I’m jet-lagged and just want to get through customs after arriving at the airport. Having to wait in long lines can be a daunting and miserable experience. Alas, there is a solution to this problem, and it’s called Global Entry.
Global Entry is essentially an express pass for U.S. customs. This is TSA PreCheck on steroids. At most airports, even on busy days, Global Entry members can essentially check in on a kiosk and breeze past snaking winding lines as easily as one might navigate a grocer’s cereal aisle.
Global Entry applications cost $100. For those of us already using credit card rewards to offset our travel habit, there should be absolutely no need to ever pay such a levy.
There are several credit cards that offer Global Entry fee reimbursement. Oh, and Global Entry includes TSA PreCheck, so you can skip those nasty body scanners at the airport.
Global Entry Details
To apply, begin online by creating a Global Entry account. As for eligibility requirements, citizens of the United States, lawful permanent residents of the United States, as well as citizens from Colombia, the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, Panama, Singapore, South Korea, and Mexico are eligible for the program. There is a global entry interview once your application is accepted.
Pay for the application fee with any of the subsequent cards, and the amount will be reversed as a credit.
Global Entry interview locations are available in most U.S. states and territories, including Puerto Rico and Guam.
Global Entry Enrollment on Arrival
In July 2017, U.S. Customs announced that you can now complete your Global Entry interview on a return flight when you arrive at select airports, making it even easier to get access to Global Entry.
The following airports offer this expedited service:
• George Bush International (IAH)
• William P. Hobby Airport (HOU)
• Austin-Bergstrom International (AUS)
• San Francisco International (SFO)
• Vancouver International Airport (YVR)
While you won’t be able to skip the immigration lines on this trip, it still saves you time in the long run.
When you land and enter customs, you will be directed to a primary booth dedicated to completing the Global Entry application. All your biometric data will be recorded and the CBP interview completed. You will then be approved for Global Entry and can bypass the security lines on all future international and domestic trips.
- When I book award tickets for my international travels to Asia, I always leave that part to Juicy Miles!
Most of these cards actually offer reimbursement for either Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. However, Global Entry itself includes TSA PreCheck, so it almost always makes sense to apply for the Global Entry program to receive the benefits of both.
For those who absolutely never leave the country, the application process for TSA PreCheck is somewhat shorter.
The Platinum Card from American Express offers a bigger Global Entry or TSA PreCheck benefit than other travel cards. Unlike other cards, which only reimburse the application fee of the primary cardholder, each authorized user on a Platinum Card account gets their own fee reimbursement.
Even considering the $550 annual fee for the card, and the $175 fee to add up to 3 authorized users, you still come out ahead as this will give you four Global Entry fee reimbursements.
This is in addition to many other benefits that Platinum Card authorized users also receive, like Centurion Lounge and Delta Sky Club access, Priority Pass membership and five valuable Membership Rewards points for every dollar spent with an airline.
So, for $725 out of pocket ($550 + $175 for 3 AUs), you get $400 in Global Entry fee reimbursements, plus a $200 per year credit for airline incidentals for your chosen airline. If you’re a frequent traveler the perks that come with this card can be worth the high fees.
The Business Platinum Card from American Express is another premium card option. The card offers Priority Pass membership, as well as access to American Express Centurion lounges and Delta SkyClubs (when flying Delta).
One of the best features of the Business Platinum card used to be the ability to get 50% of your Membership Rewards points back when using “pay with points.” This benefit has now been reduced to 35% back.
The Business Platinum card offers one Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee reimbursement every four years. Authorized users of a Business Platinum card also get a Global Entry credit, but adding an authorized user at $300 each is a higher fee than for the personal card, so not a great choice if your goal is to add authorized users for the Global Entry fee reimbursement.
Chase Sapphire Reserve
The Chase Sapphire Reserve card is one of the most written about premium credit cards on the market. The card has a $450 annual fee, but it offers a $300 travel credit, Priority Pass membership, and other perks, including Global Entry fee reimbursement.
You can get one Global Entry fee reimbursement every four years with the Chase Sapphire Reserve card. Global Entry enrollment is good for 5 years at a time. Should cardholders add an authorized user to this card, those users get their own lounge access, but not their own Global Entry application credit.
Citi Prestige Mastercard
Citi Prestige has wound down some previously great perks, like Admirals Club membership, but it’s still a solid travel card.
Some of the best Citi Prestige still include Priority Pass membership, a $250 annual airfare credit, and the famous hotel 4th Night Free benefit. The Citi Prestige also offers one Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit every 5 years. Depending on how much value you get from the other benefits, it is still a great option among credit cards that offer Global Entry fee reimbursement.
Citi AAdvantage Executive MasterCard
If you’re a regular flyer with American Airlines, look at this card closely. Although the Citi Prestige eliminated Admirals Club membership from its list of benefits, the AAdvantage Executive Card includes access to the Admirals Club.
Authorized users of the card get their own Admirals Club membership as well, and there is no fee for additional cards! However, authorized users do not get the Global Entry fee reimbursement from this card which is available once every 5 years. The annual fee for the Citi AAdvantage Executive MasterCard is $450.
If you travel internationally on a routine basis, Global Entry is well worth the $100 application fee — but that doesn’t mean you should pay for it out of pocket.
Do you know anyone who enjoys those passport control lines at the airport? I certainly don’t. Signing up for Global Entry status not only gets you through security faster, but with a such a great variety of credit cards that reimburse the fee, if you qualify, go for it!
Shelli Stein is a health and fitness entrepreneur who travels the world in search of culture, food, and fun! Besides contributing to PointMeToThePlane, you can find her at Joy in Movement.
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