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How to get TSA PreCheck, Global Entry and Clear for free

Travelers don't need to pay to shorten the wait at the airport.

airport security
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What's better than skipping the long security line at the airport? Not paying for the privilege of skipping the long security line at the airport, that's what. 

TSA PreCheck, Global Entry and Clear are programs that allow you to breeze through airport security. But before you plunk down money on these program fees -- and after you digested the security and privacy concerns of enrolling such a program -- you may want to look to look at the many credit cards that cover the costs. Similarly, you can redeem loyalty points or frequent-flyer miles to get a free TSA PreCheck, Global Entry or Clear membership.

To save you from digging through the details of your next credit card statement or rewards program FAQ page, I've assembled in one convenient spot the credit cards and loyalty programs that cover all or some of the cost of TSA PreCheck, Global Entry or Clear. Check out the lists and links below.

Related: The 11 best travel backpacks in 2019

What do these programs do?

TSA PreCheck and Global Entry are run by the U.S. Government, while a private company operates Clear

  • TSA PreCheck is run by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and expedites the airport security screening process. This gets you access to a faster PreCheck line (where available) and you won't have to remove your shoes, belt, jacket or laptop during the security screening. 
  • Global Entry, run by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), includes all of the advantages of TSA PreCheck and adds an express line through customs and immigration for international travelers returning to the U.S. 
  • Clear is privately operated and lets you bypass the main security line or the TSA PreCheck line at the airport. After checking in at a kiosk, you'll be escorted to the front of the security line, where won't be required to show your ID. Then you'll go through a security screening as usual -- unless you also have PreCheck. Clear also offers a free version of its service called Clear Sports that provides expedited entry into 19 stadiums around the country.

Read: TSA PreCheck vs. Global Entry vs. Clear compared

How much do these programs usually cost?

TSA PreCheck costs $85 for five years. Global Entry costs $100 for five years. Clear is considerably more expensive at $179 per year. The ideal combination is Global Entry and Clear, letting you breeze through the security line, then going through screening without reorganizing your entire wardrobe. But that's expensive, so, read on.

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How to get TSA PreCheck or Global Entry for free

In most cases, if a credit card features a TSA PreCheck or Global Entry benefit, it gives you the choice of a $100 credit to cover the cost of Global Entry or an $85 credit to cover the cost of TSA PreCheck. I don't know why you would opt for the latter if both are free. Remember, Global Entry includes all of the benefits of TSA PreCheck and adds a speedier way through U.S. customs and immigration.

The following credit cards include up to a $100 credit at least every five years to cover a five-year membership to TSA PreCheck or Global Entry:

The following credit cards offer an $85 credit for TSA PreCheck or toward Global Entry. That amount covers the cost of TSA PreCheck but leaves you with a balance of $15 for a five-year Global Entry membership.

In addition to credit cards, there are a handful of traveler loyalty programs that let you trade points or miles for a free membership to TSA PreCheck.

How to get Clear for free

There are fewer ways to get a free or discounted Clear membership, but they do exist. Delta and United frequent flyers as well as Hertz members can get a deal on Clear.

For Delta flyers, Clear is free for Diamond Medallion members, $109 a year for Platinum, Gold and Silver Medallion members, and $119 a year for General SkyMiles members. 

On United, Clear free for Premier 1K members, $109 a year for United credit cardmembers in the US and Platinum, Gold and Silver Premier members. And it's $119 a year for MileagePlus members.

Hertz Gold Plus Rewards members can get Clear for a discounted rate of $129 a year with a free month or more added to the 12-month membership. Hertz Platinum members get six additional months for free, Hertz President's Circle members get four more months for free, Hertz Five Star members get two more months for free and Hertz Gold members get an extra free month.

Disclaimer: The information included in this article, including program features, program fees, and credits available through credit cards to apply to such programs, may change from time-to-time and are presented without warranty. When evaluating offers, please check the credit card provider's website and review its terms and conditions for the most current offers and information.