How to Pay for TSA Precheck With Airline Miles

Use your miles to skip the long lines at airport security

TSA Precheck and Global Entry line at security checkpoint at Reagan National Airport
David Tran / Getty Images

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) sometimes receives backlash from longer-than-average airport security lines. Luckily, some tools are in place to ease the check-in process. Airline passengers can keep track of delays and current security information with the MyTSA App. Also, Nexus and Global Entry memberships allow people to get through airports faster by taking advantage of TSA Precheck.

With Precheck, you can move to a faster lane—think of jumping the line for a roller coaster at an amusement park—and don’t have to take off your shoes or jacket, or remove your laptop from a carry-on. This option is convenient for passing through security quickly, giving you time to catch up on work emails at the gate or unwind in the airport lounge. 

While Precheck has a fairly reasonable fee for a membership lasting five years, you also have the option to save even more using your airline loyalty program.

Exchange Airline Miles

Rather than paying the fee directly, some airline loyalty programs allow members to exchange their miles to cover the Precheck application cost. If you’re a loyalty program member, keep an eye out for Precheck promotions, as they are typically available for a limited time only; make sure it aligns with your larger points strategies. For instance, if you’re a few hundred miles away from a longtime goal such as a free flight, you might want to pay for Precheck out of pocket and save your miles for that flight.

Pay With Your Travel Rewards Credit Card

A handful of travel rewards credit cards either reimburse members directly for their Precheck or Global Entry fee or offer an annual travel credit which can be used to pay the fee. However, several of the credit cards that reimburse for Precheck or Global Entry fees tend to have higher annual fees, so take stock of the perks and benefits to make sure you’re ultimately saving money. For example, the Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard has a higher fee, but in addition to Precheck reimbursement, it offers such benefits as first checked bag free for you and up to eight travel companions, Admirals Club membership, and 25 percent savings on in-flight purchases. If you’re traveling with your family, the annual fee will likely pay for itself with the free checked bags alone.

Other cards that offer either Precheck reimbursement or general travel credit include the Citi Prestige Card, MasterCard Gold Card, and the Capital One Venture Card.

Move to the Faster Lane With CLEAR

Many travelers aren’t yet part of an even faster airport security option than Precheck, a members-only service called CLEAR. As a member of both Precheck and CLEAR, not only can you move to the faster security lane but you can bypass the often time-consuming step of getting your ID checked. CLEAR works using biometric authentication—your fingerprint or eye scan—so you don’t have to stop at the security kiosk and wait for the TSA agent to inspect your ID and scribble clearance on your boarding pass. Once your identity is verified, you can skip past everyone else waiting in line with their IDs and go straight to the security line. Using a combination of CLEAR and Precheck, some passengers get through the entire security process in less than five minutes.

CLEAR is available for a higher cost than Precheck so you might only want to sign up if you’re a frequent traveler. If you’re looking for a free or discounted membership, Delta is part owner of CLEAR and offers deals on signup fees to its Delta SkyMiles members.

Whether you choose to pay for Precheck out of pocket, exchange your loyalty miles, or redeem the travel credit from a travel rewards credit card, make sure to have your known traveler number (KTN) from the TSA handy each time you book a flight. This ensures the airline prints a Precheck indicator on your boarding pass so you can be directed to the right security line upon arrival at the airport.