Earlier this month, American Express rolled out a huge refresh to their top-tier Platinum Card® from American Express, adding a slew of new benefits while pumping the annual fee from $550 to $695 a year (see rates & fees). While not all those new benefits are worthwhile, one of the best is a new credit of up to $179 a year to cover the cost of CLEAR membership.
On its face, that’s a pretty good deal. CLEAR is a privately run trusted traveler program that gets you through airport security faster. Its steep price tag has scared away many travelers: Is it really worth paying $179 a year? Now, the Platinum Card will cover every cent of it.
But you can do even better. By employing an easy way to cut that initial signup cost, this new CLEAR credit can be a two-for-one: Get CLEAR for yourself and a family member.
Read on for everything you need to know about maximizing the new Amex Platinum CLEAR credit.
Click Here to learn more about the Platinum Card from American Express.
How Much Does CLEAR Cost?
Annual membership in the CLEAR program is $179, and let’s not beat around the bush: That’s a steep price to pay. But with a little bit of work, you can make that price much cheaper.
For starters, all Delta SkyMiles or United MileagePlus frequent flyer members can enroll in CLEAR for just $119. Even if you’re not a frequent flyer with either Delta or United, you can quickly sign up for a free SkyMiles or MileagePlus account to capitalize on this lower cost. Once you have a frequent flyer account number with either program, you can enroll through the specific link above and link your account number.
That price gets even better if you’ve got status with either airline or hold one of their co-branded credit cards: It drops to just $109 each year. And the lowest pricing of all is reserved for top-tier status holders, who can select an annual CLEAR membership as a free perk.
Add a Family Member (or Friend) to Your CLEAR Account
This is where it gets even better. CLEAR allows you to add up to three adult “family members” to your account for an additional $60 each year per family member.
In reality, you can add almost anyone to your account: There’s no requirement that you’re actually related to members of your Family Plan … or even that you share the same address. Family Plan members must be 18 with a valid U.S. photo ID. Notably, kids under the age of 18 can accompany members through the CLEAR lane for free – there’s no need to add them to your plan.
One great perk: Members on your Family Plan can use CLEAR anytime they’re traveling. You don’t have to be traveling with them to unlock that benefit.
So long as you signed up for CLEAR at a discounted price through either Delta or United, the new $179 credit on the Platinum Card will completely cover your own membership and up to one additional traveler on a Family Plan.
- Sign up for CLEAR at $119 with a SkyMiles or MileagePlus account? Add a family member for $60 and use up that entire $179 credit.
- Have status with Delta or United? Or have one of their co-branded credit cards like the Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card or the United Explorer Card? You can get CLEAR for yourself and a family member and still have $10 left over.
- Got top-tier status with either airline? You get CLEAR free, so use this credit on the Platinum card to give up to three travelers CLEAR, too!
- If you’ve been a member since before CLEAR increased prices, you may be grandfathered in at a much lower price. This credit could help cover up to two additional members.
Beware, Existing CLEAR Members
If you are already an existing CLEAR member and need to update your payment method to your Amex Platinum Card, be sure to verify that your Platinum Card is showing up as your billing card before you add a family member to your account.
Recent data points from members of the Thrifty Traveler team suggest that the change won’t happen instantly, but should update within a few hours or so.
Pair it with TSA PreCheck (Or Global Entry)
CLEAR may seem duplicative with TSA PreCheck. They’re both a fast pass through airport security, right?
Wrong. These two programs serve drastically different purposes – holding them both can be a powerful weapon to speed through security. Think of it this way:
- CLEAR cuts you to the front of the line. If you’ve got TSA PreCheck, you’ll head to the front of that line. If you don’t you’ll head to the front of the normal TSA lane.
- TSA PreCheck gets you through security faster since you don’t need to remove shoes, belts, jackets, electronics, or liquids.
That makes holding both CLEAR and TSA PreCheck a strong one-two punch. While paying for both out of pocket may not be worth it, the Amex Platinum Card now carries credits that will cover the cost of enrollment in both programs!
Our tip? Sign up for Global Entry instead, as that program comes with a TSA PreCheck membership and gets you through customs and immigration faster, too. The Platinum Card covers the entire $100 application fee, and membership lasts for five years.
What Airports Offer CLEAR Service?
CLEAR isn’t available at every major U.S. airport just yet. But that’s starting to change.
CLEAR has been rapidly expanding its footprint and there are now many U.S. airports offering the service, though it still trails TSA PreCheck considerably. Here’s the list of all CLEAR airport locations.
|Atlanta (ATL)||North & South Domestic Terminals|
|Austin (AUS)||Checkpoints 1 & 2|
|Baltimore (BWI)||Checkpoints A,B,C, D & E|
|Birmingham (BHM)||Main Terminal|
|Boston (BOS)||Terminal A|
|Chicago-Midway (MDW)||Main Terminal|
|Chicago-O'Hare (ORD)||Terminal 1 & 2|
|Cincinnati (CVG)||Main Terminal|
|Cleveland (CLE)||Center & South Checkpoints|
|Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW)||Terminal E|
|Dallas-Love Field (DAL)||Terminal 1|
|Denver (DEN)||North & South Entrances|
|Detroit (DTW)||North & McNamara Terminals|
|Fort Lauderdale (FLL)||Terminals 1 & 2|
|Houston-Intercontinental (IAH)||Terminals A, B, C and E|
|Houston-Hobby (HOU)||Main Terminal|
|Las Vegas (LAS)||Terminals 1 & 3|
|Los Angeles (LAX)||Terminals 1 - 7|
|Miami (MIA)||Checkpoints E & H|
|Minneapolis−Saint Paul (MSP)||Terminal 1|
|New Orleans (MSY)||Concourse D|
|New York City-John F. Kennedy (JFK)||Terminals 2 & 4|
|New York-LaGuardia (LGA)||Terminals C & D|
|Newark (EWR)||Terminal C|
|Westchester County (HPN)||Main Terminal|
|Orlando (MCO)||East & West Security|
|Phoenix (PHX)||Terminals 2,3 & 4|
|Sacramento (SMF)||Terminal A & B|
|Salt Lake City (SLC)||Terminals 1 & 2|
|San Antonio (SAT)||Terminals A & B|
|San Francisco (SFO)||Terminals 1-3, International Terminals A & G|
|San Jose (SJC)||Terminal A & C|
|Seattle-Tacoma (SEA)||Checkpoints 1-5|
|St. Louis (STL)||Terminal 2|
|Washington, D.C. -Dulles (IAD)||Main Terminal & East Security Checkpoint|
|Washington, D.C.-Reagan (DCA)||Terminals A, B & C|
In addition to the CLEAR airport locations above, there are even a number of sports stadiums and event venues across the country that offer CLEAR as a way to fast-track your entry. Here’s the full list:
|Sports Venue||City||Where to Access|
|SunTrust Park||Atlanta, GA||Chop House, First Base & Third Base Gates|
|Oriole Park at Camden Yards||Baltimore, MD||Gate C|
|Progressive Field||Cleveland, OH||E. 9th Street Patio Gate|
|Globe Life Park in Arlington||Arlington, TX||First Base Gate|
|Coors Field||Denver, CO||Gates C & D|
|Comerica Park||Detroit, MI||Gate A|
|STAPLES Center||Los Angeles, CA||Figueroa Street Entrance|
|Banc of California Stadium||Los Angeles, CA||Northwest Plaza & Northeast Gate|
|AmericanAirlines Arena||Miami, FL||Gates 1 & 2|
|Target Field||Minneapolis, MN||Gate 34|
|Yankee Stadium||New York, NY||Babe Ruth Plaza, Suite Entrance, & Gate 6|
|Citi Field||New York, NY||Jackie Robinson Rotunda & Seaver Gate|
|Madison Square Garden||New York, NY||7th Ave South Entrance|
|Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum||Oakland, CA||Gate C & D|
|Oracle Park||San Francisco, CA||Willie Mays Gate & King Street Gates|
|Avaya Stadium||San Jose, CA||Main Gate|
|T-Mobile Park||Seattle, WA||Home Plate & Left Field Entrances|
|CenturyLink Field||Seattle, WA||North Plaza & Southwest Entrance|
Read More: All About CLEAR & How It Works
While we are mostly mixed about the new benefits added to the Platinum Card from American Express, there’s no question that travelers can extract some serious value out of the new Amex Platinum CLEAR credit.
Make sure you enroll through either Delta or United to get the lower pricing. That way, you can use this new credit to give your favorite fellow traveler CLEAR benefits at no out-of-pocket cost.