I’ve Had TSA PreCheck For 2 Years, and I Swear It’s Worth the Price!
Hip2Save may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you via trusted partners and affiliate links in this post. Prices and availability are accurate as of time posted. Read our full disclosure policy here.
I can’t sing the praises of TSA PreCheck enough!
I signed myself up for TSA PreCheck about 2 years ago, right before I was about to fly out for a vacation, so that I could reap all the benefits of this service: less hassle at security, quicker pace getting through to my gate, and not having to stress about airport business pre-trip.
If you have yet to sign up for this service (which is worth the $85 cost though many credit card companies offer full reimbursement on the application fee), here’s how to sign up and what to expect.
Step 1: Apply online.
It’s really as simple as it sounds. The TSA PreCheck online application took me a total of about 3 minutes. I was a little concerned because I figured I had missed something — it was just a little too easy. The payment wasn’t even required upfront!
They did note on the application that individuals with a history of crime and/or felony should reconsider applying, given the limited chance of being approved for the program. The $85 charge is non-refundable, even if you don’t get approved.
With my clean record outside of a couple of speeding tickets (they’re from my college days… I was young and free!) I proceeded with the application process.
Step 2: Schedule an in-person appointment.
This step will automatically generate after you submit your online application. The location options will vary based on where you live. I thought I would have to go to the airport to do this and deal with the traffic and parking fees, but nope! The location is populated for me was a small identity services office in a nearby suburb.
Since I submitted my application on a Friday, the earliest appointment slot was for the following Monday. I had 13 days until my flight, so I was hoping time would be on my side.
Step 3: Show up for your “interview”.
Don’t worry, this is nothing like a stressful job interview and more of just a confirmation that you’re a real person. In my interview, (which took a whopping 2 minutes as opposed to the advertised 10 minutes) they pretty much confirmed the information I put in on my application and scanned my fingerprints.
They did also ask for my social security number — though it is OPTIONAL. I was told this helps expedite the process. So I added it to my application with the assurance that only the FBI has access to that info…and again, I needed to be approved for this program before my flight in 2 weeks!
This is also when I actually paid the TSA PreCheck application fee. It set me back $85, but it’s valid for 5 years. The way I look at it, even if I travel once per year and go through security twice (on the way there and the way home) that’s only $8.50 to jump to the front of the security line each time. Totally worth it.
Hip Tip: Don’t forget to check out this list of credit cards that will cover your TSA PreCheck application fee!
Step 4: Play the waiting game.
The man who conducted my “interview” was super helpful and told me that it generally takes about a week from the completion of the whole process to receive my KTN (Known Traveler Number) if I’m accepted. Cool, I’ll have my number in time for the trip!
I was surprised and thrilled when I got my KTN only 3 days after that interview via email — half the time they said! Two days after that, I got my KTN in the mail as well. I’m really into the TSA’s policy of saying things will take way longer than they actually do!
Step 5: Update existing boarding passes and save the number for future trips.
I already had my flights booked, so I logged into my Delta account to update my boarding pass with my KTN (I feel really cool saying I have a KTN). I also saved a picture of the number on my phone in case I needed to show it again at security.
Make sure that when you’re booking your flight, all of your information matches the information that coincides with your KTN. On one flight, my date of birth was wrong on my boarding pass so my TSA Pre✓ didn’t work, which required me to go back to the service counter to have my passenger information updated… but then it was smooth sailing from there (and was also faster than if I had waited in the regular security line).
Now, here’s a fun surprise…
On my first flight using TSA Pre✓, I was traveling on a vacation with my boyfriend and my TSA Pre✓ number was actually on his boarding pass as well. I talked to a TSA customer service representative to see if this would be a regular thing.
Since I had booked the flights together but included his Delta Frequent Flyer number for his ticket, they were able to review his flight history and deemed him as a low-risk companion. This allowed him to use the line with me as a preview to the program, in hopes he would sign up as well but isn’t guaranteed every time. However, we’ve taken 3 trips together and it has given him my TSA Pre✓ number every time!
Here’s how TSA Pre✓ could benefit you!
It’s great for families!
While my trick for extending my TSA Pre✓ benefits to my boyfriend isn’t a sure thing, it is guaranteed that children under 12 years old are able to accompany their parents in the TSA Pre✓ line as long as the parent has a valid KTN indicated on their boarding pass.
It reduces travel stress.
Whether you travel with or without kids, it’s a great benefit to not have to stress about being at the airport hours before takeoff. Does anyone else’s dad still insist to arrive at the airport 2 hours before seating begins, or is that just mine? 🤔
It’s less work for your carry on bags.
Set it and forget it. Instead of having to pull out your bag of liquids and laptop from your carry on, you simply place your bag on the conveyor and walk through — WITH YOUR SHOES ON! Seriously, easy peasy!
Don’t be like the McAllisters from Home Alone! Combine the skip-the-line and easy walkthrough aspect of security, and you’ve got the makings of one headache-free airport experience, especially when traveling with little ones!
All in all, I’m SO happy I applied for TSA Pre✓ and have been loving it for the past 2 years! My airport experience couldn’t be easier!
Thank you so much for posting!! I realized my united card covers this cost, so I made my application a few days ago. I was nervous about the interview, but after seeing this post I’m not!
You’re so welcome, Miranda! Happy this post could help ease your nervousness!
I have a 6 and 12 year old children. If I am understanding well I have to pay for two one for my 6 year old and I and a second one for my 12 year old?
Children 12 and under can go through pre-check with their parents for free. Once your child turns 13, they need their own precheck number.
In my experience if you book your flights at the same time the other passengers usually get selected for pre check on their tickets too. I would risk not doing it for children unless they fly on their own.
I agree! Definitely worth it!
Our credit card reimbursed us for only one of us. If I had know that, I would have paid separately and with another card that would have covered it. But still well worth the price!
My kids and I are always marked TSA Pre-Check even though my husband is the only one who has paid for it. Maybe becuase the tickets are booked under him? I don’t know why, but I’m good with it!!
If you travel out of the country, sign up for Global Entry. It’s only $100 for 5 years and INCLUDES Pre-Check! I’ve cleared Customs at JKF in NYC on a busy Saturday in 3 minutes!!! Best money every spent. Once I missed a connection in Houston because Customs and Immigration was backed up – never again!
I second Global Entry as the way to go if you do any international travel (including Mexico and Canada).
Third for global entry!!! Came back into the country through three four different airports from international flights and two cruises and it’s never taken more than 5 minutes
4th for global entry! SO easy, even if you don’t plan on traveling internationally anytime soon, it is valid for 5 years.
I only go to Germany once a year. I dont’ think it is worth it besides because I have walking issues I get pushed through in a wheel chair and it all goes quickly.
Yes, do the global entry! It’s $15 more ($100 total) includes TSA pre check!
Or, alternatively, you can just be like me: old and with a high credit score! LOL I always get sent to the TSA Precheck line, even though I have never paid for the service.
Lol I’ve always been sent to the TSA pre check line too and have never paid for it. Maybe because they’ve heard about my son and want us through as fast as possible!
We also have Global entry. If you plan on flying internationally it will save you considerable time when you reenter the US. Plus it includes TSA precheck! Well worth it…
especially if you have connecting flights.
Yes! It is so worth it. Even if you don’t travel busy airports the convenience of leaving your shoes on and electronics/toiletries in your bag is worth the price.
That sure is a great perk! Thanks so much for commenting, Annie!
With Global entry the kids have to have their own number love that includes the TSA.
We have global entry for years now, and we love it as a family. We typically take 2 or more international trips a year and it is so worth it.
I agree on both TSA Precheck and Global. It is a lifesaver when you are running late and the security checkpoint line is long!!
Get Global Entry it is only $20.00 more than TSA Precheck and includes TSA Precheck! Good for 5 years and worth every penny of it! Saved me over an hour wait the first time I used it for international and I have the TSA Precheck on all domestic flights. Priceless!!
Thanks so much for the suggestion, Simpleton! Happy to hear how much time you have been able to save!
This was useful – I never really looked into it before because I assumed I’d need to buy for all 5 members of our family (and I understand it’s not a guarantee, but sounds like our chances of staying together are pretty good). That said, yes, I’m an old fogey and still get to the airport 2 hours beforehand, especially with my kids, who are slower getting through security, distracted by everything, and undoubtedly will need to use the bathrooms a few dozen times before we board. Also, if you’re checking anything, you raise the chance of having your luggage delayed if you don’t give them sufficient time to get it loaded. I find it far more stressful screaming in at the last minute – I like kicking back in that dead time and reading my book while my kids people-watch the tarmac.
My client is an airline and i can tell you, so long as you get it in 45-60 mins before you depart, you will be fine (esp with my own experience flying so much)
Definitely the BEST $85 that I’ve ever spent, especially considering I travel monthly for work. My ‘interview’ was about 10 minutes long and painless.
Make sure you have all the proper paperwork at your appointment. I applied a couple of years ago but when I showed up for the appointment, I was told I couldn’t continue with my application until I came back with a copy of my marriage license to bridge the gap between the name on my birth certificate and the name on my drivers license and Social Security card.
I also had to go back a 2nd time, to bring a certified copy of my marriage license … but that was my fault because my Social Security card didn’t exactly match the name on my Drivers License (which has my maiden name as my middle name … stupid, I know). So, just remember that your SS card must match your Drivers License … or remember to bring your Marriage License).
many airports have a kiosk so you can apply right there. you may want to call.ahead to check plus bring the required documentation. I applied and had my interview while I was waiting for a flight !
Thank you for this wonderful post. My reason for not traveling as much is because of Atlanta’s horrible TSA process. Thanks for the Global entry tip as well…Will Global entry work when traveling with a child 12 and under or will I have to make an additional purchase?
How do you get reimbursed?
You can look here to see some companies that reimburse.
My hubs and I paid $100 each for Global Entry. We filled out applications and sent our money. We drove over 3 hours to a major airport after scheduling our interviews. They did background a check, we had one on one interviews, fingerprinted and photographed. I’ve been stopped 3 out of 3 times from international flights. Never happened before this. And now it’s embedded in my passport and can’t be removed. Ugh. Pay to be frisked. Lol!
I though TSA precheck doesn’t need interview. Only Global Entry needs interview. I just checked Global Entry interview time online, it seems all the locations around me are all booked up through this year! @_@
Also I would like hear some experience from whoever has only 1 criminal record many years ago, how likely he/she will be rejected? Thanks!
I’m glad you posted this and happy to hear about your great experience. Unfortunately, my family applied for Global Entry last February, we were approved in April and weren’t able to get our interviews until last Friday (almost 11 months after applying). Our location (Boston Logan Airport) is very difficult to get an appointment at and they don’t do walk ins. I’m happy to say it is all complete now and we’re optimistic that this will make travelling easy for us in the future!
I didn’t realize that you didn’t have to take items out of your luggage and not remove your shoes with this program. I find that process stressful, especially when I’m bringing rescue dogs back from Puerto Rico. I just thought it was to go through a shorter line and figured with so many people joining it would just make the standard line shorter.
The airports I went through still require allowable liquid items to be taken out and scanned separately. The only thing they allow with TSA pre-check is to wear your shoes through security.
What aurports? I’ve used it in at least 10 airports through the country and never have to remove liquids or electronics.
Thank you so much for this post. I travel all the time for work, and had never looked into it. Turns out my c/c will cover it too! Woo hoo! This is going to save me so much headache!
That’s awesome! You’re very welcome! 🙌
Better yet…. sign up for Nexxus the traveler program for going to Canada. It is only $50, includes TSA pre-check and you can use it for air or car travel. It is good for 5 years, issued by the government. Similar process as TSA pre-check, application and interview. Our daughter lives in Montreal and it saves so much time going through customs and security! But also, it is only $50! What a deal.
Our kids did Nexxus and they agree with you. Best one for them as they make frequent car trips to Canada from Detroit
Glob entry is only $15 more and is even better!!! Breezing through the lines when you arrive from an international flight is amazing. If you think there is any chance at all you will travel internationally in the next 5 years it’s totally worth the $15. It’s not something you would be able to “add on” later, so if you decide you want it before the 5 years for precheck is up you would need to pay a new $100.
I want to second and third and fourth this post.
I have had TSA pre-check going on 3 years. I travel at least 2x a month for work. Its a LIFESAVER- why? not only am i lugging alot of computers etc with me (at the min. 1 printer, 2 laptops, cords, my cell phone etc) that i do not need to unpack, but esp now during winter months, its nice not to have to take off my snowboots!
Also, with bigger airports (LAX, ORD, PHL, CLT, JFK) where there can be huge lines (esp, around the holidays) i have waited at the most (MOST) 10 minutes to get through check.
one time, I burned all my miles and took a friend on a trip. Since she was on my account for the ticket she got (by default) pre-check. This doesn’t always happen, but when it does its awesome!
Best 85 bucks i will ever spend in my life.
global entry interview sites appear to only be at large airports. 2 hours away for me. yuk
If you happen to work for the Department of Defense, you have pre-check automatically. Your DoD ID number is your Known Traveler Number.
Important to know that TSA pre-check lines are closed after a certain time in evening. However if you are lucky and show them your precheck on boarding pass, they will honor the precheck perks.
I’ve had PreCheck for a about 3 years and generally fly 3 times each year. Even if only for holiday travel, the $85 was totally worth it.
My husband and myself were selected for the trial PreCheck many years ago. We loved it so much so when they rolled out the permanent PreCheck we signed up right away. I’ve had to major back surgeries so not having to take off my shoes is huge for me. Plus I get to wear fun shoes or boots instead of slip-ons. Standing in long lines is tough on my back and legs. One time my flight was super early and TSA Precheck wasn’t open yet and I had to go through the regular security line. Well worth the $85 for me.
I travel a lot but our home airport usually has a wait time of 5-10 minutes tops in TSA … so not really worth it for me.. I’ve also been abroad to places that for security reasons they don’t do the screening until right before boarding (you can’t even enter the gates, no special treatment) … I think the bigger issue is TSA provides no real security whatsoever- it’s all an illusion- they just went from a 90% fail rate to 80% fail rate (As in they fail 80% of the time when tested by the gov)… all major threats are caught by the HSI/FBI, NOT TSA (one of my friends gets through a can of mace 99% of the time, I know someone that forgot they had a hunting knife on their belt and got through as well in a major international airport.. but I got flagged once for a thing of yogurt I forgot I had in my breakfast pack- oh no! Alert the authorities! Yogurt!!!🙄🙄🙄)… living in Europe before they don’t require scans for the trains and they’ve had fewer incidents than airplanes and would arguably be more major targets (again major threats caught by the major criminal authority orgs)… also the X-ray machines are ridiculous and cause backups- I’ve been to many international airports with only metal detectors and those lines fly by in comparison (and are just as secure as ones with X-rays- and don’t create false positives- I’ve had so many false positives it’s a joke)… I’ve also seen ppl go in the pre check line all the time that aren’t pre check and I’ve never seen them sent back….. so I guess you can just go in the line anyways 😂😂😂😂
We also have Global entry with TSA PreCheck, and were reimbursed by our Chase card. Totally worth it. I used it coming back from Europe and the line literally took me 3 minutes. Now i waited for my husband a good 15-20 minutes, however but I was also waiting for luggage. So if you don’t check in luggage it can definitely be a time saver. For us it was a wash. But for the domestic flights we’ve loved Pre-check. You don’t need to remove any clothing and or shoes and liquids or laptops. The only issue I had was in Las Vegas the Pre Check line was closed twice, so I had to walk to a different gate where it was open, or wait in the dreadfully LONGGGG line. Otherwise it’s been smooth sailing and it’s totally worth it! I also recommend printing your boarding passes so in those cases where there is no open Pre Check line, the agents may not subject you to the same rules when going through security if they see PreCheck on your boarding pass.
I went for my interview today and it was so simple & quick. The interview was really nice & thorough!,Hopefully I hear some positive news early next week!
Oh great! Thanks for the update! Good to know how smooth the interview process was for you!
If you or your spouse work for the DOD/Military you can enter their CAC ID Card # into the KTN spot. We use this each time and our entire family of 4 always ends up in the TSA PreCheck line without having to pay for anything.