Sick of waiting in long lines at the airport? Well, there are now numerous ways that you can skip the lines and get through security quickly. Within this post, we will break down two of those options; Global Entry vs Nexus. We will lay out the pros and cons for both to help you decide which is right for you.
What is Global Entry?
Global Entry is a United States Border protection program that allows travelers, who are low-risk and pre-approved, expedited entry when returning into the United States. After scanning your passport, fingerprints and answering a few questions, you will be on your way. Along with the approval of Global Entry, you will also receive TSA PreCheck.
TSA pre-check, just like Global Entry, allows for low-risk and pre-approved travelers to have seamless expedited security checks when arriving at the airport.
Your first time through the PreCheck lane, you’ll wonder why it took you so long to join the program. The security lines are often drastically shorter, but that’s only half of the benefit. You get to leave your shoes, a belt and a light jacket on while going through. Your laptop and the carry-on approved liquids in your bag can also stay put as you put them through the baggage screeners. If you’re eager to get through security faster, you have a few options.
Approval of Global Entry and TSA pre-check lasts for five years. We recommend all frequent travelers acquire Global Entry, as getting back into the United States through customs can take hours.
Thrifty Tip: There are many credit cards that offer a free credit for Global Entry. See the list of our top 4 cards here.
What is NEXUS?
NEXUS is a joint Canada Border Services Agency and U.S. Customs and Border Protection operated Trusted Traveler and expedited border control program designed for pre-approved, low-risk travelers. It is essentially the Canadian version of Global Entry.
Members of the program can avoid long waits at border entry points by using reserved lanes at land crossings into Canada and the United States (including from Mexico), by using self-serve kiosks at airports in Canada, the US and some international locations.
The application process is quite the same, you must apply for it through a government portal, wait for acceptance, and then also be interviewed to complete the process.
While Global Entry costs $100, the application fee for NEXUS is only $50 per adult and children are free until they turn 18, making it a good option for families who travel internationally.
Global Entry vs NEXUS: Which is Right for You?
Global Entry and Nexus both have great benefits to expedite the time you spend at customs. Additionally, both programs include TSA Precheck. Below is a breakdown of the pros and cons of both to help you make the right decision.
Pros of Global Entry
- Global Entry kiosks are in more than 50 airports.
- Seamless application process and many more locations in which to complete the in-person interview. Much quicker and smoother than that of Nexus, especially if you live in the southern United States as NEXUS facilities are not available.
- No lines, no waiting when arriving back in the US after an international trip.
- Many travel rewards credit cards will reimburse you for the application fee once every 5 years.
Cons of Global Entry
- More expensive than Nexus as it is $100 for 5 years, and that $100 is non-refundable, even if your application is denied.
- If you are traveling with kids under the age of 18, they will all need their own membership into the program to come through expedited screening with you. The $100 application fee is not waived for children.
Pros of NEXUS
- Less expensive option than Global Entry. $50 for 5 years.
- Great for families as minors under the age of 18 have their application fee waived.
- Expedited processing through the US and Canadian border by both air and vehicle.
- Can use Global Entry kiosks when entering the United States.
Cons of NEXUS
- NEXUS interviews need to be conducted at a place where both CBP and CBSA officers are present, which mostly limits you to offices at US-Canada land border crossings or at the Canadian airports which have US preclearance facilities.
- Only a few US enrollment centers allow you to do NEXUS interviews. They are all located in the northern part of the US & Canada.
- Travel Rewards credit cards do not offer a reimbursement credit for NEXUS.
When considering Global Entry vs NEXUS there are a few factors you need to consider. If you frequently travel between the US and Canada via land and/or air, NEXUS will likely be the better choice. It is cheaper and allows for expedited entry when crossing the border by car, something Global Entry doesn't yet offer. Additionally, at a cost of only $50 and the fact that it is free for minors, you can save a bit of money by opting for NEXUS. Especially if you live near the Canadian border and often cross it with your vehicle.
On the other hand, if you often travel internationally outside of Canada, the NEXUS program will lose much of its value. If you live in the southern part of the United States, finding an enrollment center to complete your in-person interview would be tough as they are only located in the northern US. Once you have it, you can use it at any Global Entry kiosk when entering the US, but getting it will be more difficult.
The biggest factor for us is that none of our favorite travel rewards credit cards offering free Global Entry and TSA PreCheck offer a credit for NEXUS. So while Global Entry costs $100 (twice as much as NEXUS), the credits from these cards make the program free. For this reason alone, Global Entry is likely a better option for US-based travelers who travel outside of the US and Canada.
If you often travel by vehicle back and forth to Canada, or fly into Canada, then Nexus is the right choice for you. If frequent air travel is your thing, and you often find yourself around the world, then the flexibility of Global Entry right for you. Use our guide to Global Entry vs NEXUS before making the decision for yourself.