Free TSA PreCheck, Global Entry for Active Duty + Military Spouses | Military Money Manual Podcast Episode 85

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This episode covers TSA PreCheck for active duty, Guard, Reserve, and military spouses. Global Entry can also be free for military service members and military spouses through Military Lending Act annual fee waived credit cards, like The Platinum Card® from American Express and the Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card.

Outline of Episode:

  • Benefits of TSA PreCheck
  • Benefits of Global Entry 
  • Who is eligible?
  • Can military spouses take advantage of these programs? 
  • Using fee waived credit card benefits for TSA PreCheck and Global Entry  
  • Can kids use these programs?

Military Money Manual Podcast Episode #85 Transcript

[00:01:54] Jamie: Welcome back to the Military Money Manual podcast.

Jamie and Spencer are here together in person. We are excited to be back together for a couple episodes after a little bit of a break for the summer PCS season. We are mostly settled for my family. Today we're going to be talking about TSA PreCheck and Global Entry. 

These are two incredible benefits that make traveling easier as a military member or a military spouse.

So Spencer, if someone's never heard of TSA PreCheck, let's start there. What is that program and what does it offer us?

[00:02:26] Spencer: Yeah, so TSA PreCheck is offered by the Transportation Security Agency, or TSA, they're the guys that you, guys and gals, that you go through at the airport when you're trying to board your aircraft.

And it allows trusted travelers to sign up for the program, go through a very basic background check. I don't know what exactly they do behind the scenes. And then you are able to go through a line for pre-screened individuals that has reduced security requirements and gets you through the airport security a lot faster.

[00:03:00] Jamie: You've probably seen people where it seems like they're cutting the line before. That's probably a TSA PreCheck.

[00:03:06] Spencer: That's right, yeah. Some of the benefits, we'll just talk about the benefits before we jump into the military benefits of TSA PreCheck. But, if you've been through the airport, and you probably have if you've been in the military, you probably know you have to take off your shoes, you have to remove your laptop and iPad from your bag.

You have to make sure that your liquids are out of your bag. You gotta take your belt off. And the scanner. Oh, and you gotta go through the Laidos yeah, hands up x-ray machine. All that goes away when you're registered for TSA PreCheck. It's a fantastic program that I highly recommend people sign up for even if You didn't get it for free, but we'll talk about how military service members and military spouses can get the TSA PreCheck program for free.

And it's a fantastic program. It really just makes the airport experience just a little bit better. It's still terrible, but at least, when you show up, you're probably going to get through pretty quickly if your airport offers TSA PreCheck. And I would say it's rare that I see an airport these days that doesn't have pre pre-check.

[00:04:07] Jamie: Yeah, even small ones. It might be the same line, but they'll give you a little laminated card so you don't have to take off your shoes. But they at least have some benefit there, usually.

[00:04:15] Spencer: TSA likes to claim that 95% of TSA pre-check customers get through security in less than 5 minutes. Wow. You look at some of those lines that people are standing in when they're going through airport security. And that's tough. Some of those lines are over an hour long. Yeah, big fan of TSA PreCheck. Global Entry, I'll just mention that as well since we're on the topic. Global Entry is essentially TSA PreCheck, but when you come back to the United States and you get to go through US Customs and Immigration, the joy of US Immigration and Customs. And what Global Entry allows you to do is use a kiosk machine when you come in. The new ones are actually pretty amazing. You don't have to scan your passport. They just take a picture of your face. They match you to the database.

And it spits out a little ticket for you. Here in Honolulu, when you come back in through immigration, you take that ticket to an immigration officer. They might ask you a few questions. And then you're right through the line. So again, immigration. You cut that line down from possibly an hour or longer waiting to get back into the United States.

[00:05:18] Jamie: But you get an expedited line to the agent to show them that you're pre screened, validated, routine background check, basic background check kind of thing. Yep. Low risk of being a danger to the immigration process. And so they expedite your screening.

[00:05:32] Spencer: Exactly. Yep. Global Entry, another fantastic program.

And the TSA pre-check costs $78 for five years. And the global entry is $100 for five years and with global entry you get TSA pre-check as well. That's what you would have to do if you were paying out of pocket for TSA pre check or global entry. 

If you have a DOD ID, so you have a common access card also known as a CAC, then that is your known traveler number or KTN.

So when you apply for TSA PreCheck, the way that they identify that you are who you say you are is when you buy your airline ticket, or even after, you can go in and manage your ticket and add your known traveler's number. If you purchase TSA PreCheck, you would put in the number there, I think it usually starts with a 9.

If you have a DOD ID number though, off the back of your CAC, it starts with a 1 usually. You can put that in there, and that's your known traveler number, and that allows you to have TSA pre-check.

[00:06:34] Jamie: So you said anyone with a CAC, does that include guard, reserve, doesn't have to just be active duty?

[00:06:39] Spencer: Correct.

So it does not include retirees or military veterans, but it does include active duty, guard, and reserve.

[00:06:48] Jamie: Nice, that's awesome. Earlier you mentioned it costing $79 or whatever, you just simply use your DOD ID number as your known traveler number with your reservation, and you can actually edit that in your Delta, American United, whatever airline profile, so every time you reserve a ticket, that known traveler number will be there associated with your profile, so it's just a one and done kind of thing.

You can also put it in your profile in DTS, in the defense travel system, so if you're doing TDY travel you can also get that in there and get a TSA pre-check through the front of the line.

[00:07:21] Spencer: Yeah, exactly. And it's very easy, especially once you've stored it into, like you said, your Delta profile or your DTS profile.

Every time you book the airline ticket, it will automatically add it. If you forget to add it when you purchase the ticket, like I said, it's okay. Go manage your booking and there'll be an option to add the traveler's number. If you're using some kind of archaic, I don't know, spirit airways or whatever, and they don't have an app that allows you to add it, you can call the customer service number or even the day of you can go to the ticket counter.

You can ask them to add your known traveler's number. And then you'll get TSA pre-check printed on your boarding pass or added to your boarding pass in whatever app for the airline that you're using. I will note that if you're flying an international carrier, this doesn't happen a lot for military service members because we have the Fly America Act.

We have to fly American flag carriers like American, United, Delta. Some airlines, international airlines, don't participate in the pre-check program. So the airlines do have to pay a little bit to participate. And so some international carriers just choose not to participate because it's not worth it to them.

[00:08:24] Jamie: Before we move on to the global entry side, I want a quick story about recently we, actually on our way here, I forgot to put in my wife's known traveler number in her reservation and we didn't realize it until we walked up to the TSA pre-check line. So there we are in Atlanta, busy Delta customers everywhere.

She had to go back to the ticket agent, to the check in desk, and have that added to her reservation. So even if you have a known traveler number, if your boarding pass on your phone or your printed boarding pass does not say TSA pre-check or have the little green check mark on it on your phone, they will not let you through even if you show them a military ID or whatever.

You have to have that on your boarding pass.

[00:09:04] Spencer: And that reminds me of another story where I had my wife's birthday wrong in her Delta profile. And so every time we flew Delta, It wouldn't allow us to add, we could add her known traveler's number. But it wouldn't actually work. But it wouldn't actually work.

And we couldn't figure it out for so long. The problem is you have to match the first name and last name and birthday to the known traveler number. And if any of that information is incorrect, then the pre-check won't print on the boarding pass. But it still lets her fly when the birthday is wrong from her driver's license to a booking. 

But anyways, and that brings up a good point since we're talking about our military spouses. Military spouses with a dependent ID are not eligible for TSA PreCheck. Let me say that again. You are not eligible for free TSA PreCheck. However, you are eligible for annual fee waived credit cards that come with TSA PreCheck or Global Entry fee credits. My recommendation is if you have one of those credit cards, let's say an American Express Platinum card or the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, use the fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck and purchase your military spouse Global Entry.

Why Global Entry? If you travel overseas, even in the next five years, you'll be happy that they have Global Entry. And also, purchase for yourself Global Entry for the military service member. Make sure that you purchase Global Entry. So that'll require either two cards, two credit cards, or you'll need to pay out of pocket, but you can each have your own card. You can each have your own card. And we've talked on some other episodes and still got the annual fees waived. So this is just yet another benefit of military travel hacking is when you open up these annual fee waived cards. And I've got a whole course about this

The Ultimate Military Credit Cards Course. You can go check that out, sign up for free, and I'll send you all the information about military travel hacking. But TSA PreCheck, Global Entry, a huge benefit and just to reiterate, Global Entry includes TSA PreCheck. So if you're going to get the fee paid for by your credit card anyways, just sign up for Global Entry and you'll get TSA PreCheck included.

The known traveler number is the same. Another quick note, we traveled internationally recently, Argentina flying back into the US and I was like, where do I add my known travelers number on this booking so that I can get Global Entry? You don't have to. It's all automated behind the scenes. You don't need to add your known traveler's number to your booking.

You just need to go to the kiosk, scan your face, and it prints out the little ticket, and then you go through immigration.

[00:11:46] Jamie: Nice. So global entry sounds like a really good benefit, especially for military spouses or military members traveling internationally. 

How do we get that and get that process started?

[00:11:58] Spencer: So to get your Global Entry application started, you will just Google “Global Entry or TSA PreCheck” and the Department of Homeland Security website will come up. At the time of this recording, it's and you can start your application for global entry on there.

When you go to pay for the global entry, make sure that you use your American Express Platinum card or the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, and that you haven't already used the fee credit for that card. Most of the time, the fee credits for TSA PreCheck resets at the four or four and a half year mark so that you can keep renewing them.

And then I think the global entry ones are about the same where they reset every four and a half years.

[00:12:41] Jamie: There's a few other cards that also offer that, like the Delta Reserve card from American Express, the Bonvoy Brilliant from American Express, the Citi Prestige, which isn't available for new customers anymore, and the Chase IHG Premier card are some of the ones that I have personally that I have on my tracker that cover it.

So you have a couple options there if you did it, or if you wanted to include your kids for global entry. If you're traveling as a family internationally, the more free cards you have, you might have more options to get the Global Entry cost reimbursed for free.

[00:13:15] Spencer: So yeah, if you had a large family, for instance, a Business Platinum card from American Express, the Capital One Venture X Rewards card, the Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard, and the Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business card, they all come with the fee credit for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry. And yeah, I would say, especially if you're living overseas, it's a no brainer. Get a couple of these cards, make sure your entire family has global entry, and expedite that return to the United States.

[00:13:44] Jamie: It'll be worth it after a long travel day.

[00:13:47] Spencer: Even if you just use it once in the next five years, you're going to thank yourself.

[00:13:50] Jamie: Exactly. Okay, speaking of kids, Spencer, do I need to get TSA pre-check for my kids, or can they just come along with me?

[00:13:56] Spencer: So if they're under the age of 12 or under, then they can come with you through the TSA pre-check line.

If they're a teenager, it looks like the latest guidance just updated in 2023, and they can get TSA pre-check on their boarding pass and then come through with you.

[00:14:17] Jamie: As long as it's the same reservation.

[00:14:18] Spencer: As long as you're on the same reservation.

[00:14:20] Jamie: And sometimes if it doesn't show up, they may have been randomly selected for screening or whatever, so the teenager aspect is not always guaranteed to work.

But kids 12 and under should be good. You just walk straight through the line with the parents with TSA PreCheck. So they don't need to have their own known traveler number for kids 12 and under.

[00:14:41] Spencer: I would say if you're deep into military travel hacking and you have a bunch of these cards that offer a Global Entry fee credit, just sign up your teenager for Global Entry and then they'll be getting their own TSA PreCheck.

[00:14:53] Jamie: Or treat your mother in law or something like that. 

Okay, what about kids at Global Entry? You mentioned that they do need their own account, so use one of your extra cards’ benefits to cover the kids, right? Exactly. Sounds like two really great TSA PreCheck, Global Entry. You can get them for free whether you're the service member or a spouse, whether it's as the service member in your DOD ID number or using your credit card benefits with your annual fee waived credit cards for both the military member and the spouse.

TSA PreCheck is for domestic travel with the TSA in the United States to expedite getting to the front of the line and not needing the same requirements of taking off your shoes, taking out your laptop and things like that. While global entry provides you a shortcut through the customs when you're coming back from international travel.

So two great programs you definitely want to take advantage of throughout your time in the military and on personal travel as well.

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