A few weeks ago I decided to finally get off my ass and apply for TSA PreCheck. The process was so insanely easy, I have decided to share it with you and tell you how it cost me ZERO and tell you how.
First thing you do is go to https://www.tsa.gov/precheck. 5 minutes to fill out the application with basic questions. Then you select a location near you to do your “interview”. This is one area that they have made this process a lot easier. They have outsourced a lot of the appointment sites to places like H&R Block. I chose a location less than a mile away from me the next morning after I filled out the application online.
The interview took all of 5 minutes. The woman just reviewed my information was correct and took some quick digital fingerprints. I paid her the $85 using my Chase Sapphire Reserve card (more on that in a moment) and was on my way. The following week I had received an email saying I was approved and assigned my KTN (Known Traveler Number) which you take and input to all of your airline profiles.
So here are some advantages of doing this:
Wait 5 Minutes or Less
In November 2016, 96% of TSA Pre✓ passengers waited less than 5 min.
4+ Million Members
Over 4 million are already taking advantage of TSA Pre✓
180+ airports and 19 airlines provide TSA Pre✓
Plus the biggest reason I did it is you don’t have to take off your shoes, belt or jackets. You keep your laptop in your bag and all of your toiletries stay in as well. This basically puts you back to the pre 9/11 days.
If you have a little more time to work with, I would suggest applying for Global Entry instead. Global Entry needs an interview at more specific locations and takes longer to get your approval back. The 2 big benefits are that Global Entry INCLUDES PreCheck and will get you back in the country faster and with less hassle when you fly international. Both are good for 5 years and Global Entry costs $100 vs PreCheck’s $85.
OK the free part. There are a handful of credit cards that will reimburse 100% of your fee. You may have one of these already or if not, this is one more great reason to apply. I highly recommend the Chase Sapphire Reserve. I have written a separate article on this already Top 5 Travel Reward Credit Cards but essentially if you have the credit to qualify, you are throwing money away by not getting this card.
Below is the list of cards that currently reimburse Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fees as a statement credit:
• Barclay AAdvantage Aviator Silver World Elite MasterCard (Global Entry only)
• Citi Prestige Card
• Citi /AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard
• Platinum Card from American Express
• Business Platinum Card from American Express OPEN
• Centurion Card from American Express
• American Express Corporate Gold Card
• American Express Corporate Platinum Card
• U.S. Bank FlexPerks Gold American Express Card
• Chase Sapphire Reserve
The free Global Entry/TSA Pre benefit appears as a statement credit after that card is used to pay for the Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee. The benefit, however, can only be used once every 5 years (4 years for Chase Sapphire Reserve) and only for either Global Entry or TSA PreCheck – not both.
Additional Ways to Get Free Global Entry or TSA PreCheck:
• Delta Airlines Platinum and Diamond Medallion members receive free Global Entry vouchers as part of Choice Benefits
• Orbitz Rewards Platinum members receive free TSA PreCheck (but not free Global Entry)
• SPG members that reach 50 eligible nights in a calendar year receive free TSA PreCheck (but not free Global Entry) as one of their perks
As I don’t envision ever being an elite member of Delta, SPG or Orbitz Rewards, when it is time to renew my TSA PreCheck. I plan to do so for free by having one the credit cards that will reimburse me for TSA PreCheck. If you want to apply for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck but the cost is too high, you might want to consider if it is worth it getting one of these credit cards first.