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TSA PreCheck versus Global Entry vs. Clear



  TSA security check at Denver International Airport

John Greim / Getty Images

Standing in a long line at the airport is no way to start a vacation. And it is certainly no way for frequent business travelers to fly. You have probably heard of various programs & [393996] that promise to get you faster by airport security and you have probably tried to look at it when you notice that you are making painfully slow progress due to a TSA checkpoint . Maybe you are reading these words now while standing in the security line of an airport!

We know your pain. Here at CNET we always travel to discuss the latest news, trade shows or congresses. And after all this time at the airport, we learned a few things about the three most important options to shorten waiting: TSA PreCheck versus Global Entry and Clear. So before you take off your shoes and belt and remove your laptop and liquids from your hand luggage read on to find out more about TSA PreCheck versus Clear vs.. Global Entry and the costs, application process and benefits of each.

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The choices and opinions below are based on independent testing by our editors. Note that CNET can get a share of the income if you buy something or subscribe to something listed on our site.

Travel services compared

Our recommendations

Detailed investigations of the services follow, but here is the express version of TSA PreCheck vs.. Global Entry vs. Clear.

Global Entry is the best overall option. One CNET writer once called it "the best $ 100 I've ever spent" – and the first time you use it, you agree. Global Entry collapses all the benefits of TSA Pre – much faster and less invasive TSA security checks – and adds an express line through customs and immigration on the way back to the US from international airports and destinations. If you have a passport, this is the one you get.

TSA Pre is the best option if you do not have a passport. If you only travel inland, TSA Pre makes flying a much less cumbersome process. But if you make even one international trip or go to an international airport in the next five years, kick yourself if you don't pay $ 15 extra for Global Entry.

We do not recommend Clear at the current price. The basic price of Clear just feels priceless. It is almost $ 200 a year, compared to just $ 20 for Global Entry. And those registration fees do not offer you the faster TSA PreCheck security check, so you will probably still want to invest in Global Entry or TSA Pre. Without a price drop or an extensive service layer, Clear just doesn't seem worth it. But …

Clear Sports is worth for sports fans and concert visitors in certain cities . No, this actually has nothing to do with airports or travel. But the free level of Clear, called Clear Sports, gives you quick access to 16 stadiums throughout the country. If you live in one of the cities where it is offered – and you have no problems with the company Clear with your biometric data – this free service is worth viewing.

And as you might suspect: if you are a true advocate of privacy, you may want to skip it all.

Do you want a deeper dive into each of these? Read more.


TSA PreCheck

With more than 7 million members, TSA PreCheck is the most popular of the airport's accelerated security programs. It is managed by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and allows you to use special TSA PreCheck security lines at the airport instead of making your way through the main security lines with everyone else. In addition to the shorter security lines, the screening itself is accelerated because, among other things, you do not have to remove your shoes or laptop when you go through a TSA PreCheck checkpoint. According to the TSA, 92 percent of TSA's PreCheck members waited for less than five minutes for screening last May.

Who is it for?

Any frequent flyer in the US. To be eligible, you must be a US citizen or a legal permanent resident. Children of 12 years and younger of TSA PreCheck can also go through the TSA PreCheck line with their parents.

What does it do?

Not only is the line at the TSA PreCheck likely to be shorter than what you encounter in regular airport security check, but you go faster because you don't have to take off your shoes, belt or light jacket, or get your laptop or liquids get out.

  security screening "data-original =" https://cnet3.cbsistatic.com/img/gRX-KfbcKGqGZkvUQjTVE8hf6Zw=/2019/06/11/40ac144c-947e-4523-b87b-5b545c378cf4/security-screening.jpg

TSA

Where can I use it?

At more than 200 participating US airports (including Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Dallas / Fort Worth and more) and 67 participating airlines in the US.

What does it cost?

TSA PreCheck status costs $ 85 for five years. You can pay for your PreCheck application with a credit card, debit card, money order, company check or certified check.

How can I apply?

It is a two-step process:

1. Complete an online TSA PreCheck application and schedule a personal appointment for a background check. There are more than 380 registration centers for the personal interview. Unlike the early years of the program, they are not all located in airports anymore.

2. Go to the appointment to answer background check questions and make a fingerprint.

The TSA estimates that the online application will take five minutes to complete, and the personal appointment will take 10 minutes.

How does it work?

Once you have been approved and you have paid $ 85, you will receive a known traveler number (KTN). When you book a flight, you must add your KTN to your reservation so that you can use the TSA PreCheck lane at the airport.


Global Entry

Global Entry is a no-brainer if you like the idea of ​​TSA PreCheck and international travel. Run by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), this program includes free TSA PreCheck and adds the ability to get through customs faster when you enter the US from abroad.

Who is it for?

International travelers traveling by air, land or sea. To be eligible, you must be a US citizen, a legal permanent resident, or a citizen of the following countries: Argentina, Colombia, Germany, India, Panama, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan, or the UK. Children need their own Global Entry membership at the same cost as adults.

What does it do?

Allows you to skip the long queue at customs, as well as paperwork and difficult interviews with a customs broker on return to the US. Instead of that unpleasant process, Global Entry members can skip customs by using a self-service kiosk. And when you leave the US, Global Entry also includes TSA PreCheck to guide you through airport security faster.

  global-entry "data-original =" https://cnet1.cbsistatic.com/img/2EENvr-FO0sQ9XUk74udcS_7tvE=/2019/06/11/8e766ed3-2b48-4cb1-98ba-0011427a617f/global-entry.jpg

CBP

Where can I use it?

You can use Global Entry at dozens of US airports, including Guam, Saipan, and Puerto Rico. It is also available at some major Canadian airports (Calgary, Edmonton, Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and Winnipeg), as well as a handful of other international airports (Abu Dhabi, Aruba, Bermuda, Dublin, Grand Bahamas, Nassau). Again, that is in addition to the benefits of a full TSA Pre-membership that you can use at more than 200 domestic US airports.

What does it cost?

Global Entry costs $ 100 for five years – only $ 3 more per year than TSA PreCheck. You can pay with a credit card or via an electronic bank transfer.

How can I apply?

Just like with TSA PreCheck, you must complete an online request. Start by creating a Trusted Traveler program account. Then complete the Global Entry application (including the non-refundable costs of $ 100). Once you have been conditionally accepted, schedule a personal appointment at a registration center and perform a background check. For your personal interview you need a valid passport and another form of identification, such as a driver's license or identity card. Legal permanent residents must show their machine-readable permanent resident card.

How does it work?

No additional paperwork is required in addition to your otherwise unchanged US passport. Once you are accepted, simply look for the special Global Entry kiosks at customs when you enter the US at participating airports. The ATM-style kiosk takes a photo and asks you about five of the same questions you would get on hand-written immigration forms (bring your fruit, bring you $ 10,000 in cash) that you answer on the touchscreen. If the answers to those questions are no, you can hand the printed receipt to an immigration officer while he or she checks your passport. You are on your way to the baggage carousels in just 2 minutes.

You will also receive a Global Entry ID card, but that is only necessary for access to land and sea ports from Mexico or Canada. (If you are not familiar with the SENTRI and NEXUS programs related to crossing to and from those respective countries, you probably need not worry about this.)


Clear [19659013] Unlike TSA PreCheck and Global Entry, Clear is managed by a private company and not by the government. This allows you to jump directly to the front of the main security line or the TSA PreCheck line at the airport. Instead of waiting in line to show your ID and boarding pass to the TSA agent, passengers can use a Clear kiosk to scan your eye and fingerprint and then be guided directly to the front of the security line.

You may still want to use it in combination with TSA PreCheck or Global Entry because you can only skip the row – you still need to go through security by removing your shoes, belt, laptops and liquids unless you also enjoy TSA PreCheck benefits.

Who is it for?

Air travelers with eyes and fingers that hate long lines. To be eligible, you must be at least 18 years old and have one of these types of photo ID: US driver's license, US passport, US passport card, US-issued permanent residence permit, state-issued ID or US military ID.

What does it do?

With Clear you can skip the airport security line, but you still have to go through the regular security check. It saves you the need to show your ID and boarding pass to a TSA agent after you have entered the security line for this. Instead, you can use a Clear kiosk to scan your iris and fingerprints before a Clear employee then guides you directly to the front of the line for security screening. You must take off your shoes and belt and remove your laptop and liquids from your hand luggage for screening, unless you also have TSA PreCheck which speeds up the screening and boarding process.

  clear-kiosk "data-original =" https://cnet4.cbsistatic.com/img/IZdY0xPDCdN-yr65Lv1553EbN-Y=/2019/06/11/e336c8ff-d6cb-4fb3-a3be-eb1e4e2ea5a6/clear-kiosk .png

Clear

Where can I use it?

Clear is not as widespread as TSA PreCheck or Global Entry. It is available at a select number of airports and in a handful of stadiums to help you through security and the game or concert faster.

What does it cost?

Clear is more expensive than TSA PreCheck or Global Entry. It has an annual fee of $ 179 a year and you can add up to three family members for $ 50 a year. Children under the age of 18 can use the Clear kiosk when traveling with a Clear family member.

Clear is the most expensive of the three & # 39; s programs, but it is the only one that offers a free trial version. You can try the service for free for a month and a current promotion doubles the free trial period to two months.

Delta members can get a deal on Clear. It is free for Diamond Medallion members, $ 109 per year for Platinum, Gold and Silver Medallion members, and $ 119 per year for General SkyMiles members.

What is Clear Sports?

Only for access to the stadium is a Clear Sports membership free and you can take one guest via the Clear security lane.

How can I apply?

Clear is the most expensive, but also the easiest to participate. You complete an application online and then complete the process at an airport or stadium that Clear offers. You don't have to make a separate trip to a registration center – you can use Clear on the same day that you register.

How does it work?

Your iris and fingerprints are scanned when you register and link to your account. You can then use that biometric data to zip through the Clear lane at an airport or stadium instead of the regular security line.


Security and Privacy Concerns

Global Entry and TSA Pre are US government programs, while Clear is a private company. But if you use one of the services, you provide quite a bit of personal information, including fingerprints – and your face .

In the case of Clear, the company's website says: "We never sell or rent personal information. Personal information is only used to provide the services associated with Clear membership."

For Global Entry and TSA Pre you provide that information to the federal government. That gives many people a break, especially because the government has shown that it is no better than companies to keep data safe. From the OPM infringement to the Shadow Brokers the FBI already had a pretty bleak reputation. And now the US Customs and Border Protection – the agency that manages Global Entry – has admitted that traveler photos & # 39; s have been compromised in a cyber attack .

So yes: none of these systems will be comfortable for people who value privacy. And if you feel uncomfortable with this, none of these services are for you. But while advocating a higher level of passenger rights is a worthy debate, it will not get you through the security line or get on board faster for your next flight. For better or worse, more convenience means sacrificing a certain degree of privacy, at least for the airlines, the governments of the countries you travel through, and their various subcontractors.

Update, June 19: Added detail of the free trial version of Clear.

Originally published earlier in June.


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