Updated: Apr 4
It all depends. Where do you plan on going in the next 5-10 years?
TSA Pre-Check And Global Entry offer similar benefits and eligibility requirements. The main difference is Global Entry is better for international travelers.
TSA PreCheck allows for expedited security screening benefits for flights departing from U.S. airports but Global Entry simplifies customs procedures for travelers entering the U.S. from abroad. You do not need TSA PreCheck if you have Global Entry — the benefits of PreCheck are included with your Global Entry membership. But if you only have TSA PreCheck, you will not get expedited customs clearance when returning to the U.S. from another country.
If you are unsure, then I’d just suggest to get Global Entry because Global Entry members also receive TSA PreCheck benefits as part of their membership and the price difference is only $15
PreCheck costs $85 for a 5-year membership.
Global Entry costs $100 for a 5-year membership.
I‘ve enjoyed the perks of TSA many times while traveling within the US. It has come in extremely handy when I only had a carry on. I was able to walk into the airport and go straight to TSA, since I had my mobile boarding pass, and got past TSA within 5-10 minutes. Of course this doesn’t mean you should take your chances and arrive at the airport last minute. I’d still give myself an hour with carry on and an hour and a half with luggage. Just to be safe. You can always enjoy the lounges as well while you wait.
How do I get TSA or Global Entry?
You can find the TSA PreCheck Application here and the Global Entry Application here.
What happens after I apply and pay?
You will hear back via email and be asked to set up an appointment to meet in person. The will take a photo and fingerprints. Shortly after, you should receive another email with your KTN (Known Traveler Number)
What if I loose the email with the KTN?
You can always look up your KTN here
How does this make my travel experience better?
With either option, departing from the US will put you in a priority TSA line. Once you grab your boarding ticket, your next stop is to head to the gate, but right before that you will have to go through customs. Here is where being a member comes in handy, as there are usually long lines at TSA (depending on day/time) you will be able to push past all of that and use the PreCheck line. These lines will always be faster because you no longer have to take off your shoes, jacket or take out any electronics. So you can imagine how much time this can save. You still have to follow all other TSA guidelines.
Do I need proof of membership?
No. Once you are approved, you will be given a KTN (Known Traveler Number) and you can add this number to any flight purchase. Once you do this, you will see TSA Pre-Check on your boarding ticket. (Even in mobile)
This is what TSA will look for to verify that you are in fact in the correct line.