TSA PreCheck vs. CLEAR: Streamlining Your Airport Experience

Navigating airport security can often be a stressful aspect of travel. However, services like TSA PreCheck and CLEAR aim to make this process smoother and more efficient. Let’s delve into what each service offers, their pros and cons, and situations where you might consider one, the other, or both.

What is TSA PreCheck?

TSA PreCheck is a program by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) that offers expedited security screening at airports. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Enrollment Process: Apply online, pay a fee, and complete a brief in-person interview that includes fingerprinting.
  • Cost: $78 for a five-year membership, $70 to renew online
  • Benefits: Access to faster security lines, no need to remove shoes, laptops, liquids, belts, or light jackets during screening.
  • Availability: Available at over 200 airports with 90+ participating airlines in the U.S.

What is CLEAR?

CLEAR is a private service that uses biometrics (fingerprints and iris scans) to confirm your identity at airport security checkpoints.

  • Enrollment Process: Register online and complete the process at a CLEAR kiosk.
  • Cost: $189 per year. Discounts available for Delta and United frequent flyers and other membership categories. Some airline credit cards will reimburse cardholders for their CLEAR fees as well.
  • Benefits: Skip the line for identity verification. Used in conjunction with TSA PreCheck, it further speeds up the process.
  • Availability: Available in over 50 airports and other venues like stadiums.

Comparing TSA PreCheck and CLEAR

  1. Cost: TSA PreCheck is less expensive over a five-year period compared to CLEAR’s annual fee.
  2. Process: TSA PreCheck speeds up the physical screening process, while CLEAR speeds up the identity verification process.
  3. Availability: TSA PreCheck has broader airport coverage, while CLEAR is more limited but growing.

Pros and Cons of TSA PreCheck


  • More affordable long-term option.
  • Wide availability across numerous airports.
  • Speeds up the physical screening process.


  • Does not expedite the initial identity verification line.
  • Application process includes an in-person interview.

Pros and Cons of CLEAR


  • Speeds up the line for identity verification.
  • Quick and easy enrollment process.
  • Useful in venues beyond airports.


  • More expensive with an annual fee.
  • Less availability compared to TSA PreCheck.

When to Choose TSA PreCheck, CLEAR, or Both

  • Frequent Flyers: If you travel often, especially for work, TSA PreCheck can save you time at a lower cost. Its wider availability makes it a practical choice for regular travelers. Premium travel credit cardholders are typically offered rebates for their TSA PreCheck or CLEAR fees when paid for with their travel card. Check with your card issuer for more details or find a travel card today.
  • Busy Airports: For those who frequently travel through airports with long lines for identity verification, CLEAR can be a time-saver.
  • The Best of Both: Combining TSA PreCheck with CLEAR offers the fastest airport security experience. CLEAR gets you quickly through the identity check, and TSA PreCheck expedites the physical screening.

Situational Considerations

  1. Your Home Airport: If your home airport has both TSA PreCheck and CLEAR, combining them could be beneficial.
  2. Travel Frequency: Occasional travelers might find TSA PreCheck sufficient, while frequent travelers could benefit from the combination of both services.
  3. Budget: Consider whether the cost of CLEAR is justifiable for your travel habits.

Conclusion: Tailoring Your Travel Experience

Both TSA PreCheck and CLEAR offer ways to streamline your airport security experience, but the best choice depends on your individual travel needs and habits. For frequent travelers through busy airports, the combination of both services can provide the ultimate in speed and convenience.



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