Is Global Entry worth it?

Last week I posted about making airport security easier for new business travelers. One of the commenters pointed out that GlobalGlobal Entry Entry and TSA Pre-check are the best ways to go through security quickly. I completely agree! For $100, you get five years of Global Entry and TSA Pre-check. This means:

  • Way shorter lines at customs
  • Not having to remove your shoes or laptop for airport security.

In the last five years I have averaged two or three international trips per year. A year ago when I came back from Manila the customs line took two and a half hours. I would have missed my connecting flight if it hadn’t been delayed (and if I hadn’t run). The last time I went to Manila the customs line took me two minutes with Global Entry. For two trips a year, that is saving 4-5 hours of time. Not to mention all the times I get TSA Pre-check, which last week alone saved me 30 minutes in the security line. My point is that if you look at it as time=money, I am coming out far ahead.

A recent New York Times article doesn’t necessarily reach the same conclusion. The reasons are that:

  • You’re not guaranteed TSA Pre-check for every flight, so you can’t count on the time savings.
  • Saving time at customs doesn’t mean as much when you check your bags
  • Global Entry can be revoked (as the author’s was) and then you are basically SOL

All of these are valid points. The thing is, even if I’m not guaranteed Pre-check I would still rather spend my time working or reading inside security vs. standing in line forever. I would also argue that most business travelers don’t check their bags, even for international flights. It totally sucks that the NYT author’s GE was revoked, and incredibly frustrating that he never got a straight answer why.

To apply for TSA Pre-check only (not Global Entry) it is $85, and for Global Entry (which includes Pre-check) it is $100, both for five years. Now that there are over 250 registration sites for Pre-check, it is much easier to apply. If you fly several times a year domestically, I think TSA Pre-check is worth it (and 3,200 people sign up per day) , according to TSA.) If you anticipate flying internationally even once in those five years, and can get to one of the 38 Global Entry interview centers, in my opinion it’s worth going the Global Entry route instead. However, the exceptions are if you think for some reason you wouldn’t pass the interview, or if you will be flying internationally with someone who doesn’t have GE.

Readers, what are your thoughts? Is Global Entry worth it?

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  1. TOTALLY worth it.
    GE has saved my bacon a couple of times recently when flights have been late and I have managed to get my booked flight be whizzing through Immigration and Customs.
    On TSAPre so far, I am 66% approved.

  2. I totally believe its worth it, even if you use it once a year. The potential time savings can be huge through immigration and customs. I came back from EZE via MIA last month. Immigration line wasn’t too bad but customs was. My friend who didn’t have GE wait on that line for an hour.

    I have been 100% for TSA Pre for a while, but it wasn’t the case when it was airline elite invite only. I had GE before invited by AA to have TSA-Pre. Others had much better luck once they had GE.

  3. Totally worth it. Just do the math: it costs $100 for 5 years so an average of $20 per year. If you make 1 international travel per year it is already paid since you are getting the benefit of not wasting time in line for immigration. In many cases I was able to catch an earlier connecting flight to my final destination just because I was out of the international plane and in front of the domestic gate so fast that I could catch an earlier flight. Amex Platinum still reimburses you for the $100 fee if paid using the card.

  4. If it wasn’t for Global Entry and PreCheck, I would have had to overnight in NYC last night because I would have missed my flight to LAX. T4 was a mad house when I landed from SXM and I don’t know if any of the people with connecting flights that evening to the west coast ever made it considering how long the lines were in both immigration and customs.

    The best $100 ever spent in terms of travel related “gear.”

  5. Totally worth it! I’ve had GE for nearly a year and a half and am 100% PreCheck for at least 25 flights.

  6. precheck is given out free at random and doesn’t save much time, unless your at an airport with limited screening or a tsa slowspot. Global entry is more valuable as customs is usually slow and painful. You have to factor in the cost of a trip to the application office unless you live of travel near one. (they are mostly near the Canadian border)

  7. Definitely worth it! I try not to check bags when I travel. Even if you do check bags if you are flying first class your bags come out quickly anyway so it is nice to breeze through passport control.
    Regarding TSA Precheck even if it is not guaranteed, my understanding is that you will get it most of the time if you have global entry. It’s so much easier going through not having to take off your shoes,etc.

  8. GE is totally worth it, and if you also travel by road to Canada, then I would recommend getting Nexus, gives you TSAPreCheck, 100% and GE also. If you are United 1K or GS, they will pay for your $100!

  9. Once you have the GE, in order to be qualified for TSAPreCheck, do you need to enter the GE # into every airline profile? Would it be sufficient just to enter the GE # into the travel profile if the travel agency takes care of the trips for you? Thanks so much!

  10. I often got TSA PreCheck even though I had not applied and did not have GE. But when I renewed my passport this year I decided to pay the $110 (I think, not $100) for GE. Could not have been easier! The application took a few minutes online, and I was approved to schedule an interview within 3 days. Wise2u is incorrect that most GE offices are near the Canadian border. They are at airports all over the country, and in my case, in an office building less than ONE BLOCK from my office. I scheduled an interview for a day I was going to be in town, and it took all of 90 seconds. I got my husband to do the same, and when he came home yesterday from an around-the-world trip, he was thrilled with how much time he saved. I am a convert!

    Aside on PreCheck: nothing more frustrating than being in the PreCheck lane and having people in front of you insist on removing their coats/shoes/liquids/laptops. I’ve seen TSA agents practically screaming “Keep your coats on. Leave your laptops in your bags.” And the people continue to SLOWLY remove all the stuff.

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