SENTRI vs. Global Entry: Which is Better?
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If you travel frequently and are looking for a way to save time when traveling, you may be considering applying for SENTRI or Global Entry. If you're comparing SENTRI versus Global Entry to decide which is best, you'll need to understand how the programs differ.
This guide outlines the difference between Global Entry and SENTRI so you can choose which program is right for you.
» Learn more: The best travel credit cards right now
What is it?
The Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection program. Once enrolled in the program, travelers get expedited entry when arriving by vehicle to the United States from Mexico and Canada.
While SENTRI cards can be used when entering the United States after traveling in Canada, the program is geared towards those who frequently travel between Mexico and the United States. For that reason, all enrollment center locations are near the southern border.
Travelers must be preapproved for the SENTRI program, undergo a background check and attend an in-person interview as part of the application process.
The SENTRI membership fee is $122.25 per person; if approved, membership lasts five years. If you're traveling by car, every passenger must have their own SENTRI pass.
» Learn more: What is the SENTRI pass and how does it work?
SENTRI includes Global Entry perks
Does SENTRI include Global Entry? Yes. While the program is designed to expedite entry into the United States when traveling from Mexico or Canada, SENTRI cardholders also get TSA PreCheck and Global Entry benefits.
SENTRI cardholders can use Global Entry kiosks once the U.S. Customs and Border Protection has fingerprints and document information on file. However, Mexican nationals who have SENTRI must apply for Global Entry.
Who is eligible?
The following travelers are eligible to enroll in the SENTRI program:
U.S. lawful permanent residents.
All foreign nationals.
How SENTRI works
Once approved, travelers receive a SENTRI card. They can then use this card when traveling to the United States from Canada or Mexico. When going through the SENTRI lane with a card, the system automatically populates your vehicle and passenger information for a speedy entry.
How to apply for SENTRI
Follow these steps to apply for a SENTRI membership:
Create a Trusted Traveler Program (TTP) account.
Log in and complete a SENTRI application.
Pay a nonrefundable application fee.
If your application is conditionally approved, you'll be instructed to schedule an interview at a SENTRI Enrollment Center.
Be sure to bring all required documentation to your interview, including:
Evidence of U.S. automobile insurance.
An alternate form of identification.
Cards that cover the cost of SENTRI
At this time, there are no credit cards that cover the cost of SENTRI.
What is it?
Global Entry allows preapproved travelers to receive expedited clearance at select airports when arriving in the U.S. after traveling abroad. Global Entry is available at more than 50 U.S. airports.
Does Global Entry include SENTRI? Yes. You can use your Global Entry card through SENTRI or NEXUS lanes to expedite entry into the United States after traveling from Mexico or Canada. However, you can't use your Global Entry card to travel through NEXUS lanes when traveling to Canada. You would need a separate NEXUS membership to do so.
Travelers must apply for Global Entry and then participate in an in-person interview and background check to be considered for the program. The Global Entry application fee is $100; membership lasts five years if approved.
Global Entry includes TSA PreCheck perks. So while TSA PreCheck is cheaper at $78, it's worth paying $100 for Global Entry to access both programs.
» Learn more: What is Global Entry and how do I get it?
Who is eligible?
U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents are eligible to apply for Global Entry. You are also eligible to apply if you are a citizen of one of the following countries:
How Global Entry works
Once approved, Global Entry members can use automatic kiosks at select airport locations. Travelers must present their passport or U.S. permanent resident card and place their fingers on the scanner for fingerprint verification. They will also need to complete a customs declaration. The kiosk will issue travelers a receipt, and they can then exit to baggage claim.
How to apply for Global Entry
Follow these steps to apply for a Global Entry membership:
Create a Trusted Traveler Programs (TTP) account.
Log in and complete a Global Entry application.
Pay the $100 nonrefundable application fee.
If your application is conditionally approved, you'll be instructed to schedule an interview at a Global Entry Enrollment Center.
Be sure to bring all required documentation, your passport, and an alternate form of identification to your interview.
Cards that cover the cost of Global Entry
Several credit cards cover the cost of the Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee.
Since Global Entry includes TSA PreCheck perks, we recommend getting Global Entry.
The following cards include these perks:
Which program is the best?
Each program expedites entry back into the U.S., saving travelers time. However, you'll need to consider your travel habits to decide which program is best for you.
If you regularly visit Mexico or Canada by car, SENTRI may be a good option. It costs more but includes Global Entry perks.
If you don't travel by car to Mexico or Canada frequently but often travel internationally, Global Entry may be a better option for your travel needs. It also has a cheaper application fee.
If you're considering SENTRI or Global Entry
Both programs are valuable and can make your travel experience easier. However, before applying to either program, make sure you understand the difference between Global Entry and SENTRI to choose the best program for your travel needs.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2023, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card