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Global Entry vs. TSA PreCheck: Which should you apply for?

Both can be incredibly helpful — but pick just one.

Global Entry and TSA PreCheck can save travelers hours in airports. Though each is valuable in its own way, don’t shell out money for both of them. Here’s how to decide which one’s a better fit.

What’s the difference between Global Entry and TSA PreCheck?

Global Entry and TSA PreCheck are traveler programs that help you speed through airport security or US customs screenings. The main difference is international travelers who arrive at US airports can use Global Entry to pass through customs, and passengers departing from US airports can use TSA PreCheck for faster security screening.

Benefits of Global Entry

  • Expedited passage through US customs. When you arrive on an international flight, skip the customs line. Simply go straight to the Global Entry kiosk, complete the customs declaration form and get the receipt. Show the receipt to the CBP officer and you’re on your way.
  • Available in other countries. You can use Global Entry kiosks in select foreign airports, including Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH), Dublin Airport (DUB), Vancouver International Airport (YVR), Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) and more.
  • Free access to TSA PreCheck. TSA PreCheck is included with the Global Entry enrollment.
  • You can use it for air, land and sea entry into the US. You can use Global Entry at select airports, seaports and on land borders. If you’re entering the US by land, use the NEXUS or SENTRI lanes.

Benefits of TSA PreCheck

  • Good for those who often travel domestically. Eligible US airports let you pass security faster via the TSA PreCheck lane.
  • Lighter airport security screening. You can pass security without removing your belt, shoes or light jacket. Also, you can pass without removing your laptop or liquids from your bag.
  • Available at many airports. You’ll find TSA PreCheck at more than 200 airports across the US, as opposed to less than 100 that have Global Entry kiosks.
Global EntryTSA PreCheck
Length of membership5 years5 years
Application fee$100$85
What you get
  • Use Global Entry kiosks instead of going through the normal customs line.
  • Get access to TSA PreCheck.
  • Go through security screening in a dedicated TSA PreCheck lane.
  • You don’t have to remove your shoes, belt, light jacket, laptop or eligible liquids.
Available in international airports?Select destinationsUS airports only
Number of eligible airports75More than 200
Number of eligible airlinesN/A56

Who should use Global Entry or TSA PreCheck

Global Entry could be helpful for anyone traveling internationally, while TSA PreCheck for anyone who often flies domestically. Here’s why:

Preferred ProgramBenefitsAverage wait time
InternationalGlobal Entry
  • Speed through US customs on arrival
  • Available at some international airports abroad
  • Includes TSA PreCheck
Less than 5 minutes
DomesticTSA PreCheck
  • Speed through airport security on domestic flights
  • Available at more domestic airports
  • No need to do an interview to enroll in the program
  • Cheaper application fee
It depends on the airport, but it often takes between 5 and 10 minutes to pass airport security
Traveling with childrenChildren of 12 and younger can pass airport security faster with either of the two programs.

However, to pass through US customs, your children will need their own Global Entry enrollment

It depends on which traveling program you are enrolled inIt depends on which traveling program you are enrolled in

How much does Global Entry and TSA PreCheck cost?

A Global Entry application costs $100. A TSA PreCheck application costs $85. These fees are nonrefundable even if you aren’t approved.

You can get out of these application fees with the right travel credit card. Use your card for your application fee, and your provider will reimburse you.

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Global Entry vs. TSA PreCheck: Which is the better deal?

Global Entry costs $15 more than TSA PreCheck. This is the price difference you pay once in five years, meaning Global Entry costs only $3 more annually.

Considering you also get TSA PreCheck with Global Entry, getting Global Entry could be the better option even if you fly internationally once a year. But if you don’t plan on flying abroad in the next five years, you could save the $3 and buy yourself a cup of coffee instead.

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Bottom line

Both Global Entry and TSA PreCheck can be highly useful. If you get a Global Entry membership, you’ll get benefits from the other program too.

If you want a product that elevates your vacations, look for a travel credit card.

Frequently asked questions

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