2-Minute Money Manager: Should I Get Global Entry or TSA Precheck?

Global Entry and TSA PreCheck are both programs that will speed you through airport security lines. I enrolled in the wrong one. Here's how to avoid my mistake.

2-Minute Money Manager: Should I Get Global Entry or TSA Precheck? Photo by James R. Martin / Shutterstock.com

Welcome to the “2-Minute Money Manager,” a short video feature answering money questions submitted by readers and viewers.

Today’s question is about travel; specifically, how to avoid airport lines by enrolling in either the Transportation Security Administration’s TSA Precheck program, Global Entry program or both.

Watch the following video, and you’ll pick up some valuable info. Or, if you prefer, scroll down to read the full transcript and find out what I said.

You also can learn how to send in a question of your own below.

For more information, check out “17 Ways to Get TSA Precheck for Free” and “14 Travel Credit Card Perks You Can’t Afford to Overlook.” You can also go to the search at the top of this page, put in the word “travel” and find plenty of information on just about everything relating to this topic.

And if you need anything from a better credit card to help with debt, be sure to visit our Solutions Center. You’ll even find a travel deals section there.

Got a question of your own to ask? Scroll down past the transcript.

Don’t want to watch? Here’s what I said in the video

Hello, and welcome to your “2-Minute Money Manager.” I’m your host, Stacy Johnson, and this two-minute answer is brought to you by MoneyTalksNews.com, serving up the best in personal finance news and advice since 1991.

Let’s get to today’s question. It comes to us from Mary:

“I’m confused about TSA Precheck and Global Entry. Which is better? Should I get both?”

Mary, I’m glad you asked me that because I made a huge mistake when I made this decision. Here are three things you need to know.

Thing No. 1: The difference between TSA Precheck and Global Entry

TSA Precheck gets you through the security line a little faster. You don’t have to take off your shoes, jacket or belt, and you can leave your laptop in the bag. Faster, easier and — the main thing — less stressful.

Global Entry does everything TSA Precheck does, but it also gets you through customs faster when you’re traveling internationally.

I did a TV news story on TSA Precheck a few years ago and went through the process on camera. What I should have done the story about, however, was Global Entry.

Thing No. 2: Why Global Entry is better

Global Entry does things for you internationally and domestically. TSA Precheck only does things for you domestically. In other words, you get in the same TSA Precheck line when you have Global Entry. Plus, when you’re traveling outside the country, you’ll get through customs faster.

That’s why I blew it. While I’m not a big international traveler, why not kill two potential birds with one stone?

Thing No. 3: Sure, it costs a little more. But still …

Unless you’re absolutely sure you’re not going to ever leave the country, why not get Global Entry? There are, however, a couple of minuses. First, it’s a little more expensive. TSA Precheck is $85 for five years. Global Entry is $100 for five years, so it’s $3 more per year.

Note that to enroll in either program, you’ll have to go and meet with someone in person. You can start the process over the internet and set up your appointment that way, but eventually you’ll have to go to an office somewhere: either an airport or a satellite office. The retailer Staples offers another way to go through the process.

The TSA Precheck interview that I went through was basically sitting across the table from a friendly TSA employee who took my fingerprints, confirmed my address and asked me a question or two. No big deal: It took five minutes. I haven’t been through Global Entry, so I don’t know if it’s more involved, but I’ve read that it is. A few more questions, a little longer, but still not a huge deal.

I’ve also read there are fewer locations for Global Entry appointments. So, there may be a couple of minor drawbacks with Global Entry. But if I had to make a recommendation, Mary, I’d say get Global Entry. You can read more about TSA Precheck here and Global Entry here.

I hope that answered the question and that you’ll meet me right here next time!

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The questions I’m likeliest to answer are those that will interest other readers. In other words, don’t ask for super-specific advice that applies only to you. And if I don’t get to your question, promise not to hate me. I do my best, but I get a lot more questions than I have time to answer.

About me

I founded Money Talks News in 1991. I’m a CPA, and have also earned licenses in stocks, commodities, options principal, mutual funds, life insurance, securities supervisor and real estate.

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Stacy Johnson
Stacy Johnson @moneytalksnews
I'm the founder of Money Talks News and have spent the last 40+ years in the personal finance trenches. I'm a CPA, author of a few books and multiple Emmy recipient. I'm ... More

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