Whether I'm heading off somewhere fun or returning home from a trip abroad, waiting in a ridiculously long line at the airport is the last thing I want to do. Lucky for me – and you! – there are a handful of credit cards that will cover the cost of either TSA PreCheck or Global Entry (or both) … and not just the top-dollar premium travel cards with high annual fees, either.
TSA PreCheck gets me in a faster airport security lane, where I can keep my liquids and electronics in my bag – and, most importantly, keep my shoes on. And Global Entry takes the pain out of returning to the states with a fast-track lane through customs and immigration. They cost $78 and $100 for a five-year membership, respectively – but Global Entry is a two-for-one program: It comes with PreCheck benefits, too.
More and more travel cards have added credits that cover the cost of either program, including some popular entry-level options that have annual fees of $100 or less. Why not make your travels faster, smoother, and more efficient with this valuable credit card perk? Especially if it's a relatively cheap one you've already got in your wallet.
Check out our roundup of the most cost-effective ways to get Global Entry or TSA Precheck – or both.
- TSA PreCheck vs Global Entry
- The Best, Cheap Credit Cards That Cover Global Entry or PreCheck
TSA PreCheck vs Global Entry
A Primer on TSA PreCheck
It’s not just the shorter line that makes TSA PreCheck so valuable for travelers.
You also get to leave your shoes, a belt and a light jacket on. Your laptop and the carry-on approved liquids in your bag can also stay put as you put them through the baggage screeners. Your first time going through the TSA PreCheck, line you’ll wonder why you didn’t join the program sooner.
One catch is that TSA PreCheck only partners with specific airlines, so you may not always get that quick pass through security. However, all of the major domestic airlines and even many small U.S. carriers are included. More international airlines are joining the program each year. All told, nearly 90 airlines currently participate in TSA PreCheck.
Signing up for TSA PreCheck is pretty straightforward. You’ll fill out a quick application and pay the fee. From there, you will head to a certified enrollment center for a short interview (bring your passport!), fingerprinting, and a photo. If everything checks out, you should get the OK within a week or two.
After you’ve been approved, you have one critical step: Make sure you add your new Known Traveler Number (KTN) to your airline profile, and make sure TSA PreCheck is on your boarding pass. That’s the key to getting through the TSA PreCheck.
TSA PreCheck itself costs $78 for a five-year membership – and now just $70 for online renewals.
Read our full guide on TSA PreCheck!
What is Global Entry?
Global Entry is a two-for-one: a fast-pass through immigration when you re-enter the United States, and a membership in the TSA PreCheck program.
So while it costs a bit more at $100 for a five-year membership, that makes it the no-brainer choice for most travelers with international plans. The one hitch? Backlogs in processing applications and trouble securing the final in-person interview to wrap up your enrollment often mean it can take many months to get signed up with Global Entry.
But once you've got that membership, it's invaluable.
Instead of waiting in those massive line for customs and immigration upon your return, you get access to a dedicated lane where members usually snap a quick selfie at one of the Global Entry kiosk – or via the new Global Entry smartphone app. After that, I just walk over to an immigration agent, they confirm my information, and allow me to walk through. The entire process usually takes me less than two minutes without any pause!
So, even if you travel internationally just once during the year, that makes Global Entry the easy choice over PreCheck.
Read our guide on Global Entry!
The Best, Cheap Credit Cards That Cover Global Entry or PreCheck
From cards with fees under $100 to the top-dollar premium cards that cost almost $700, plenty of popular travel cards will cover the cost in either airport program. But we're focusing on the cheapest options from banks like Capital One, Chase, American Express, and even Bank of America.
Pay for either membership with one of these cards and you're set – a credit will kick in once every four years. If you've already got PreCheck or Global Entry, you can even use these credits to sign up a friend or family member at no cost!
Just remember to keep your expiration date in mind and renew before it lapses every five years. Since most cards offer this benefit once every four years, you should be set to keep your membership active.
The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
First on our list is the *capital one venture card*. The annual fee on this incredibly popular travel card is only $95. You'll be on the hook for the $95 fee right away in year one – Capital One does not waive the annual fee for the first year.
But even for that modest annual fee, you get the a credit of up to $100 to cover a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck membership. Pay for your membership fee in either program with your Venture Card, and you're set.
You'll earn a flat 2x Venture Miles for every dollar you spend, making this a solid card for your everyday spending to keep racking up miles. Venture cardholders receive two complimentary Capital One Lounge visits per calendar year and a discounted rate of $45 per visit after that.
You can also currently earn 75,000 Venture Miles after spending just $4,000 in the first three months of card membership.
Learn more about the *capital one venture card*
The United Explorer Card
The United℠ Explorer Card is another great cheap option to get signed up for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. If you're a frequent United flyer, this card makes a ton of sense.
In fact, it's one of the cheapest ways on the list to get Global Entry or PreCheck through a credit card. The card has an annual fee of $95, but that's waived for the first year of card membership.
The United Explorer card also earns 2x points per dollar spent on purchases at United, restaurants, delivery services, and hotel stays. And if you pay for your flight with your United card, you'll also get your first checked bag free. You'll also get priority boarding privileges and two, one-time passes to the United Club lounge each year on your cardmember anniversary – passes that normally cost $50.
You can currently earn 60,000 United Miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months of card membership.
Learn more about the United℠ Explorer Card.
The IHG One Rewards Premier Credit Card
The *ihg rewards club premier* is another great option, especially if you often stay at IHG properties. On top of that application credit to cover the cost of TSA PreCheck and Global Entry, the card offers a free night each year on your cardmember anniversary for properties that cost 40,000 points or fewer. See our post on the best ways to use the IHG free night certificate.
You will also get automatic IHG Platinum Elite Status as soon as you get the card. Platinum Elite status with IHG gets you complimentary room upgrades when available and a 50% point bonus on paid reservations. It also gets you guaranteed room availability, priority check-in, and free late checkout.
You will earn up to 26x points per dollar spent at IHG hotels, 5x points per dollar spent on travel, at gas stations, and restaurants, and 3x points per dollar spent on all other eligible purchases. For a big welcome bonus, you can currently earn 140,000 IHG points after spending $3,000 in the first three months of card membership.
The card has an annual fee of $99, which isn't waived for the first year.
Learn more about the *ihg rewards club premier*.
The Bank of America Premium Rewards Card
The *BoAPremRewards* is a solid cashback option if redeeming points and miles is not your jam. Like other cards on this list, it comes with just a $95 annual fee – though that's not waived in the first year.
In addition to the $100 TSA PreCheck and Global Entry credits you receive, you also get a bonus $100 for airline incidental fees like seat upgrades, baggage, in-flight purchases, and lounges. That's pretty well-rounded for a cheap cashback card.
You'll earn 2x points for every dollar spent on travel and dining, with a base unlimited 1.5x points earned on all other purchases. You could redeem these points only as cashback or through the Bank of America Travel Center. You can currently earn a welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first three months of card membership.
Learn more about the *BoAPremRewards*
Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card
But plenty of diehard Delta flyers out there have this card in their wallets without realizing that it can also unlock complimentary TSA PreCheck or Global Entry. Pay for your application with your SkyMiles Platinum Card and you're set – a credit will kick in to cover the entire cost.
The Delta SkyMiles Platinum card also comes with other great benefits like free checked luggage on every Delta flight, priority boarding, and a 15% discount any time you redeem Delta SkyMiles on an award ticket. You get one of the best perks starting in your second year with the card: A free Delta companion certificate for a domestic roundtrip flight.
Considering ditching your SkyMiles Platinum Card after Delta made it harder to earn Medallion status and nixed Sky Club access starting next year? We don't blame you … but be sure to put this credit of up to $100 and get Global Entry or TSA PreCheck before you cancel or downgrade the card.
Learn more about the *delta skymiles platinum card*
The Capital One Spark Miles for Business Card
For business owners, the *CapOne Spark Miles* is one of the cheapest options on the list to get Global Entry or PreCheck through a credit card. The card has an annual fee of $95, but that's waived for the first year of card membership.
You'll earn a flat 2x Venture Miles for every dollar you spend, making this a solid card for your everyday spending to keep racking up miles. Venture cardholders receive two complimentary Capital One Lounge visits per calendar year, with additional visits costing a discounted $45 fee.
New applicants can currently earn 50,000 Venture Miles after spending just $4,500 in the first three months of card membership.
Learn more about the *CapOne Spark Miles*
Still rushing to the airport early to get ahead of the general security line? Those days are over – or at least they should be.
Even many popular travel credit cards that carry annual fees of $100 or less can get you TSA PreCheck or Global Entry at no additional cost, smoothing your trip at your home airport and making for a seamless return to the U.S.