Global Entry vs. TSA Precheck: Cost and Benefits

Business man doing check-in stock photo
andresr / iStock.com

Frequent flyers are often agitated when they have to wait for a long time in airport security lines. Many of them might find themselves wondering if it is a good idea to apply for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck to skip the wait.

Read: If Your Credit Score is Under 740, Make These 4 Moves Now

If you are debating between Global Entry vs. TSA PreCheck, then read on to find out which is right for you.

What Is TSA PreCheck?

TSA PreCheck is an expedited screening program that was introduced in 2013 to assess the risk factors of passengers before they arrive at an airport checkpoint. The main objective of TSA PreCheck is to enhance aviation security and improve the travel experience of frequent flyers. Today, the TSA PreCheck program has expanded to over 200 airports across the U.S., benefiting millions of passengers since its inception.

All American citizens and lawful permanent residents can enroll in this program. The membership fee for TSA PreCheck is $85 for five years and $70 for renewal after that.

What Is Global Entry?

Global Entry is a program devised and run by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. It allows for speedy clearance of pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon their arrival in the U.S. There are automatic Global Entry kiosks at select U.S. airports that members can use. The TSA PreCheck membership is included in the Global Entry program.

Get Credit Card Perks

Frequent international flyers often prefer to subscribe to Global Entry because of the hassle-free security screening at airports. The cost of the Global Entry program is $100 for five years.

Global Entry vs. TSA PreCheck: Features

Now that you have a basic idea about Global Entry and TSA PreCheck, let’s delve deeper into comparing the two.

TSA PreCheck Global Entry
Cost $85 for five years and $70 for renewal $100 for five years
How It Works The participating airline will print an indicator on your boarding pass — both physical and online — allowing you to move through security faster by using the dedicated TSA PreCheck screening lanes. Members present their machine-readable passport or U.S. permanent resident card at the automated kiosk, complete a customs declaration and scan their fingerprints. The kiosk then will issue a transaction receipt and the member can move on to baggage claim.
Eligibility U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents of the U.S., members of the U.S. armed forces and relevant cadets of the U.S. military academy. U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents of the U.S. and citizens of countries such as the United Kingdom, Germany, Singapore, The Netherlands, India, South Korea, Switzerland and others.
Application Process After submitting an online application, you will be called for a short in-person interview. This interview will include obtaining a record of your fingerprints for a background check. You have to create a Trusted Traveler Programs account and complete your application. If it is accepted by CBP, you will be called for an in-person interview for personal identification document verification.
Enrollment Centers Over 500 enrollment centers 116 enrollment centers
Number of Airports Over 200 airports Over 75 airports

Global Entry vs. TSA PreCheck: Benefits

To help you better understand which of these programs would be more beneficial to you, here are some of the advantages of both:

Advantages of TSA PreCheck

  • Once you are allotted a TSA PreCheck membership, you will be issued a “Known Traveler Number.” You have to include your KTN when you are booking your flights, making it extremely easy to reserve tickets.
  • If you have a TSA PreCheck membership, you will not be required to remove shoes, belts, 3-1-1 compliant bags, jackets and other outerwear while security screening at the airports. You can also leave your laptop inside your bag and move ahead.
Get Credit Card Perks

Advantages of Global Entry

  • If you are traveling internationally, a Global Entry membership will result in significantly lower wait times both in other countries and upon arrival to the U.S. The customs formalities will take less time when you have a Global Entry membership. It also gives you access to expedited entry benefits in many foreign countries.
  • When you have a Global Entry membership, you are automatically eligible for TSA PreCheck. This means that you will also receive all the advantages of TSA PreCheck.

Global Entry vs. TSA PreCheck: Cost

When it comes to expenses, both TSA PreCheck and Global Entry are quite affordable. However, it only makes sense to spend money on these programs if you are a frequent flyer.

For most domestic travelers, the TSA PreCheck membership is enough because of its benefits and easy application screening process. There are more enrollment centers across the country, and you can easily obtain your membership.

The Global Entry program is more suitable for international travelers. If you frequently travel abroad and want a hassle-free customs experience upon your arrival in the U.S., then it is worth paying $100 for the five-year membership. Since the cost is only $15 more than TSA PreCheck, many travelers like to opt for the Global Entry program even though they are not traveling abroad.

Get Credit Card Perks

The application cost of both these programs is non-refundable. However, if you are using eligible credit cards, you can get reimbursement for the fees you paid.

Which One Is Better: Global Entry or TSA PreCheck?

It depends on your priorities. If you are a frequent international flyer, then a Global Entry membership would make more sense to you because of the customs benefits. The cost of the Global Entry program is only slightly more than the TSA PreCheck which might make it worth it to you. However, if you do not live near a Global Entry enrollment center, then the application process will become much more complicated.

For most people, TSA PreCheck is sufficient because it provides all the benefits that an average traveler would need during their airport security screening. Moreover, the application process is simpler and there are more enrollment centers available.

Final Take

Both TSA PreCheck and Global Entry have their own benefits and drawbacks. Depending on your requirements, you should choose which one is more suitable for you. Irrespective of the program you choose, make sure you select the right travel rewards credit cards to get reimbursement on the application fees and optimize your benefits.

TSA PreCheck vs. Global Entry FAQ

  • Can I go through TSA PreCheck with my Global Entry card?
    • No, to receive TSA PreCheck you have to include your KTN while making your airline reservations so that the TSA PreCheck indicator is present in your boarding pass. You cannot show your Global Entry card to go through the TSA PreCheck at the airport.
  • Do I need both Global Entry and TSA PreCheck?
    • No, you don't need to have both Global Entry and TSA PreCheck. If you have a Global Entry membership, then all the benefits of TSA PreCheck will be automatically included in it. While booking flight reservations, you must enter your Global Entry membership number or PASS ID in the field for KTN to take advantage of the TSA PreCheck benefits at the airport. You can find your Global Entry membership number toward the bottom of your Trusted Traveler Programs account.
  • How can I get Global Entry for free?
  • Is TSA PreCheck included in Global Entry?
    • Yes, TSA PreCheck benefits are included in a Global Entry membership.

Information is accurate as of Oct. 21, 2022.

Editorial Note: This content is not provided by any entity covered in this article. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, ratings or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author alone and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any entity named in this article.

Share This Article:

Get Credit Card Perks

About the Author

Suchetana Bhattacharyea is a financial writer and has a master’s degree in this field from the University of Calcutta. She writes about personal finance, real estate, law, cryptocurrencies, banking, economics and marketing. Suchetana has been a freelance writer for the last few years and has ghostwritten several books on finance.
Learn More