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Did you know that Canada and the United States share the longest international border in the world? The two have 5,525 miles of shared border, plus over 100 land border crossings between them. However, traveling from one country to the other requires proof of citizenship and residency. This proof can be a passport, residency card or NEXUS card.
The main difference between a NEXUS card and passport is where each is accepted. While NEXUS cards can be used in place of a passport when traveling between the U.S. and Canada, a passport can be used to travel across most international borders.
What is the NEXUS card? Here’s what you need to know.
About the NEXUS card
The NEXUS card was created for low-risk, preapproved travelers to help speed up border crossings between Canada and the United States. As a NEXUS member, you bypass the regular line of travelers and enter a special security/customs line when you arrive in either country. These lines are typically much shorter, and the process is much quicker.
In addition, the NEXUS card can be used in place of a passport when traveling between the U.S. and Canada. Be aware that when traveling by air from Canada to the United States, you can use your NEXUS card only at Canadian airports with a U.S. preclearance area. If the airport doesn't have a U.S. preclearance area, you'll have to use your passport to access your NEXUS benefits.
» Learn more: 4 key differences between a passport card and book
How much does a NEXUS card cost?
The NEXUS card is half the price of Global Entry. For $50, you get a five-year membership, compared with $100 for Global Entry's five-year membership. The Aeroplan® Credit Card and the Chase Sapphire Reserve® both offer a credit for that fee, which resets every four years. However, more travel rewards cards offer reimbursement for Global Entry. If you don't have either the Aeroplan® Credit Card or the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, but have a card that covers Global Entry, Global Entry might make more financial sense for you.
» Learn more: Credit cards with TSA PreCheck or Global Entry credits
Who is the NEXUS card right for?
While the NEXUS card and Global Entry share many features, the NEXUS card might be a better option if you:
Travel frequently between the U.S. and Canada by both land and air.
Travel with children. NEXUS is free for minors under the age of 18, while the $100 fee for Global Entry is the same for everyone, regardless of age.
Don’t have a travel rewards credit card that will reimburse the Global Entry membership fee. NEXUS is half the price of Global Entry, so if you’re paying out of pocket, NEXUS can save you some cash.
Who should skip the NEXUS card?
The main reason you might want to pass on the NEXUS card is because the final step in the application process is an in-person interview. These interviews occur only at a handful of places, including select U.S.-Canada land border crossings and airports in Canada.
If you'll have a hard time making it to one of these locations, the NEXUS card might not be a good choice for you.
» Learn more: What is Global Entry and how do I get it?
How to get a NEXUS card
Membership is open to citizens and permanent residents of both Canada and the United States, as well as Mexican nationals who are members of Mexico’s trusted traveler program, Viajero Confiable.
To get your application approved, you need to prove that you’re a low-risk traveler. This step includes verifying that you:
Haven't been convicted of a crime.
Have no outstanding warrants.
Aren't subject to an ongoing investigation by a law enforcement agency.
Haven't violated customs, immigration or agriculture-related laws.
Both the U.S. and Canada need to approve your application. Once it's approved, you need to set up an appointment for an in-person interview. These interviews are held at border crossings in both Canada and the United States, as well as Canadian airports.
Consider scheduling your interview at a smaller location, as these tend to be less booked.
If you’re considering a NEXUS card for border crossings
The NEXUS card is a great option for people who travel frequently between the United States and Canada. In addition to offering the same benefits as Global Entry, the NEXUS card is less expensive and can be used for both air and vehicle travel between the two countries.
However, the application process includes an in-person interview. If it would be a challenge for you to get to one of the limited interview locations, you may want to skip the NEXUS card and apply for Global Entry instead.
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 2022, 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