7 reasons to get TSA PreCheck now — even during a pandemic
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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with current information. It was originally published in December 2019.
You’ve probably seen TSA PreCheck lanes at most US airports. If you don’t already have PreCheck but keep seeing the phrase pop up everywhere, you may be wondering what all the hype is about — and if it’s worth the $85 fee.
If you travel by air at all, you know that long security lines at the airport can be a huge hassle — and are definitely something we’re all trying to avoid during the pandemic when social distance is a virtue. TSA PreCheck gives you fast-pass access to airport security, making the stressful trek from airport curb to your gate quicker and easier than ever.
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Here are our favorite reasons for why TSA PreCheck will change your travel game for the better — especially during a pandemic.
PreCheck makes life easier
No matter how often you travel, the ability to access a dedicated security line at the airport is a very welcome benefit. With PreCheck, you don’t have to remove your laptop from your bag, and you can keep your shoes on as well. And you get to walk through a regular metal detector rather than standing still with your hands up as you pose for the body scanner.
PreCheck is an absolute no-brainer for convenience and speed when you’re traveling with children, a group of people or anyone with special needs — especially in wintertime when coats, bulky layers and other cold-weather gear add another level of complexity to the process.
Maintain [a little bit more] social distance from other travelers
The pandemic has completely changed life as we know it. And while studies have shown that planes themselves carry a fairly minimal risk for coronavirus transmission, the same cannot always be said of airports, especially in high-traffic destinations where travelers may find themselves in close quarters at gates and in security lines.
TSA PreCheck certainly won’t give you COVID immunity, but it can give you a little bit more distance from other travelers. You’ll usually move more quickly through a PreCheck security lane than you would in the regular line, and many PreCheck travelers are more experienced with passing through the screening itself, which means less time and less overlap between you and the people next to you.
Wanna learn more? These are the best credit cards for free airport lounge access
If you have access to a private airport lounge through airline status or holding a credit card, having PreCheck allows you to maximize time in a more comfortable waiting space rather than queueing up in the “regular” TSA line. And even if you don’t have lounge access, PreCheck means you can arrive a little later and spend just a little bit less time in the airport.
Skip the line — even outside of the airport
Of course, TSA PreCheck is most often associated with airport security. But did you know that the technology — and pre-screened approval — can carry over into other aspects of life?
When life returns to normal after the pandemic ends, PreCheck holders can whisk through the security fast lane at select sporting events, concerts, music festivals and other shows with PreCheck clearance as well. You just need to have your Known Traveler Number handy.
It’s free with Global Entry
We often mention TSA PreCheck in the same breath as Global Entry, and that’s for a good reason. When you pay the $100 application fee and are accepted into the Global Entry program for expedited customs clearance, you’re also eligible for TSA PreCheck at no additional cost — so you save the $85 PreCheck application fee.
- Here’s what to do when your boarding pass isn’t marked TSA PreCheck
- In and out in two minutes: Renewing my Global Entry membership during the pandemic
- Stuck in Global Entry renewal purgatory? This $15 service can help you skip the line
To make sure you’ll get PreCheck at participating airports, make sure you add your Known Traveler Number into your frequent flyer profile with each airline you fly.
Global Entry (and PreCheck) is included with select credit cards
Even better than getting TSA PreCheck for free when you register for Global Entry, you can get the $100 Global Entry fee reimbursed with a variety of premium credit cards.
Some of the best cards that offer this perk include:
- Chase Sapphire Reserve®
- The Platinum Card® from American Express
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card
- Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card
- Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®
Each of the above-mentioned cards offers a reimbursement credit for the Global Entry fee in the form of an up to $100 statement credit. You’ll be able to utilize this perk once every five years when you need to renew your membership. And if you’re eligible for Global Entry with multiple cards, you can use the $100 credit toward a friend or family member’s application instead.
More than 200 airports participate
The great thing about TSA PreCheck is that you can use it throughout the U.S. You’ll find PreCheck lanes at more than 200 airports across the country, as well as in Guam, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.
You’ll have it for the next 5 years
Even if you don’t get PreCheck through Global Entry — and even if you don’t get the Global Entry fee waived with a credit card — paying $85 for expedited airport security could be worth it. It cuts down on wait times, and your membership is valid for five years, so you’re effectively paying less than $20 per year for the privilege. Remember, it doesn’t take many annual trips to the airport before this out-of-pocket expense pays for itself in convenience.
Original reporting by Sarah Silbert
Featured image by Joe Raedle/Getty Images
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