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Are TSA PreCheck or CLEAR worth the cost?

TSA PreCheck is $78 for a five-year membership and CLEAR costs $189 per year.
Are TSA PreCheck or CLEAR worth the cost?
Posted at 8:35 AM, May 22, 2023

This year is expected to be the busiest summer travel season since before the pandemic, which could mean long lines, especially at airport security.

As a result, more and more travelers are considering signing up for TSA PreCheck or CLEAR, two programs that can help speed you through airport check-in.

Riann Beckham is a frequent traveler who was on her way to Orlando, and who says she couldn't live without TSA PreCheck.

"I love it," she said. "I actually have CLEAR on top of it, which is even more helpful."

Summer Hull, director of travel content for The Points Guy, says TSA PreCheck is worth it — even if you travel once a year. She says CLEAR, on the other hand, is probably not worth the higher cost for many people.

"If you're not traveling, I would say, at least four times a year using it, it's definitely not worth it," she said.

What are the differences?

TSA PreCheck is $78 for a five-year membership. These travelers don't have to remove their shoes and belts, and they don't have to remove laptops or liquids from their bags.

A CLEAR membership is $189 per year. Using CLEAR, you verify who you are using your eyes or a fingerprint. Once verified, you're escorted to the front of the security screening line.

Hull points out that frequent travelers, like Beckham, may want to enroll in both services. 

For perks without an expensive membership, Hull says many credit cards cover TSA PreCheck or CLEAR application fees. Also, a number of airports are rolling out free reservation systems at the security checkpoint, which allow you to reserve your check-in spot ahead of time.

"For example, at the Orlando International Airport, which is notorious for long lines," Hull said, "You can now reserve your check-in time through MCO Reserve."

Sure, these programs cost money, but if you hate waiting in long lines, travelers like Beckham say, "I definitely think it's worth it!" 

SEE MORE: TSA testing facial recognition technology, prompting privacy concerns

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