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Financial Wellness

Skip Airport Lines with TSA Pre✔®

Airport security lines are getting longer across the country. Last year, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screened a record 858 million passengers at U.S. airports, an average of 2.4 million passengers daily.

Most travelers follow general guidelines to be at the airport at least two hours ahead of the scheduled departure time for domestic flights (three hours for International flights).

These early arrival requirements often leave travelers feeling stressed and rushed. When the airport is bustling with people, it's smart to find any advantage you can so you have plenty of time to board your flight.

If you don't already have it, the TSA PreCheck® (also called TSA Pre✓®) is a lifesaver for anyone dreading summer travel delays. It's designed to breeze you through airport security.

What Is TSA PreCheck?

TSA PreCheck is an expedited pass for airport security aimed at helping you avoid long security checkpoint lines. TSA reports that on average, PreCheck travelers wait less 10 minutes to pass through security.

Once you apply and are selected by the TSA to participate, you'll be directed to a dedicated screening lane where you may not need to remove your shoes, jacket, belt, or your laptop or liquids from your bags.

TSA PreCheck is one of five Department of Homeland Security Trusted Travelers programs designed to expedite clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers. While PreCheck is only for U.S. departures, other Trusted Travelers programs like Global Entry, SENTRI, NEXUS, and FAST are for travelers entering the U.S.

Does TSA PreCheck Cover International Travel?

PreCheck is only for domestic departures where TSA agents have jurisdiction and TSA PreCheck lanes are set up. It covers departures from the U.S. to other countries on participating airlines, but won't speed up your return to the U.S. from abroad, or through U.S. Customs and Border Patrol screening.

TSA PreCheck is included in Global Entry, making it the preferable choice if you frequently travel internationally or plan to do so.

Where Can I Use TSA PreCheck?

Over 290 airports and 85+ airlines are currently part of the TSA PreCheck program nationwide. Use this map to check availability.

Why Should I Get TSA PreCheck?

Frequent travelers with PreCheck enjoy moving fast through security without removing shoes, belts, or light jackets. No need to unpack laptops, liquids, or gel products for screening either.

This is especially beneficial on holidays or other busy travel days. It's a boon for frequent travelers, as well as disabled passengers, and those traveling with small children.

Even with PreCheck's perks, randomly selected travelers will still be pulled aside for extra screening, but the overall time through security will be quicker.

How Do I Apply?

Apply for PreCheck online for pre-approval well before your trip—it's not something you can just pay for while waiting in the long security line at the airport.

Once pre-approved, you'll then need to schedule an in-person appointment—including a background check and fingerprinting at an enrollment center. The interview usually takes about 10 minutes—it's quick and mostly for verification. Be ready to answer questions about yourself and your travel.

After the appointment, you'll be notified if you are accepted into the program. Approved travelers receive a Known Traveler Number. Participating airlines print this number on your boarding pass if you are eligible for TSA PreCheck on that flight. Once the pass is scanned, you will be directed to the shorter PreCheck lane for boarding.

You can also add your PreCheck information to your frequent flyer accounts so it will be automatically included when you book flights. Your membership lasts for five years. After that, you'll need to renew if you wish to keep it.

Who's Eligible?

To be eligible, you must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and pass the background check. Additionally, there are several criminal offenses and factors that can disqualify you.

If you are flying with an airline that is not a partner of the program, you will not be able to utilize the program. Fortunately, TSA continues to partner with more airlines.

Children ages 12 and under may accompany an enrolled parent or guardian in the TSA PreCheck lanes without restriction. Those between ages 13-17 must have the TSA PreCheck logo on their boarding pass. To get the logo, the child must be on the same airline reservation with a TSA PreCheck-eligible parent or guardian.

How Much Does TSA PreCheck Cost?

A TSA PreCheck application fee costs between $78-$85 and is good for five years. If you are rejected from the program, you will not receive a refund. TSA PreCheck is complimentary if you have Global Entry.

Does TSA PreCheck Guarantee Expedited Passage through Security?

TSA randomly selects individuals for expedited screening and uses unpredictable security measures throughout the airport. No individual can be guaranteed expedited screening. However, those enrolled in TSA PreCheck will almost always receive expedited screening where available, as long as you're at an airport that offers it and you're flying with a partner airline.


Fee Hikes for Global Entry, NEXUS, and SENTRI Coming in October

In April, a final rule was published in the Federal Register, harmonizing the fees for the Global Entry, NEXUS, and SENTRI programs, better reflecting the program costs. The new fees will take effect on October 1, 2024.

The fee for Global Entry will increase from $100 to $120. SENTRI will move from an "a la carte" fee structure to a uniform fee of $120. The fee for NEXUS will increase from $50 to $120.

All fees are collected in full when each application is submitted.

For those with minor children, the good news is that once the rule goes into effect on October 1, applicants under the age of 18 will be exempt from the fee when a parent or legal guardian is already a member of, or concurrently applying for, NEXUS, SENTRI, or Global Entry.

Resources: Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Forbes Media LLC, Smarter Travel Media LLC, Upgraded Points™, LLC., American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Inc.