Global Entry: What it is, what it costs and what you can do to pay for it

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In a Nutshell

Global Entry is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection service that allows travelers to expedite their customs screening when entering the United States. The application fee is $100 for a five-year membership, but a number of premium travel credit cards feature statement credits to cover the cost.
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Global Entry can be a useful way to expedite your airport security and customs experience — but it’s going to cost you.

Global Entry could be a path toward a more convenient, faster travel experience when entering the United States. Not only does the service give you the same access to speedier security screening at U.S. airports as TSA PreCheck does, but it also offers faster entry into the United States at major U.S. airports.

But it costs $100 every time your apply for Global Entry application or a renewal, and membership must be renewed every five years. The good news is that you may be able to cover the cost with a premium travel credit card or membership in an airline rewards program.

In this article, we’ll show you what Global Entry does, how to apply for it and how to pay for it in the most efficient way.

What is Global Entry?

Global Entry is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection program that gives eligible travelers an expedited airport security and customs experience. When enrolled in Global Entry, members get to use dedicated inspection lanes at customs in major U.S. airports.

Global Entry members typically do not have to fill out paperwork when they land and can skip standard processing by using an automated kiosk to scan passports and fingerprints.

Global Entry also includes a “known traveler number” for use on airline reservations and boarding passes. This ID number gives you access to TSA PreCheck lanes at airports in the U.S., allowing you to move through security screening without having to take off your shoes, remove liquids and gels 3.4 ounces or less from your bags, or place your laptop in a separate container.

Add up the benefits of Global Entry and TSA PreCheck, and travelers can typically look forward to shorter wait times at security checkpoints for both domestic and international flights.

How to apply for Global Entry

Getting Global Entry requires going through a multistep application process and — if all goes well — being approved by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Thankfully though, the process is a relatively simple one.

First, you’ll have to make sure you’re eligible to become part of the Global Entry program. U.S. citizens, permanent residents and citizens of certain countries are eligible to apply. It’s also worth noting that those under 18 years old must apply separately from a parent or legal guardian, albeit with their approval.

If you’re eligible for Global Entry membership, you can create an account and apply via the agency’s Trusted Traveler Programs website. This application will ask for basic personal information like your name and address. You will also be asked to pay the $100 fee when you submit your application.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection will then review your information and email you with a preliminary decision. If you’re conditionally approved, you will be asked to schedule an in-person interview at a Global Entry enrollment center. These centers are often located at international airports and local customs and border protection offices.

For this interview, you’ll be required to bring a valid passport and another form of identification. Additionally, lawful permanent U.S. residents are required to bring their permanent resident card.

If approved, you should receive your Global Entry card by mail. You’ll still need to bring your passport with you when you travel internationally, but you can use the Global Entry card to cross at land and sea ports of entry into the United States.

A few ways to cover the cost of Global Entry

Global Entry costs $100 for a five-year membership, which is $15 more than a TSA PreCheck membership for the same amount of time. But there are ways to cover the cost of the application fee through your credit cards or rewards programs.

One potential way to get a Global Entry fee reimbursement is through a premium travel credit card. In many cases, these cards will automatically reimburse your application fee through a statement credit, so you don’t even have to request to receive the money back.

Each of the following five cards features an available statement credit for Global Entry, but it’s worth checking to see if your travel card includes one as well. If you’re thinking of applying for one of these cards, you’ll also want to check out the annual fee to decide if the statement credit and other perks are enough to justify the additional cost.

Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card

  • $100 statement credit available once every four years
  • Annual fee: $95

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

  • $100 statement credit for Global Entry
  • Annual fee: $550

Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®

  • $100 statement Global Entry credit available every five years
  • Annual fee: $595

Platinum Card® from American Express

  • $100 statement credit available every four years
  • Annual fee: $695

United℠ Explorer Card

  • $100 statement credit available every four years
  • Annual fee: $0 intro, then $95 after first year

Next steps

If the $100 price tag of a five-year Global Entry membership seems too steep, then consider covering the cost with a statement credit from a premium travel credit card. Before applying for a new card though, decide whether Global Entry and any other rewards the card offers are worth the annual fee.

About the author: Andrew Kunesh is a finance and technology writer from Chicago. He’s passionate about helping others maximize their money and purchases. When he’s not writing, you’ll find Andrew traveling the world in search of the pe… Read more.