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

Sep 4, 2021

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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.

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 photo Katherine Frey / The Washington Post / Getty Images.

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