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What Is TSA PreCheck And How Long Does PreCheck Last?

Last updated 03/15/2024 by

Jamela Adam

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TSA PreCheck is a program offered by the Transportation Security Administration that allows you to access expedited security screening at over 200 airports and 85 participating airlines. Your TSA PreCheck membership status lasts for five years and can be renewed online or in person. And by taking advantage of certain credit card rewards programs, you could get reimbursed for the TSA membership application fee and avoid long security lines for free.
For frequent travelers, going through airport security often tops their list of the most anxiety-ridden and stressful experiences. Having to take off your shoes, put your electronics in a separate bin, empty your water bottle, and keep track of your passport while not holding up the line can be rather overwhelming, to say the least. Thankfully, for just $78, you can bypass all that hassle and breeze through security by signing up for the TSA PreCheck membership.

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What is TSA Precheck?

TSA PreCheck is a Trusted Traveler Program (TTP) offered by the TSA that allows members access to a special security line at participating airports in the U.S. with no need to remove shoes, belts, light jackets, and laptops. If you’re interested in this program, you may be wondering how long TSA PreCheck lasts, whether you can extend the membership, and how the application process works. Don’t worry. We’ll answer it all.

How long does TSA PreCheck last?

Once you’re approved for the TSA PreCheck program, it’ll last you five years. If you want to keep enjoying your member benefits after your current membership ends, you can renew it up to six months before your membership is set to expire. As long as you pay the renewal fee, there’s no limit to how many times you can extend your membership.
With more than 200 airports and 85 airlines participating in TSA PreCheck, investing in the membership can save you time and hassle at airport security while traveling domestically. And if you travel with a child 12 or under, they can join you in the TSA PreCheck line as well.
Overall, considering how affordable the membership is ($15.60/year), a TSA PreCheck membership is definitely worth looking into if you’re a frequent traveler.

How to apply for the TSA Precheck membership?

Here’s what you need to do if you’re tired of waiting over 30 minutes at the security line at busy airports and want to use the TSA PreCheck lines instead.
  1. Submit an online application. Submitting an online application for the TSA PreCheck program is straightforward and only takes around five minutes.
  2. Schedule an in-person appointment. After completing the application, you’ll be asked to schedule an in-person appointment at an enrollment center, where you’ll go through a background check and provide your fingerprint.
  3. Pay the application fee. At the TSA enrollment center, you’ll pay your membership fee once you’ve been approved. The application fee is $78 for five years, which is the equivalent of $15.60 per year.
  4. Receive your Known Traveler Number. Once you’re officially a TSA PreCheck member, you’ll receive your Known Traveler Number (KTN) in approximately three to five business days – though sometimes, it could take up to 60 days. You can then add this traveler number to your domestic flight reservations to enjoy a faster security screening process.
PRO TIP: While TSA PreCheck enrollment centers typically allow walk-ins for interviews, you’re prioritized if you’ve scheduled your appointment. So, be sure to schedule an appointment while completing your application, or else you may have to wait a while once you arrive at the enrollment center.

What are the TSA PreCheck application requirements

To qualify for the TSA PreCheck membership, you must be a U.S. citizen, national, or lawful permanent resident. According to the TSA, you must prove your identity by providing one of these documents:
  • U.S. Passport
  • Enhanced Tribal Card (ETC)
  • Free and Secure Trade (FAST) Card
  • U.S. Enhanced Driver’s License (EDL) or Unexpired Enhanced Identification Card (EID)
  • Re-entry Permit
  • Permanent Resident Card (also known as a Green Card)
  • Foreign Passport AND immigrant visa with I-551 annotation of “Upon Endorsement Serves as Temporary I-551 Evidencing Permanent Residence of 1 Year.”
If you don’t have any of the aforementioned documents, you must provide a valid photo ID and a document that meets U.S. citizenship requirements. You can find the complete list of eligible documents on the TSA website.

How to renew TSA PreCheck?

TSA PreCheck members can renew their membership as early as six months before its expiration date. You can do so online or in person at an enrollment center.
You may want to renew your membership early instead of waiting until the last minute to prevent your membership from lapsing. While the TSA says they process most renewal applications within five business days, it can sometimes take up to 90 days.

Credit cards that reimburse you for the TSA PreCheck application fee

One major perk of the TSA PreCheck membership is that you may be able to get your application fee covered either with a statement credit or by paying with frequent flyer miles and membership rewards points. Here’s a list of a few credit cards and loyalty programs that cover the TSA PreCheck application fee as a member benefit:

Tips for making the most of your TSA PreCheck Membership

Here are some tips and tricks for maximizing your TSA PreCheck experience so that you can enjoy a seamless journey through airport security.

Enter your Known Traveler Number in Your Frequent Flyer Profiles

Phil Dengler, co-owner of the travel planning resource site The Vacationer, recommends that you enter your Known Traveler Number in all of your frequent flyer profiles after getting approved for TSA PreCheck. He says by doing so, your TSA PreCheck membership “will be automatically applied to all new flight bookings you do with that airline.”

Download the MyTSA App to Monitor Open TSA PreCheck Lanes

Dengler says you should also “download the MyTSA App to see which terminals at your airport have open PreCheck lanes so that you can enter the airport in the correct terminal without having to take a long walk to the one with open lanes.”

Consider Global Entry Before Signing Up for TSA PreCheck

If you often travel internationally, Dengler recommends that you check out the Global Entry membership before submitting an application for TSA PreCheck. He says that though Global Entry has a $100 application fee, it includes TSA PreCheck and expedited entry upon returning to the United States from an international trip. So, for $22 more a year, you can save time at airport security even when you travel internationally. However, Dengler says that Global Entry has a lengthier application process, so you should keep that in mind when deciding.

How does TSA Precheck compare to Global Entry and Clear?

TSA Precheck, Global Entry, and Clear are trusted traveler programs that aim to streamline airport security procedures. TSA Precheck offers expedited screening, allowing passengers to keep their shoes and jackets on and keep laptops and liquids in their carry-on bags.
Global Entry goes a step further by providing expedited customs screening upon entering the United States. It also includes all the benefits of TSA Precheck.
Clear, on the other hand, utilizes biometric identification for faster entry and is available at select airports and venues. While Clear and Global Entry offer additional advantages, they come with higher fees and may require additional steps during the application process. Ultimately, the choice between these programs depends on individual travel needs and preferences.
Pros and ConsTSA PrecheckGlobal EntryClear
  • Expedited security screening
  • Keep shoes, belts, and jackets on
  • Keep laptops and liquids in carry-on
  • Shorter wait times
  • Valid at participating US airports
  • TSA Precheck benefits
  • Includes expedited customs screening
  • Eligibility for Global Entry kiosks
  • TSA Precheck benefits
  • Biometric identification for faster entry
  • Available at select airports and venues
  • Not available for all flights
  • Requires separate application and fee
  • Renewal required every 5 years
  • More expensive application fee
  • Requires in-person interview
  • Renewal required every 5 years
  • More expensive application fee
  • Limited availability compared to Precheck
  • Renewal required annually

FAQ about TSA Precheck

How will I know when my TSA PreCheck expires?

Your TSA PreCheck expires five years from the date you sign up for the membership. Six months prior to your membership expiring, you should receive a renewal notification by email from “Universal Enroll.” You’ll also receive another three email notifications three months, one month, and two weeks prior to the membership expiration date. To find out the exact expiration date of your TSA PreCheck membership, check your membership status online. You’ll see your Known Traveler Number expiration date under the section titled “TSA PreCheck Expiration Date.”

How much does TSA PreCheck cost a year?

The application fee for TSA PreCheck is $78 for five years, which comes out to $15.6 per year. To renew your membership online, you’d pay a nonrefundable renewal fee of $70. In-person renewals are a bit more expensive, with a nonrefundable renewal fee of $78.

Can my TSA PreCheck membership be revoked?

Yes, it’s possible. If you commit violations of federal security regulations, such as assaulting the flight crew, making bomb threats, or bringing explosive items to the airport, your membership could be temporarily suspended or permanently disqualified, depending on how severe the offense was.

How do I check my TSA PreCheck status?

You can check your TSA PreCheck status by heading to the TSA Enrollment website. Once you arrive on the homepage, scroll down to the bottom, and you’ll see a section titled “Check My Service Status/Make Payment.”

How much time does TSA PreCheck save on average?

According to the TSA, on average, PreCheck passengers waited less than 5 min in 2023. In busy airports like JFK or Miami International Airport, having a TSA PreCheck membership can save you up to 40 minutes at security checks and prevent you from missing your flight.

What are the payment methods for the application fee?

You can pay the TSA PreCheck membership application fee with a debit card, credit card, money order, company check, or cashier’s check. If you’re a member of one of these credit card companies or loyalty programs, you may be able to get some or all of your application fees covered.

Key takeaways

  • A TSA PreCheck membership costs $78 and lasts five years, which translates to $15.60 per year.
  • Over 200 airports and 85 airlines participate in TSA PreCheck.
  • To apply, you must fill out an online application, schedule an in-person appointment, provide proof of U.S. citizenship/residency, and pay the application fee.
  • You can renew your membership as early as six months before it expires. Renewal is done either online or in person.
  • Certain credit cards and loyalty programs like the Bank of America Premium Rewards credit card may reimburse you for the application fee.
  • Consider Global Entry if you travel internationally often. Though it’s $22 more expensive, it allows you to enjoy expedited entry from international trips.
Overall, TSA PreCheck is a pretty great deal. For a one-time application fee of $78, you can breeze through airport security without removing your shoes, belt, or jacket for five years. And if you’re a member of certain credit card rewards programs, you may be able to get TSA PreCheck for free.
However, don’t just apply for a specific credit card for the purpose of receiving reimbursement for your TSA PreCheck application fee. Make sure the card fits your lifestyle and spending habits, and consider factors such as the annual fee and introductory APR. And if you’re looking for more ways to save on travel, check out our picks for the best travel credit cards.

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