Skip to content

How the Canadian trusted traveler programs work

Dec. 24, 2021
4 min read
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Editor's Note

This story is continually updated

Although all of us here at TPG are based in the U.S., our audience spans globally.

I for one love Canada (especially Montreal), so when our friends up north began emailing me about Canadian trusted traveler programs, I couldn't resist looking into CATSA, also known as the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority.

I should note that while Canadian vernacular spells "traveler" as "traveller," we will be maintaining American English spelling throughout this column for the sake of consistency.

For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Here are this week’s top five questions:

1. What is CATSA?

CATSA, the Canadian equivalent of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, offers Canadians deemed "low-risk travelers" expedited security throughout participating Canadian airports.

"They carry special photo identification cards with security features that give them direct access to many airport security screening checkpoints across Canada," says CATSA.

Toronto's Lester B. Pearson International Airport. (Photo by Rudy Sulgan via Getty Images)

2. How do CATSA's trusted traveler programs work?

Once you become a trusted traveler in the eyes of CATSA, you are granted access to both Global Entry and Nexus, the latter of which is jointly run by the Canada Border Services Agency and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Sign up for our daily newsletter
(Screenshot courtesy of CATSA)

The application process is the same whether you are Canadian or American and starts at this link.

3. How are they different?

Remember that if you are departing from a Canadian airport, there is no TSA PreCheck, although CATSA offers a similar experience to expedite Canada Border Services Agency security.

"This provides a TSA Precheck-like experience, in that travelers can retain their shoes and jackets, though CATSA now requires that laptops be removed from bags. This program differs from Precheck, however, in that trusted travelers do not enter their KTN and receive a boarding card printed with access credentials," a Canadian TPG reader told me via email. "Rather, trusted travelers must present their trusted traveler card at the entry point. This isn't an issue for Nexus members, as they must use their Nexus card at the Nexus kiosks, but does present an issue for Global Entry members, as they do not need to carry their card to use the Global Entry kiosks (and thus do not typically carry the cards when traveling)."

As is the case when going through the Transportation Security Administration line, CATSA trusted travelers must still walk through a metal detector and take out their carry-on items for x-ray inspection, notes CATSA.

(Screenshot courtesy of CATSA)

4. Are the programs reciprocal?

While CATSA trusted travelers automatically receive the benefits of a Nexus and Global Entry membership, TSA PreCheck is restricted to U.S. citizens/lawful permanent residents while Sentri is open to all.

(Screenshot from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security)

5. Can I use Nexus for flight arrivals at a U.S. port of entry?

Although Nexus is marketed as being for travelers arriving into the U.S. by vehicle or foot, "Nexus members can enjoy the benefits of Global Entry at no additional cost through using the Global Entry kiosks for entry at participating airports," says CBP. Just note that you cannot use your Nexus card at Global Entry points outside of Canadian Preclearance locations.

Travelers arrive at the Air Canada check-in area at Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) in Toronto on Oct. 6. (Photo by Cole Burston/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Have a question for next week? Email me at caroline.tanner@thepointsguy.com or tips@thepointsguy.com.

Featured image by Bloomberg via Getty Images
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.

Top offers from our partners

How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
See all best card offers

TPG featured card

Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023