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How Global Entry saved me $570 when I arrived late at the airport

Sept. 12, 2021
4 min read
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Often when we write about Global Entry, it's to highlight the fact that it comes with a free membership to the super helpful TSA PreCheck program, which gives you the privilege of passing through airport security without stripping down to your knickers. You can wear your shoes, belt and light jacket through the metal detector. You don't even have to remove your laptop or small toiletries from your carry-on.

But Global Entry is extremely useful in its own right. Its primary feature is that it allows you to skip the giant immigration line when you return to the U.S. from overseas. But it serves another purpose, as well — and it saved me hundreds of dollars (potentially over $1,000) during my trip to Abu Dhabi.

As a reminder, you can receive a five-year Global Entry membership (up to a $100 statement credit) if you pay with one of these cards:

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Global Entry saved me from missing my transatlantic flight

After a few days of exploring Dubai, I was unbelievably late arriving at the Abu Dhabi airport for my flight home. So late, in fact, that when I approached the check-in counter to request my boarding pass, the airline agent actually laughed out loud. The flight was scheduled to take off in about an hour. While that might sound like a reckless but manageable amount of time to catch an international flight from a U.S. airport, it's largely a no-no in other countries.

On top of that, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has added a feature at the Abu Dhabi airport called Preclearance.

I did not know this.

Preclearance basically means you go through all the customs and immigration processes at your departure airport instead of your arrival airport. That extra step practically guaranteed I'd need to buy a new plane ticket home.

The most painful blow landed when they informed me I had been upgraded to business class.

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This exact seat retailed at over $5,500 one-way. (Photo by Joseph Hostetler/The Points Guy)


Out of desperation, I mentioned that I was enrolled in Global Entry. The desk agent's demeanor sobered. He quickly placed a phone call to see if I had time to make the flight as a Global Entry member. After a few agonizing minutes of waiting for an update on my flight status, the agent printed my boarding pass, pointed the way to a Global Entry kiosk and told me to run to the gate. I distinctly remember my feet never touching the ground.

Pricing tickets from Abu Dhabi to the U.S. after the fact, Global Entry saved me around $570. That's the price of a coach flight for my route — a business-class ticket would cost significantly more, so I'm elated I didn't squander the upgrade.

Which airports offer Preclearance?

Global Entry will be of great help to you if you're flying from just about anywhere back to the U.S. But it's extra handy when you need to arrive at the airport early in a foreign country due to Preclearance. Here's where you'll find U.S. Preclearance:

Canada

  • Calgary (YYC).
  • Edmonton (YEG).
  • Halifax (YHZ).
  • Montreal (YUL).
  • Ottawa (YOW).
  • Toronto (YYZ).
  • Vancouver (YVR).
  • Winnipeg (YWG).

Caribbean

  • Aruba (AUA).
  • Bermuda (BDA).
  • Bahamas: Freeport (FPO), Nassau (NAS).

Other

  • Abu Dhabi (AUH).
  • Dublin (DUB).
  • Shannon (SNN).

Bottom line

U.S. Preclearance is slowly being added in other countries, and will eventually make Global Entry even more useful. Once it expands to more airports, travelers will be able to use the program and bypass customs or TSA security inspections when arriving in the U.S.

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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TPG featured card

Best premium travel card for value
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

1 - 10X points
10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Intro offer

80,000 bonus points
Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

Annual Fee

$550

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

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more
Best premium travel card for value
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 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

    80,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $550
  • 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

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more