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TSA PreCheck: Everything You Need To Know [Application, Benefits, Costs & More]

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Christy Rodriguez
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Christy Rodriguez

Travel & Finance Content Contributor

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After having “non-rev” privileges with Southwest Airlines, Christy dove into the world of points and miles so she could continue traveling for free. Her other passion is personal finance, and is a cer...
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Keri Stooksbury

Editor-in-Chief

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With years of experience in corporate marketing and as the executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Qatar, Keri is now editor-in-chief at UP, overseeing daily content operations and r...

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Anyone who’s been through airport security knows how much of a hassle it can be to simply reach your departure gate. But, as many of you probably know, having TSA PreCheck can make the airport-security experience much more tolerable.

For those of you who don’t already have it, let’s run through the ins and outs of the program, how it can help improve your travel experience, and show you how to get access.

What Is the TSA?

In response to the tragic events of September 11, 2001, the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) was created as an agency within the Department of Transportation. It was later moved to the Department of Homeland Security where it currently operates.

The agency’s main function is to provide security for the commercial aviation industry, which includes the administration of the screening process at airports. Additional security measures, including canine units and Federal Air Marshals, are also used by the TSA at airports.

Hot Tip: Still have questions? Check out these TSA airport security FAQs.

What Is TSA PreCheck?

TSA PreCheck is 1 of 5 Trusted Traveler Programs, which also include Global Entry, SENTRI, and NEXUS. These 4 are intended for personal and business travelers, while the fifth program is for commercial trucking (FAST).

Unlike the other trusted-traveler programs that are administered by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), TSA PreCheck is run by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

The program was started in October 2011 and allows the TSA to expedite the security screening process for low-risk travelers.

What Airlines Participate in TSA PreCheck?

Below are the airlines that are currently part of the TSA PreCheck program:

SCROLL FOR MORE
TSA PreCheck Airlines
Advanced AirBritish AirwaysiAero AirwaysSilver Airways
Aerolane Lineas Aereas Nacionales del EcuadorBrussels AirlinesIberiaSingapore Airlines
AeroMexicoCape AirIcelandair
Southern Airways Express
Air CanadaCathay Pacific AirwaysInterCaribbean AirwaysSouthwest Airlines
Air EuropaCayman AirwaysITA AirwaysSpirit Airlines
Air FranceChina AirlinesJapan AirlinesSTARLUX Airlines
Air IndiaCondor AirlinesJetBlue AirwaysSun Country Airlines
Air PremiaContour AviationKey Lime AirSunwing Airlines
Air SerbiaCopa AirlinesKLM Royal Dutch Airlines
Swiss International Air Lines
Air Tahiti NuiDelta Air LinesKorean AirSwoop
Air TransatEastern AirlinesLa Compagnie
TAM-Linhas Aereas S.A.
Alaska AirlinesEdelweiss AirLAN Peru S.A.TAP Air Portugal
All Nippon AirwaysEL AL IsraelLATAM AirlinesTitan Airways
Allegiant AirEmiratesLufthansaTurkish Airlines
American AirlinesEtihad AirwaysNew Pacific AirlinesUltimate Jet Charters
Aruba AirlinesEurowings DiscoverNorse Atlantic AirwaysUnited Airlines
Asiana AirlinesEVA AirNorwegian AirVirgin Atlantic
Austrian AirlinesFiji AirwaysOmni Air InternationalViva Air Colombia
Avelo AirlinesFinnairPAL ExpressVivaAerobus
AviancaFlair AirlinesPhilippine AirlinesVolaris
Azul AirlinesFlycanaPorter AirlinesWestJet
BahamasairFrench beeQantasWorld Atlantic
BermudAirFrontier AirlinesQatar AirwaysZIPAIR
Boutique AirlinesGlobal Crossing AirlinesScandinavian Airlines
Breeze AirwaysHawaiian AirlinesSeaborne Airlines

TSA PreCheck Airport Locations

200+ airports in the U.S. participate in the program, including the 30 busiest airports in the nation:

Note that if you’re at an airport outside the U.S., you’ll have to wait in the “normal” security line with everyone else.

Hot Tip: TSA PreCheck can be especially helpful if you regularly fly out of an airport that has consistently long TSA wait times

What Are the Benefits of TSA PreCheck?

TSA PreCheck Perks
Leave your shoes on, keep your laptop in your bag, and more. Image Credit: TSA

The most noticeable perk of TSA PreCheck may very well be that you can leave your shoes on when passing through the security checkpoint. Additional benefits include the ability to leave on light outerwear, jackets, and belts, and keeping laptops and small liquids in your bag.

Essentially, it makes having carry-on luggage a breeze as you won’t have to take everything you carefully packed out again to go through the security line!

All of these benefits combined make the screening process much quicker, which is perhaps the best benefit of all, especially on busy travel days.

Even with these perks, some travelers will still be pulled at random for extra screening, but the overall time spent being screened will still be lower compared to a non-TSA PreCheck screening. In fact, the TSA reported that 89% of travelers in TSA PreCheck lines waited less than 5 minutes (as of March 2023).

How Does the Program Work?

To use TSA PreCheck, you must complete the membership application and approval process. If approved, your membership will be active for 5 years — after that period, you’ll have to renew your membership if you wish to keep it.

Once you’ve completed the in-person appointment (assuming everything is in order with your background check), you’ll be notified. Then, you’ll receive your Known Traveler Number (KTN) and become eligible to use the TSA PreCheck security lanes.

Hot Tip: Some airports have launched the ability to create a screening time reservation, further reducing the time to wait in line during busy times. 

Before traveling, make sure you add your Known Traveler Number to your reservation to ensure you have access to TSA PreCheck. Many airlines allow you to do this online, but you can also call the airline to have your number added to your reservation.

You can also add your KTN to your frequent flyer accounts so that it will be automatically included when you book flights.

If you notice that “TSA PreCheck” is not printed on your boarding pass or visible on your mobile boarding pass, speak with the appropriate airline check-in desk for assistance. It must be listed on your boarding pass, or you will not be allowed to access those security lanes.

For parents and guardians with children ages 12 and under, know that your children are eligible to use the TSA PreCheck security lanes with you. Children ages 13 to 17 may accompany a TSA PreCheck-approved parent when they are on the same reservation and have the TSA PreCheck designation on their boarding pass.

If you’re flying with an airline that is not one of the 80+ partners of the program, you won’t be able to utilize the program. Fortunately, TSA continues to partner with more and more airlines.

Who Is Eligible? What Are the Requirements and Restrictions?

To apply, you must be a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, or a lawful permanent resident and pass a background check.

Violations of transportation security regulations and incomplete or false information on your applications can disqualify you from membership.

Additionally, there are several criminal offenses and factors that can disqualify you.

If you are a citizen of the following countries, you can apply for Global Entry and may be granted the benefits of TSA PreCheck even though you can’t apply directly for the TSA PreCheck program:

  • Argentina
  • Brazil
  • Bahrain
  • Colombia
  • Germany
  • India
  • Netherlands
  • Mexico
  • Panama
  • Singapore
  • South Korea
  • Switzerland
  • Taiwan
  • United Kingdom

How Much Does TSA PreCheck Cost?

The initial application fee is $78 and is good for 5 years. If you’re rejected from the program, you will not receive a refund.

If you choose to renew your application online, it will cost $70 and is still valid for the same 5-year timeframe. If you choose to renew in person, the fee remains $78.

Fortunately, there are several credit cards that will reimburse the fee regardless of approval.

Hot Tip: The cost of TSA PreCheck was reduced from $85 to $78 in November of 2022.

What Credit Cards Reimburse the TSA PreCheck Application Fee?

We’re big fans of credit cards and the many travel benefits they provide, so, naturally, we want to share with you our recommended cards that will reimburse the application fee for TSA PreCheck.

If you use one of the cards in the table below to pay the $78 application fee or the $70 to $78 renewal fee, you will receive a statement credit. You could also use any of these cards to pay — and then get reimbursed — for the $100 fee for Global Entry instead, since Global Entry provides automatic access to TSA PreCheck.

Cardholders are eligible for the statement credit once every 5 years, which corresponds with the length of your TSA PreCheck or Global Entry membership.

Here are a few of our favorite cards that offer complimentary Global Entry and TSA PreCheck:

BEST LOUNGE ACCESS
The Platinum Card® from American ExpressTerms Apply / Rates & Fees
U.P. Rating 
The rating for this card has been determined by our own industry experts who know the in's and out's of credit card products. Bonuses, rewards as well as rates and fees are all taken into account. Compensation from the issuer does not affect our rating. We only recommend products we either use ourselves or endorse.

The Amex Platinum reigns supreme for luxury travel, offering the best airport lounge access plus generous statement credits, and complimentary elite status.

Learn More(at Amex's secure site)

Apply With Confidence

Know if you're approved with no credit score impact

If you're approved and accept this Card, your credit score may be impacted.

The Amex Platinum reigns supreme for luxury travel, offering the best airport lounge access plus generous statement credits, and complimentary elite status.
Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $8,000 on eligible purchases on the Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.
80,000 points
$1,760
$695
See Pay Over Time APR. Carrying a balance will incur interest. Eligible charges can be included in the Pay Over Time balance, up to the Pay Over Time Limit. Pay Over Time only applies to eligible charges meeting minimum transaction amounts.
Upgraded Points credit ranges are a variation of FICO®Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit cardapplication.
Good to Excellent (670-850)

When it comes to cards that offer top-notch benefits, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better card out there than The Platinum Card® from American Express.

Make no mistake — the Amex Platinum card is a premium card with a premium price tag. With amazing benefits like best-in-class airport lounge access, hotel elite status, and tremendous value in annual statement credits, it can easily prove to be one of the most lucrative cards in your wallet year after year.

Pros
  • The best airport lounge access out of any card (by far) — enjoy access to over 1,400 worldwide lounges, including the luxurious Amex Centurion Lounges, Priority Pass lounges, Plaza Premium Lounges, and many more!
  • 5x points per dollar spent on flights purchased directly with the airline or with AmexTravel.com (up to $500,000 per year)
  • 5x points per dollar spent on prepaid hotels booked with AmexTravel.com
Cons
  • $695 annual fee (rates and fees)
  • Airline credit does not cover airfare (only incidentals like checked bags)
  • Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $8,000 on eligible purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • $200 Hotel Credit: Get up to $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings with American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®. The Hotel Collection requires a minimum two-night stay.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back in statement credits each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Disney+, a Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, The New York Times, Peacock, and The Wall Street Journal. Enrollment required.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With complimentary access to more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more airport lounge options than any other credit card issuer on the market. As of 03/2023.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Save on eligible delivery fees, shipping, and more with a Walmart+ membership. Use your Platinum Card® to pay for a monthly Walmart+ membership and get up to $12.95 plus applicable taxes back on one membership (excluding Plus Ups) each month.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Select one qualifying airline and then receive up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year when incidental fees are charged by the airline to your Platinum Card®.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only. Terms Apply.
  • $189 CLEAR® Plus Credit: CLEAR® Plus helps to get you to your gate faster at 50+ airports nationwide and get up to $189 back per calendar year on your Membership (subject to auto-renewal) when you use your Card. CLEARLanes are available at 100+ airports, stadiums, and entertainment venues.
  • Receive either a $100 statement credit every 4 years for a Global Entry application fee or a statement credit up to $85 every 4.5 year period for TSA PreCheck® application fee for a 5-year plan only (through a TSA PreCheck® official enrollment provider), when charged to your Platinum Card®. Card Members approved for Global Entry will also receive access to TSA PreCheck at no additional cost.
  • Shop Saks with Platinum: Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases in Saks Fifth Avenue stores or at saks.com on your Platinum Card®. That's up to $50 in statement credits semi-annually. Enrollment required.
  • Unlock access to exclusive reservations and special dining experiences with Global Dining Access by Resy when you add your Platinum Card® to your Resy profile.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
Financial Snapshot
  • APR: See Pay Over Time APR. Carrying a balance will incur interest. Eligible charges can be included in the Pay Over Time balance, up to the Pay Over Time Limit. Pay Over Time only applies to eligible charges meeting minimum transaction amounts.
  • Foreign Transaction Fees: None
Rewards Center

American Express Membership Rewards

150K OFFER
The Business Platinum Card® from American ExpressTerms Apply / Rates & Fees
U.P. Rating 
The rating for this card has been determined by our own industry experts who know the in's and out's of credit card products. Bonuses, rewards as well as rates and fees are all taken into account. Compensation from the issuer does not affect our rating. We only recommend products we either use ourselves or endorse.

This card is ideal for business travelers who enjoy luxury travel and are looking for a card loaded with benefits!

Learn More(at Amex's secure site)
This card is ideal for business travelers who enjoy luxury travel and are looking for a card loaded with benefits!
Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $20,000 in eligible purchases on the Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
150,000 points
$3,300
$695
19.49% - 28.49% Variable
Upgraded Points credit ranges are a variation of FICO®Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit cardapplication.
Good to Excellent (670-850)

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express is a premium travel rewards card tailored toward business owners who are frequent travelers with a high number of annual expenses.

When you factor in the large number of perks that the card offers like the best airport lounge access at over 1,400 lounges, along with tons of annual credits, it’s easy to see why this card can is a top option for frequent traveling business owners.

Hot Tip: Check to see if you’re eligible for a huge welcome bonus offer of up to 170,000 points with the Amex Business Platinum. The current public offer is 150,000 points. (This targeted offer was independently researched and may not be available to all applicants.)

Pros
  • 5x Membership Rewards points per $1 on flights and prepaid hotels at Amex Travel
  • Access to over 1,400 worldwide airport lounges as part of the American Express Global Lounge Collection
  • Get 50% more Membership Rewards points (1.5 points per $1) on eligible purchases in key business categories, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more (cap applies)
Cons
  • High annual fee of $695 (rates & fees)
  • Airline fee credit does not cover airfare, only incidentals like checked bags
  • Welcome Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $20,000 in eligible purchases on the Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on AmexTravel.com, and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Earn 1.5X points (that’s an extra half point per dollar) on each eligible purchase at US construction material, hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers, and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year.
  • Unlock over $1,000 in statement credits on select purchases, including tech, recruiting and wireless in the first year of membership with the Business Platinum Card®. Enrollment required. See how you can unlock over $1,000 annually in credits on select purchases with the Business Platinum Card®, here.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Select one qualifying airline and then receive up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year when incidental fees are charged by the airline to the Card.
  • $189 CLEAR® Plus Credit: Use your card and get up to $189 in statement credits per calendar year on your CLEAR® Plus Membership (subject to auto-renewal) when you use the Business Platinum Card®.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With complimentary access to more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more airport lounge options than any other credit card issuer on the market as of 03/2023.
  • $695 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
Financial Snapshot
  • APR: 19.49% - 28.49% Variable
  • Foreign Transaction Fees: None
Rewards Center

American Express Membership Rewards

Chase Sapphire Reserve®
U.P. Rating 
The rating for this card has been determined by our own industry experts who know the in's and out's of credit card products. Bonuses, rewards as well as rates and fees are all taken into account. Compensation from the issuer does not affect our rating. We only recommend products we either use ourselves or endorse.

A top player in the high-end premium travel credit card space that earns 3x points on travel and dining while offering top luxury perks.

Learn More(at Chase's secure site)
A top player in the high-end premium travel credit card space that earns 3x points on travel and dining while offering top luxury perks.
Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Travel℠
60,000 points
$1,200
$550
22.49%-29.49% Variable
Upgraded Points credit ranges are a variation of FICO®Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit cardapplication.
Excellent (740-850)

If you’re looking for an all-around excellent travel rewards card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is one of the best options out there.

The card combines elite travel benefits and perks like airport lounge access, with excellent point earning and redemption options.  Plus it offers top-notch travel insurance protections to keep you covered whether you’re at home or on the road.

Don’t forget the $300 annual travel credit which really helps to reduce the annual fee!

Pros
  • 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase TravelSM immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually
  • 10x points on Lyft purchases March 31, 2025
  • 10x points on Peloton equipment and accessory purchases over $250 through March 31, 2025
Cons
  • $550 annual fee
  • Does not offer any sort of hotel elite status
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Travel℠ immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Travel℠. For example, 60,000 points are worth $900 toward travel.
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Member FDIC
Financial Snapshot
  • APR: 22.49%-29.49% Variable
  • Foreign Transaction Fees: None
Rewards Center

Chase Ultimate Rewards

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit CardTerms Apply / Rates & Fees
U.P. Rating 
The rating for this card has been determined by our own industry experts who know the in's and out's of credit card products. Bonuses, rewards as well as rates and fees are all taken into account. Compensation from the issuer does not affect our rating. We only recommend products we either use ourselves or endorse.

Get 2x miles plus some of the most flexible redemptions offered by a travel credit card!

Get 2x miles plus some of the most flexible redemptions offered by a travel credit card!
Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel.
75,000 miles
$1,350
$95
19.99% - 29.99% (Variable)
Upgraded Points credit ranges are a variation of FICO®Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit cardapplication.
Good to Excellent Credit (670-850)

The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is one of the most popular rewards cards on the market. It’s perfect for anyone in search of a great welcome offer, high rewards rates, and flexible redemption options.

Frequent travelers with excellent credit may benefit from this credit card that offers a lot of bells and whistles. And it offers easy-to-understand rewards earning and redemption.

Pros
  • 5x miles per $1 on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
  • 2x miles per $1 on all other purchases
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit
Cons
  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your miles to get reimbursed for any travel purchase—or redeem by booking a trip through Capital One Travel
  • Enrich every hotel stay from the Lifestyle Collection with a suite of cardholder benefits, like a $50 experience credit, room upgrades, and more
  • Transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
Financial Snapshot
  • APR: 19.99% - 29.99% (Variable)
  • Foreign Transaction Fees: None
Rewards Center

Capital One Miles

If you already have a membership and don’t need the credit, you can pay for a friend or family member’s application and receive the credit that way. Not a bad birthday gift if you ask us!

Several of these cards will extend this benefit to authorized users as well. While you may be charged for adding authorized users on some cards, the $100 credit can help make it more manageable.

Applying for TSA PreCheck

To apply, you must fill out an online application so that the TSA can conduct a background check. You’ll have to include information such as citizenship, address, date of birth, and immigration documentation (if applicable).

Hot Tip: The TSA has a handy tool to determine which documents will be necessary here.

Once you’ve finished your application, you’ll need to make an appointment at an enrollment center. There are over 500 locations throughout the U.S.

At your interview, you’ll be required to show a valid photo ID, proof of citizenship, and immigration documentation if applicable.

The interview is quick and mostly for verification. You can expect questions about yourself and your travel, and you’ll be fingerprinted during the process.

You’ll be notified of approval (or denial) within 60 days once the in-person interview is complete, but many people are approved within 3 to 5 days. During this time, you can check your application status online.

Don’t wait to apply as in-person appointment slots can fill up quickly.

How Did I Get TSA PreCheck Without Applying?

When the program was first rolled out in late 2011, some members of frequent flyer programs were invited to participate free of charge. These frequent flyers were not given KTNs, though, so they were still required to formally enroll in the program.

However, you have 3 other options for getting access without directly applying for it. If you’re approved for Global Entry, NEXUS, or SENTRI, you’ll be given access to TSA PreCheck.

A Step-by-Step Application Walkthrough

If you’re looking for a quick rundown on the initial application process, we have you covered. Let’s dive right into it:

Step 1: Visit the TSA PreCheck Home Page

TSA PreCheck Homepage 2022
From the homepage, you can start your application. Image Credit: TSA

Once on the homepage, you need to click on the red Apply Now button in the middle of the page. This will bring you to the first page of the application, which asks for biographical information.

Step 2: Complete the Application

TSA PreCheck Bio
Get your application started by filling in your biographical information. Image Credit: TSA

Work your way through each page of the application. The application is simple and won’t take more than 15 minutes if you have all the necessary information on hand.

Step 3: Schedule Your In-Person Interview

The final piece of the application process is to select a location for your in-person interview. You’ll need to search for your location. The search results will show options near you and how many appointment slots are available in the next 45 days.

TSA PreCheck Interview Schedule
Once you’ve completed the application, you’ll need to select a location for your interview. Image Credit: TSA

After selecting a location, you will need to choose a date and time for your in-person interview.

Step 4: In-Person Interview

Bring all the required documents. You’ll select which 2 forms of ID you’ll bring in the online application. This could be a driver’s license and a passport. If applicable, bring any required immigration documents as well.

You’ll also need to bring a credit card to pay the $78 fee. You could pay by cashier’s (or certified) check, but with so many credit cards that reimburse you for the fee, why would you?

Step 5: Wait for an Update

Most will be notified within 3 to 5 days after their appointment, but it can take up to 60 days to hear back. Keep this in mind when planning a trip: you don’t want to leave your application and interview to the last minute!

Step 6: Add Your Known Traveler Number to Frequent Flyer Accounts

Once approved, you’ll be notified and provided with your Known Traveler Number. Add this to your frequent flyer accounts so it’s automatically included in your itineraries going forward.

Step 7: Enjoy the Benefits

You can now use the TSA PreCheck security lanes at over 200 airports nationwide. Enjoy your expedited screening experience!

Compared to Other Trusted Traveler Programs

With 4 common Trusted Traveler Programs, how do you know which one to choose? This section compares each of the different programs so you have a better idea.

TSA PreCheck vs. Global Entry

Global Entry provides expedited screening upon re-entering the U.S. from abroad. The program is administered by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, an agency within the Department of Homeland Security.

If you’re a member of Global Entry, you’re provided access to TSA PreCheck. However, having a membership to TSA PreCheck does not provide access to Global Entry.

The enrollment process is similar as each requires an application and an in-person interview. The Global Entry application is available online. The fee for Global Entry is $100 but can be reimbursed by several credit cards, similar to TSA PreCheck.

TSA PreCheck vs. NEXUS

NEXUS is a joint program between the U.S. and Canada designed to allow more efficient travel between the 2 countries, and it provides access to both Global Entry and TSA PreCheck.

In addition, NEXUS provides expedited entry into Canada. Global Entry and TSA PreCheck members do not get this benefit.

The cost is only $50, which is a fantastic deal, but you’ll have to visit one of the enrollment centers located in select cities in the northern U.S.

TSA PreCheck vs. SENTRI

On the southern border of the U.S., the SENTRI program provides similar benefits to that of NEXUS in the north. The cost of SENTRI is higher though — $122.25. So unless you’re planning on frequenting the land border to Mexico, this extra cost might not be worth it.

To receive expedited entry into Mexico, you’re required to have a SENTRI membership, so, again, neither Global Entry nor TSA PreCheck on their own will be enough. Enrollment centers are located in Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas.

Final Thoughts

If you’re going to travel often, you definitely want to sign up for the TSA PreCheck program to make the security screening process a little less painful!

With so many credit cards that will reimburse you for not only TSA PreCheck but Global Entry as well, you might as well sign up for Global Entry, if possible. You get the same access to TSA PreCheck, and it will make your return to the U.S. much easier.

If you know you won’t travel outside of the U.S. for 5 years, though, perhaps you only need TSA PreCheck.

Whatever the case may be, think about enrolling in this program to save time and increase efficiency at the airport.


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TSA PreCheck Review

For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
For rates and fees of The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is TSA PreCheck?

TSA PreCheck is a Trusted Traveler Program administered by the TSA that allows preapproved passengers to enjoy expedited airport security lanes.

Where are TSA PreCheck Enrollment Centers?

There are over 500 enrollment centers throughout the U.S. You can find the ones closest to you by using TSA’s Enrollment Center Locator.

Who can apply for TSA PreCheck?

U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, and legal permanent residents are eligible to apply for TSA PreCheck.

Which airports have TSA PreCheck?

Over 200 airports currently offer the ability to use the program. Find out if your airport is included by checking out the TSA’s website.

When does TSA PreCheck expire?

Your membership lasts for 5 years, at which point you’ll need to renew it.

How long does it take to get TSA PreCheck?

The online application can take around 15 minutes. Depending on the enrollment centers near you, it could take a while to get an appointment, so schedule your in-person interview as soon as possible.

Once you’ve completed the interview, it can take up to 60 days to receive a notification of approval, but it’s usually much quicker at around 3 to 5 days.

Do members of the military get TSA PreCheck?

Yes. If you’re a member of the armed services, you automatically qualify to get TSA PreCheck for free, but you must opt-in via milConnect. When you fly, simply enter your DoD ID number as your Known Traveler Number when you make flight reservations.

Are TSA PreCheck and Global Entry the same?

No. TSA PreCheck provides expedited screening when going through airport security. Global Entry provides expedited re-entry to the U.S. after visiting another country. A Global Entry membership provides access to TSA PreCheck, but TSA PreCheck does not provide Global Entry access.

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About Christy Rodriguez

After having “non-rev” privileges with Southwest Airlines, Christy dove into the world of points and miles so she could continue traveling for free. Her other passion is personal finance, and is a certified CPA.

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