Global Entry and TSA Precheck are two programs offered by the US Department of Homeland Security. Both programs are suppose to offer a faster way to get through the security checkpoints, but that’s not always the case. I’ve read reports online where the precheck lines are actually longer than the regular lines. I personally have never seen this, but just know that you’re not always guaranteed a 5 minute security line.
Any U.S. citizen can apply, but you must have a squeaky clean background to be approved! Before you go and apply for the one of two, you want to make sure you apply for the correct program! Otherwise you could be throwing money down the drain.
Why Global Entry over TSA Precheck
Both programs come with a non-refundable application fee. TSA Precheck is $85 while Global Entry is $100. Global Entry is ONLY $15 MORE and it automatically gives you TSA Precheck if approved! For the additional $15, I think it’s a no-brainer. Global Entry is going to give you the option to go through U.S. customs via a kiosk when coming back into the country. This saves time by not having to wait in line with the general public.
Even if you don’t have an upcoming trip outside the country, your Global Entry status is valid 5 years from the date of approval. $15 is only a few cups of coffee at Starbucks, I think it’s worth it to spend the additional money to be covered. If you end up applying for TSA Precheck and then decide you want Global Entry, you’ll have to apply all over again and spend another $100.
It’s also worth pointing out that Global Entry does require you have a passport. If you don’t have a U.S. passport, then you’re unable to apply for Global Entry at this time.
Do my spouse and I both need to apply?
If you both want the benefits, then yes. Your mileage may vary, but I have read reports online where the TSA agent WILL allow you to bring your spouse through the line. Teddy and I have never experienced this. I’ve tried going through the Precheck line with him, but the TSA agents always re-direct me to the regular line. It really just depends on the agent. I wouldn’t count on getting through with your spouse if you don’t have either TSA Precheck or Global Entry.
How to get reimbursed for the application fee
Just a quick shout-out to my favorite credit card company. If you have the American Express Platinum card, they will reimburse you for TSA Precheck or Global Entry, but not both. So you might as well go with Global Entry since it’s free.
The Platinum card is $450, but you get reimbursed up to $200 a year on the airline of your choice that participates in the Amex program. I always choose Delta and then turn around and buy $200 in Delta gift cards. This brings the annual fee down to $250 a year, and then with the Global Entry fee reimbursed, you’re looking at only $150 your first year. Not to shabby considering American Express is giving 40,000 Membership Rewards points as a signup bonus.
Why I don’t have either TSA Precheck or Global Entry
Did you notice how I mentioned a few paragraphs up that I’ve tried to get in the TSA Precheck line with Teddy? Then you’ll know that I actually don’t have access to either program. I applied for Global Entry since it was free with my Amex Platinum card, but I didn’t get approved. Just for the record, I didn’t think I would get approved, but I figured it was worth a shot since I am a federal employee.
I made a stupid, stupid mistake of driving home one night after going out drinking with a friend. Since I made an unwise decision, I paid for it by getting pulled over and receiving a DUI. Because of this, I am unable to receive TSA Precheck or Global Entry. I have to wait 10 YEARS from the time of the incident.
So when I say you have to have a squeaky clean background, I mean it. Even if you think that DUI from 8 years ago doesn’t count. It does. You also can’t have any felonies on your background or a criminal history. I imagine something like a speeding ticket is OK, but nothing too severe.
Have you been approved for either program when you didn’t think you would? Let me know in the comments below!