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Which Trusted Traveler Program Should You Get?

We’re in the middle of a busy season at airports and as travel continues to recover from the pandemic, it’s only going to get busier. That’s why you should consider enrolling in the Transportation Security Administration’s Trusted Traveler program.

Both TSA PreCheck and Global Entry allow members to use expedited lanes at U.S. airports and when crossing international borders, making security screening quicker. In fact, according to the TSA, nearly 90 percent of TSA PreCheck passengers wait less than five minutes to get through security.

You can apply for TSA PreCheck online and schedule an appointment at any of more than 400 enrollment centers. At your in-person appointment, you’ll be fingerprinted, supply citizenship verification and identification and pay the $78 fee, which makes you eligible for the program for five years. You can renew your membership online for $70 for another five years. (Some credit cards and elite frequent flyer programs will reimburse you for your application fee.)

Most applications are approved within three to five days, although some can take up to 60 days. Once approved, you’ll receive your Known Traveler Number, which you can add to your airline reservations. You’ll be able to take advantage of the program at more than 200 airports within the United States on more than 85 participating airlines. TSA PreCheck members do not need to remove their shoes, laptops, belts, light jackets or quart bag containing liquids.

In addition, children 12 and under can accompany an enrolled parent or guardian in the TSA PreCheck lanes without restriction. Children ages 13 to 17 can join enrolled adults when traveling on the same reservation and if the TSA PreCheck indicator appears on the child’s boarding pass.

Global Entry, which comes with a $100 fee, is designed for passengers who make frequent international trips. It provides expedited U.S. Customs screening for travelers entering the United States. Global Entry requires a full background check and the application process can take anywhere from four to six months. Global Entry members also receive TSA PreCheck benefits as part of their membership.

CLEAR Plus is another option for frequent travelers. It’ll save you time with the initial part of the security screening but it’s not a replacement for TSA PreCheck.

CLEAR is a private company that operates a security platform to verify your identity through fingerprints and iris scans. Instead of waiting for a TSA official to manually check your ID and boarding pass, you’ll go to a special lane, available at more than 50 airports nationwide. After your identity is verified, an employee will escort you to the security screening area. If you’re enrolled in TSA PreCheck, you’ll use that lane. CLEAR comes with an annual fee of $189 for individuals. Family members under 18 can join you in the lane. You can create an account online and complete it at an airport where the service is available.