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Seriously- Get Global Entry Already! FAQ & Ways to Get It For Free

by on May 24, 2013 · 96 comments

in Global Entry

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While traveling to Chile with my mom last month, an airport etiquette question came up when I was given TSA PreCheck while she had to wait it out in the regular security line. At my mom’s urging, I went through the quicker line, but a similar conundrum came up on last week’s trip to Italy where I had Global Entry and could bypass the immigration line at JFK while my friends could not. This time I waited it out with them, but I thought it might be time for a reminder post on why Global Entry is such a great travel tool and how easy it is to get – especially as many of you jet off this weekend and European summer travel heats up.

Global Entry is one of the best time-saving travel tools out there.

Global Entry is one of the best time-saving travel tools out there.

Global Entry is the US government’s expedited immigration program for frequent travelers. It costs $100 and is good for 5 years. However, if you have the Amex Platinum, Mercedex-Benz Platinum or Business Platinum (or Centurion) cards, the fee is refunded to you as a statement credit. The good news is that this fee is even refunded to additional cardholders as well – and the annual fee for up to three additional Platinum cardholders is just $175 ($175 per cardholder after that), so even if two of your friends/family members gets Global Entry you’ll recoup that fee and then some. Plus, remember that the additional cardmembers also get lounge access to Delta, American, US Airways and Priority Pass Select, so this can be a screaming good deal. Additional cardholders are not eligible for their own annual $200 airline fee rebate, though and eligible charges they make will get refunded out of your $200 total. You can also get Nexus for $50 and that includes Global Entry, however it is a more complicated process (you have to go to Seattle or one of the 8 Canadian airport facilities) and Amex recently sent out notices saying they will now only reimburse for Global Entry- not any other program, though in reality their systems may still actually refund Nexus.

American Express is not the only kid in town giving free Global Entry- if you have the new Citi Prestige card, you also get the fee refunded, and if you are a United Global Services, Premier 1K or Platinum, United will also refund you.

How to Apply
You apply through the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website at www.globalentry.gov. The application process takes about 10 minutes and you get an email confirmation. Then within usually about a week to 10 days (though it can be as quick as just 1-2 days), you get an email that lets you know you are conditionally approved. Then you must log back into your GOES account and select an appointment time and location.  A Customs and Border Protection officer asks you questions and whether you have a criminal record, takes your photo (so try not to schedule one after you’ve been on a long flight!), and scan your fingerprints. It’s all pretty quick and painless.

Here is the list of 35 enrollment centers, most of which are at international airports including:

Albuquerque Airport ABQ
Atlanta Port Office
Austin-Bergstron Airport AUS
Baltimore/Washington Airport BMI
Boston Logan BOS
Bowling Green Customs House
Charlotte-Douglas CLT
Chicago O’Hare ORD
Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport CVG
Dallas/Ft. Worth DFW
Denver Airport DEN
Detroit Metropolitan Airport DTW
Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood Airport FLL
Houston IAH
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport ATL
Honolulu HNL
New York JFK
Los Angeles LAX
McCarran International Las Vegas LAS
Miami International MIA
Milwaukee MKE
Minneapolis St. Paul MSP
Newark Liberty EWR
Orlando MCO
Orlando-Sanford SFB
Philadelphia International PHL
Phoenix Sky Harbor PHX
Portland International PDX
Salt Lake City SLC
San Antonio SAT
San Francisco SFO
San Juan Airport SJU
Seattle-Tacoma SEA
Anchorage ANC
Washington-Dulles IAD

Assuming you pass the “interview” – and there’s no reason you shouldn’t if you are conditionally approved in the first place – you should receive your new Global Entry card in about two weeks, but your Global Entry profile is activated in about 24 hours. Then when you enter the United States (there are also kiosks in two Irish airports) you can skip the huge immigrations line and instead go to the Global Entry lane, put your hand on the scanner, smile into the camera and check the boxes to answer a few questions on the touchscreen then breeze through immigrations and head straight for customs. Plus, GE recently partnered with Australia’s SmartGate program to expedite your entry into Australia as well. To find out how the SmartGate system works, you can check out this page. Now if only the EU would offer something similar!

The Fun Doesn’t Stop There
Once you get your card, you will find your Trusted Traveler number on it and you can then log into your frequent flyer accounts and enter that information into your profile under “Known Traveler ID.” And it should automatically register you for TSA PreCheck on reservations you make on each airline that participates when you fly through airports that have PreCheck. Granted, this can be something of a crapshoot and people don’t seem to qualify every single time, but even if it works just most of the time, it’s such a timesaver and a valuable tool – plus you don’t have to take off any clothes or remove anything from bags! – that it’s worth the couple minutes’ of time you take entering this info in your profile on each airline site individually.

Those few minutes will really seem worth it when you hit the ground after a 14-hour flight and see a huge, snaking immigrations line waiting for you then realize you can simply bypass it thanks to Global Entry.

Happy (expedited) travels!

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • andrelaplume

    Never received an email, though I am conditionally approved. Waiting for my wife’s ok so we can go together. Check their site every couple of days anyway.

  • Robert

    Mentioning the eligibility conditions for your non-US readers would be helpful, especially as your EU comment invites the false idea notion the US has created something open to EU citizens and that the EU should get its house in order and create something similar.

    From the Global Entry FAQ:

    “Q: Can I join Global Entry if I am not a U.S. citizen or U.S. lawful permanent resident?

    A: Global Entry is also available to citizens of the Netherlands who
    are enrolled in Privium and Korean Smart Entry Service members. Citizens
    of Mexico may also apply for Global Entry. Canadian NEXUS members have
    Global Entry benefits, but are not eligible to join.”

  • Song

    The Lounge access seems only for the primary Amex card holder (not additional card holder).

  • thepointsguy

    Not true. Secondary cardholders get all lounge access and can even order their own Priority Pass Select for free

  • http://twitter.com/LittleTeaBlog Little Tea Blog

    My friend has a Platinum Amex. Can I use his card to charge to my global entry fee, or does he have to issue another card in my name to qualify?

  • ASW

    Logic dictates that you probably should have your Global Entry photo taken immediately after a long flight because that’s exactly what you’ll look like every time you step up to the kiosk.

  • Jody

    How does Global Entry work for minor children traveling with their parent who has Global Entry?

  • vortix

    Question: under what circumstances can the government legally gain access to fingerprints that are obtained via the Global Entry application process?

  • vortix

    As long as your friend hasn’t received reimbursement for Global Entry on their AmEx already, they can use it for anyone’s GE fee. AmEx has no way to know who Global Entry was purchased for.

  • Marianne Bergman

    Brian, i have a few questions…..How does the fee get refunded? Does AmEx see it in the statement and refund it automatically?
    Is there a list of airports that have the TSA quick access?
    Do all Platinum cards give you lounge access?
    Thanks for the great info.
    Marianne
    PS. Mom told me she had a WONDERFUL time. You are a great son :)

  • Robert

    Doesn’t it acquire them directly by the very nature of the procedure?

    And, sadly, doesn’t the government largely deem itself to be above the law in any case?

  • Bob

    Do you know if the Delta Amex Platinum offers the refund?

  • KB

    FYI – Global Entry is really backed up in applications right now. Hardly any appointments available in May or June nationwide, according to a Global Entry employee that I spoke with. July is the earliest booking for many locations for your interview – once you get the go ahead – so make plans now if you plan to travel internationally from August onward.

  • AceK

    United also pays this fee for Platinums and 1Ks.

  • http://twitter.com/LittleTeaBlog Little Tea Blog

    But if he has, I’m out of luck, right?

  • jonezy

    Just show up, no guarantees but its work a try. Had a long layover in BOS and went by the office. got me in and out in 15 minutes,

  • CG

    When I got my Global Entry, I paid with Amex Platinum and they refunded immediately after. I didn’t have to call or anything.

  • jonezy

    Remember some Airlines (United at least for 1K and GE) will give refund (travel credit) for the $100 GE fee. So if you have upper status and don’t need another CC check with your airlines

  • vortix

    Yes…applying for Global Entry requires you to submit fingerprint scans. I was wondering under what circumstances can government agencies gain access to the fingerprint scans that were submitted as a part of the application process. In other words – is there a Privacy Policy that governs who can access this personal information?

    Does anyone else have any privacy concerns with handing over biometric data to the federal government?

  • vortix

    Guess I should have Googled this first…here is some (admittedly biased) info re: privacy of Global Entry data: http://epic.org/privacy/global_entry/

  • Dave

    How does this differ from the newly announced Automated Passport Control program recently announced? I love having Global Entry, but I’m mildly annoyed that I paid $100 for something that duplicated by a free program.

  • vortix

    Yes…unless he adds you as an additional cardholder. There is also a small chance that the fee reimbursement can happen once per calendar year. YMMV on that, though.

  • RakSiam

    I initially was conditionally approved back in Feb and at that time there were no appointments at IAD until June. But somewhere along the line a ton of new availability showed up so I was able to move up. It’s worth checking from time to time to see.

    The office at IAD had a sign on the door stating walk ins were not allowed and an appointment was required “due to overwhelming demand”. My worry is that GE will get so popular that the lines for the kiosk will end up being almost as bad as the regular lines.

  • RakSiam

    Yes Amex’s system automatically recognizes the GE fee and places a statement credit on your account. Mine showed up within a week.

  • D.

    Do you still receive a stamp in your passport when using Global Entry at immigration? If it is not standard to receive a stamp, could you in theory use the kiosk, and then request a stamp from the immigration officer each time?

  • thepointsguy

    You only use Global Entry when coming back into the US, so you don’t get stamped. So don’t worry- you still get all your cool stamps from around the globe!

  • Cickychick

    We just used Global Entry for the first time at MIA after returning from the Caribbean. We were the absolute last people off the plane, but we skipped straight to the GE kiosk, and we were through in about 2 minutes total. There was also a dedicated customs line for GE, and we zipped through that in about a minute. Less time at customs and immigration than it takes to order a latte at Starbucks? Totally worth twenty bucks a year!

  • thepointsguy

    Yep.. included in the post

  • Akd

    Honestly what is is big deal? This process is meant to make travel not only easier but SAFER.

  • thepointsguy

    Correct-I listed that in the post.

  • thepointsguy

    I’m not sure that the Automated Passport Control will be as quick as GE.. GE Is a trusted traveler so you don’t get secondary questioning much and go right through. I wouldn’t be annoyed- GE is well worth the $100

  • thepointsguy

    Nope.. only the actual Amex Platinum/ Benz Platinum/ Business Platinum

  • thepointsguy

    Children can go through with the parent, but spouses without GE cannot (though you can often bring them with and ask the agent to manually check them through)

  • thepointsguy

    Amex will credit the $100 fee when it comes through automatically. Most airports have Global Entry kiosks and more and more are getting TSA PreCheck lanes. Totally worth it!!

  • thepointsguy

    Yea, it was a joke. I don’t think it matters- half the time the Global Entry photo misses my head completely because I’m too tall!

  • Evelyn

    I applied back in march and was denied. Tried to call the local enrollment office but can’t get a hold of a real person. What would be my next step?

  • Marianne

    Do we also get lounge access with the Platinum card?

  • Jose

    If Nexus includes GE benefits and only cost $50 instead of $100 for GE, does it makes sense to apply GE?

  • joeypore

    AMEX reps will officially tell you it doesn’t qualify for the credit, and I believe they’re hard-coding the credit to $100 amounts only.
    However, if you’re straight up paying for it, Nexus is the way to go, because it is literally both programs, but the catch is you have to interview at a Canadian border point (or Seattle, I think there’s one in NY).

  • flyinace2000

    Another “tip” is that GE is good for 5 years AFTER you next birthday! So if you go the week (or day) after your birthday you have an effective 6 year usage!

  • UrbanPhoenixInjunCAM

    Wow… they added alot of new screening locations since I applied for my GE. Despite living in sprawling Phoenix, I had to drive South to complete my interview with Border Patrol in Nogales, which is on the American/Mexican border.

    That was in 2011– just before I went to Tokyo… thanks largely to this great blog.

  • Kristy

    I love Global Entry and TSA Precheck. I’ve been telling friends about it since we joined. A friend of mine in Florida applied two months ago. It took five weeks for her to be conditionally approved. It happened, but you definitely want to plan ahead now. =)

  • joeypore

    From what I’ve read and heard, if they deny you, there’s nothing you can do about it… :/

    When I did my interview, there was a guy doing his in the cubicle next to me, and he got denied from having been arrested once. Needless to say he wasn’t happy leaving that office…

  • Guest

    I think I get what you’re asking. The only time you don’t receive a stamp for having global entry is when you re-enter the US. Because it doesn’t really benefit you at all when you enter another country (despite the term “global” entry) you still get your stamps as usual.

  • joeypore

    Don’t see that happening in the near future… I’ve never had to wait for global entry in any airport. I’ve seen people using them, but they’re the experienced travelers, so they know what they’re doing. And even if I had to wait a minute or even five, it beats the 45-minute+ line at DFW in the afternoons…

  • Sandy

    Marianne, it’s the American Express Platinum charge card.

  • Sandy

    I was informed by AMEX that the GE benefits is only good once per life of the card, not once a calendar year like the $200 airline incidental credit.

  • vortix

    I have no problem with Global Entry, or with anyone who decides to sign up for it. I am simply curious how the government can use information collected from GE applicants.

  • AKCredit

    Hey TPG,
    Up to how old can a child go with there parents?

  • jonezy

    ditto at 6’6 half the time there is nothing but chest in the photo from the Kiosk. Does not seem to matter as have not gotten the “X” yet

  • Winger

    I also have the same question. On a similar note, what is the age limit for children being able to follow their parents through TSA PreCheck?

  • Shane

    So if I read this correctly…I could get the Wife the Nexus card (we live in the Seattle area) and then it also provides Global entry and TSA pre-check?

  • kroozer

    The FAQ says that children travel companions cannot go through with parent, they must be enrolled in GE separately. Do you have some other experience?
    http://www.globalentry.gov/faq.html#i1

  • Travelista

    Daft question: is this for US citizens and/or US passport holders only?

  • Anita

    I am very curious about this, too. My husband and I just got Global Entry and loved using it on our return from Russia. We’re traveling with the kids next month and would love to be able to take advantage again if possible.

  • evelyn

    never been arrested or any records. I tried calling yesterday ang left a msg. we’ll see.

  • Satinger

    By the way, some airports don’t have appointments available for weeks or even months. But both my wife and I went in to interview as ‘walk-ins’ and it worked both times. Go towards the end of the day. Also if you live in Washington, they are about to open up an interview location in the Ronald Reagan Building where the Customs and Border Patrol office is – this way you don’t have to trek all the way to Dulles for an interview.

  • ADPage

    Global Entry and TSA Pre are amazing. I hope none of you get it so the line will forever be short ;)

  • Aaron

    I have pre-check with US Airways through frequent flying. I was told not to put my known traveler number in my FF profile, as it would confuse the system. Any truth to that statement?

  • http://twitter.com/palmerlaw Mark C. Palmer

    NOTE: When entering your “Known Traveler ID” on your various airline websites, be sure to enter your name EXACTLY (yes, including middle name or no middle name or just an initial) as it appears on your GLOBAL ENTRY ID Card, even if it is different than other government IDs such as your DL or passport.

    This may be easier said than done with some airlines. I found United to be the easiest, while Delta took about 7 phone calls and 4 faxes! (Delta – see “SECURE FLIGHT PASSENGER DATA” for exact GE Card match, as opposed to your profile name.)

    Good luck and travel safely!

  • bryan

    what happens if the cardmember already has the card for half a year and then adds the additional cards? is the $175 pro-rated accordingly?

  • Cindy

    Does anyone have the Citi Prestige? The offer doesn’t say anything about reimbursing global entry fees that I can see…?

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  • davidcaitpe

    In Dallas, it’s not possible to get an appointment before Oct 22nd!! Do you know if “walk-ins” are accepted there?

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  • Brandon

    So, if I have Global Entry I do not have to separately apply for TSA precheck? There is a fee for TSA as well so wanted to avoid that if possible.

  • thepointsguy

    Once you get GE, you get a Trusted Traveler number and you can enter that in your FF profiles on airlines’ sites and you’re all set. No separate application or fee.

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  • Jumus

    Why would you think anyone here would know the answer to that question. It’s pretty friggin detailed isn’t it ?

  • Dixster

    I was approved and the card was mailed but never received in mail. Can’t ask for replacement because never activated. Can’t reapply because I’m in system. Called local office, they say they can’t do anything.

    HELP!!!!!

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  • Ryan

    yes, my wife did this last week at DFW. Go in at 8am sharp and wait for someone to not show up. she was out of there by 8:35am. I did this a few years ago, and went in mid day (but not for my scheduled day either) and I was out of there in maybe 40 min.

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  • http://LukeRB.com/ Luke Bornheimer

    Any idea if you can use the United GE credit for a spouse or friend?

  • http://LukeRB.com/ Luke Bornheimer

    Can you can use the United GE credit for a spouse or friend?

  • http://LukeRB.com/ Luke Bornheimer

    Awesome post, Brian—thanks! My fiancé just got UA Platinum and I’m thinking of using her $100 GE credit for my GE application. Have you heard of anyone successfully doing this, and do you have any suggestions for if we decide to do it?

  • Collective

    plus Dutch and Mexicans

  • Saraya

    Is it good FROM the US to Europe with regard to security lines? in other words, would I have to take shoes and belt off and is there faster security line?

  • Response

    I know this is a late response, but I couldn’t find the answer anywhere so I tried it myself. I requested a payment from United, passed it along to my fiance to use for the fee. She was approved and has had no problems. Hope this post helps others.

  • Thomas

    What is the renewal procedure? And does CBP notify travelers when they GE is about to expire?

  • Anna

    A word of caution:

    If you have any arrests in your history, even if you were found innocent or no charges were ever pressed, and even if the record is legally expunged, by signing up for Global Entry and giving them your finger prints, you will forever be selected for additional screening (bodily and luggage search) every time you go through border control for any reason and in any line. It is NOT easier if you have any history whatsoever, innocent or otherwise. This is not made clear before the application process.

  • http://LukeRB.com/ Luke Bornheimer

    Update: United’s GE credit works for a spouse/partner/friend with a different last name.

  • http://LukeRB.com/ Luke Bornheimer

    Thanks Anon. I, too, can confirm that United’s GE credit works for a spouse/partner/friend with a different last name.

  • http://LukeRB.com/ Luke Bornheimer

    Update: United’s GE credit works for a spouse/partner/friend with a different last name.

  • Raxhelle

    My global access card came today. For some reason it was issued in my maiden name. My passport and drivers license (shown at the time of my interview) CLEARLY have my married name listed on them. I have e mailed the “help” email site to no avail. Any suggestions?
    Rachelle

  • Traveling Granny

    I had a DUI 30 years ago. Would that stop me from getting Global Entry?

  • lamber

    Does Delta’s Platinum Amex waive the Global Entry fee too?

  • monday-monday

    Do you mean apply for it or schedule the interview?
    My BD is Dec 30th.
    Should I wait till Dec 31st to apply on-line?

  • DCDude

    I’ve had Global entry for a few years and on my last two international trips, the Global Entry Kiosks were offline. So, I had to get in at the end of the line with EVERYBODY else. It’s worth it if the system is online.

  • mkless13

    Does Atlanta have a GE dedicated line for customs as well as the kiosk?

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