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What is Clear and is it worth it?

Skip the line and ID screening process like a VIP.

Clear is an expedited security program that helps you move faster through security at select airports and sports stadiums. Using a security program like Clear means you can get through checkpoints in just a few minutes, but not all airports use this program. Here’s how this program works and how it differs from other expedited security programs.

Is Clear worth it?

This question is really twofold: How much time does Clear save? And how much do you value your time? The first question depends on the standard TSA PreCheck or security lines. But you can expect Clear to get you past ID checks to security at the largest US airports in just a few minutes.

If you also have TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, you can pass then pass the security check line in short order as well and be on your way faster than travelers without these services. Users report the entire security process with Clear and TSA Precheck taking around five minutes.

If you travel often and you’re willing to trade your biometric data for convenience and time, you might find Clear worth your money. But to best take advantage of the service, you’ll need to pair it up with TSA PreCheck.

How do I get Clear?

To get a Clear membership, start your application online and provide your fingerprints and iris scan in person at a local Clear location. To start online:

  1. Visit the Clear website.
  2. Click Get Clear.
  3. Provide your personal information.
  4. Select a personal or family membership plan.
  5. Click Pay.
  6. Verify your application in person at a local Clear location. Bring a valid ID, and be ready to provide your fingerprints and get an iris scan.

How does Clear work?

While it might sound complex, what with the measuring of your biometric data, Clear simply allows you to “cut in line,” to the front of ID screening. Nothing more. That means you’ll still be subject to your typical screening process, whether it be standard or pre-screening.

Like other security programs, you need to apply to Clear to become a member. Once you get your membership, your can access the Clear kiosks available at participating airports and use your biometric data — your fingerprints and eyes — to verify your ID. After that, a Clear representative will escort you to your approprite security line, bypassing everyone in ID line.

How much does Clear cost?

Unlike Global Entry and TSA PreCheck where you’re charged once every five years for your application, Clear has an annual membership fee. However, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines cardholders and members of their frequent flyer programs get discounts.

Delta Air Lines elite tier status

Depending on tier level:

  • SkyMiles members — $119 ($60 discount)
  • Delta SkyMiles credit card members — $109 ($70 discount)
  • Silver, Gold and Platinum Medallion members — $109 ($70 discount)
  • Diamond Medallion members — Free ($179 discount)
Clear price
Standard membership$179
United Airlines elite tier statusDepending on tier level:
  • MileagePlus members — $119 ($60 discount)
  • United Airlines credit card members — $109 ($70 discount)
  • Premier® Silver, Gold or Platinum members — $109 ($70 discount)
  • Premier 1K® members — Free ($179 discount)
Children under 18 traveling with a Clear memberFree
Up to three adult family membersAdditional $50 for a Family Plan

United Airlines discount

If you own a United Airlines cobranded credit card or if you’re a MileagePlus member, you get to enjoy Clear discounts.

MileagePlus members$119 ($60 discount)
United Airlines credit card members$109 ($70 discount)
Premier® Silver, Gold or Platinum members$109 ($70 discount)
Premier 1K® membersFree ($179 discount)

Delta Air Lines discount

Delta SkyMiles members and Delta cardholders get to enjoy discounts on Clear membership.

SkyMiles members$119 ($60 discount)
Delta SkyMiles credit card members$109 ($70 discount)
Silver, Gold and Platinum Medallion members$109 ($70 discount)
Diamond Medallion membersFree ($179 discount)

As you can see, Clear membership runs a bit pricey at $179 per year. This is expensive compared to something like TSA Precheck, which costs $85 for five years of membership.

Still, the function of Clear is different enough from TSA Precheck to merit the cost difference. Clear will cut out the entire waiting period of getting to the security line. And if you’re a United or Delta flyer, you can cut the cost of Clear membership significantly.

How is Clear different from Global Entry and TSA PreCheck?

Clear is a similar program with Global Entry and TSA PreCheck, yet there are some differences.

ClearGlobal EntryTSA PreCheck
PurposeSpeed through travel document check on departing flightsSpeed through US border control and customs on arriving flightsSpeed through the physical screening process
ID checkBiometrics — eyes and fingerprintsDocumentDocument
Price$179 annually$100 application fee, plus you get TSA PreCheck$85 application fee
DiscountsUnited and Delta elite tiers enjoy discounts or free Clear membershipSome credit cards offer application fee creditSome credit cards offer application fee credit
Length of membership1 year5 years5 years
Family members
  • Your children under 18 can tag with you without additional cost
  • Add up to three adults with a Family Plan for an additional $50
N/AYour children under 12 can tag with you without additional cost

Should I get Clear, TSA Precheck, or Global Entry?

Clear can only help you pass through ID check in minutes and reach the security line before anyone else. However, that’s all it does. It won’t do anything to help you get through the security check itself.

TSA PreCheck is the expedited security program that allows members to enter a different security screening line. At the end of this line, members are typically scanned with a walk-through metal detector rather than a full body scan. They also don’t have to remove their shoes and belts, nor their major electronics or liquids from their bags.

Finally, Global Entry is a program that speeds up the identification process when traveling through the U.S. Customs processing line as you return to the US from a flight abroad.

All serve slightly different purposes and work well when combined together. So if you combine your Clear membership with TSA PreCheck — or Global Entry when traveling abroad — you’ll slide past security check even faster.

Compare credit cards with Clear discounts

Interested in shaving down the price of Clear membership? Compare the cards that feature discounts side-by-side.

Name Product Filter values Rewards Purchase APR Annual fee
The Platinum Card® from American Express
5x points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel, 5x points on directly-booked flights on up to $500,000 annually, then 1x points after that and on other eligible purchases
See Pay Over Time APR
100,000 points after spending $6,000 in your first 6 months. Terms apply, see rates & fees
Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card
2x miles on Delta purchases, restaurants and at US supermarkets and 1x miles on other eligible purchases
15.74% to 24.74% variable
$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($99 thereafter)
Earn 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new card in your first 3 months. Terms apply, see rates & fees
Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card
3x miles on Delta and direct hotel purchases, 2x miles at restaurants and US supermarkets and 1x miles on other eligible purchases
15.74% to 24.74% variable
Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases in your first 3 months. Terms apply, see rates & fees

Compare up to 4 providers

Bottom line

If you want to get through the document screening process at the largest airports in the US, the Clear membership could be worth considering.

With Delta Air Lines and United Airlines credit cards, you can get discounts on Clear membership rates. But if this is not a perk you value as much, consider other travel credit cards that come with TSA PreCheck and Global Entry application fee credit.

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