Want TSA PreCheck? Spend the extra $15 for Global Entry and get more.

Just recently, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced that it will soon allow anyone to become a member of PreCheck through an expansion of the service, which allows you to go through airport security at 40 airports nationwide without taking off your shoes, removing your 3-1-1 bag, taking off your belt and is a much faster process. For $85 for five years, it seems like a great deal – but in reality, don’t: for $15 more, you get way, way so much more.

Some time ago, I wrote about Global Entry, and why it’s the best thing since sliced bread. It’s $100, and after a quick background check, an in-person interview at dozens of locations and fingerprinting you can speed through US immigrations on your return from aboard and get TSA PreCheck – for a mere $15 more than if you only signed up for PreCheck. And, according to TSA itself, passengers who have Global Entry are more likely to be cleared for PreCheck (I’ve been randomly denied use of the PreCheck line) than those who opt-in as part of the expanded TSA program.

Granted, these days, getting an Global Entry interview date any time this side of the year 2100 is becoming increasingly tough – sequestration probably isn’t helping – but the time is still worthwhile.

Though one does have to ask: why is TSA offering interviews in Indianapolis?!

TSA PreCheck

[check_list]

  • $85 registration fee
  • Valid for 5 years
  • No passport required
  • Background check required
  • Interview required…in one of two airports (Washington Dulles, and Indianapolis)

[/check_list]

Global Entry

[check_list]

  • $100 registration fee, credited for American Express Platinum Cardmembers or Citi Prestige card holders, and waived for United Platinum, 1K, Global Services frequent fliers
  • Passport required
  • Background check required
  • Interview required in one of almost 40 locations
  • Bonus: allows you to speed through Immigrations upon return to US
  • Bonus: less likely to randomly be denied use of PreCheck

[/check_list]

My advice: if you’re interested in getting TSA PreCheck, spend the extra $15. You get more for your buck, it works more often, and if you have frequent flier status with United or have one of two cards in your wallet, you may even get it for free.

PS: rumor has it PreCheck is almost ready for use at my home airport, San Diego’s International Airport. I haven’t flown in a couple weeks so I haven’t seen the signs, but Rocky from Doublewides Fly mentioned spotting the sign!