Is Clear Worth the Cost?

Clear can be an affordable convenience if you take advantage of credit card or airline loyalty program discounts.
Sep 26, 2022

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Are you thinking about getting a Clear membership? The private biometric screen company lets paying members bypass part of the security line at some stadiums and the Transportation Security Administration checkpoint for identification at airports, which can often be the longest part of the line. If you’re a frequent traveler, using Clear can save a lot of time at the airport.

But is Clear worth the price? Or better yet, is it worth enrolling if you can get it for free? We break it down so you can decide for yourself.

The short version: Is Clear worth the cost?

If you travel a lot and want the convenience of skipping the line to reach the suitcase and body scanner, then Clear could be worth it. Although it costs $189 per year, you can reduce the price or even get it for free if you have certain credit cards.

How much does Clear cost?

The standard price for an annual Clear membership is $189. Unlike government programs such as TSA PreCheck and Global Entry that offer several years of membership with a single fee, Clear’s fee is annual.

On the surface, $189 is a huge price to pay for a little convenience. Thankfully, there are several ways to knock that price down to more reasonable territory (see below).

Note: Clear is available only to U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents age 18 and older with valid government ID.

What are the benefits of Clear membership?

Clear uses biometric data (fingerprints and eye scans) instead of traditional ID documents, like driver’s licenses or passports, to verify traveler identification. This lets you skip the TSA PreCheck line, which can sometimes be even longer than the regular line at the airport.

There are two parts of an airport security line:

  1. Getting your ID and boarding pass verified.

  2. Passing through the scanners.

Clear lets you bypass this first part, which is often the longest. Since Clear is completely separate from TSA PreCheck, it doesn't provide access to the PreCheck line. Once you’ve gone through the Clear line, a Clear employee will escort you straight to the scanner portion of security.

You can however, stack your Clear membership with a TSA PreCheck membership if you have both. The Clear employee will escort you to the TSA PreCheck security screening where you can proceed without removing your shoes, liquids, laptops, etc.

🤓Nerdy Tip

If you regularly fly out of a busy airport or one that has been known to have long TSA PreCheck lines, Clear may be a compelling option.

And keep in mind that Clear is available at over 51 locations, including airports and stadiums. So the service will provide far less benefit for those who live near smaller airports that lack Clear kiosks.

How to get Clear membership for free or discounted

Holding elite status in certain airline loyalty programs or specific credit cards can get you access to a Clear membership at a discount.

Save $60-$70: Become a United or Delta frequent flyer member

Clear partners with Delta SkyMiles and United MileagePlus to offer discounted annual rates for members. The current rate is $119 per year for both programs, with a further $10 discount for members with status or those who hold an airline-branded credit card.

The $119 offer is for all members, not just elite status holders, which means there's no reason not to take advantage of these rates, since both programs are free to join.

Here are the sign-up pages:

🤓Nerdy Tip

Each airline’s top elite status level (Delta Diamond Medallion and United Premier 1K) members receive a free Clear membership.

Save $100: Get an AmEx Green card

One of the biggest perks of the American Express® Green Card is its $100 annual Clear credit. This credit nearly covers the cost of Clear membership when combined with the airline promotion described above, bringing the effective cost down to $9 or $19 per year (depending on your elite status level or if you hold a co-branded Delta or United credit card). Terms apply.

That’s a great deal, especially assuming you’ll get plenty of other value from the card’s $100 LoungeBuddy credit and 3x earning rate on travel and restaurants to offset the card’s $150 annual fee. Terms apply.

Free Clear membership: Add an AmEx Platinum card to your wallet for free Clear membership

If you hold The Platinum Card® from American Express or The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, you’re in luck because you are eligible for an annual statement credit up to $189, which completely covers the cost of the Clear membership. Terms apply.

You do not need to enroll in this benefit. All you need to do is pay for your Clear membership using your card and the statement credit should appear on your bill within 2-4 weeks.

4. Look for a promotion

Clear often runs sales and other discount codes, some of which can be stacked with the options described above. Look on the Clear site itself and search for “Clear promotions” to see if anything pops up.

What is Clear Sports and how does it work?

Unlike the regular Clear membership, Clear Sports is free and offered at some sports stadiums. Clear Sports allows you to enter stadiums faster by leveraging Clear’s biometric technology.

Current Clear members automatically receive access to Clear Sports, and non-Clear members aren’t charged to enroll in the program.

You can enroll in Clear Sports by downloading the app, tapping “Sports and Events” on the main screen and logging in or creating a free account. You’ll then need to take a selfie to confirm your identity and select the stadium where you’ll use Clear.

When you arrive, visit the Clear lane, take your photo at the Clear pod and you’ll be granted entry.

How does Clear enrollment work?

Unlike TSA PreCheck and Global Entry, which can be a slog to sign up for, getting started with Clear is a relative snap. Just sign up and pay online, then complete registration at a Clear location the next time you travel.

Also, no appointment is necessary to complete this sign-up in person, which is a huge plus. That said,  give yourself some extra time at the airport before your flight to make sure everything goes smoothly with registration.

Where is Clear available?

Clear is currently available at the following airports.

City

Airport

Atlanta.

Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

Austin.

Austin–Bergstrom International Airport.

Baltimore.

Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.

Birmingham.

Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport.

Boston.

Boston Logan International Airport.

Chicago.

O'Hare International Airport.

Chicago Midway International Airport.

Cincinnati.

Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.

Cleveland.

Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.

Columbus.

John Glenn Columbus International Airport.

Dallas.

Dallas Love Field Airport.

Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.

Denver.

Denver International Airport.

Detroit.

Detroit Metro Airport.

Fort Lauderdale.

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

Houston.

William P. Hobby Airport.

George Bush Intercontinental Airport.

Las Vegas.

Harry Reid International Airport.

Los Angeles.

Los Angeles International Airport.

Ontario International Airport.

Miami.

Miami International Airport.

Minneapolis.

Minneapolis−Saint Paul International Airport.

Nashville.

Nashville International Airport.

New Orleans.

Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport.

New York / New Jersey.

LaGuardia Airport.

John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Newark Liberty International Airport.

Westchester County Airport.

Orlando.

Orlando International Airport.

Palm Beach.

Palm Beach International Airport.

Palm Springs.

Palm Springs International Airport.

Phoenix.

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

Sacramento.

Sacramento International Airport.

Salt Lake City.

Salt Lake City International Airport.

San Antonio.

San Antonio International Airport.

San Diego.

San Diego International Airport.

San Francisco / Bay Area.

San Francisco International Airport.

Oakland International Airport.

Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport.

Seattle.

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

St. Louis.

St. Louis Lambert International Airport.

Washington, D.C.

Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.

Dulles International Airport.

Is Clear worth it?

At first glance, $189 per year is a big price tag for cut-in-line privileges at some airports. Yet it’s easy to knock $60 off this price by using your Delta or United membership number, and fairly easy to knock another $100 off with the American Express® Green Card.

If you hold The Platinum Card® from American Express or The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, the cost of Clear will be covered for you. Terms apply.

In the end, whether Clear is worth it to you depends on a number of factors:

  • Do you fly a lot? Even someone who takes 10 round-trip flights per year is still spending about $6 per use at the lower $119/year price.

  • Does Clear support your home airport (and preferred terminal)? If not, it’s almost certainly not worth it.

  • Do you have or are you considering getting the American Express® Green Card? That $100 credit moves Clear to the “worth it” category for many. Terms apply.

  • Do you have The Platinum Card® from American Express or The Business Platinum Card® from American Express? Enrolling in Clear is a smart move since you’ll get an annual statement credit for the full cost of membership. Terms apply.

To view rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, see this page.

To view rates and fees of The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, see this page.

All information about the American Express® Green Card has been collected independently by NerdWallet. The American Express® Green Card is no longer available through NerdWallet.


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