If you have the right credit card, you can jump the airport security line at no cost to you. These cards will cover your application costs to TSA Precheck, Global Entry or CLEAR, so you can receive expedited security clearance.
Global travel has considerably slowed amid the coronavirus pandemic, and airports all over the world are like ghost towns.
But the threat of COVID-19 will fade in time, and that will likely mean the return of long airport security lines.
An extended wait at security can throw a wrench into your travel plans, particularly if you’re running late for your flight. Thankfully, if you have the right credit card, you can jump the line at no cost to you. These cards will cover your application costs to TSA Precheck, Global Entry or CLEAR, so low-risk Americans can receive expedited security clearance.
See related: The ultimate guide to airport security options
Best credit cards for expedited airport security screening
The Capital One Venture Rewards card is first on this list in part because it offers a credit of up to $100 for your application to either Global Entry or TSA Precheck. It also offers a sign-up bonus comparable to premium rewards cards from issuers like American Express and Chase, but for a much more reasonable annual fee than those cards offer.
The card has a $95 annual fee, and it offers 2 miles per dollar spent on every purchase.
Here are the Capital One Venture Rewards card’s features at a glance:
- 100,000 bonus miles once you spend $20,000 on purchases in the first 12 months from account opening, or still earn 50,000 bonus miles once you spend $3,000 in the first three months
- $95 annual fee
- No foreign transaction fees
- Transfer miles to over 10 travel partners for flights and hotels, including Air Canada, Air France, JetBlue and more.
The card offers up to a $100 statement credit toward the cost of a CLEAR membership instead of TSA Precheck/Global Entry. CLEAR only includes select airports, but it adds security at select stadiums. The introductory bonus (30,000 points after you spend $2,000 in the first three months) is almost as good as the Capital One Venture Rewards Card, but the $150 annual fee is higher than that card.
However, the American Express Green Card is worth it because you get 3 points per dollar spent on dining, travel and transit purchases. You’ll not only be rewarded for your flight and hotel booking, but for all the taxis and ride-sharing services you will use while you’re at your destination. After you get through security, you can relax with up to a $100 credit for lounge access through LoungeBuddy.
- 30,000 reward points when you spend $2,000 in the first three months
- Up to $100 CLEAR credit annually to get through security at select airports and stadiums faster
- Up to $100 statement credit annually when you purchase lounge access with LoungeBuddy
See related: Best credit cards for airport lounge access
The Chase Sapphire Reserve card gives you the same number of sign-up bonus points as the Capital One Venture Rewards card (but with a higher spending threshold), and like the Amex Green Card, it offers 3 points per dollar spent on travel and dining. But it also gives you a $300 annual travel purchases credit and access to over 1,000 airport lounges, which makes the whopping $550 annual fee worth it.
For the other benefits see below:
- 50,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 in the first three months (worth $750 when you book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards)
- $300 annual travel credit
- 3 points per dollar spent on travel and dining purchases (excluding purchases covered by the $300 travel credit)
- 1 point per dollar on all other purchases
- 50% more value when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
- Up to $100 credit toward Global Entry or TSA Precheck
- Access to over 1,000 lounges globally through PriorityPass Select
- $550 annual fee
The Bank of America Premium Rewards card gives you the same number of sign-up bonus points as the Chase Sapphire Reserve, but with a lower spending requirement ($3,000 in the first 90 days).
Meanwhile, you get up to a $100 credit for incidental airline fees, including checked bag fees, in addition to up to a $100 credit for TSA Precheck or Global Entry. But the biggest advantage is that the card’s annual fee ($95) is much more modest than credit cards with equivalent benefits.
- 50,000 points when you spend $3,000 in the first 90 days ($500 value)
- Up to $100 credit for incidental airline fees, including checked baggage fees, seat upgrades and airport lounge purchases
- Up to $100 credit for Global Entry and TSA Precheck
- $95 annual fee
- You can earn up to 75% more in rewards if you’re a Bank of America Preferred Rewards member.
See related: How to buy TSA Precheck with miles and points
The Citi Prestige has an annual fee ($495) that reserves it only for the upper echelon of cardholders that you’d expect given its name. However, the benefits offset the fee and then some. The Prestige has the highest points rate (5 per dollar spent) on this list for air travel and restaurants, and it offers 3 points per dollar for hotels and cruise lines.
Plus, the $250 annual travel credit takes the sting from the annual fee and the complimentary fourth night at a hotel when you book through the ThankYou portal makes it worth it by itself. Be aware, though, that this feature is now capped at two times a year.
Even though some of the benefits on this card have been cut back, it still offers a great package. See it all below:
- 50,000 points when you spend $4,000 within the first three months
- 5X points on air travel and at restaurants
- 3X points at hotels and on cruise lines
- 1 point each for all other purchases
- $250 annual travel credit (applies to most travel purchases)
- Up to $100 TSA Precheck and Global Entry credit every five years
- Complimentary fourth night at a hotel when booked through ThankYou.com (twice per year)
- Access to over 1,000 lounges through PriorityPass Select
- $495 annual fee
The United Club Infinite Card offers a statement credit of up to $100 when you use it to pay for TSA Precheck or Global Entry. The card comes with a hefty price tag – an annual fee of $525.
The United Club Infinite Card offers impressive rewards rates on United purchases (4 miles per dollar) and dining and other travel spending (2 miles per dollar). But if you’re not a United loyalist, the $525 annual fee may be hard to justify in the long run, particularly when other non-branded cards offer higher bonuses on general travel and dining spending.
Here are the United Club Infinite Card’s key features at a glance:
- 100,000 miles when you spend $5,000 within the first three months
- 4X miles on United purchases
- 2X miles on all other travel
- 2X miles on dining
- 1X mile on all other purchases
- Statement credit of up to $100 for TSA Precheck or Global Entry membership
- First and second checked bag free for you and a companion
- Priority boarding for you and companions on same reservation
- 25% back on in-flight United purchases
- $525 annual fee
*All information about the Bank of America Premium Rewards credit card and Citi Prestige has been collected independently by CreditCards.com and has not been reviewed by the issuer. These cards are no longer available through CreditCards.com.