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Inflation has come for most things, including travel expenses like hotels and airfare. But the cost of TSA PreCheck has undergone a bit of deflation.
The Transportation Security Administration has lowered the price for TSA PreCheck from $85 to $78. That’s good news for travelers who want to speed through security without the clunkiness of removing their shoes and laptops, but were turned off by the $85 price tag.
The roughly 8% price decrease for TSA PreCheck comes at a time when September 2022 airfares rose 43% year-over-year and lodging prices rose 3%.
But perhaps the price decrease isn’t all that surprising, given a recent bout of TSA price decreases. In late September 2021, TSA lowered its online renewal fee by $15, from $85 to $70 (though it remained $85 to renew in-person). Now, it costs $78 to renew in-person, matching the newly-reduced initial application fee (though you can still pay just $70 by renewing online).
Once approved for TSA PreCheck, eligibility lasts for five years.
Of course, it’s not too difficult to avoid even the newly-reduced, $78 TSA PreCheck application fee. You can get TSA PreCheck for free in a myriad of ways, including by paying for it with a credit card that reimburses the TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fee. Many travel credit cards offer this benefit, some of which charge low (or no) annual fees.
Low-annual-fee credit cards that cover your TSA PreCheck application fee include:
Some airline and hotel loyalty programs also let you exchange points to cover your TSA PreCheck application fee. For example, United Airlines flyers can redeem 11,000 MileagePlus miles to cover the cost of TSA PreCheck. Though, NerdWallet values United Mileage Plus miles at 1.2 cents each, which means you're giving up around $132 in value to cover the application fee. That’s not such a good deal, but can be worthwhile if you’d otherwise never use those United miles.
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