Thinking About TSA PreCheck? Consider Global Entry Instead.

Global Entry Kiosk

Global Entry Kiosk

Just about two months ago, I stumbled upon how you could apply to have TSA PreCheck for five years and $85.00. However, when looking more into the program, I stumbled upon the Global Entry program. Below, we’ll discuss the major differences of Global Entry vs. TSA PreCheck.

In my opinion, the Global Entry program is the best option for travelers going to international destinations frequently over the next 5 years (the validity of Global Entry). Not only does Global Entry get you thru tedious Customs lines faster, you also get TSA PreCheck for any domestic/international flight as a perk. While TSA Precheck costs $85.00 for 5 years, Global Entry costs $100.00 for the application and lasts five years.

Please Note – if you are denied TSA Precheck or Global Entry, you do not receive your application fees back.

Program Cost Validity Requirements Turnaround Time
TSA Pre-Check $85 5 years U.S. Citizen & Lawful Resident 3-12 weeks
Global Entry $100 5 years U.S. Citizen, Lawful U.S. Resident, and/or citizen of select other countries, and Passport 3-12 weeks

This process is similar to receiving your passport and can take a little bit of time. Once you apply online & pay the associated fees, it is not guaranteed that you will receive Global Entry/TSA PreCheck status. From my personal experience, it took about 7 days to progress from ‘Applied’ to ‘In Review’ to ‘Interview Needed’. Every applicant to these programs needs to be near a proper Global Entry Interview Location, luckily for me, Pittsburgh International Airport has one.

A word of warning – From what I was reading online, you will most likely be declined from Global Entry if you have been arrested for any sort of criminal activity. Even if you were charged with the crime 10+ years ago.

This is where the wait to get Global Entry can occur. Once you are reviewed by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection, you have to use an online calendar to schedule your appointment to be interviewed. When I was tentatively approved & scheduling my interview, there were no available dates for about 2 months.

However, before another domestic flight, I decided to go to the airport early and see if I could be interviewed as a walk-in appointment. Having arrived before the office even opened, I waited patiently at the City of Bridges Cafe at the airport. When I arrived, I took a seat in the waiting area and made it known to a U.S. Customs and Border officer that I was a walk-in and was hoping to be interviewed. Due to showing up early, I was able to be interviewed, have my photo and fingerprints taken, and then be on my way to catch my next flight.

After a couple weeks, you will receive your Global Entry card in the mail & be able to use it at any of the Global Entry locations across America.

Global Entry Card

Global Entry Card Sample

Apply for Global Entry here or apply for TSA PreCheck here.

My experience with Global Entry has only happened once, at the JFK Airport after a 15 hour & 40 minute flight back from Hong Kong (one of the world’s longest flights). Upon arriving to the Customs & Border Protection area, there were no clearly visible signs pointing to the Global Entry Kiosks. After waiting in the normal line of about 100 people for fifteen minutes, I decided to make my move thru the queue and find the station.

Having never been instructed how to use the machine, I guessed and filled out all proper information that it had requested from me. You simply receive a receipt from the machine, which also doesn’t really tell you what to do next. I waited in another line to talk to a U.S. Customs & Border Protection agent. While talking to another woman that had Global Entry, I followed her lead thru an open station and towards baggage claim.

Now knowing the proper way to utilize Global Entry, I know that all my international flights will be a piece of cake. I’ve also learned that even though you made it thru customs faster, if you checked a bag, you still have to wait for it to make it to Baggage Claim. Lessons learned.


Life-Long Learner, Explorer, & Web Developer. Currently a Software Engineer at Jazz.

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