Very often, we see certain theories circling around discussions in the miles and points space. The basis of the theory is that for a benefit to be really valuable, it should be unique. When someone touts Global Entry/TSA Pre Check as a valuable benefit, the counterpoint is often whether too many people have it, thereby diluting its value.
Credit Cards offering Global Entry/TSA Pre Check
Almost every premium card started offering this benefit. Then we saw mid-tier cards also offering a credit for this benefit. I’ve almost lost count of how many credit cards currently offer the Global Entry/TSA Pre Check Benefit.
I used my Amex Platinum Card in order to get credited for the fee. Currently, the business version of the Platinum Card is offering a whopping 100,000 Membership Rewards Points bonus. You should hit this sign-up bonus in case you have some heavy business expenses coming up.
How the benefit works
When I signed up for this benefit, I used my Amex Platinum Card in order to pay for this benefit. Once you pay the fee and get approved for Global Entry, you also get TSA Pre Check. Once you pay the fee using your card, you get credited for that amount in the form of a statement credit.
The Case against Global Entry
Critics who point out that too many people in the TSA Pre Check line dilute the benefit. It beats the purpose of having the benefit. They have a fair point. If everyone is priority status, then wouldn’t it be natural to see a ‘priority line’ crowded? However, barring a few instances, I’ve not seen this to be largely true. I can say that 9 times out of 10, I’ve seen this benefit save me a ton of headache and lost time. However, this benefit cannot save you in all situations, but it works fine most of the times.
The true value of Global Entry/TSA Pre Check
In 2018, I spent almost a month after traveling around India, Singapore and Sri Lanka. I’d booked a round trip flight, from Orange County (SNA) to Mumbai (BOM), India, since the cash fare was pretty decent. I was all set to return to the US as I checked in at Mumbai airport. That’s when I got a text message that my flight from Mumbai to Paris was canceled. We waited for a few hours before we eventually got another flight.
In Paris, Air France informed us that our second flight to Atlanta was also delayed. With a total delay of over 8 hours, we knew for sure that we’d miss our connection in Atlanta. By the time we landed in Atlanta, we’d already been informed that Delta had rescheduled our flight back home to Orange County.
Given how long the delay was, Global Entry couldn’t save the day for us. However, the delay was completely Air France’s fault as it was a mechanical issue and not weather related. At Atlanta airport, we breezed through immigration in less than two minutes. The regular immigration line would’ve taken us at least an hour, given the busy nature of Atlanta airport. I was massively disappointed with Air France’s service and overall management of the delay and haven’t flown them ever since.
In this case, Global Entry couldn’t help us recover lost time. However, it ensured that we didn’t waste further time while we were clearing immigration and customs. When it couldn’t save us time, it saved us valuable energy, after a long delay, which was the airline’s fault.
I recently wrote about my experience in Cartagena, Colombia. After having a great time on the Caribbean shores, it was time to fly back. After connecting in Panama City (PTY) airport, United delayed our flight on the tarmac by at least 45 minutes.
Our connection at Houston airport was originally 2 hours long. Due to the delay, that got cut down to 1 hour and 15 minutes because of the delay. I was in no mood to spend the night in Houston as I had to get back to work.
After deplaning, we rushed past Global Entry in less than 5 minutes! There were well over 50 people in the general immigration line. There was no way we could’ve made it.
After clearing immigration, we had to take the train to switch from Terminal E to Terminal C. After reaching terminal C, we once again breezed through security, thanks to TSA pre check. So, even though we only had 1 hour and 15 minutes when our plane landed at Houston, we reached our gate with about 30 minutes before take off. If it wasn’t for Global Entry and TSA Pre Check, we would’ve spent the night in Houston, thereby losing valuable time at work.
The Pundit’s Mantra
The real value of the Global Entry/TSA Pre Check benefit is time and convenience. We all live busy lives. The second example illustrates how this benefit can save you valuable minutes, which can get you back in time home or to your desired destination. In our case, getting back home on time was key, and this benefit ensured that we did.
I can outline more such examples. The most common one being that it has significantly reduced the time I spend at an airport. Knowing that I have TSA Pre Check, I tend to leave a lot later for the airport than what I used to do previously.
So, if you already have a card that offers this benefit, then waste no time and enroll! If you already have a card that has the benefit, you aren’t really paying extra as you’ll be credited the fee. Almost 90% of my travel is international in nature, so I’d highly recommend this benefit if you travel abroad quite often.
What has your experience been like? Do you really find great value in the Global Entry/TSA Pre Check benefit? Let us know in the comments section.