Can I Upgrade TSA PreCheck to Global Entry?

You can't upgrade, so apply for Global Entry first and get the benefits of TSA PreCheck included.
Sep 12, 2022

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Expedited security and immigration screening can be a significant benefit for frequent travelers, especially when lines are long. Thankfully, two programs — TSA PreCheck and Global Entry — can help you move through the airport faster and give you more time to relax before your flight. But, there are some significant differences between the two, including which one you should apply for first.

So, can you upgrade TSA PreCheck to Global Entry? The short answer is no, but there is a way to access both. The fastest way to do so is by applying for Global Entry first. Here's why.

You can't upgrade from TSA PreCheck to Global Entry

Even if you already have TSA PreCheck, you must apply for Global Entry separately. There is no way to get an automatic upgrade from TSA PreCheck to Global Entry. You must complete the Global Entry application documents and then make an interview appointment.

Not all Global Entry applications are approved for various reasons, including past infractions or criminal records. This is why some people only apply for TSA PreCheck.

Another option for less frequent international travelers is to use Mobile Passport. This free app allows you to move through a faster lane in participating airports without the hassle of applying and paying for Global Entry.

What is the difference between TSA PreCheck and Global Entry?

TSA PreCheck provides expedited security screening when departing from more than 200 U.S. airports using 81 airlines. It allows passengers to leave their shoes and jackets on, keep liquids and electronics inside their bags and use a separate lane and x-ray machine.

Global Entry is only used when traveling internationally and is not a security screening procedure. It is administered by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection service and provides expedited immigration processing via kiosks in certain airports.

If you have Global Entry, it also automatically includes TSA PreCheck membership. Both memberships last for five years before needing to reapply. However, when approved individually for TSA PreCheck, it does not include approval for Global Entry.

Why you should apply for Global Entry first

If you travel internationally, Global Entry's expedited screening can save you a lot of time when returning to the United States. Therefore, applying for Global Entry first makes sense because it already includes TSA PreCheck. However, if you mostly or only travel domestically, TSA PreCheck is probably all you need.

It costs $85 to apply for TSA PreCheck or $100 to apply for Global Entry (which includes TSA PreCheck, if approved).

If you apply for TSA PreCheck first, you will have to pay another fee for Global Entry if you decide to apply later. But if you apply for Global Entry first, you will only need to pay one application fee, saving you time and money.

How to save money when applying

Applying for Global Entry first makes sense if you want to save money. Even though the initial application fee is slightly higher, you'll receive access to both Global Entry and TSA PreCheck if approved, saving you from paying the $85 PreCheck application fee.

No matter which program you choose to apply for, there is one major way to get the application fee reimbursed. Many travel cards offer a statement credit when you use the card to pay for these pre-screening programs. Some of these cards are:

General Travel Cards

Annual fee

How often does the credit renew?

$95.

Every 4 years.

$95.

Every 4 years.

$395.

Every 4 years.

$95.

Every 4 years.

$550.

Every 4 years.

Citi Prestige® Card (this offer isn't currently available through NerdWallet)

$495.

Every 5 years.

$49.

Every 4 years.

$95.

Every 4 years.

$695.

Every 4 years when used for a Global Entry application fee; every 4.5 years when used for a TSA PreCheck application fee. Terms apply (see rates and fees).

$400.

Every 4 years.

Airline Cards

Annual fee

How often does the credit renew?

$450.

Every 5 years.

$0 intro for the first year, then $95.

Every 4 years.

Hotel Cards

Annual fee

How often does the credit renew?

$99.

Every 4 years.

$650.

Every 4 years when used for a Global Entry application fee; every 4.5 years when used for a TSA PreCheck application fee. Terms apply (see rates and fees).

Terms apply.

If you're looking to apply for Global Entry

If you frequently travel internationally, which program you apply to makes a difference. TSA PreCheck may be enough for you if you're solely a domestic flyer. But if you'd like access to both programs, applying for Global Entry first will save you money and hassle.

No matter which program you apply for, be sure to take advantage of the statement credit that comes with many travel credit cards. By spending a bit of time on the application, you could set yourself up to get through airport lines faster than before and at minimal or no cost.

The information related to Citi Prestige® Card has been collected by NerdWallet and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product or service.


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