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Tricks to Get TSA PreCheck for Free

You can get Global Entry and Clear at no cost, too.

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If standing in long lines at the airport weighs on your travel experience, you can sail through security lines with programs like TSA PreCheck, Global Entry and Clear.

But before you plunk down money on these program fees, you should consider some hacks that'll spare you the cost. You could look at the many travel credit cards that cover the costs. You might also be able to redeem loyalty points or frequent flyer miles to get 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 and Clear. Check out the lists and links below.

What do these programs do?

TSA PreCheck and Global Entry are run by the US government, while a private company operates Clear. 

  • TSA PreCheck is run by the US Transportation Security Administration 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 US Customs and Border Protection, includes all of the advantages of TSA PreCheck and adds an express line through customs and immigration for international travelers returning to the US. 
  • 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 you 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 a handful of stadiums around the country.

Read more: 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.

Hacks to get TSA PreCheck or Global Entry

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, since Global Entry includes all of the benefits of TSA PreCheck and adds a speedier way through US customs and immigration. Some cards, however, offer only an $85 credit, which would leave you with a $15 balance to cover the cost of Global Entry.

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

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 can get a deal on Clear.

For Delta flyers, Clear is covered 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 is covered 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.

*All information about the Capital One Spark Miles for Business has been collected independently by CNET and has not been reviewed by the issuer.

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. 

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