How I Lost a $100 Credit — Reader Mistake Story

Apr 30, 2018

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Today, I want to share a story from TPG reader Josh, who waited too long to complete his Global Entry application. Here’s what he had to say:

After about a year of using a cash-back credit card, I decided to join in on the travel rewards fun. As such, I got the Chase Sapphire Reserve to maximize earnings and take advantage of the card’s other perks. However, shortly after opening the card I made a mistake that cost me $100!

I already had TSA PreCheck, so I thought I would use the application fee rebate to get Global Entry and ease my airport experience on any future international travel. I applied and paid with my new card, got credited the $100 fee, and then needed to schedule an interview to finish the process. But due to a little (or maybe a lot) of laziness on my part and a lack of interview scheduling options, I ended up not scheduling an interview for over a year.

It wasn’t until I was planning another international vacation that I remembered I should complete the process. Much to my chagrin, I was then informed I would not only need to re-apply (annoying, but manageable), but also have to pay another $100 fee because I hadn’t scheduled my interview within 365 days. Since I had already used the Sapphire Reserve credit on my wasted application, I had to pay that fee out of pocket! I still think it’s worth the cost, but I could have easily avoided it by being a little more diligent.

Now I know to schedule my interview promptly after applying (or re-applying) for Global Entry, and hopefully other readers won’t make the same mistake I did!

Global Entry can save you a ton of time during international arrivals, and I recommend signing up if you travel outside the US regularly. There are plenty of rewards cards that cover the application fee, so the biggest obstacle is setting up an interview, since some enrollment centers have a lengthy backlog. The Customs and Border Protection website specifies that interviews must be completed within 365 days of when you receive conditional approval (which shouldn’t be more than 15 business days from when you apply). Beyond then your application will be voided and you’ll have to restart the entire process, so be proactive about scheduling and keeping an appointment.

If your home airport doesn’t have open appointment times, consider scheduling one elsewhere. The interview itself typically takes less than 30 minutes, so you can fit it into a layover at another airport with more availability. CBP now also offers enrollment on arrival at over 30 airports in the US and Canada, so you can complete the process without having to schedule an interview in advance. If you miss your window like Josh did, keep in mind that you can use your credit to pay for someone else’s application (or vice versa). Many award travelers have multiple cards that offer these credits, and since Global Entry membership is valid for five years, they often go unused. Expedited security clearance is a great gift for a fellow traveler, so share the love if you have a credit to spare!

I appreciate this story, and I hope it can help other readers avoid making the same mistake. To thank Josh for sharing his experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending him a $200 airline gift card to enjoy on future travels, and I’d like to do the same for you. Please email your own travel mistake stories to info@thepointsguy.com, and put “Reader Mistake Story” in the subject line. Tell us how things went wrong, and (where applicable) how you made them right. Offer any wisdom you gained from the experience, and explain what the rest of us can do to avoid the same pitfalls.

Feel free to also submit your best travel success stories. If your story is published in either case, I’ll send you a gift to jump-start your next adventure. I look forward to hearing from you, and until then, I wish you a safe and mistake-free journey!

Featured photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images

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