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Savvy Saturday: Don't let your Global Entry and TSA PreCheck credits go to waste

Sept. 04, 2021
5 min read
Savvy Saturday: Don't let your Global Entry and TSA PreCheck credits go to waste
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Editor’s note: Some travel cards come with perplexing benefits that are tricky to maximize. This article is part of a series that shows you unique, fun and unintended ways to use your credit card benefits. If you’ve got any questions or have an example of a unique way to maximize a credit card perk, tweet us @thepointsguy, message us on Facebook or email us at info@thepointsguy.com.


You probably know that several credit cards offer statement credits to offset Global Entry and TSA PreCheck application fees. If you're not familiar with these programs, here's what you need to know:

  • TSA PreCheck ($85 for five years): Scoot through domestic airport security checkpoints without removing your shoes, light jacket or belt. You don't need to take your laptop or small toiletries out of your bag, either. TSA PreCheck also has its own security lanes, which are often much shorter than those with regular screening
  • Global Entry ($100 for five years, typically confers TSA PreCheck access): Access to expedited immigration screening when returning to the U.S. from abroad. You don't have to waste time in a nightmarish queue -- just find the rows of Global Entry kiosks, scan your fingerprints and a ticket will print for you. Hand it to the immigration officer on your way out.

Enjoying these expedited travel benefits without having to pay their application fees sounds like an ideal benefit for a travel credit card, right? The trouble is, almost too many credit cards now offer this type of perk. Personally, I have eight cards that come with this benefit. Eight Global Entry credits, one Joseph. And each credit renews every four or five years, depending on the card. Should I just close the cards I don't use as much that offer this as one of their main perks? Or are there other ways I can put these credits to use?

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Global Entry (Photo by Joseph Hostetler/The Points Guy)

The Secret: Share your credits with friends and family

It's an absolute shame to allow credit card benefits to go unused. Allowing seven of my spare TSA PreCheck or Global Entry credits to waste away would be like leaving $700 on the table.

The thing is, I can actually use these credits for anyone who applies, not just myself. A really great thing about the points and miles world is that you can share many of the perks that come with rewards cards. You can use your airline miles to book a flight for a friend, you can use hotel points to book a stay for a friend and you can pass along most credit card benefits to a friend.

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In terms of these specific credits, they usually trigger automatically when you use your card to pay for the TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application no matter who the person actually signing up is. So use one of your credits for yourself, then ask your friends and family who might be interested in securing Global Entry or TSA PreCheck and offer to pay for their application if you're comfortable doing so.

It's worth noting that you'll have to pay in-person when applying for TSA PreCheck, but you can pay online for Global Entry. So if you're sharing your credits with others, it'll be easier for you if they sign up for Global Entry. Being accepted for Global Entry generates a Known Traveler Number, which you can input to frequent-flyer profiles and individual flight reservations and it usually confers TSA PreCheck status automatically. It's like getting two benefits for the price of one.

These trusted traveler programs are among the best time- and money-saving perks you can secure as a frequent flyer, especially if your trips tend to take you abroad. If you usually travel with others, it might also be worth using your Global Entry credits for their applications so you don't end up having to wait for them to get through customs and immigration after you've breezed through in a matter of minutes. That would defeat the whole purpose of your own membership, after all. Plus, doing so will probably earn you a little goodwill as your travel companions appreciate being able to sidestep longer security and immigration lines on a regular basis.

Bottom line

Many of the best travel rewards cards offer statement credits toward Global Entry or TSA PreCheck applications (up to $100). Among those to consider are...

If you've got credits to spare, they're easy to share. The credits will activate whenever you pay the application fee, no matter who it's for. And membership typically lasts five years.

I'd specifically recommend sharing Global Entry with your friends. It usually also means get TSA PreCheck, and you can pay the fee online. If your friend signs up for TSA PreCheck, you'll have to pay in person at the enrollment center and they won't get Global Entry in the bargain.

Featured image by Washington Post/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.

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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.
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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