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TSA Precheck: Is it Worth It & How To Get It

a security check in at an airport

This question came up when chatting with my seatmate over the weekend. Is that special TSA Precheck line in airport security worth it? And how much does TSA pre check cost and how do you get it (possibly for free)?

In my opinion, if you travel more than a couple of times a year, TSA Precheck is definitely worth it.

1.You Keep Your Clothes, Shoes, and Dignity

That’s right. TSA precheck is like how flying used to be. You can keep your shoes, belt, even a light jacket on when going through security. And you just walk through a normal X-Ray machine. No wave scanner, no pat downs.

2. No Frantic Rush to Unpack Everything on the X-Ray Belt

George Clooney’s character in Up In The Air set a standard for getting through security quickly, but though I’m proud of my ability to get everything onto the belt in record time, with TSA Precheck it’s not necessary. Laptops, liquids and pretty much everything else stay in your bags.

3. Shorter Waits In Security
Not always the case, but for the most part you’ll find the TSA Precheck lines have fewer people and move a lot faster, which means you can show at the airport later for that early morning flight.

TSA Precheck Application

No longer airline elites only, now all US citizens, US nationals, and permanent residents can apply for TSA Precheck. It does require providing them with your fingerprints, so if you’re (understandably) uncomfortable with the government having that much personal information, it might not be worth it.

  • You can apply online or in person.
  • Once the TSA Precheck application is complete, schedule an appointment at a TSA application center.
  • Go to the application center to provide identification and fingerprints.

Once they’ve verified you’re eligible and not on any government watch lists lists you’ll be issued a Known Traveler Number which you should add to all your airline accounts to ensure your status is automatically applied.

Note: Global Entry comes with TSA Precheck, so if you plan to apply for Global Entry you do not need to apply for TSA Precheck.

TSA Precheck Cost (and How To Get Precheck for Free)

It’s $85 for 5 years, or included if you have Global Entry. If you travel internationally on a regular basis, it’s worth considering Global Entry, which allows you go through an immigration kiosk rather than waiting in line for an agent.

You may also be able to get the TSA Precheck for free through a travel loyalty program or credit card.

Credit Cards Covering TSA Precheck/Global Entry Fee

  • Citi/AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard
  • American Express Gold Corporate Card
  • American Express Consumer Platinum Card
  • American Express Business/Corporate Platinum Card
  • American Express Centurion Card Members
  • Citi Prestige

Loyalty Programs Offering TSA Precheck Free


Full Disclosure: I may receive affiliate credit from links in this post or on this site which will help fund my travels. Thank you for your support!

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  1. HI there

    When you mention ‘Once the application is complete, schedule an appointment at an application center.’ are you referring to Global Entry, TSA Pre-Check or both ? In other words do you need appointments to qualify for both or if you apply for Global Entry, that appointment can take care of both ?


    1. A great question! If you’re applying for TSA Precheck, you’ll need to schedule an appointment at the Precheck application center. Being approved for Global Entry automatically qualifies you for TSA Precheck, so once you do the Global Entry appointment you’re covered for both.

    1. You should have a Known Traveler Number with your Global Entry profile. Just add it to all your frequent flyer accounts and/or be sure to put it in in the passenger information when booking flights on participating carriers. That should be all it takes to get Precheck to appear on your boarding pass. 🙂

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