CLEAR vs. TSA PreCheck: How to reduce time spent in airport security

It’s no secret that getting through airport security has become a lot more painful over the last decade. Not only do these new regulations affect how we pack our bags (liquids and laptops at the ready, people), but they’ve added hours to an already arduous and stressful process.

For these and other reasons, several security programs have emerged to help fliers enjoy more relaxed and reliable travel: CLEAR, TSA PreCheck, and Global Entry.

While all aim to help you move through the airport security process more seamlessly, each addresses a different leg of the journey. Choosing the right membership for you will depend on step of the process you’re willing to pay to skip and how much you’re willing to pay to do so. The three programs also vary widely in terms of availability, with TSA PreCheck operating at 200 airports around the country while CLEAR is only available at 25, for example.

To determine which program (or programs) you might want to sign up for, we’ve broken down everything you need to know about the three services below.

CLEAR

clear vs tsa precheck global entry adult blur business 1266017

What is CLEAR?

While CLEAR is not directed at getting you through security or customs more quickly, it is able to speed you past the initial ID check line that occurs before security. With CLEAR, you can skip what is usually a long line in favor of a special lane. There, security will review your boarding pass and scan your iris or fingerprint, which takes you onward to security in less than five minutes.

CLEAR is popular because it allows you to skip to the front of even the TSA PreCheck line, which has become more crowded in recent years. Members can also use CLEAR at participating sports stadiums.

What does CLEAR cost?

A CLEAR membership costs $179 per year. U.S. based Delta SkyMiles members can receive preferential pricing.

Which airports have CLEAR?

CLEAR is currently available in only 25 airports across the United States, including Atlanta, San Francisco, and New York, as well as sports venues such as Yankee Stadium, AT&T Park, and CenturyLink Field. It can also be used at to enter Delta Sky Clubs for those with Delta Sky Club access. You’ll find a full list of participating airports and stadiums here.

How to sign up for CLEAR

Like TSA PreCheck and Global Entry, applying for CLEAR is fairly simple. Register online, then complete your application at a nearby CLEAR location. You can also complete the entire process in person. In that case, an agent will ask you questions to verify your identity, ask you to provide a valid photo ID and method of payment, and attach your biometrics (fingerprints and a picture of your irises) to your account. Once your account is set up, you can start using it the very same day.

Apply Here

TSA PreCheck

clear vs tsa precheck global entry aircraft airplane business 527

What is TSA PreCheck?

This program lets eligible, low-risk travelers enjoy expedited security screening at participating U.S. airport locations. Travelers with TSA PreCheck can breeze through a shorter security line, making it especially advantageous for frequent fliers and business travelers. Because you’re considered low-risk, you’ll also be exempt from having to take your shoes off, remove gels and liquids from your bags, or pulling your laptop out of your bag — little things that can make air travel less stressful.

Travelers with PreCheck are given a “known traveler number,” or KTN, which you’ll need to present when traveling. You’ll know if you’re eligible for TSA PreCheck on a flight because participating airlines will print a TSA PreCheck indicator directly on your boarding pass.

What does TSA PreCheck cost?

It costs $85 to apply, and your clearance is good for five years. Certain credit cards or loyalty programs offer to cover some (or sometimes all) of their members’ application fee or let their members pay with frequent flyer miles.

Which airports have TSA PreCheck?

TSA PreCheck is offered at 200 airports around the country, and you can review at the TSA PreCheck website. There are about 500 airports in the country that serve commercial flights, and TSA PreCheck is available at a majority of the large and mid-sized ones. 54 airlines offer flights with TSA PreCheck, including American Airlines, Delta and United Airlines.

How to sign up for TSA PreCheck

The online application for TSA PreCheck takes about five minutes. Once you’ve applied, you’ll need to make an interview appointment at your closest application center. You’ll be subjected to a background check and fingerprinting at an enrollment center, and you must also bring your passport with you along with other important documents. Applicants should hear back within two to three weeks, with some successful applicants earning approval within days of their interview. You can review the status of your application on the TSA website.

Apply Now

Global Entry

clear vs tsa precheck global entry adult airport alone 1457691

What is Global Entry?

Global Entry makes your arrival into the States more seamless, letting you skip the lines and paperwork and enter through automatic Global Entry kiosks instead. At the kiosk, program members present their machine-readable passport or U.S. permanent resident card, place their fingerprints on the scanner for verification and complete a customs declaration. Global Entry also makes you eligible for TSA PreCheck. Just provide your KTN when booking your flight and you’re good to go.

What does Global Entry cost?

Global Entry costs $100 for a five year membership. Certain credit cards offer an application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck if the purchase is made using that card.

Which airports have Global Entry?

Global Entry kiosks are available at 53 airports across the U.S., including O’Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, JFK and LAX. Many more are available internationally, and you can find the full list here.

How to sign up for Global Entry

Global Entry is available to citizens of the U.S. and lawful permanent residents, as well as many other countries like Canada, Germany and the U.K. To apply, create a Trusted Traveler Programs (TTP) account and fill out an application. If you’re conditionally approved, you’ll need to schedule an interview at a Global Entry Enrollment Center. Applicants must present a valid passport and one other form of identification at the interview. Conditionally approved applicants may also complete their interview upon arrival in the States at select airports. Once you have your Global Entry card, activate it by logging into your TTP account and clicking the “Activate Membership Card” button.

Apply Now

We strive to help our readers find the best deals on quality products and services, and choose what we cover carefully and independently. If you find a better price for a product listed here, or want to suggest one of your own, email us at dealsteam@digitaltrends.com.

Digital Trends may earn commission on products purchased through our links, which supports the work we do for our readers.
Home Theater

Google Chromecast and Chromecast Ultra: Everything you need to know

Google's Chromecast plugs into your TV's HDMI port, allowing you to stream content from your tablet, laptop, or smartphone directly to your TV. Here's what you need to know about all iterations, including the 4K-ready Chromecast Ultra.
Deals

The best iPhone deals for October 2018

Apple devices can get expensive, but if you just can't live without iOS, don't despair: We've curated an up-to-date list of all of the absolute best iPhone deals available for September 2018.
Emerging Tech

Keep your holiday gift list high tech and under budget with these gadgets

Modern technology doesn't always come cheap, but there plenty of premium devices that don't carry a premium price. Whether you're looking for a streaming device or a means of capturing photos from above, our list of the best tech under $50…
Emerging Tech

Here’s all the best gear and gadgetry you can snag for $100 or less

A $100 bill can get you further than you might think -- so long as you know where to look. Check out our picks for the best tech under $100, whether you're in the market for headphones or a virtual-reality headset.
Deals

Verizon’s buy one, get one offer is the best deal on the new Google Pixel 3

If you need a new smartphone and want the best (without shelling out a grand or more), the new Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are fantastic options. Verizon's BOGO offer is the best way to score a deal, letting you snag a free phone and save…
Deals

Add color and subtract $50 with this Philips Hue lighting starter kit deal

If you've been on the fence about purchasing smart lightbulbs, Amazon is selling the Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance Starter Kit for just $100. For a limited time Amazon is also offering a bundle deal of Philips Hue's White and Color…
Deals

The best accounting software for your small business

Small business owners looking for accounting software have a variety of options at their disposal. And this guide will help them find the best solutions, from Quickbooks Online and Freshbooks to AccountEdge and Zoho Books.
Deals

These 30 Amazon Coupons can help you save on the things you need

Did you know there are thousands of Amazon Coupons and promo codes that you can take advantage of? We found coupons for everything from tech to everyday products. Find out what savings you've been missing out on.
Deals

The best Apple Watch deals for October 2018

The Apple Watch has surged to prominence in recent years. If you're in the market for an iOS wearable, we've sniffed out the best Apple Watch deals available right now for all three models of this great smartwatch.
Deals

The best iRobot Roomba deals to make cleaning your home a breeze

Keep your home clean without lifting a finger using a robot vacuum cleaner. These nine iRobot Roomba deals not only help you keep your home tidy, but many also come with advanced features such as automatic scheduling and Wi-Fi connectivity.
Deals

Are flat pillows a pain in your neck? Here are the best pillows for side-sleepers

If you've tried doubling up on pillows or buying larger ones to no avail, then it might just be time for a new pillow – one made for sleeping on your side. We've rounded up the best pillows for side sleepers that give neck and head…
Deals

Suck up the savings with these vacuum cleaners on sale for $100 or less

Keeping your floors clean around the home is a constant chore. To help make things a whole lot easier, we've picked out 12 great vacuum cleaner deals available on Amazon right now, from full-sized upright models to robot vacs.
Deals

Save energy and money with a $45 discount on the Nest smart thermostat

If you were looking for a smart thermostat, Amazon is offering up to $45 in savings on the popular Nest Learning Thermostat. Use stainless steel thermostat to the keep your home warm and cozy this fall and save energy by scheduling the…
Deals

The best Nintendo Switch deals and bundles for October 2018

Looking to score Nintendo's latest hybrid console? We've smoked out the best Nintendo Switch deals right here, including discounts on stand-alone consoles as well as bundles that feature games like Fortnite and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.