Top credit cards for Global Entry and TSA PreCheck
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If you travel even a few times a year, you know how frustrating it can be dealing with airport security. And if you fly internationally, the lines at 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 by carrying the right credit card(s) in your wallet.
Today I want to highlight the best ones to do just that.
The best credit cards for Global Entry and TSA PreCheck
- Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
- United Explorer Card
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card
- Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Visa® credit card
- Chase Sapphire Reserve®
- The Platinum Card® from American Express
- Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®
Comparing the best credit cards for Global Entry and TSA PreCheck
|CREDIT Card||Bonus||Annual Fee|
|Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card||50,000 Venture miles after you spend $3,000 in the first three months.||$95, waived the first year|
|United Explorer Card||Limited-time offer (ends Jan. 9th, 2020): Up to 65,000 United miles after you spend $10,000 total in the first six months.||$95, waived the first year|
|Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card||75,000 Marriott Bonvoy points after you spend $3,000 in the first three months. Terms apply.||$450 (see rates and fees)|
|Bank of America Premium Rewards Visa credit card||50,000 points after you spend $3,000 in the first 90 days.||$95|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve||50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months.||$450|
|The Platinum Card from American Express||60,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $5,000 in first three months. Terms apply.||$550 (see rates and fees)|
|Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®||50,000 American Airlines miles after you spend $5,000 in the first three months.||$450|
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 need to pay $85 for a five-year membership, but this will not 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.
With any of the cards below, 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 applicable fee is charged to the card and you haven’t already utilized the perk, the credit should automatically be applied to your next statement.
Finally, note that 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.
Best credit cards for Global Entry and TSA PreCheck
Global Entry/TSA PreCheck Benefit: Application fee credit for either Global Entry or TSA PreCheck every four years (up to $100)
Annual Fee: $0 for the first year, then $95
Capital One Venture Card holders are eligible for one statement credit every four years when you charge either the Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee to your Venture Card. The credit will appear within two billing cycles, so you may need to wait a bit for it to post.
One of the best things about this card is that it only carries a $95 annual fee, and that fee is waived for the first year. If you’re a new cardholder, you’re eligible for a welcome bonus of 50,000 bonus miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening. You’ll also earn 2x miles per dollar on every purchase, but a whopping 10x miles at Hotels.com/Venture (when booked and paid with the card; ends Jan. 31, 2020), courtesy of the partnership launched in January 2018 (which can also be stacked with Hotels.com’s own rewards program, giving you an effective return of 20% on those purchases). This deal runs through January 2020.
APPLY HERE: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Global Entry/TSA PreCheck Benefit: Application fee credit for either Global Entry or TSA PreCheck every four years
Annual Fee: $0 the first year, then $95
This card was launched in June 2018 as a replacement for the now-defunct United MileagePlus Explorer Card. The United Explorer Card offers cardholders a statement credit to cover the application fee for either Global Entry ($100) or TSA PreCheck ($85) every four years. There are two main reasons why this card earns a high spot on this list. For starters, the card carries just a $95 annual fee that’s waived for the first year, so you can snag this credit for no upfront cost. In addition, according to the offer details page, the credit will actually post to your account within 24 hours of the charge, an incredibly fast turnaround that few other cards have.
The card is currently offering a limited-time bonus of up to 65,000 bonus miles — 40,000 miles after you spend $2,000 in purchases in the first three months, plus, an additional 25,000 bonus miles after you spend $10,000 total on purchases in the first six months your account is open. In addition to earning 2x miles on United purchases, you’ll also enjoy 2x miles at restaurants and on hotel accommodations booked directly with the hotel. The card also provides a ton of perks on United, including a free checked bag for you and a companion, priority boarding, 25% back on inflight purchases, two United Club airport lounge passes a year and expanded award availability. Even if you only fly United a handful of times per year, the value adds up very quickly.
APPLY HERE: United Explorer Card
Global Entry/TSA PreCheck Benefit: Application fee credit for either Global Entry (every four years) or TSA PreCheck (every four and a half years) worth up to $100.
Annual Fee: $450 (see rates and fees)
This card has a 75,000-point bonus after you spend $3,000 within the first three months of account opening. The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex card also earns 6x points at participating Marriott hotels, 3x points at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines, and 2 points everywhere else.
This card is loaded with enough top-tier perks (beyond the Global Entry/PreCheck credit) to make it worth the annual fee. For starters, you’ll get Gold Marriott Bonvoy elite status, 15 elite night credits annually and a free night award (for properties costing up to 50,000 points) every card anniversary. This card also comes with a Priority Pass Select Membership, which gets you and up to two guests unlimited Priority Pass lounge visits. All of that is on top of an annual $300 credit for Marriott purchases, including room rates.
APPLY HERE: Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card
Global Entry/TSA PreCheck Benefit: Application fee credit for either Global Entry or TSA PreCheck every four years.
Annual Fee: $95
This is another card with a low annual fee level and a Global Entry/PreCheck credit. As with the prior entries, you’re eligible for a statement credit to cover either program’s application fee every four years when you charge it to the card. Allow seven days for the credit to post to your account after making the purchase.
In addition to the Global Entry/PreCheck perk, the Premium Rewards card is loaded with additional value, especially for loyal Bank of America customers. New applicants will receive 50,000 bonus points after they make at least $3,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening. You’ll earn 2 points per dollar spent on travel and dining and 1.5 points per dollar spent on everything else, though these are elevated by 25%-75% if you’re a Preferred Rewards member of the bank.
These points can then be used at a rate of one cent per point toward a variety of redemptions, including statement credits, cash back, travel or gift cards. You’re also eligible for an additional $100 in credits every year to cover incidental airline fees, though the card’s $95 annual fee is not waived for the first year.
APPLY HERE: Bank of America Premium Rewards Visa credit card
Global Entry/TSA PreCheck Benefit: Application fee credit for either Global Entry or TSA PreCheck every four years.
Annual Fee: $450
If you don’t mind shelling out a high annual fee for a premium travel rewards credit card that includes a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck waiver, consider going for the Chase Sapphire Reserve. As with the others above, you’re eligible for this perk once every four years, though it’s a single credit per account; authorized users do not get their own credit despite annual fees of $75 apiece. Just like with the United Explorer Card, the statement credit on the Chase Sapphire Reserve should post with 24 hours of being charged to the card.
The card also offers a host of other valuable perks, including a large welcome bonus (50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening), 3x points on travel (excluding $300 travel credit) and dining purchases, a $300 annual travel credit and Priority Pass Select membership.
The Ultimate Rewards points you earn can then be redeemed directly for travel at the rate of one and a half cents per point, but you can get even more value by transferring them to partners like British Airways and Hyatt. Even though the card carries a $450 annual fee, you can easily get a ton of value from the card, especially in the first year.
APPLY HERE: Chase Sapphire Reserve
Global Entry/TSA PreCheck Benefit: Application fee credit for Global Entry every four years or TSA PreCheck every four and a half years
Annual Fee: $550 (see rates and fees)
The final valuable card with a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck waiver is the Amex Platinum, which offers the benefit once every four to four and half years. The statement credit may take up to eight weeks to post to your card, though in reality it is often much quicker. One notable difference with this card is that it doesn’t only apply to primary cardholders; authorized users are each eligible for their own statement credits when they pay the Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee with their own Amex Platinum cards.
Authorized users on this card aren’t free, but it only costs $175 annually to add three of them (that’s $175 total, not per authorized user) (see rates and fees). So if you have two or three family members who can each use the $100 Global Entry or $85 TSA PreCheck waivers, you’ll immediately come out ahead, and those authorized users will also get many of the same benefits from the card as you do. Just make sure that they charge the Global Entry application fee to their own Amex Platinum.
Speaking of perks, this card is loaded with them, including an up to $200 annual airline fee credit, Centurion Lounge access and Delta Sky Club access when flying Delta, Gold status with Marriott and Hilton, 5x points on airfare booked directly with airlines or via American Express Travel, and more. New cardmembers can also earn a welcome bonus of 60,000 Membership Rewards points after they use your new card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first three months (though be sure to check the CardMatch Tool to see if you’re targeted for a 100,000-point bonus; offer subject to change at any time). Given these array of valuable benefits, the card carries a significant annual fee of $550, highest on this list. However, when you consider the value you’re getting from the card, that annual fee can be well worth it.
APPLY HERE: The Platinum Card from American Express
Global Entry/TSA PreCheck Benefit: Application fee credit for either Global Entry or TSA PreCheck every five years.
Annual Fee: $450
If you’re a loyal American Airlines flyer (or reside in one of the carrier’s hubs), consider opening the AAdvantage Executive Card to speed through passport control and security. This card also provides an application fee credit for either Global Entry ($100) or TSA PreCheck ($85), though unlike others on the list, it only applies once every five years. As a result, you’ll need to wait to apply until your current membership is just about expired if you want to receive the credit. Bear in mind, too, that it may take 1-2 billing cycles for the credit to appear.
Even though the card carries a $450 annual fee, you can still get a ton of value from the card beyond this Global Entry/PreCheck perk. The card is currently offering a welcome bonus of 50,000 miles after you spend $5,000 in purchases within the first three months of account opening, and it also comes with a full Admirals Club membership, giving you access to almost 120 lounges in nearly 90 countries. You can also add authorized users for free and give them access to Admirals Clubs, though this is only valid at the 50+ Admirals Clubs and not partner lounges. Since it costs $550 to buy a new Admirals Club membership outright (or $500 to renew an existing one), the $450 annual fee on this card is a steal either way.
You’ll also enjoy a number of perks to make your American flying experience easier and less expensive. You (and up to eight traveling companions on the same reservation) can check your first bag for free, a savings of $50 per person on a round-trip itinerary. You’ll also earn 2x miles per dollar spent on American Airlines purchases plus enjoy priority check-in, security and boarding along with 25% off eligible inflight purchases. Finally, if you need a few extra Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) to earn status on American this year, note that you’ll get 10,000 EQMs after spending $40,000 in a calendar year on this card, though remember you’ll still be subject to revenue requirements for reaching AA elite status as well.
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 these top 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.
Additional reporting by Jason Stauffer.
Featured photo by Katherine Frey/The Washington Post/Getty Images.
WELCOME OFFER: 60,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,200
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel