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TSA Precheck is a service that lets travelers pass through airport security much faster than the usual screening process. It means no long lines, intense patdowns, and even random checks.
But how much does TSA Precheck cost? Is it expensive? In this article, we’ll explain to you the basics of how to sign up for a TSA Precheck membership and even some tips on how to get it for free.
What is TSA Pre-Check?
TSA Precheck is part of the Trusted Traveler Program that allows pre-approved travelers to have expedited access at airport security checks.
For example, TSA members can keep their shoes, belts, and jackets when passing through TSA lanes. They also don’t need to remove electronic devices and liquids from their carry-on luggage.
How Much Does TSA Precheck Cost?
To sign up for a membership, visit the TSA website and just complete the online form. However, not all people can apply for a membership, you need to meet one of the following TSA precheck requirements:
- Must be a U.S. Citizen
- Must be U.S. National
- Must be a lawful Permanent Resident
After you’ve submitted you’re online application, you’re required to pay a non-refundable fee of $85. The membership is valid for 5 years.
You’ll then get a confirmation email regarding your in-person TSA Precheck interview, which typically includes a background check and a biometric registration.
“How long does TSA Precheck take to finish the entire interview process? Is the interview hard?“
TSA interviews are very quick, provided that you don’t have any criminal history. The online application, in-person interview, and all the waiting time in between would take about two days at most.
Renewing Your Membership
You can renew your membership every five years, and the entire TSA Precheck renewal process is faster and cheaper.
You can renew your membership online, and you can do it as early as six months before your membership’s expiration date. Your new membership date will still start on the day that your membership expires.
How To Get TSA Precheck For Free?
Paying $85 for a TSA Precheck membership that allows you expedited access through airport security is a pretty sweet deal, but you know what’s even sweeter? Getting the membership for FREE!
Here are some ways how to do it:
Be A Member Of The U.S. Military
U.S. Military personnel and civilians working under the Department of Defense (DoD) can get TSA Precheck benefits for free.
These include Reservists, the U.S. Coast Guard, National Guardsmen, and students at the U.S. Military Academy, the U.S. Naval Academy, the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, and the U.S. Air Force Academy).
Unfortunately, Non-Appropriated Fund (NAF) employees, veterans, retirees, NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps, and U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps do not get free TSA benefits at the moment.
Here’s how to do it:
- Civilians from the DoD must opt-in to the TSA program using the CIV tab on their My Profile page on the milConnect site.
- Military service members don’t need to opt in. They just need to use their ID number and type it into the “known traveler number” field of their flight bookings.
Accompanying family members who are 12 and below will get TSA benefits for free. Those who are 13 and above will need to apply for a TSA membership if they want to get the same benefits.
Using Points And Miles
Most frequent flyer programs allow you to redeem your points/miles in exchange for a membership.
While we don’t really recommend this since there are better ways to make use of your points/miles, it’s an alternative way to get a TSA membership without having to shell out actual money.
Here’s how much it costs at some loyalty programs that allow you to do it:
- Radisson Rewards: 65,000 Radisson Points
- Southwest Rapid Rewards: 9,000 Rapid Rewards Points
- United MileagePlus: 10,000 MileagePlus Miles for TSA Pre-Check
- Club Carlson: 65,000 Club Carlson points
- Hilton Honors: 30,000 Hilton Honors Points
- IHG Rewards: 30,000 IHG Points
- Marriott Rewards: 25,000 Marriott Rewards Points
Be 12 Years Old Or Younger
Children who are 12 years old or younger can enter TSA lanes for free as long as they’re accompanied by their parents or guardian who have TSA memberships.
“What about Seniors?“
Senior citizens don’t get free TSA precheck benefits; however, airport security is typically less strict towards them. If you are 75 years old or older, security personnel don’t require you to take off your shoes, jackets, and other personal belongings when you pass through security.
Get A Credit Card With A FREE TSA Precheck Membership
Some travel credit cards offer a statement credit which you can use towards a TSA Precheck application. If you have any of the following cards below, just use it to apply for a membership, and you’ll get a reimbursement in your credit statement.
- Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
- Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card
- Chase Sapphire Reserve Card
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card
- Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card
- American Express Platinum Card
- IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card
In our opinion, getting a free TSA Precheck membership through a credit card gives you the best value among all the options mentioned above.
Even if you pay annual fees, you’ll get tons of travel benefits like lounge access, insurance, free night awards, statement credits, and of course, the free TSA Precheck membership.
For example, the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card and Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card come with a free anniversary night. Meanwhile, the Platinum Card from American Express and Chase Sapphire Reserve Card comes with a free Priority Pass Select+ membership that gives you access to more than 1300 airport lounges worldwide.
You can also earn loyalty points with these travel credit cards, which you can then redeem for award flights or stays in the future.
There are some credit cards that come with a Global Entry statement credit, and if it does, use it instead of the TSA Precheck credit. Global Entry already comes with TSA Precheck benefits, and it’s only $100 for 5 years, just $15 more expensive than TSA Precheck.
Randomly Issued TSA Precheck Memberships
In some cases, some people actually get awarded TSA Precheck memberships for free! It’s TSA’s way of marketing their program to the public so they sometimes randomly add a Precheck benefit to your boarding pass. It can happen to anyone, but most of the time, it’s seniors who get free memberships.
TSA Precheck FAQS
Can I Get TSA Precheck For Free?
Yes, you can get a free TSA Precheck membership by using points/miles redemptions, signing up for a credit card with a complimentary membership, or being an active miltary personell.
TSA Precheck is free for kids aged 12 and below as long as they’re with an adult with an active TSA Precheck mebership.
How Long Does TSA Precheck Take To Screen Passengers?
According to TSA, members have waited less than 5 minutes when going through TSA lanes in July 2022. The average time it takes for people to pass through U.S. airports is 45 minutes.
What’s The Difference Between TSA Precheck and Global Entry?
TSA Precheck benefits only includes expedited security checks for outbound domestic/international flights. Plus, only U.S. Citizens, U.S. Nationals, and lawful permanent residents can qualify for it.
Meanwhile, Globaly Entry benefits include expedited security checks for outbound domestic/international flights and expedited immigration checks when flying back to the United States. Global Entry is also available to foreign nationals.
Basically, having a Global Entry membership comes with TSA Precheck membership.
While there are many ways to get TSA Precheck for free, the best option is to sign up for a credit card. You’ll get lots of amazing travel perks and a chance to earn points/miles which you can use to redeem free award flights and stays in the future.
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