United's Now Letting You Redeem Miles for TSA PreCheck
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.
TSA PreCheck is fantastic, and you should definitely have it (better yet, get Global Entry), but you shouldn't redeem your miles to get it for "free," as tempting as that may be. Why? Airlines charge an arm and a leg to let you avoid the PreCheck fee — Southwest requires 9,000 Rapid Rewards points and Alaska charges 10,000 miles — with the exception of JetBlue, which has been offering it to some elites for free. And now, United is letting you use some miles to skirt the $85 fee — you'll redeem 10,000 miles for each credit, worth at least $150 based on our monthly valuations.
United is letting each MileagePlus member redeem for up to 10 codes per calendar year — at 10,000 miles a pop — allowing you (in theory) to get "free" PreCheck for yourself and nine of your closest friends. If you take United up on its offer, you'll be redeeming 100,000 miles to save $850 — for the same number of miles, you could fly round-trip between NYC and the West Coast twice in BusinessFirst, or one way in business class on United or any of its partners to any destination in the world. So, save those miles for something more exciting than a handful of $85 fee waivers.
Your best option is to apply for Global Entry, which comes along with free TSA PreCheck access every time you fly from the US. Better yet, you can get it for free with some cards, including Citi Prestige and The Platinum Card from American Express. And, as is the case with United's promo, these credits can be gifted to someone else — you can give yours away, or, if you don't have a card that offers it for free, someone else can use their credit for your membership, instead.
Will you be redeeming United miles for free PreCheck?