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Do you have a Known Traveler Number? This probably isn’t a question you expect someone to ask when you fly. While you don’t need a Known Traveler Number (KTN) to travel, having one helps you avoid long airport security lines.
What is a Known Traveler Number (KTN)?
This might be the first time seeing the term “Known Traveler Number” but you may already have one. You see, you receive a KTN when your application is approved for one of these federal Trusted Traveler Programs:
- TSA PreCheck
- Global Entry
If you have one of these four credentials, your Known Traveler Number (sometimes called a CBP PASSID) is printed on the back of your card.
The FAST program doesn’t give you the option to enjoy free TSA PreCheck status. But commercial truck drivers can still enjoy expedited entry into Canada or Mexico from the U.S.
Frequent flyers will be most familiar with TSA PreCheck and Global Entry. For instance, entering your KTN when you buy plane tickets ensures your boarding pass has TSA PreCheck. Without this seal on your boarding pass, you must go through the regular TSA airport security line, even if you have TSA PreCheck.
Below is a quick overview of how each Trusted Travel Program can help you avoid travel security lines.
TSA PreCheck costs $85 to apply and is valid for 5 years. U.S. citizens and U.S. lawful permanent residents can apply. Children under age 12 can accompany their parents through TSA PreCheck lines for free.
These credentials let you go through the expedited TSA PreCheck line at over 200 U.S. airports when you fly with over 60 participating airlines. You don’t have to remove your shoes, laptop, 3-1-1 liquids, belts, or light jackets.
After submitting the 5-minute online application, you schedule an appointment at one of the 380 nationwide enrollment centers for a 10-minute interview. The application process is similar to getting a passport.
TSA PreCheck doesn’t let you enjoy expedited security when you re-enter the United States from foreign countries.
Global Entry costs $100 every 5 years per person. However, you might be able to extend Global Entry by one year. It includes TSA PreCheck and expedites your re-entry into the U.S. at over 75 airports.
U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, and select foreign nationals can apply.
The application process is more extensive as you first apply online. Then, you schedule an in-person interview at an enrollment center at most major airports and select U.S. cities.
There are fewer Global Entry enrollment centers than TSA PreCheck centers. For example, the only Indiana enrollment center is at South Bend International Airport. In California, you will need to visit the Los Angeles, San Diego, or San Francisco metropolitan areas.
NEXUS allows for expedited foot or vehicle entry into the United States and Canada plus marine entry from Canada into the United States. You also get free TSA PreCheck but not Global Entry. This program costs $50 every 5 years and open to U.S. citizens, U.S. lawful permanent residents, and Canadian citizens.
The NEXUS enrollment centers are only along the U.S.-Canada border in select U.S states and Canadian provinces.
SENTRI costs $122.50 every 5 years. But, you get an expedited foot or vehicle entry from Canada and Mexico. TSA PreCheck airport access is available to U.S. citizens and U.S. lawful permanent residents.
Get a Known Traveler Number for Free
While paying for $85 for TSA PreCheck or $100 for Global Entry every 5 years isn’t a large fee, many of the best travel credit cards reimburse your application fee for these two programs. Maybe you already own some of these cards.
Note, the Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit is only for the primary cardholder for all of these credit cards.
Chase Sapphire Reserve
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers a $300 annual travel credit and Priority Pass Select airport lounge access. You also earn 3 Chase Ultimate Rewards points on all travel (once eligible) and dining purchases. Your points are worth 1.5 cents each when booking award travel through Chase or you can transfer them on a 1:1 basis to over a dozen airline and hotel travel partners. These partners include United Airlines, Southwest, Emirates, and British Airways.
The signup bonus is 50,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months. This bonus is worth $750 in award travel. The Chase Sapphire Reserve has an annual fee of $550.
Platinum Card from American Express
The Platinum Card® from American Express probably offers more air travel benefits than any other premium travel rewards credit card. Two key benefits include a $200 airline fee credit and access to airport lounge networks like Centurion, Priority Pass, and Delta Sky Club. You earn 5x Membership Rewards points on plane tickets purchased directly from the airline or on AmexTravel.com, up to $500,000 per calendar in these purchases.
Although the high $550 annual fee (See Rates & Fees) on The Platinum Card® from American Express may make it seem like a not-worth-it deal, this card can definitely be considered if you can make the most of its welcome bonus and several perks.
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is a flat-rate travel rewards credit card. Earn unlimited 2 miles per $1 spent on purchases. Your miles can easily be redeemed for travel statement credits or booking upcoming travel.
You may also enjoy redeeming Venture miles by transferring them to travel partners. The annual fee is $95 but there are no foreign transaction fees.
New cardholders can earn 60,000 miles if you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of the account opening.
Learn more: Rewards Credit Cards
Capital One Spark Miles for Business
A few business credit cards offer free Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. One of them is the Capital One Spark Miles for Business. You earn 2x miles on every purchase. Miles are redeemable for travel statement credits, booking upcoming travel, and transferring to airline loyalty programs.
The annual fee is $0 for the first year and then $95.
Related Article: Best Small Business Credit Cards
United Explorer Card
The United℠ Explorer Card gives you and one companion a free first checked bag. You also get two one-time United Club passes at account opening and each card renewal. Earn 2x United miles on United purchases, restaurants, and hotel bookings. Other United perks include 25% in-fight purchase savings, priority boardings, and space-available Premier upgrades.
Your annual fee is $0 for the first year and then $95.
The United℠ Explorer Card has a sign-up offer of up to 65,000 bonus miles. New cardholders can earn 40,000 United miles after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after your account is open. Plus, earn an additional 25,000 bonus miles after spending $10,000 in the first 6 months.
Learn more: Airline Credit Cards
IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
Several hotel credit cards offer credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck as well. One of them is the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card. In addition to this perk, you also get one reward night annually after each account anniversary. It is valid at IHG properties that cost 40,000 points or less.
You also get a fourth reward night when paying with points for a 4+ night award stay. And you get automatic IHG Platinum Elite status which lets you get space-available room upgrades.
The signup bonus is 140,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months. This bonus is worth up to 28 free nights. The annual fee is $89.
Related: Best Hotel Credit Cards
The thought of having a Known Traveler Number may feel intimidating. But you easily get this number when you qualify for expedited airport security programs like TSA PreCheck or Global Entry. When booking your next flight, provide this number to the airline to make sure you can skip the long security lines.
For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
- Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases.
- 2X points on dining at restaurants including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.
- With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- Earn 2x total points on up to $1,000 in grocery store purchases per month from November 1, 2020 to April 30, 2021. Includes eligible pick-up and delivery services.
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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.