The TSA PreCheck® perk is used before you go through security and can save you a lot of time at the airport.
First, you get to enter security screening through a dedicated TSA PreCheck line. Once you’re at the scanners, you can send your bag through without removing any of the following items (in most cases):
It feels weird the first time you do it, mainly because of how simple and fast the process is. According to TSA data, 92% of TSA PreCheck passengers waited less than 5 minutes to get through security last month…
How to enroll in TSA PreCheck
Oh, and you need to pay the $78 fee. Did I forget to mention that?
Probably because you actually don’t need to pay for it. Many credit cards offer reimbursement for TSA PreCheck and the other Trusted Traveler Programs.
One great option is the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, which only costs $95 per year, but covers up to $100 of reimbursement for all three Trusted Traveler Programs (e.g. TSA PreCheck, Global Entry, or Nexus).
Potentially $100 back from a $95 card? All I can say is…
If you’d like to browse through an entire list of cards that offer you this perk FOR FREE, we’ve got you covered.
What to Know When Enrolling in a Trusted Traveler Program
Two final points that I want you to be aware of:
Appointments for Global Entry, Nexus, and even sometimes TSA PreCheck are scarce these days, especially in the bigger cities.
Be careful which enrollment center you decide to visit.
Let me explain that last point…
As I mentioned, I recently flew to Detroit to complete my interview for Nexus, despite the fact that there are five or six enrollment centers located closer to me.
Detroit was the closest place I could get an appointment in the next six months, so I went pretty far out of my way. In my mind, it was worth the effort, given how often I travel.
What I didn’t realize is how painful the process would be…
Not only was my Uber driver freaked out that he was going to accidentally drive into Canada, but the Detroit border is very congested and complicated, and finding my way there was confusing and stressful.
If I could do it again, I would choose an enrollment center located in a smaller town. For example, Sault St. Marie (Michigan/Ontario border) has lots of appointments open.
The area is pretty small and the border is much easier to navigate. There are similar small towns dotted around the country where you can simply walk on foot to the enrollment center and not have to worry about navigating busy border crossings. So, yeah. You’ve been warned.
Final Thoughts on Trusted Traveler Programs
Enrolling in one of these Trusted Traveler programs obviously has many benefits for the avid traveler. If you fly domestically the majority of the time, TSA PreCheck is going to be your best buddy.
Flying internationally? Global Entry is a solid option. But if you’re also crossing into Canada often, why not go for Nexus and get the additional perks? Thanks, Canada!
Plus, and perhaps best of all, you can enroll in any of these programs for free if you simply have a credit card that offers a credit to do so.
I hope this helps to clarify some of the terms and programs you’ve maybe heard about but haven’t delved into.
Which program will you choose??