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With Global Entry crackdown, it's now more important than ever to have Mobile Passport

Feb. 06, 2020
4 min read
With Global Entry crackdown, it's now more important than ever to have Mobile Passport
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Editor's Note

/strong> This post has been updated to reflect the cost of the premium version of the app.

Editor's note: This post has been updated to reflect the cost of the premium version of the app.

One of my favorite tips for travelers is to download the Mobile Passport Control app (MPC), also called simply Mobile Passport, which can literally save you hours at U.S. Customs stations at many U.S. airports. The Points Guy himself, Brian Kelly, wrote about it as far back as 2016.

Today it's more important than ever after news of a major crackdown on the Global Entry program by the Trump administration.

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As we reported, acting Department of Homeland Security secretary Chad Wolf made a surprise announcement on Fox Wednesday night that his agency was immediately banning New York residents from enrolling in Global Entry and other Trusted Traveler programs. That's true even if you're a state resident who previously had Global Entry and its expiring or expired; you won't be able to renew it.

Why? The Trump administration says it's because of New York's newly enacted law forbidding state agencies from handing over immigration data to the federal government.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection so far has not implemented restrictions for its little-known Mobile Passport Control app. Even if you don't have TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, you can download the MPC app and speed through Customs. This may be the only solution for New Yorkers for the immediate future.

Related: Top credit cards for Global Entry and TSA PreCheck

MPC lines are often even shorter than Global Entry lines, and now that may be even more true. Mobile Passport allows U.S. citizens and Canadians to enter their arrival information into the application. It's available at 27 U.S. international airports and is totally free, though a fancier version that remembers your passport and other details is $14.99 a year.

I was lucky that my Global Entry membership was set to expire this year, and I had just applied for renewal last week. Yesterday I received an approved notice, which means my membership isn't set to expire until 2025. I'll test it out on my next trip and report back.

Here's how Mobile Passport works.

Start by downloading the Mobile Passport app from Apple App Store or from Google Play. You then create a four-digit pin, enter your passport and flight information and answer customs questions.

Once you are at your port of entry, you hit the submit code, and it generates a QR code. You have to do this four hours or less before you approach the customs agent.

Related: Why Mobile Passport can be an even better option than Global Entry

There is generally a separate line for MPC customers. You simply show that QR code to the agent along with your passport and you're waved through. It's often taken me less than 10 minutes to get through customs.

Mobile Passport screenshot.

This may be a great workaround for New Yorkers (and anyone else who may eventually be impacted).

We'll have a full Q&A on the impact of the new rules later in the day on Feb. 6.

Emily McNutt did a really good step-by-step guide for Mobile Passport, so be sure to check that out. And Zach Honig wrote a great piece about why you should — or shouldn't — sign up for the fancier version of Mobile Passport.

Mobile Passport customs questions.
Mobile Passport customs questions.

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Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
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Best starter travel card
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

3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

    Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points
    60,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $95
  • 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.

    670-850
    Excellent, Good

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases