If you travel even a few times a year, you know how frustrating it can be dealing with airport security. And if you’ve ever flown internationally, the lines at U.S. Customs to re-enter the country can be even worse, even if you’re traveling on a U.S. passport. Fortunately, there are ways to minimize your wait times at both of these stations. My personal favorites are Global Entry and/or TSA PreCheck. Even though these programs carry fees, they can easily be avoided — if you have the right credit card(s) in your wallet. Here are the best credit cards for Global Entry from our partners.
- Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
- The Platinum Card® from American Express
- United℠ Explorer Card
- Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card
- Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®
- Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card
- Chase Sapphire Reserve®
- IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card
- 5X Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options
- 2X Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day.
When it comes to simplicity and strong rewards, the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is a solid choice for most travelers. You’ll earn 2 miles per dollar on every purchase with no bonus categories to memorize, making it an ideal card for those with busy lives. Read our full review of the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card.
- 5X Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
- 5X Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
The Amex Platinum is unmatched when it comes to travel perks and benefits. If lounge access, hotel elite status and annual statement credits are important to you, this card is well worth the high annual fee. Read our full review of the Amex Platinum card.
- 2X Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on dining, hotel stays, and United® purchases
- 2X Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on dining including eligible delivery services
- 1X 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases
Between a TSA PreCheck/Global Entry fee credit, two annual lounge visits and a free checked bag, the United Explorer card is packed with perks that will enhance your trips for even occasional United flyers. Read our full review of the United Explorer card.
- 10X Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
- 5X 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
- 2X Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
If you can maximize the up to $300 statement credit toward Capital One Travel, the Venture X’s annual fee effectively comes down to $95, the same annual fee pegged to the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. Add in a 10,000-mile bonus every account anniversary (worth $185, according to TPG valuations) and lounge access, and the card may become the strongest option out there for a lot of travelers. Read our full review of the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card.
- 2X 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases
- 1X 1 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on other purchases
The Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard is the best for those who fly American Airlines and want Admirals Club lounge access. It also gives you helps you earn and maintain elite status and comes with priority perks. Read our review of the Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard.
- 2X Earn unlimited 2 points for every $1 spent on travel and dining purchases
- 1.5X Unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all other purchases
The Bank of America Premium Rewards card is great for using the points earned for rewards that normal airline miles or credit card points can’t cover. Bank of America Preferred Rewards members get a 25%-75% rewards bonus on every purchase. New cardmembers earn a 50,000-point sign-up bonus after spending $3,000 in the first 90 days of account opening. Read our full review of the Bank of America Premium Rewards card.
- 10x Earn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
- 5x Earn 5x total points on air travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
- 3x Earn 3x points on other travel and dining.
- 1x Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
The Chase Sapphire Reserve is one of our top premium travel cards. With a $300 travel credit, generous points on dining and travel purchases and other benefits, you can get excellent value that far exceeds the annual fee on the card. Read our review of the Chase Sapphire Reserve card.
- 26X Earn up to 26 points total per $1 spent when you stay at an IHG hotel.
- 5X Earn 5 points per $1 spent on purchases on travel, gas stations, and restaurants.
- 3X Earn 3 points per $1 spent on all other purchases
The IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card is hotel chain’s top-tier cobranded card. The card delivers strong earning rates on IHG purchases, an anniversary reward night and generous sign-up bonus. Read our review of the IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card.
- 6X Earn 6 Marriott Bonvoy points for each dollar of eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy™ program.
- 3X 3 points at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines.
- 2X 2 points on all other eligible purchases.
The Bonvoy Brilliant is ideal for travelers who are loyal to the Marriott brand. You’ll get a solid return on Marriott stays and a number of premium perks that can help you upgrade your trips. However, with high-end perks comes a high annual fee. Read our full review of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card.
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For starters, it’s important to note the differences between the two programs. Global Entry has a $100 fee for a five-year membership that covers expedited entry back into the U.S., plus TSA PreCheck. If you only want PreCheck, you’ll pay $85 for a five-year membership, but this won’t help with clearing passport control after an international trip. Since it’s just a $15 premium for Global Entry and you get automatic PreCheck, I always recommend going that route, although you may find that PreCheck in conjunction with the Mobile Passport app will be sufficient if you don’t travel out of the U.S. regularly.
With any of the cards above, you’re eligible for a fee credit every four or five years for either Global Entry or TSA PreCheck when you pay for the membership with the card. Note that you don’t need to be paying for your own membership: as long as the application fee is charged to the card and you haven’t already utilized the perk, the credit should automatically be applied to your next statement.
How we chose the best cards for Global Entry and TSA/PreCheck
The most obvious requirement for being chosen for this list is that each card has a statement credit benefit for your Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee. But this isn’t an exhaustive list of cards that offer these credits. Instead, it represents the cards that provide the perk and offer the most valuable additional benefits to card holders, such as airport lounge access or travel credits.
We also considered whether authorized users also receive the benefit, the card’s sign-up bonus and other factors when narrowing down the list to our favorite cards.
Should I get TSA PreCheck or Global Entry?
TSA PreCheck and Global Entry are both trusted traveler programs. TSA PreCheck gets you expedited security screening when you’re flying with a participating airline and 73 airlines (and counting) that are part of the program. If the TSA PreCheck security lane is available (and operating) at the airport, you’ll not only have access to a much shorter line, but you won’t need to remove your shoes or belt and you can leave your laptop or liquids in your bag. This can be a lifesaver if you’re running late for a flight. The TSA PreCheck application fee is $85 and after submitting your application you’ll need to complete a background check and in-person interview. A TSA PreCheck membership is valid for five years.
The process for applying for Global Entry is similar to TSA PreCheck, but the application fee is $100 and there are almost always much longer wait times to schedule an interview. You can get around this by getting an interview on arrival at some locations. Once you’re approved for Global Entry you’ll have access to TSA PreCheck security lanes and you’ll also get expedited customs when returning to the U.S. through any of these airports. Global Entry is also valid for five years, so for only $15 more you’re getting TSA PreCheck expedited security plus you can speed through U.S. Customs.
Unless you aren’t in a position to wait the extra time it takes to be approved for Global Entry that’s the one you’ll want to apply for. Otherwise, get TSA PreCheck and just use Mobile Passport when returning to the U.S. Just keep in mind that you can’t use Mobile Passport and Global Entry at the same time.
Related: 12 things to know about TSA PreCheck
Security checkpoints and passport control desks can make or break your travel day, adding unnecessary delays and hassles to an already stressful transit experience. Wouldn’t it be nice to not only speed through these lines but also do so for free? As you can see, there are many valuable travel rewards credit cards that provide application fee waivers for either Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. If you’re still planning your next trip and want to save some time, consider adding one of the best travel credit cards to your wallet now. Then try not to laugh at the poor souls in the “regular” traveler lines as you breeze your way through the airport.
For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum card, please click here.
Additional reporting by Benét J. Wilson.
Featured photo by Arne Beruldsen/Shutterstock.