold and Silver Medallion members, and $ 119 per annum for General SkyMiles members.

What is CLEAR Sports?

A CLEAR Sports membership is free for entry into the stadium and allows you to take a guest with you through the CLEAR security lane.

How do I apply?

CLEAR is the most expensive but easiest to join. They fill out an application online and then finish the process at an airport or stadium where CLEAR is offered. There is no need for a separate trip to a registration center. You can use CLEAR on the day you log in.

How does it work?

Your iris and fingerprints are scanned at registration and linked to your account. You can then use this biometric data to race through the CLEAR track of an airport or stadium instead of the regular security line.

Security and privacy concerns

Global Entry and TSA Pre are programs of the US government, while CLEAR is a private company. However, using one of the services will reveal a great deal of personal information, including fingerprints – and your face .

In the case of CLEAR, the company's website states: "We never sell or rent personal information, and personal information is used only to provide the services associated with CLEAR membership."

For Global Entry and TSA Pre, you share this information with the Federal Government. That leaves many people pausing, especially as the government has shown that keeping your data safe is no better than doing business. From the OPM Injury to the Shadow Brokers the government already had a pretty bleak reputation. And now US Customs and Border Protection – the body managing Global Entry – admitted that travel photos were compromised in a cyberattack .

So yes: none of these systems will be comfortable for people who care about privacy. And if that makes you uncomfortable, none of these services are for you. While arguing for a higher level of passenger rights is a valuable debate, it will not get you through the security line faster for your next flight. Cheaper or worse means sacrificing some privacy, at least vis-à-vis the airlines, the governments of the countries you travel through and their various subcontractors.

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