Trusted Traveler Programs

There are few things I enjoy less than having to wait in line. Maybe it’s the New Yorker in me or my obsessive craving for efficiency, but traveling can certainly test my patience. From unexpected traffic to delays out of my control, I am always holding my breath until I am actually at my destination. So what has me sighing in relief? When I am able to breeze through TSA Precheck security or get home sooner after an international flight thanks to Global Entry. What are these programs and to which one do I recommend applying? Read on to find out!

Trusted Traveler Programs

The Department of Homeland Security recognizes five Trusted Traveler programs that allow low-risk traveler members to expedite their screening process across borders and at the airport. The four non-commercial programs include Global Entry, TSA Precheck, SENTRI and NEXUS. SENTRI is for frequent travel between US and Mexico, and NEXUS is ideal between the US and Canada. For this post, I will focus on Global Entry and TSA Precheck as more widespread programs.

Why Bother?

First and foremost, why are we even talking about these programs? Why would I pay to become a member? The Trusted Traveler network offers huge advantages if you are a frequent traveler.

Domestically, TSA Precheck offers a separate and often shorter security line where you do not have to take off your shoes, light jacket, or belt as long as they will not set off the metal detectors. While you still need to comply with the 3-1-1 liquids rule, you do not need to remove the quart-size bag from your suitcase or have to remove any laptop computers. TSA Precheck has reached over 200 airports and 37 airlines recognize its status.

TSA Precheck

Global Entry is the international program that makes clearing immigration and customs much faster upon arrival into the United States. You will no longer need to fill out a paper form and will gain access to a separate line to dedicated kiosks to enter your information. Even though larger airports have instituted kiosks for all travelers, the Global Entry machines are still separate and are only open to members. With Global Entry, you are automatically enrolled into TSA Precheck domestically.

Global Entry

What is the Process to Apply?

The process is pretty similar for the two programs where you first apply online with your basic information and document numbers. You will then be invited to an in-person meeting where your identification is verified and a background check is completed. For Global Entry, you will also have your fingerprints taken for use at the kiosks.

The two big differences here are that TSA Precheck costs $85 and Global Entry costs $100 (both are valid for five years). The second is that for Global Entry, you need to have a valid US passport or lawful permanent resident card. No passport is required for TSA Precheck.

Who is Eligible to Apply?

TSA Precheck

  • No age restriction
  • US citizens and US lawful permanent residents
  • Disqualifying offenses including criminal offenses

Global Entry

  • No age restriction
  • US citizens and US lawful permanent residents
  • Citizens of India, Colombia, UK, Germany, Panama, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, and Mexican nationals (there could be additional requirements needed)
  • Disqualifying offenses including criminal offenses

The Verdict

If you have a passport, Global Entry is the winner. For an extra $15, you gain the access to a speedy arrival back to the US. Even if you very rarely travel overseas, I find it time saved even on few occasions would make it worth it.

There are also a number of credit cards out there that will reimburse you for the TSA Precheck or Global Entry application fee or allow its cardholders to use rewards points in order to pay.

Learn more and apply for TSA Precheck and Global Entry.

xx Jet Set Steph

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