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Help Needed TSA Pre-Check or Global Entry or both?

Kathy (Trekcapri)

100+ Posts
While I wait for the Covid situation to improve, I was thinking about future travel conveniences & whether I should apply for TSA Pre-Check or Global Entry or both? I feel like I don't travel internationally enough to invest in getting the Global Entry, but after a few lucky random TSA Pre-Checks I got when getting my Boarding Pass, I've come to really like it. I read that Global Entry include TSA Pre-Check eligibility so although I don't travel internationally a lot, it still might be worth getting it for the times that I do?

For those of you who have it, would you recommend either or both? I checked the TSA Pre-Check info & the application process seems pretty easy even if they do require an interview. There are interview locations for both getting a TSA pre-check & Global Entry near me so that wouldn't tip the scale for me on getting one over the other. I'm curious about everyone's experiences using TSA Pre-Check or Global Entry to help me decide whether I should go for the Global Entry or just the TSA Pre-Check.

Thank you.

-----
While researching, I found these websites (in case others are thinking about it too):
Trusted Traveler Program
US Customs & Border Protection $100
TSA Pre-Check $85
 

NoSpin

100+ Posts
I think a lot can depend on the airport you will fly into when returning from abroad. We arrive in Boston and the process is not much slower than Global Entry. I have read where at some airports it is worth the convenience.

But here is the rub for us. We never travel internationally without checked luggage (I could do carry on, but that is an impossibility for my wife). We have traveled regularly with another couple who do have GE. They do go through customs a little quicker, but the hang up is waiting for your luggage. So they get to the luggage carousel quicker than us, but then we both wait to get our luggage at the same time.

A funny story, last August 2019 when we all came back from Italy, after we all picked up our luggage they were singled out by Customs for a special inspection even though they were GE. The funny part is my wife bought 2 pieces of Brio luggage so we had 2 carts full of luggage and Customs didn't say boo! :D

I can get GE for free through my AMEX Platinum card, but it isn't worth the hassle of having to go to the airport just to get it since it offers no advantage. I never applied for Pre-Check, but we almost always have it on our boarding pass.
 

Kathy (Trekcapri)

100+ Posts
Hi NoSpin,

Thanks so much for your reply & for sharing your experiences. Seems like GE can be helpful for those who travel internationally to get through the line quicker but is most helpful to those who travel with carry-on only. We also always check luggage so your point about this point was helpful to learn.

Sometimes when our group travels at least one person doesn't get TSA Pre-check while others do which is so random & unpredictable. Getting TSA Pre-check for all of us would be ideal so we don't have to wait for that one odd unlucky person who randomly didn't get it on their boarding pass. Your funny story kind of highlights the random things that could happen even with all the advantages of convenience we try to give ourselves. When that happens you just have to laugh & have a good sense of humor about it. :)

We're still deciding the pros & cons and your experiences & comments have been very helpful. Thank you.
 

Andrew

500+ Posts
Contest 2019 Winner!
Under the current fees, if you take any international flights and the interview location is convenient, you might as well get GE for $100 (which includes Pre-Check) rather than Pre-Check for $85. There is a proposal to increase the GE fee to $120, and I don't immediately find any increase for Pre-Check, so that might change it a little. If you can have a credit card that reimburses the fee, keeping the card only for the year the fee is charged, so much the better.

We got Pre-Check first, living in Missouri when there weren't GE interview locations there, then, moving to Vermont, we got NEXUS for $50, interviewing at the Canadian border. It's a joint U.S.-Canada program that includes Global Entry and Pre-Check for U.S. citizens who get it. Now it's proposed to increase that fee to $120, and we haven't been able to use it on a U.S.-Canada crossing since we've had it.
 

Kathy (Trekcapri)

100+ Posts
Under the current fees, if you take any international flights and the interview location is convenient, you might as well get GE for $100 (which includes Pre-Check) rather than Pre-Check for $85. There is a proposal to increase the GE fee to $120, and I don't immediately find any increase for Pre-Check, so that might change it a little. If you can have a credit card that reimburses the fee, keeping the card only for the year the fee is charged, so much the better.

We got Pre-Check first, living in Missouri when there weren't GE interview locations there, then, moving to Vermont, we got NEXUS for $50, interviewing at the Canadian border. It's a joint U.S.-Canada program that includes Global Entry and Pre-Check for U.S. citizens who get it. Now it's proposed to increase that fee to $120, and we haven't been able to use it on a U.S.-Canada crossing since we've had it.
Hi Andrew, thanks so much for your reply. You raise an additional good point about the fee difference between Pre-Check/GE being so minimal that it might just be worth it to get the GE. And with it lasting 5 years, it seems like it is a good investment. I don't mind paying for, but it's good to know about some cards that offer it for free. Thanks for the tip about the impending fee increase too. If we do end up just paying the fee, we might want to get it sooner than later.

You are lucky to have the NEXUS as the fee is so much cheaper. I'm not surprised that fees for these conveniences are looking to increase. I'm dreading any airline seat preferences increases on future travel myself. Hopefully with the vaccine roll outs underway we can see some travel bans lifted for us so we can start using these conveniences which can make our travel a bit more easier.

Thanks so much for sharing your experiences & tips.
 

NoSpin

100+ Posts
Actually, rather than the AMEX Platinum card which is a ridiculous $550/year, a great alternative is the B of A Premium Rewards Card. The annual fee is only $95 and you get a $100 credit toward incidental airline charges each year and a $100 credit toward GE. Additionally, depending on your status with the bank you get 25% to 75% bonus points which are directly convertible to dollars.

The base award is 2 points for every dollar spent on travel and dining (1.5 points on all other purchases). I get the 75% bonus so I get 3.5 points for each dollar. So if I buy airline tickets for $6000 I get $210 dollars cash back. I used to use the Citibank Double Cash card, but this one pays more.

Every year I say I'm going to give up the AMEX card, but I've had it since 1977 and I guess it is just an expensive force of habit. :meh:
 

Kathy (Trekcapri)

100+ Posts
Actually, rather than the AMEX Platinum card which is a ridiculous $550/year, a great alternative is the B of A Premium Rewards Card. The annual fee is only $95 and you get a $100 credit toward incidental airline charges each year and a $100 credit toward GE. Additionally, depending on your status with the bank you get 25% to 75% bonus points which are directly convertible to dollars.

The base award is 2 points for every dollar spent on travel and dining (1.5 points on all other purchases). I get the 75% bonus so I get 3.5 points for each dollar. So if I buy airline tickets for $6000 I get $210 dollars cash back. I used to use the Citibank Double Cash card, but this one pays more.

Every year I say I'm going to give up the AMEX card, but I've had it since 1977 and I guess it is just an expensive force of habit. :meh:
Hi NoSpin, I think sometimes it's hard to give up a force of habit. :) I'm the same way. Thank you so much for your additional information.

After talking with my sister about the pros & cons & sharing yours & Andrew's information & experiences, we decided to apply for the GE. Since we were denied traveling in 2020 & 2021 due to the Covid pandemic we hope to make use of it (hopefully we are approved) as soon as it is safe & travel restrictions are lifted. Hopefully we can make up for it in 2022 by increasing the number of trips we take a year.
 

BryanS

100+ Posts
I have had GE for about 4 years. At first it did make a big difference on getting through customs but as more people have it then that has diminished. Not to say that it still doesn't make it sometimes quicker and has made a big difference on at least one occasion with delayed flights all backed-up at Newark (those with GE moved to the front of the VERY long line)

No Spin is right about which airport, but I usually have to make a connecting flight on the east coast and these hubs all seemed to have this service the last time I was able to fly back to the US.

The TSA/GE also makes it easier in most airports to get through security to get to your gate. :)
 

Kathy (Trekcapri)

100+ Posts
Hi Bryan thanks so much for your reply & sharing your experiences & take on this.
I have had GE for about 4 years. At first it did make a big difference on getting through customs but as more people have it then that has diminished. Not to say that it still doesn't make it sometimes quicker and has made a big difference on at least one occasion with delayed flights all backed-up at Newark (those with GE moved to the front of the VERY long line)

No Spin is right about which airport, but I usually have to make a connecting flight on the east coast and these hubs all seemed to have this service the last time I was able to fly back to the US.
My airport is LAX which is a major hub for international flights. The lines are usually long but since they made major improvements to the Mayor Bradley International Terminal I have noticed that they move faster. Still, after a long 10-12 hour flight any edge I can get to shorten my wait even more, is good.
The TSA/GE also makes it easier in most airports to get through security to get to your gate. :)
I love TSA Pre-Check whenever I get it on my boarding pass. The line is mostly shorter, but more importantly, you don't have to take off your shoes & other carry-on contents that you are required to do in the regular line. TSA Pre-Check was top priority for me but with as Andrew mentioned the fee difference being only $15 to getting both, I thought it is worth it to get GE which include TSA Pre-Check. There was a time in my 20's when the whole airport travel experience was so exciting & enjoyable & I loved it as part of my travel experience. Now in my more mature age, it's become a pain and a required means to get to my destination where my real travel joy begins. :)
 

Jan55612

100+ Posts
We have had Global Entry long enough that we have renewed it once. I find it worthwhile for both international flights and for the TSA pre-check benefit. Even though we check luggage, it is faster for us. I also found it useful when taking a flight through Canada back to the US because I was able to use the quicker line by showing my GE card.
 

Kathy (Trekcapri)

100+ Posts
We have had Global Entry long enough that we have renewed it once. I find it worthwhile for both international flights and for the TSA pre-check benefit. Even though we check luggage, it is faster for us. I also found it useful when taking a flight through Canada back to the US because I was able to use the quicker line by showing my GE card.
Hi Jan, thanks so much for your reply & for sharing your experiences. It's good to know that GE has been worthwhile for you.

I'm not fond of long TSA lines, so that's one benefit I'm really excited about. Good to know that in your experience the GE also worked well for you even with checked luggage. With no security to police the luggage carousals, it can also be helpful to move in quicker lines, so I can get to the carousal before the luggage start arriving.
 

Alpinista

100+ Posts
We fly into Dulles on our returns and have often seen Disney World length lines waiting to get through passport control while we walk to the Global Entry scanners. Even though we still have to wait for our luggage, it is much more relaxing to be somewhere other than a roped-in line after a long flight.
 

Kathy (Trekcapri)

100+ Posts
We fly into Dulles on our returns and have often seen Disney World length lines waiting to get through passport control while we walk to the Global Entry scanners. Even though we still have to wait for our luggage, it is much more relaxing to be somewhere other than a roped-in line after a long flight.

Hi Alpinista, thanks so much for your reply & for sharing your experience with GE. I'm familiar with those Disneyland (West Coast Version) length lines especially the ones that zig zag & appear shorter because of it but in reality are super long. I think if I had to choose, I'd rather wait at the luggage carousel too rather than those long passport lines. I can't even imagine how they look like now with the 6 feet social distance requirements. Maybe more zigzags & more length.

I already submitted my application & reading your comments & others, helps me to know that I made the right decision to go for it. I received a conditional approval on my application & have scheduled my appointment to be interviewed. Hopefully, I will receive formal approval. I was surprised how fast the application process is, since the website states it takes about 90 days. Maybe because travel is so limited these days due to Covid-19 it's a slow period for them.
 

Alpinista

100+ Posts
I was surprised how fast the application process is, since the website states it takes about 90 days. Maybe because travel is so limited these days due to Covid-19 it's a slow period for them.
Kathy, hope there is a lot of great travel in your future!! Had two different experiences with GE cards starting in 2019. All of our travel documents were stolen (Zanzibar) and the replacement GE cards came almost immediately. However, we had previously applied for renewal of the cards that were later stolen and it took well over a year for the renewal to be processed and new cards issued. There was a notification that the expired cards would have still been been accepted, pending issuance of the renewals. Also, the renewal info said interviews could be part of process, but none were. For our original issuance, the "interview" lasted about 5 minutes and was mostly chit-chat.
 

Kathy (Trekcapri)

100+ Posts
Kathy, hope there is a lot of great travel in your future!! Had two different experiences with GE cards starting in 2019. All of our travel documents were stolen (Zanzibar) and the replacement GE cards came almost immediately. However, we had previously applied for renewal of the cards that were later stolen and it took well over a year for the renewal to be processed and new cards issued. There was a notification that the expired cards would have still been been accepted, pending issuance of the renewals. Also, the renewal info said interviews could be part of process, but none were. For our original issuance, the "interview" lasted about 5 minutes and was mostly chit-chat.
Hi Alpinista, thanks so much. We decided not to travel abroad in 2021 & had to cancel our international trip in 2020 to Bulgaria & London, so we hope to make up for it starting in 2022. I'm sorry to hear about your Zanzibar theft experience, but glad to hear your GE cards were replaced immediately. Hopefully, all your other travel documents were too. It's good that you didn't have to go through another interview for your renewal. It's good that you didn't have to do another interview.

I was wondering what was involved in the interview. My imagination went wild with visions of an interrogation type questioning session to make sure I am a trust worthy traveler. Glad to hear that it's not too intense.
 
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Bryan Gros

New Member
My CapitalOne Visa paid for my renewal without my being aware. Nice surprise.

As others have said, given the small cost difference and the 5 year length, it definitely seems worth the effort if you travel much at all.
 

Kathy (Trekcapri)

100+ Posts
My CapitalOne Visa paid for my renewal without my being aware. Nice surprise.

As others have said, given the small cost difference and the 5 year length, it definitely seems worth the effort if you travel much at all.

Hi Bryan, thanks so much for your reply. That's cool that you received an automatic renewal. That is a nice surprise. Alpinista mentioned that they didn't have to do another interview again for their renewal so based on your situation looks like you got approved without a follow-up interview too.

I think the small cost difference for a 5 year benefit seems worth it too. I have my appointment on Feb. 23 and if approved I am really looking forward to putting it to good use. I usually do one big international trip a year, but I remain hesitant to travel internationally this year until the Covid-19 pandemic is under control & improves. I hope to make up for 2020 & 2021 & do two big international trips in 2022. :)
 

Kathy (Trekcapri)

100+ Posts
Hi Everyone, I just wanted to update you all on my Global Entry/TSA Pre-Check application. Today was my really quick interview. I was asked 3 simple questions (mainly ones I answered on the application I filled out online) and that was it. Getting fingerprinted took longer. :) I live about 20 minutes away from the interview office & by the time I got home the e-mail notifying me of my application status update to approval was already waiting for me.

My sister & brother-in-law were also approved so we're all good to go and anxious to start traveling again. I think if anyone is interested in applying for Global Entry/TSA Pre-Check, the process is a lot easier than I thought it would be.

I want to thank everyone for sharing your Global Entry experiences with me. It really helped me to make my decision.

Happy Travels.
Kathy
 

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