Is CLEAR Worth the Cost? My First Time Using the Security Fast-Pass
CLEAR Airport Security

Is CLEAR Worth the Cost? My First Time Using the Security Fast-Pass

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When it comes to getting a fast pass through airport security, there are a few options. There’s TSA PreCheck, a government-run program, and then there’s CLEAR, a privately operated service. And they serve different purposes.

CLEAR basically allows you to cut to the front of the line. So on its own, you can skip to the front of the standard security line. In tandem with PreCheck, you can skip to the front of that shorter, faster line, keeping your coat and shoes on and keeping electronics inside your bag. That’s why we’ve called it our favorite airport time-saver.

Despite that hype, I had shied away from supplementing my TSA PreCheck and signing up for CLEAR – the sticker price of $179 a year was hard to swallow. But with TSA delays climbing amid the government shutdown and an easy way to cut the cost in half, I finally took the plunge and used it before a Friday morning flight.

After getting through a backed-up security line in about three minutes, consider me a convert.

 

The Basics Behind CLEAR

CLEAR is a privately run trusted-traveler program that takes both your fingerprints and iris scans to confirm your identity before security screening. Once you’ve signed up (more on this shortly) and finalized your registration, you simply head to the CLEAR lane, confirm your identity at a kiosk, and get whisked away to the front of the TSA line by a CLEAR ambassador.

 

Clear review

 

The one hitch with CLEAR is that it’s not available at every airport – but its presence is growing fast. It’s available at 26 U.S. airports and counting, along with a handful of professional sports stadiums. Scan through the list and you’ll find plenty of Delta hubs, thanks to a close partnership between the two companies.

 

AirportCityAirport CodeTerminal(s)
Atlanta Atlanta, GAATLNorth & South Domestic Terminals
AustinAustin, TXAUSCheckpoints 1 & 2
BaltimoreBaltimore, MDBWICheckpoints A,B,C, D & E
BirminghamBirmingham, ALBHMMain Terminal
Boston
Boston, MABOSTerminal A
CincinnatiCincinnati, OHCVGMain Terminal
Chicago-O'HareChicago, ILORDTerminal 1 & 2
Cleveland
Cleveland, OHCLECenter & South Checkpoints
Dallas-Fort WorthDallas, TXDFWTerminal E
Dallas-Love FieldDallas, TXDALTerminal 1
Denver Denver, CODENNorth & South Entrances
DetroitDetroit, MIDTWNorth & McNamara Terminals
Fort LauderdaleFt. Lauderdale, FLFLLTerminals 1 & 2
Houston-IntercontinentalHouston, TXIAHTerminals A, B, C and E
Houston-HobbyHouston, TXHOUMain Terminal
Las VegasLas Vegas, NVLASTerminals 1 & 3
Los Angeles Los Angeles, CALAXTerminals 1 - 7
Miami Miami, FLMIACheckpoints E & H
Minneapolis−Saint PaulMinneapolis, MNMSPTerminal 1
New OrleansNew Orleans, LAMSYConcourse D
New York City-John F. KennedyNew York, NYJFKTerminals 2 & 4
New York-LaGuardiaNew York, NYLGATerminals C & D
NewarkNewark, NJEWRTerminal C
Westchester CountyNew York, NYHPNMain Terminal
OrlandoOrlando, FLMCOEast & West Security
PhoenixPhoenix, AZPHXTerminals 2,3 & 4
Salt Lake CitySalt Lake City, UTSLCTerminals 1 & 2
San AntonioSan Antonio, TXSATTerminals A & B
San Francisco San Francisco, CASFOTerminals 1-3, International Terminals A & G
San Jose San Jose, CASJCTerminal A & C
Seattle-TacomaSeattle, WASEACheckpoints 1-5
St. LouisSt. Louis, MOSTLTerminal 2
Washington, D.C. -Dulles International
Washington D.C.IADMain Terminal & East Security Checkpoint
Washington, D.C.-Ronald Reagan
Washington D.C.DCATerminals A, B & C

 

As mentioned there is also a growing list of professional sports venues offering CLEAR which can be found below.

 

Sports VenueCityWhere to Access
SunTrust ParkAtlanta, GAChop House, First Base & Third Base Gates
Oriole Park at Camden YardsBaltimore, MDGate C
Progressive FieldCleveland, OHE. 9th Street Patio Gate
Globe Life Park in ArlingtonArlington, TXFirst Base Gate
Coors FieldDenver, COGates C & D
Comerica ParkDetroit, MIGate A
STAPLES Center
Los Angeles, CAFigueroa Street Entrance
Banc of California Stadium
Los Angeles, CANorthwest Plaza & Northeast Gate
AmericanAirlines ArenaMiami, FLGates 1 & 2
Target FieldMinneapolis, MNGate 34
Yankee StadiumNew York, NYBabe Ruth Plaza, Suite Entrance, & Gate 6
Citi Field
New York, NYJackie Robinson Rotunda & Seaver Gate
Madison Square Garden
New York, NY7th Ave South Entrance
Oakland-Alameda County ColiseumOakland, CAGate C & D
Oracle ParkSan Francisco, CAWillie Mays Gate & King Street Gates
Avaya Stadium San Jose, CAMain Gate
T-Mobile Park
Seattle, WAHome Plate & Left Field Entrances
CenturyLink Field
Seattle, WANorth Plaza & Southwest Entrance

 

Signing Up For CLEAR

Signing up for CLEAR is easy. It’s the price tag that’s scary.

Head to CLEARme.com to register for your membership. At $179 per year, it’s a steep cost – especially considering a TSA PreCheck membership costs just $85 for a five-year membership.

But there are easy ways to drastically cut that cost.

 

 

For starters, all Delta SkyMiles members can enroll in CLEAR for just $119. So even if you’re not flying Delta, you can quickly sign up for a SkyMiles account to capitalize on this lower cost. But if you’ve got status with Delta or hold one of the co-branded Delta SkyMiles American Express, that drops to $109. And the lowest pricing of all is reserved for top-tier Delta Diamond status holders, who can select an annual membership as a free perk. United recently partnered up with CLEAR to offer similar pricing to its own members.

But it can potentially get even cheaper. The American Express Green Card was recently updated with a host of new benefits including an annual $100 credit towards the cost of CLEAR membership. That means you could potentially get the service for only $9 each year if you pay for it with the Green Card and are an existing United or Delta credit cardholder or have status with either airline.

If you don’t meet either of those criteria, simply signing up for a frequent flyer account with either airline allows you to get CLEAR for only $19 each year if you pay with the Amex Green Card.

 

 

Click Here to learn more about the American Express Green Card. 

 

After signing up, you’ll need to finalize your enrollment at the airport before your flight.

 

Finalizing CLEAR Enrollment at the Airport

Don’t worry – it’s not hard.

After you’ve signed up and received a confirmation email from CLEAR, you’re all set. Just head for the CLEAR lanes at security checkpoints – with bright neon signs, they’re hard to miss – as if you’re ready to go through security. Tell a CLEAR ambassador you need to finalize your enrollment, and they’ll guide you toward a kiosk.

You won’t need anything but your boarding pass and an ID. A CLEAR ambassador will help you finish everything up. That includes getting fingerprints, thumbprints, and an iris scan. They’ll take a quick snapshot of your face and scan your driver’s license. And that’s it. The whole process of finalizing enrollment took about five minutes.

 

clear review

 

Using CLEAR to Cut to the Front of TSA Security

Once you’ve finalized your enrollment – or if that’s already taken care of – you’re off.

Show a CLEAR agent your boarding pass, and they’ll whisk you through their dedicated lane and drop you off in front of the TSA security agent. If you’ve got PreCheck, you head to the front of that lane. If not, you’ll go to the front of the standard screening lane.

CLEAR members don’t need to show their ID – that’s what CLEAR is for. Just show the TSA agent your boarding pass and you’re ready to go through the metal detectors.

After finalizing my enrollment at Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP), it took about three minutes to run my baggage through the equipment, walk through, and grab it on the other end. TSA PreCheck on its own is great, but CLEAR can put it to shame. 

 

Bottom Line

There’s no denying that CLEAR is expensive. But considering how easy it is to substantially cut that cost, it could easily be worth it. You’ll never find a quicker way to get through TSA security checkpoints than by using CLEAR.

 

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Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews, or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

16 Responses

  • CLEAR is super inconsistent and support is non-existent. Sometimes they’ll escort you to the front of a 5 person line. Other times, they’ll scan your finger prints and point you to the long line you could have joined without spending $200 per year. Want to complain? Good luck. They have no means of speaking or communicating with anyone.

  • I’ve had Clear for a couple months now (got it because of a Founders Card promo) and it has been nothing short of great. I fly from Atlanta and the lines there are always congested even with PreCheck (which I’ve had for years). With Clear they take you to the very front of the PreCheck line (if you are PreCheck). My security screening time is usually 5-7 minutes (5 minutes when I have no carry-on). We will see how it works during the Turkey Day holiday… Definitely going to re-up when my 3 month trial is up. I haven’t figured out how it works at the baseball park yet.

    • I’ve had CLEAR for over a year now, traveling from ATL every week and I’m yet to see the benefit. It’s super inconsistent. One day you cut to the front of the line and the next day you find General boarding passengers passing through security way before you, line today) Only one entrance through the south checkpoint if you don’t have both (pre-check and CLEAR) and there’s usually only two TSA lines operating. It is very common to see CLEAR passengers switching to general boarding line because it’s faster. So, it’s just a matter of luck not a reflection of a great product worth the expense. I wasn’t lucky today I hope to be next week. From JFK works great. From LAX doesn’t make much of a difference either. I enter at the same time than my coworkers without CLEAR. Hope this is useful. I’m still giving it a chance because of the frequency with which I need to travel plus I’m hopeful they will catch up with the increasing demand.

  • I used it for the first time and received the full TSA check with all its inconveniences. Laptop out of the bag, shoes off, complete scan etc. So other than a shorter line it was not much of an improvement.

  • Just tried to enroll for Clear using my United Mileage number and pay with an Amex green card, but it would not give me the $100 discount for the Amex card. Called member services, they told me I wasn’t allowed to use both discounts. That was contrary to your report.

    • That’s not our experience, and not what we’ve heard from other readers, either. It may be worth calling again or emailing CLEAR to see if a different agent gives you a different response.

  • I think Thomas misunderstood the Amex green benefit. All you do is pay with the Amex Green and you’re automatically credited the $100 by Amex

  • I think it also depends on the airport– I watched in Orlando as someone was ushered to the front of the security line by a Clear rep. to have the ID checked–but that’s not where the real line is. The real line is kept behind the ID check and before the metal detector/x-rays, etc. So I watched a family “skip” a line that took as much time for us to go through as it did for them to go through the process at the Clear kiosk, and then get ushered into the same 20-25 minute line everyone else was waiting in.

  • absolutely not worth it nor does the corporation care if it works or not. my last email to staff: As we continue our quest for many months (I think since July 2019) of clear not working. It is so frustrating that we cannot get logged in at airport like it was at the first of sign in. We had these two and others say they will get it fixed but it is not. I cannot remember what airport I was at after the so call re-boot. I got to airport extremely early; got re-scanned of both finger print and eyes. Spent like an hour just to get over to actual check in and would not work. That guy, cannot remember said we will get it done. OF course going thru Dallas a few weeks ago produced no results. We have gone through about 8 times since the last reboot at Orlando, Dallas, and Minneapolis with no results. Our last trip to Dallas yesterday departure 12/21 I did not even try it. I told the front person I was Clear but knew it would not work. You know what the response was; ” oh well sorry it is not the best and TSA is short line today”. Meaning I could care less if we produce a service or not.

    Therefore with this continual negligence in service, getting our clear to work without delay and controversy, not having anyone to step up and get control of this, not having anyway to contact upper management, and just having proven ‘I could care less attitude from everyone within Clear’ my question is if I cancel what credit do I get of unused service?

    • Sorry you had a bad experience, I am from nyc and usually it’s a 20 minute or so wait when you leave mid day. However one day I was flying to Orlando as usual and it took me 3 hrs just to get to the metal detectors of course I missed my flight. Signed up for clear and global entry for a trip I had to India back in October and literally got from entrance of airport to boarding area in 10 minutes with both clear and pre check combined. “This is the way”

  • It used to be great before they started offering discounts. Over the last few months, the Clear line at ATL has been 2 to 3 times the length of the standard TSA line. Don’t waste your money like I did.

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