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Do I need TSA Precheck, Global Entry, or other Travel Perks?

March 22 2019

Do I need TSA Precheck?
Do I need TSA Precheck?
Photo by: Nils Nedel
If you spend a lot of time at airports, you know that little comforts can make a big difference. Whether it saves you from standing in an hour-long line, or gets you access to a free sushi buffet before your flight, sometimes paying a little extra is worth the small luxuries. But in a world of Priority Passes, frequent flier programs, and TSA PreCheck, it’s hard to know what perks are right for you. Don’t worry, we’ll break it down so you can travel in comfort without feeling like too much of a prince(ss).   
TSA PreCheck:
Simply put, TSA PreCheck helps you speed through security, so you can snag a seat at the bar before your flight instead of standing in line for hours. Not only do you skip the long line, you don’t have to take off your shoes and belt, or remove your liquids from your bag. To get this perk, you have to apply online, make an appointment to get a background check and your fingerprints taken, and a couple of weeks later you’re good to go.

Cost: $85 for 5 years. Some credit cards will even reimburse you for that fee, so look into your perks.
Perfect for:
  • If you go to the airport more than a few times a year
  • If you’re always running late (no judgement)
Global Entry:
Global entry actually includes TSA PreCheck, but it adds on the perk of a speedy trip through customs when you’re coming back to the US. Even if you don’t think you’ll be traveling internationally too often, it’s probably worth the extra $15 to upgrade from PreCheck if you’re getting that anyway. If you’ve been traveling for 22 hours and customs is the only thing standing between you and your bed, you’ll be happy to expedite that process.

Cost: $100 for 5 years
Perfect for:
  • If you travel internationally more than a few times a year
  • If you’re thinking of getting TSA PreCheck and have plans to travel internationally at all in the next 5 years
Priority Pass:
This is how you thrive on long layovers. Here’s how it works: you pay an annual membership fee to have access to the bougie lounges at hundreds of airports worldwide. The lounges usually have free food and drink, and occasionally showers and places to nap. It’s definitely not cheap, so this perk is best for people who travel a lot, or who saved so much money choosing the travel option with the longest layover it makes up the cost.

Cost: There are tiers from $99 to $429 per year, you’ll want to chose based on how often you travel. This is another perk that some credit cards offer to reimburse you for, so make sure to investigate your own.
Perfect for:
  • If you travel with long layovers frequently. Like, really frequently.
  • If airports stress you out and you’ll do anything to avoid the chaos
Airline Loyalty Programs:
This is kind of a no-brainer. When you book flights, pay attention to the ID number they give you and use it next time you book with that airline. Once you have enough points, you’ll be able to access perks like boarding early, free on-flight drink tickets, and eventually free flights.

Cost: Free
Perfect for:
  • If you travel the same route often, it’ll be easier to stick to one airline and start building miles.
  • Frankly, anyone. Doesn’t hurt to start accumulating just in case!
Travel Credit Cards:
There are a number of travel-oriented credit cards with great perks. With these, you earn miles (or points) for each dollar spent using your credit card. Some, like the Chase Sapphire or Capital One Venture, have really broad usages where you can get free flights on multiple airlines, avoid foreign transaction fees, and get reimbursed for TSA Precheck. Some even offer travel insurance. Others are more focused on a single airline, like the American Express Delta Skymiles card. For the airline-specific cards, your annual fee is usually lower, but you can only redeem miles on that single airline.

Cost: There’s almost always an annual fee, and the amount depends on which card you get.
Perfect for:
  • People who pay their credit cards on time
More Tips to Travel Like a Seasoned Veteran:
  • Bring earplugs. Super simple, super clutch when you have them, super easy to forget or lose. Our Travel Earplug Kit keeps them in one place, and has a keyring so you can attach it to something you always have nearby, like a carryon bag or jacket zipper.
  • Try for an emergency exit row when you check in. Airlines are smart and charge extra for those coveted few extra inches of legroom. But these seats need to be filled eventually, so there’s often an opportunity to get upgraded for free when you’re checking in.
  • BYOB (bring your own blanket). According to some inside sources, a lot of those in-flight blankets just get refolded and not washed. If you’re trying not to be sick for your whole vacation, the Pocket Blanket is a good solution to add a little warmth without bulking up your carryon.
  • Don’t get risky with your liquids. Our Flatpak Toiletry bottles are TSA approved, and pressure tested against 200 lbs. That means you’re not risking getting pulled aside at security, and you won’t open your bag to a sticky mess of Pantene Pro-V on every single thing you own.


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