Points Panda has partnered with a variety of financial companies including CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Points Panda and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. For more information please read our full Advertiser Disclosure.
Interviews vary from one person to another when applying for a TSA PreCheck membership. However, the most common TSA interview questions that will most likely get asked will focus on your work background, criminal history, and reasons why you’re applying for it.
The benefits are amazing when you do get approved for it. You’ll just cruise through security lanes and X-ray checks smoothly where you don’t have to remove your shoes, belts, and gadgets.
In fact, in an effort to make the whole traveler experience faster and more convenient, TSA has partnered with Delta to roll out check-in kiosks with facial recognition technology at the Atlanta airport.
It saves you a lot of time when traveling through airports so if you’re planning to apply for a membership, here’s what to expect.
TSA PreCheck Requirements
First things first, you need to be eligible in order to apply for a TSA PreCheck membership. The program only accepts three types of individuals:
- U.S. citizens
- U.S. nationals
- Lawful Permanent Residents.
To show proof of identity, U.S. citizens and nationals need to provide a valid passport while lawful permanent residents need to provide a permanent resident card aka green card. You’ll need to upload these documents on the TSA PreCheck online application form.
If you don’t have these documents, the application system will require you to provide other proof of identity such as driver’s license or a birth certificate.
You will receive an acceptance letter via email after completing the online application and it will also contain instructions on what to do and what to bring. Print it out then take it with you for your in-person interview at the enrollment center.
TSA Membership Cost?
You will be required to pay a non-refundable fee upon completing the online application form. The TSA PreCheck membership cost is $85 and it is valid for 5 years.
When you renew your membership, make sure to do it online because you’ll only pay a non-refundable fee of $70. You can renew your membership six months in advance. Your new membership will still start on the date when your current one ends.
TSA PreCheck Wait Times
The TSA PreCheck wait times are pretty quick. The online application will take about five minutes to complete and the email confirmation for your in-person appointment is usually sent it real time.
But in unforeseen events, the TSA PreCheck wait times for the email confirmation might take a day or two during the holidays and summer season.
Common TSA Interview Questions And What To Expect
The in-person interview takes around 10 minutes or less but the waiting time might take a few hours depending on the amount of people lining up at the enrollment center. You will be required to do fingerprint scanning and you will be asked some security-related questions by a TSA agent.
The interviewer will most likely ask variations of the questions you answered on your online application. For example, they will ask about your citizenship status, pending criminal cases (if you have any), criminal history, and military background. It’s a way for them to confirm that you are consistent with your answers.
For people with criminal history, the interviewer will probably focus more on that. They will assess the degree of your case and check if you’re going to be a threat in terms of security.
In some cases, the interviewer might ask about your employment status and a little bit about your family background. They may also ask the reason why your applying for a membership and how often you travel. Expect other travel-related and security-related questions.
The final decision for your application should arrive in about two to three weeks after your interview. Upon approval, you’ll get an email or mail confirmation that will have your Known Traveler Number (KTN). You will use this number at TSA PreCheck security lanes at airports.
Can My Kids Join TSA PreCheck?
The program is available to all ages and the same rates apply. However, kids who are 12 years and below don’t need to have a membership because they can go with their parents who already have a TSA membership. Plus, kids who are 12 and below aren’t required by security to remove their shoes and jackets anyway.
TSA PreCheck VS Global Entry
TSA PreCheck is only available to to U.S. Citizens, U.S. Nationals, and lawful permanent residents so you won’t qualify if you’re a foreign national. However, there’s another security program that allows foreign nationals to join and that is Global Entry.
Here are the differneces between the two:
TSA Pre Check
- TSA PreCheck membership cost is $85 which is valid for 5 years
- Valid for U.S. Citizens, U.S. Nationals, and Lawful Permanent Residents
- Expedites airport security procedures for members departing U.S. airports
- Global entry membership costs $100 and it’s also valid for 5 years.
- Includes all TSA pre-check benefits
- Valid for U.S. Citizens, U.S. Nationals, and Lawful Permanent Residents
- Valid for foreign nationals living in these countries, click each country for more information on how to apply:
- Expedites security checks at Customs and Border Protection security lanes for members entering the U.S.
Ideally, it’s better to get a Global Entry membership because it will also give you all the TSA PreCheck benefits, plus, it’s only $15 higher in terms of cost.
Read More: How To Get Global Entry For Free
Credit Cards With TSA PreCheck & Global Entry Benefits
There are travel credit cards that come with a statement credit which you can use to apply for a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck membership. Just apply for either one and you will get a refund into your credit card account.
Here are some credits cards that you can apply for:
- Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card – Earn a 60,000 miles welcome bonus after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months from account opening.
- Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card – Earn a 75,000-mile welcome bonus after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening.
- Chase Sapphire Reserve Card – Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $750 when redeemed at Chase Ultimate Rewards) after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card American Express Card – Earn 75,000 Marriott Bonvoy points after spending $3,000 within the first 3 months of card membership
- American Express Platinum Card – Get a welcome bonus of 100,000 Membership Rewards Points after spending $6,000 within the first 6 months of card membership
- IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card – Earn a welcome bonus of 140,000 points after spending $3,000 on purchases within 3 months of card membership
If you’re a frequent traveler, it’s better to get a credit card that comes with a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck membership. Even if you pay an annual fee, you also get other travel benefits such as lounge access, travel and buyer protection, statement credits, and free night awards.
For example, the IHG Rrewards Club Premier Credit Card and Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card both offer a free night award every card anniversary year. Meanwhile, the Platinum Card from American Express and Chase Sapphire Reserve Card come with a free Priority Pass Select+ membership.
Plus, Credit card spending also lets your earn points which you can redeem for award flights or stays.
If you don’t have any criminal history, TSA interview questions are a piece of cake. The online application, in-person interview, and all the waiting time in between would take about a day or two in total. It’s pretty fast and convenient compared to the long and crowded lines you’ll experience at airport security checks.