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From airport screening to a stadium near you: How to get and use Clear to avoid lines

July 22, 2021
5 min read
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As more and more people get vaccinated and feel more comfortable traveling, it may be a good time to try Clear, an expedited security program that allows you to say goodbye to long airport security lines.

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It's particularly good timing for American Express cardholders, including those who have the American Express® Gold Card and The Platinum Card® from American Express, as both offer an up to $179 statement credit for a complimentary Clear membership (enrollment required). Amex Gold cardholders must enroll in the program by Oct. 30, 2021, in order to be eligible to receive the credit.

Non-Amex cardholders can also try Clear for two months for free by signing up through TPG.

Read more: Amex offering complimentary Clear membership for targeted Amex Gold cardmembers

Read more: Guide to using the new Amex Platinum Clear benefit

What is Clear and how does it work?

As an expedited security program, Clear allows you to bypass what is normally a two-step security process at the airport by jumping to a separate lane for Clear users only and using a kiosk to identify yourself via biometric authentication (it will ask you for either a fingerprint or iris scan).

After you've successfully verified your identity, a Clear representative will then take you to the security screening line. TSA PreCheck users will be escorted to the PreCheck line at this point. This is what that process is like.

Clear is currently available at nearly 40 airports, in addition to stadiums and mass venues across the U.S. Most major airports offer Clear, including Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD), John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) and Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD).

(Screenshot courtesy of Clear)

Read more: Clear expedited airport security program — Is it worth it?

Who can sign up for Clear

You must meet three qualifications to enroll in Clear:

  1. Be a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident.
  2. Be at least 18 years old.
  3. Have one of the following forms of photo identification: U.S. driver's license, U.S. passport, U.S. passport card, U.S.-issued permanent resident card, state-issued ID or U.S. military ID.

Travelers under the age of 18 may use the Clear line for free if accompanied by a Clear member.

Read more: Should you get TSA PreCheck or Clear — or both?

How to sign up for Clear

"Anyone can start their enrollment process for an airport membership online," a Clear spokesperson told me via email. "Once you click 'Get CLEAR,' you will be prompted to set up your account and add your payment information - helping members get a head start on their enrollment."

Signing up for Clear is a two-step process, the first of which begins online. First, I use this link to apply for a free two-month trial and simply fill out my name, email address, ZIP code and date of birth.

Step one of the Clear enrollment process. (Screenshot courtesy of Clear)

Next, it will remind you that you are getting a free two-month trial, thanks to the link provided by TPG.

(Screenshot courtesy of Clear)

Unfortunately, you will have to pay the $179 enrollment fee on month three, so you'll enter your credit card information to do so.

Clear is $179 for an annual membership. (Screenshot courtesy of Clear)

Next, you will agree to the terms and conditions by checking the box.

Check the box to agree to Clear's terms and conditions. (Screenshot courtesy of Clear)

At this point, you will receive an email informing you that the final steps of the process must be completed on-site at a Clear location in order to finish creating your account.

At the airport, you can expect to:

  • Answer a few questions to verify your identity.
  • Provide a valid photo ID and method of payment.
  • Attach your biometrics (fingerprints and a picture of your irises) to your newly created account.

"Members complete their enrollment at the airport pods, which are available at 38 airports across the US," the spokesperson said.

Because enrollment involves using specific pod technology to capture iris scans and fingerprints, these final steps of the process can only be completed in person. If you don't live near an airport with an enrollment center, we would suggest booking a trip with a decent layover at an airport that does have an enrollment center and using that time to enroll. Remember, the process should only take a few minutes and no appointment is required.

Related: Nashville is next: TPG’s guide to Clear airports and stadiums

Ways to save on Clear

In addition to receiving a free two-month trial of Clear through TPG, Clear members who refer friends can also receive two months of free membership.

As mentioned above, a $179 credit for a Clear membership is included as a perk for American Express Gold and Platinum cardholders. If you are an Amex Gold cardholder, be sure to enroll in Clear by Oct. 30 to take advantage of this deal.

Related: Hawaii expands Clear partnership, expedites entry with digital COVID-19 vaccination checks

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.

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Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

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  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases