Trip Astute has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Trip Astute and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.
Getting Global Entry and TSA PreCheck is one of the easiest ways to upgrade your travel experience. However, paying $100 for Global Entry may seem expensive, especially if you don’t travel internationally often, and that is why I recommend looking for credit cards that offer a Global Entry and TSA PreCheck credit. In this post and video, I’ll review what cards have a Global Entry credit, and share tips for those of you looking to enroll in either Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.
You don’t need a premium travel card to get this benefit
The other day, I was at work talking to some of my coworkers. The topic of Global Entry came up, and one of my coworkers was complaining that he wished he didn’t have to pay $100 for it. It got me thinking about how easy it is to use a credit card to offset the cost. While we often associate the benefit with premium travel credit cards, there are many cards with modest annual fees that offer this benefit.
Global Entry / TSA PreCheck credits can only be used once per card every 4–5 years
While all the cards that I’ll review today offer a $100 credit, they typically restrict you from using it every four to five years. This is important to know since both Global Entry and TSA PreCheck last five years once you are approved. Theoretically, if you keep a card account open over a four-year period, you would only be able to use it once during that time period. You would then have to wait another four or five years for the benefit to be available again or get another card that offers that same benefit.
Three categories of credit cards with Global Entry / TSA PreCheck credit
I’m grouping these cards into three different categories:
- Premium travel cards: Includes cards with an annual fee of $400 or more
- Mid-range travel cards: Includes cards with an annual fee of less than $100
- “First-year free” travel cards: Includes cards with no annual fee for the first year.
This list isn’t meant to include every possible card out there. Instead, I focused on cards that are widely available and somewhat popular in the travel rewards space.
Premium travel cards with Global Entry / TSA PreCheck credit
When we look at the premium travel credit card space, you can see that many of these cards offer this benefit. American Express offers this perk on their Platinum card and Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card. Chase offers it on their Sapphire Reserve card. Citi has several cards that offer it, including the Citi Prestige and AAdvantage Executive World Elite. US Bank’s Altitude Reserve provides the credit as well.
Other premium card options are available
There are other premium cards that offer this credit as well, but some of these cards are difficult to get, so I didn’t want to clutter the list. For example, the City National Bank Crystal Infinite card offers a lot of premium benefits, including a credit for Global Entry and TSA PreCheck. However, you have to be near a City National Bank branch since you have to apply in-person.
My choice: American Express Platinum or Chase Sapphire Reserve
Of all the cards in this list, I personally would go with American Express or Chase. While I know a lot of people like the Citi Prestige, I’m not sure it’s the best choice for travelers since Citi removed most of the travel benefits on the card. I think for most people, you’re probably better off sticking with a premium card from one of the two main issuers.
Mid-range travel cards with Global Entry / TSA PreCheck credit
The next category of travel cards is the sub-$100 annual fee cards. These are cards that have a much lower annual fee than the previous group. The two cards in this list are the US Bank FlexPerks Gold American Express and the Chase IHG Rewards Club Premier. As you can see from the chart, the annual fees range from $85 to $95, and the benefit refreshes every four years on all of the cards.
My choice: Chase IHG Rewards Club Premier
In this group, I would personally recommend the Chase IHG Rewards Club Premier. That’s because the card is a hotel card that includes a free annual night every year as part of your annual fee. That means that you’re essentially getting a hotel stay for only $89, which is easy to maximize under the hotel brands included in IHG.
Also, if you’re invested in the Chase Ultimate Rewards ecosystem, then you can transfer points from Chase to IHG for bookings since they are a travel partner. However, it’s usually not the best travel partner to use since IHG points aren’t generally worth as much as other hotel brands like Hyatt, but it’s nice knowing that you can top off your account if you’re short on IHG points when booking.
“First-year free” travel cards with Global Entry / TSA PreCheck credit
These are cards that do not charge an annual fee in the first year. This means that if you are approved for these cards, you can earn the welcome offer and start using the benefits, like the Global Entry and TSA PreCheck credit, before you are charged the annual fee. Two cards that I think are worth checking out are the Capital One® Venture® Rewards and Chase United Explorer. Both cards have an annual fee of $95 that starts after your first year of membership.
My choice: Both cards!
I think both of these cards are great for different reasons.
The Capital One® Venture® Rewards works for folks who don’t want to deal with the hassle of a multi-card flexible points setup. Instead, it acts like a 2% flat-rate card that allows you to apply your earned cashback toward travel purchases or point transfer to select travel partners. It also includes travel benefits and no foreign transaction fees. The card consistently offers a lucrative welcome offer as well after meeting the minimum spending requirement.
The Chase United Explorer is a card that I currently have but rarely use, but I keep it because it gives me free check-in bags, two United lounge passes, priority boarding, and access to additional award seats. The priority boarding and additional award seats are valuable to me. The welcome offer on the card fluctuates throughout the year, so keep that in mind. However, if you don’t ever fly on United, then this card may not be useful to you.
Tips and considerations when getting Global Entry or TSA PreCheck
I wanted to share some quick tips for those looking to get Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.
1. Get Global Entry over TSA PreCheck:
If you’re debating between the two programs, I would suggest getting Global Entry since it includes TSA PreCheck. Even if you only travel abroad occasionally, you’re still better off getting the Global Entry, especially if your credit card pays for it.
The only reason to consider TSA PreCheck over Global Entry is that it is easier to get and less expensive. The background check is supposedly less thorough, and the process is much easier.
2. Consider helping family members or friends get Global Entry or TSA PreCheck:
In order to use the credits on your credit card, you just have to use the card as your payment method when applying for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. However, it doesn’t mean that you can’t share the love with others.
If you have a family member or friend who could use a membership, and you happen to have a card that offers the credit, you might consider gifting it to them. They would have to use your card when paying for the application, but I think it’s a thoughtful thing to do, especially if you have multiple cards with the credit.
3. Factor in the welcome offer and long-term viability of the card:
While it may be tempting just to get a card based solely on this benefit and the welcome offer, I would encourage you to factor in the long-term benefit of having the card. For example, I recommended the Chase IHG Rewards Club Premier card since it’s a card that you’ll probably keep in the long term because of the annual hotel night reward stay. That perk is easily worth more than the annual fee, so it’s a card that you’ll likely want to keep, even if you’re not using it for your everyday purchases.
4. If you have a large family that travels internationally, consider Mobile Passport instead:
If you have a large family, you may be surprised to learn that everyone needs to have their own Global Entry account to use the service when traveling together. This can be pricey! That’s why I recommend checking out Mobile Passport if you’re in this situation. It used to be completely free, but the app now costs $15. However, I know a lot of folks who love using it. I even know several people with Global Entry who use it since the Mobile Passport line is often shorter when entering the country.
5. Don’t overlook business credit cards:
We focused primarily on personal cards, but there are business cards that also include this benefit. Examples are the American Express Business Platinum, Capital One Spark Miles for Business, and Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business card. If you’re eligible for business credit cards, then you’ll definitely want to consider these options.
6. Consider CLEAR if you’re a frequent traveler:
You may be interested in CLEAR if you find yourself waiting in the TSA PreCheck security line. This is especially the case if you’re a business traveler who tends to fly during peak hours during the week. If you have the American Express Green Card, it now offers a credit toward the program. While CLEAR isn’t a replacement for TSA PreCheck, it can be a great way to upgrade your security line experience and improve your wait times.
Have you paid for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck? If so, did you use a credit card with this benefit? Also, what cards do you recommend for those looking to apply for these programs?
If you’re interested in applying for any of the cards in this post, we encourage you to compare credit offers. We do get a commission if you use our link. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, but it helps us to continue building content for our site and channel.