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3 lessons from saving $400 on Global Entry renewals

Nov. 11, 2019
5 min read
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Oh, goodie: Another credit card has added a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck statement credit benefit. Almost every points-and-miles junkie will give this one a healthy dose of side-eye since there are lots of credit cards that now offer an up to $100 statement credit to cover the application fee for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck every four to five years. There are so many, in fact, that when another card adds the benefit, few people in the rewards travel space get excited.

I've yawned over the addition of this perk myself. But now I'm grateful for it. You see, five years blows by pretty quickly and my whole family recently needed to renew our Global Entry memberships. (P.S. This process takes a long time, start early.)

Related: Best credit cards for applying for Global Entry and PreCheck

Last time we went through this exercise, we applied for NEXUS (expedited Canadian entry) which confers with it Global Entry/TSA PreCheck and is cheaper. The application fee for NEXUS is only $50 for adults and free for kids. But with no trips to the Canadian border on the horizon, we need to keep things simple and get Global Entry without NEXUS.

The cost for the four of us to renew? A cool $400. No child discounts.

Well, that would be the cost if not for my wallet full of cards with Global Entry statement credits that now seem handy and valuable.

I learned three important lessons as I used credit card statement credits to renew all of our Global Entry memberships.

More is more

If you have a family, you want every darn card with that application benefit you can get. I needed access to four credits just for us.

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Here are 10 cards that offer this benefit:

  • Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card ($95 annual fee) — credit every four years
  • United Explorer Card ($95 annual fee, waived the first year) — credit every four years
  • IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card ($89 annual fee) — credit every four years
  • Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card ($95 annual fee) — credit every four years
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve ($550 annual fee) — credit every four years
  • The Platinum Card® from American Express ($695 annual fee see rates & fees) — credit every four to four and half years for the primary card and each Platinum authorized-user card
  • Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® ($450 annual fee) — credit every five years
  • Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card ($450 annual fee see rates & fees) — credit every four years
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card ($199 annual fee) — credit every four years
  • Citi Prestige® Card ($495 annual fee) — credit every five years

The information for the Citi Prestige Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy.)

When you last used your credit is a mystery

The good news is that lots of rewards cards offer the Global Entry application credit. The bad news is that there's no easy way to quickly tell when you last used the Global Entry application credits with many of the banks. Not knowing exactly when I last used my credits but knowing you can only use them once every four to five years, I called both Chase and Amex for help in narrowing down if I was eligible again on some specific cards (since I have been known to help out Grandma, Grandpa, etc. with their application fees).

Amex could tell me when they were used on our Amex Platinum but they couldn't tell me which card had made the charge. This matters because each Platinum authorized user gets their own $100 credit -- we have three authorized users for $175 per year (see rates and fees), plus the main card account. However, with some precise dates to work with, we narrowed it down.

Chase wasn't able to tell me anything when I called to inquire as to when I last used the credit on my Sapphire Reserve, though the rep did say they were working on a fix for that.

Related: Best credit cards for families

Make a folder

With many travelers now renewing their Global Entry memberships, the card issuers hopefully will create tools that track when you are eligible to use your credit a second (and third, etc.) time. Until then, make yourself a virtual or old-fashioned folder. In it, you need to note when you applied, what card you used and all those hard-to-remember Global Entry logins and emails too. If you have kids, it's not easy remembering what email address was used for their applications.

Bottom line

You don't care much about Global Entry statement credits until you need them -- lots of them -- all at once. Rewards credit cards just kept $400 in my pocket when the Global Entry renewals all came due in rapid succession and I'm grateful there were enough cards with that perk in my wallet that I didn't feel a penny of pain.

For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum, click here.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card, click here.

Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.