Global Entry vs TSA Pre-Check

March 12, 2020

If you’ve been stuck in a long security line at the airport, TSA PreCheck - the paid program that gives passengers a fast track through security—could seem like an increasingly wise investment. But before you throw down the $85 application fee, keep in mind that there’s another expedited entry program that might be an even better deal for getting you through airport security quicker.

 Enrolling in TSA PreCheck (expedited screening, no lines or removing your shoes) might be wise if you’re not an international traveler, but for anyone leaving the country more than once a year, Customs and Border Protection’s Global Entry program is likely a good investment. For just $15 more, plus a brief interview at the enrollment center that TSA PreCheck already requires you to visit, Global Entry grants you all the privileges of TSA PreCheck plus expedited screening at Customs and Border Protection checkpoints when entering the U.S., allowing you to skip long reentry lines.


Both services are five-year memberships that require ID verification and fingerprinting for approval. Global Entry is slightly pricier at $100, but it’s likely worth it for many international travelers. Keep in mind that these programs are not available at all U.S. airports.  TSA PreCheck works with more than 70 airlines at 200+ airports, while Global Entry is available at about 75 major airports.


There are a few other Trusted Traveler Programs that might be worth considering, including NEXUS (expedited entries between the U.S. and Canada), SENTRI (expedited entries between the U.S. and both Canada and Mexico), and FAST (designed for truck drivers traveling between Mexico, the U.S., and Canada).   There is a questionnaire to help you determine the best fit.


If your airport is one of 27 that supports Mobile Passport Control, you might want to consider using that in lieu of Global Entry.  Like Global Entry, it offers similar expedited reentry to the U.S. after international trips, but it works via a free app. Note that it does not include PreCheck privileges, so you’ll have to apply for those separately.


The Conclusion


In the battle of Global Entry vs. TSA PreCheck, the $15 and broadened privileges of Global Entry are certainly the smarter investment for a five-year screening plan that could save you hours of security wait time. Plus, who wants to take off their shoes when you don’t know the last time the floors were cleaned?


But, if you don’t currently have a passport, Global Entry is probably not for you. You’ll need a passport to apply and if you don’t already have one then you’re probably not planning on leaving the country any time soon.  Re-entering the country is the only time you would use Global Entry.


If you are interested in TSA PreCheck enrollment, consider how often you travel and which airports you use.  If you constantly use the smaller, local airports that are less crowded, you probably don’t spend much time in line at security.  TSA PreCheck is more of a novelty service than a time-saver at those airports.  It may be wise to hold off until you have a need for Global Entry.  Happy travels!


Information obtained from: ; “Global Entry vs TSA PreCheck: Which Is Better?” by Shannon McMahon / Feb 19, 2020

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