One-two punch to airport stress relief.
- Airport security has two stages: identity verification and security check.
- Some credit cards offer statement credit for free or discounted CLEAR membership, which allows you to speed up the identity verification stage, putting you at the forefront of screening.
- Most travel cards also offer free TSA PreCheck, which speeds up the screening process with shorter lines and fewer requirements for travelers crossing them.
A good travel rewards credit card is a must for gift collectors who love to travel. They make it easy to get free travel with points, ideally without going over your regular spending.
But the best travel cards do so much more. Like a card that comes with free airport lounge access or elite hotel status.
However, not all of its amenities are flashy enough. For example, my new favorite card perks: CLEAR and TSA PreCheck.
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Get to the front of the line
While TSA PreCheck has been around for a long time, CLEAR is a bit more recent. But new or not, it’s still worth considering — especially when you have a card that gives you free access.
So, what is CLEAR? Well, that’s the first part of a two-part airport security hack.
Airport security is a multi-step process. The first stage is identity verification. This is the part where you stand in a very long line to get to the person who verifies that you are who your ticket says you should be. This usually requires you to show your boarding pass and driver’s license or passport.
With CLEAR, you skip this part.
Instead, you can simply go to a convenient kiosk and scan your boarding pass. Then the kiosk checks your biometrics. After you’ve been cleared — pun intended — you’re ushered to the front of the line by a helpful CLEAR rep.
On my most recent flight, after CLEAR shaved 20 minutes off my airport security wait time. Considering my flight was scheduled to leave about fifteen minutes after I reached security it was a very important time saver. And since my credit card covers the membership fee, it’s completely free.
Left everything in your bag
The second part of the security process is filtering. It’s the fun part where you basically empty your bag, take off half of your clothes, and wander barefoot through a full body scanner.
This is where the rest of the card hacks come into play via TSA PreCheck.
If you haven’t heard of it, TSA PreCheck is a program run by, you guessed it, the Transport Security Administration (TSA). Basically, you go through a background check and a short interview, then take some fingerprints.
As long as you pass, you are given a Known Traveler Number to add to your boarding pass. This allows you to use the PreCheck line at most airports.
At the PreCheck line, you don’t have to take off your shoes, belt, or light jacket. You can also leave electronics and liquids safely in your luggage. Oh, and you tend to skip screening about half the time.
Most premium travel gift cards include credit for TSA PreCheck, making these airport express tickets effectively free.
Two-part time-saving hack
Getting through airport security can be a nightmare, especially during this busy time of year. I personally sat in the security line which took almost an hour to get through. Even if you leave plenty of time before your flight, an hour in the airport security line can be stressful.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
With the right travel card in your pocket, you can avail this two-part airport security hack that helps you in minutes, not hours. And besides the annual credit card fee — which I’d pay anyway — it’s completely free. This means you can save time And money, which is pretty much as good as it gets.
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