I can live without first and business class seats on flights, my family can manage without airport lounges (although they are certainly nice to have!). However, one travel luxury my family would be lost without is TSA PreCheck.
We fly at least four times a year, and zipping through the fast lane at the airport is something we’ve grown to value a great deal. It’s so nice not having to take off our shoes and wait in longer security lines.
My husband, son and I actually have Global Entry, which includes TSA PreCheck. When my husband and I first got Global Entry, all of our kids were under 13 and were therefore able to enter TSA PreCheck with us. As each of our kids turned 13, we had to get them their own Known Traveler Number.
My daughter was the only one of us without her own number. Although she won’t likely need her own number until next year, I decided that the summer is a good time to get this done.
Deciding on Global Entry vs. TSA PreCheck
Global Entry allows you to have expedited re-entry into the USA after international travel PLUS it comes with TSA PreCheck for domestic security lines. Global Entry costs $100 for 5 years and is covered by many travel credit cards.
TSA PreCheck is $85 for five years. It only includes the expedited domestic security lines. Like Global Entry, many credit cards cover the fee (see the official list here).
We decided to get my daughter TSA PreCheck. Why? It’s much easier for us to get her an appointment for that. We have a few TSA PreCheck processing centers near us. For Global Entry, we would have to go to the airport. Appointments are hard to come by, and the average processing time for new applicants is 208 days (vs. 3-5 days for TSA PreCheck).
Plus, we don’t travel internationally all that much, so I don’t feel like we’re missing out by not getting Global Entry.
I filled out my daughter’s application online and made an appointment at a nearby center. The center was inside this Postal Annex shop.
I had to bring her passport and have her social security number on-hand. The rep took her fingerprints electronically and took her photo. I paid with my Capital One Venture X card, which gives me a statement credit for Global Entry/TSA PreCheck. The whole thing took less than five minutes.
Exactly one day later, we received my daughter’s Known Traveler Number. My statement credit from Capital One hasn’t been posted yet, but the fine print says it will post within two billing cycles. I will keep my eye on it.
Everyone in my family loves going through the TSA PreCheck line. We plan to keep renewing every five years. While I wouldn’t sign up for a credit card just for the Global Entry/TSA PreCheck benefit, it sure is nice to own a few cards that have it.
How does my family travel so much? We use miles and points from credit card bonuses. See my Travel Hacking 101 post as well as current credit card offers here.