Global Entry vs. TSA Precheck Benefits: Know the Difference

difference between global entry and tsa precheck

Traveling by air today often seems more like a headache than a pleasure. That is largely due to the cumbersome lines at security checkpoints and the need to remove shoes and jackets, not to mention having to separate liquids and laptops for inspection.

The whole process can seem pretty stressful, especially for families traveling with children, and for those who travel constantly for work. Fortunately, there are alternatives available. These alternatives make it possible to skip the longest security lines and do away with the requirement to remove shoes and jackets, and to separate liquids.

For people who frequently travel internationally, the effort to get back into the U.S. at airports and border crossing stations can be similarly tiresome. Luckily, there are solutions to this problem as well. Better yet, people who enroll in the global entry program enjoy all of the benefits of the streamlined airport security process that is available with TSA PreCheck.

Choosing between global entry or TSA PreCheck may seem confusing at first, but the more people understand about both of these programs, the clearer the choice becomes.

difference between global entry and tsa precheck

Global Entry vs TSA Precheck

While the global entry program is likely to be most appealing to people who frequently travel internationally, PreCheck will make the most sense for those who mainly tend to travel within the 50 U.S. states.

When someone applies for TSA PreCheck, they undergo a screening process that involves taking fingerprints and undergoing a background check. If they are approved for program participation, they do not have to wait in the typical security lines at the airport where people are required to remove their shoes, submit to a body scan and generally face lengthy wait times.

The line at PreCheck is shorter and streamlined. Because the travelers have effectively already been screened, the screening at the airport is more cursory. This means more time to relax and less time spent in line without shoes.

PreCheck lanes are not available at all airports. At this time, approximately 180 U.S. airports have this option available. If a PreCheck lane is available at your home airport or another airport that you frequently use, then the $85 price for a five-year membership may be worthwhile.

Global entry essentially equates to a PreCheck membership, but includes added perks for the global traveler. Kiosks at 60 major American airports and numerous U.S. border crossings provide a streamlined customs process for enrolled people. This program can help to speed travelers on their way as they return to the U.S., making the relatively inexpensive $100 price for five years of membership a bargain.

difference between global entry and tsa precheck

Global Entry Application

Applying for Global Entry begins with creating a Trusted Traveler Program profile at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website. Fill out the application on the website, and submit the $100 fee. Customs and Border Protection reviews the application. If it is conditionally approved, an interview is scheduled at the closest of the 380 Enrollment Centers. Applicants must bring a passport and one additional form of identification to the interview. Interviews with CBP agents last about 15 minutes. If approved, the applicant will be given a Trusted (Known) Traveler Number. This number is entered when booking tickets to ensure faster processing at the airport.

Global Entry Benefits

For $100, the applicant receives five years of membership. That means streamlined processing through security at many U.S. airports. It also smooths re-entry into the U.S. after traveling overseas. Many airports are now equipped with kiosks that participants can use to forego the standard customs inspections lines. Land borders with Mexico and Canada also feature expedited processing for these travelers. Anyone who frequently visits foreign nations will quickly see the advantages of this simplified process.

TSA PreCheck Application

The application process is similar for this program as it begins with an online application and the submission of an $85 fee. An in-person appointment is then scheduled at one of the Enrollment Centers, but no interview is necessary. Instead, the applicant submits their fingerprints and undergoes a quick background check. The process typically is complete in about 10 minutes. Final approval is received in the mail, usually within two to three weeks.

TSA PreCheck Benefits

Whether you fly frequently or only a couple of times of the year, you can easily appreciate being able to move through airport security lines with relative ease. Enrollment means that you’re much less likely to encounter long lines at security, and you won’t have to take off your shoes or your jacket. Laptops and liquids don’t have to be separated from your luggage. All in all, it makes for a far less stressful and time-consuming trip through the airport. The low stress travel is definitely one of the many TSA Precheck benefits. Where this program is available, it significantly reduces wait time for participating members.

difference between global entry and tsa precheck

Which One Is Better for You?

If you don’t travel internationally, then you may be satisfied with just a PreCheck membership, especially if these streamlined security lanes are available at your home airport or at another airport that you frequently use.

However, for just $15 more, you can receive many extra benefits for international travel. True, an interview is required to receive these enhanced benefits, but both programs require a visit to an Enrollment Center anyway, which essentially entails the same amount of time and effort.

People who travel to a foreign country even once a year will quickly discover the benefits of Global Entry. Not only does it make getting through most airports in the U.S. a breeze, but also it makes land border crossings with Canada and Mexico incredibly easy. If you see any kind of international travel on the horizon for yourself in the next five years through participating airports or border crossings, go ahead and spend the extra $15 for the expanded program.