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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – Starwood Preferred Guest® Luxury Credit Card from American Express
We’re seeing the havoc the government shutdown is wreaking on airports. With loads of TSA employees calling out sick to protest working without pay, security wait times at some airports are longer than ever.
On Monday, lines in Atlanta (ATL), the world’s busiest airport, snaked all the way into the baggage claim area and wait times were reportedly as long as an hour and a half to two hours.
Fortunately there are still ways to avoid the long lines, and the TSA is claiming that PreCheck wait times Monday were less than 10 minutes in most cases. For those unfamiliar, TSA Precheck is a government program that allows travelers to go through expedited security lines, which usually means you don’t have to remove your shoes, belt, laptops, liquids and light jackets.
“Overall, 99.1 percent of passengers waited less than 30 minutes; 94.3 percent of passengers less than 15 minutes. In TSA Pre✓®lanes, passengers on average waited less than 10 minutes,” the TSA said in a statement on Tuesday.
If you want to better your chances of getting through security quickly, having TSA PreCheck could be a great option. According to the agency, regular wait times in Miami (MIA) were 28 minutes but the maximum time you’d be in a PreCheck line was only four minutes. The discrepancy at Dallas Love Field (DAL) was even worse, with a 40 minute standard wait time and only five minutes in PreCheck. There were no airports with longer PreCheck lines compared to standard security lines.
Global Entry is one team TPG’s favorite tools for travelers since you get expedited entry back into the US after traveling abroad, and if you’re approved, you’ll also be automatically signed-up for PreCheck. However, due to the shutdown, the processing of Global Entry applications has been slowed down or totally paused in some cases.
There’s still hope for those who want PreCheck ASAP, as its processed by private contractors and funded by user fees — you can even sign up for it at Staples! The $85 application fee keeps PreCheck applications open and available during shutdowns, but it could still take two to three weeks for you application to process — hopefully the government will be open by that time, but in this political climate there’s no guarantee.
Many credit cards will cover the both the Global Entry and PreCheck application fees, so you can apply for PreCheck now or brave the waters of Customs and Border Patrol and go for Global Entry. Either way, you’ll be covered the next time the government shuts down.
Here’s TPG’s list of the top 8 Cards for Global Entry and TSA PreCheck:
- Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card ($95 annual fee, waived the first year) — credit every four years
- United Explorer Card ($95 annual fee, waived the first year) — credit every four years
- IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card ($89 annual fee) — credit every four years
- Bank of America Premium Rewards credit card ($95 annual fee) — credit every four years
- Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card ($450 annual fee; See Rates & Fees) — credit every four years
- Chase Sapphire Reserve ($450 annual fee) — credit every four years
- The Platinum Card® from American Express ($550 annual fee; See Rates & Fees) — credit every four years
- Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard ($450 annual fee) — credit every five years
Featured image by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images.
For rates and fees of the SPG Luxury card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum card, please click here.
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