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One of the worst things about flying is waiting in a miles-long security line. Perhaps you have seen other ordinary travelers going through a separate line with no wait and wondering how you can get in on the secret. In recent years, the TSA has instituted a program called TSA Precheck & Global Entry that allow select passengers to skip the long security lines at check-in for domestic flights and returning to the United States from international destinations.
In addition to skipping the long security lines, there are additional perks to having this special status. You can go through an old-fashioned metal detector and do not need to take off your shoes, among other perks.
All the airlines that accept TSA Precheck
Even though the TSA Precheck is a great program, your airline itinerary needs to be flying with a participating airline to skip the lines. There are currently 18 airlines that participate in the TSA Precheck & Global Entry program. Two airlines were recently added during the summer of 2016, including the first European airline!
If you are flying on one of the domestic airlines, you shouldn’t have a problem using your Precheck status. Remember that to go through the special line, you need to be approved for a Precheck program and the logo needs to be printed on your plane tickets for the TSA officer to process you through the shorter line.
The most exciting recent news is that international airlines have also begun participating in the TSA Precheck program. This means if you have a direct international flight using an international airline, you have a greater chance of being able to use your special status than just a few short months ago.
Here’s a list of the current airlines that participate in TSA Precheck:
- Air Canada
- Alaska Airlines
- Allegiant Air
- Cape Air
- Hawaiian Airlines
- Lufthansa (1st European carrier)
- Seaborne Airlines
- Sun Country
- Virgin America
Should you apply for TSA Precheck or Global Entry?
There is a small level of confusion on the difference between TSA Precheck and Global Entry. Both programs are overseen by the TSA and the application process is the same. The only difference is the application fee and document requirements.
TSA Precheck costs $85 every 5 years and will give you a fast track through the security lines at any U.S. airport. If solely travel domestically, this is the better option.
For an additional $15 ($100 total), you can apply for Global Entry. You get the same perks as TSA Precheck at domestic airports and similar perks when processing through U.S. Customs when returning abroad. A valid passport is required to be approved for Global Entry (this is a moot point as you need a passport to enter or leave the United States.). So if you do not own a passport and want Global Entry before your first international flight, wait to apply for Global Entry after you receive your new passport.
How to get TSA Precheck or Global Entry for free!
Several of the premium travel credit cards will reimburse you the application fee for TSA Precheck or Global Entry (not both). Although it’s only about $20 per year, when the $100 annual fee is annualized over 5 years, this benefit helps offset the annual fee. Most of the travel credit cards that reimburse the application fee have an annual fee of approximately $450.
A current list of the cards that will reimburse the fee:
Personal Credit Cards:
- Chase Ritz-Carlton
- Chase Sapphire Reserve
- Barclaycard AAdvantage Aviator Silver World Elite
- Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite
- Citi Prestige
- Expedia+ Voyager (Counts against annual $100 travel credit)
- Centurion Card from American Express
- Platinum Card® from American Express
Business Credit Cards
- Amex Corporate Gold
- Amex Corporate Platinum
- Business Platinum from American Express
You will need to check the terms & conditions of these cards to see their exact policy on reimbursing the fee. The basic requirement for most companies is that the application fee needs to be charged to the credit card. Many companies will also only reimburse the application fee for the primary cardholder. You will still be responsible for paying for the fee of any additional cardholders. Although, companies that charge an additional fee for all additional cards are more likely to reimburse the fee. Never say never, but it pays to check with the card issuer as the policy is somewhat of a “gray area.”
Although your application shouldn’t be declined, the credit card company will normally only reimburse the application fee once every five years. They normally do not wait for you to be approved to pay the fee. They will start the reimbursement process once the application fee is charged to your credit card.
Will more airlines participate in TSA Precheck?
There currently are not any strong rumors of a new partnership being announced, but, there most likely will be more international airlines joining the fray. As the major domestic airlines were the first to participate in the program, airlines are weighing the economic law of diminishing returns.
There is a certain cost to participate in the TSA Precheck or Global Entry programs and it might not be cost-effective for domestic or international airlines with only a handful of flights.
Most travelers probably do not realize that they must fly on one of the 18 participating airlines to qualify for the Precheck status for that trip even if they have been approved. As the majority of flights originate with one of these airlines, it probably isn’t a major issue compared to a few years ago.
Will More Credit Cards Reimburse Application Fees?
Travel rewards credit cards are constantly changing their benefits. Currently, the only cards that normally offer to reimburse the fee are the premium credit cards that cost at least $350 in annual fees.
The one “discount” travel card that will reimburse the application fee is the Expedia+ Voyager ($95 annual fee) and it counts against your $100 annual travel credit.
The most recent card to carry this benefit is the recently introduced Chase Sapphire Reserve. The Platinum Card® from American Express card is another premium card will cover the cost of the application. Despite the fact that the Citi Prestige announced several negative changes, it didn’t decide to scrap this benefit. All this means that the premium cards will not scrap this benefit anytime soon.
The larger question is when airline loyalty cards with lower annual fees will offer the benefit. Airlines tend to offer benefits for their own services such as complimentary checked baggage or in-flight discounts. If the cheaper airlines reward credit cards begin to reimburse their cardholders the application fee, it will most likely be in the same manner as the $95 Expedia+ Voyager rewards card. They will reimburse the fee, but it will consume the entire travel credit that you receive for that calendar year, making travel easier but not any cheaper.
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Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.