TSA PreCheck Renewal Fee Dropped to $70, but You Can Get It for $0

Effective Oct. 1, 2021, the Transportation Security Administration lowered the online renewal fee for TSA PreCheck to $70 from the previous cost of $85. That’s great news for travelers who plan to pay for an upcoming PreCheck renewal.

But, there are ways to avoid paying out-of-pocket for TSA PreCheck at all.

Travelers can use points or miles from certain loyalty programs to cover the application fee. Alternatively, and usually a better deal, you can use a credit card benefit to get your application fee — or renewal fee — reimbursed.

Here’s how to get TSA PreCheck for free, whether it’s your first time applying or you’re reupping your membership.

Tactic 1: Use loyalty program points or miles

A handful of loyalty programs let members redeem their points to cover the application fee for TSA PreCheck. Note that these redemption options generally provide a poor value; however, if you’re looking to reduce your out-of-pocket cost — and don’t have a qualifying credit card — these redemptions could make sense for your situation.

United MileagePlus

United flyers can redeem 11,000 MileagePlus miles to cover the cost of TSA PreCheck. For economy redemptions, NerdWallet finds a base value of 1 cent per United MileagePlus mile. So, you’re giving up around $110 in value to cover the $85 initial application fee or $70 renewal fee.

That’s not the best use of your United miles, but it’s one of the better redemption options for TSA PreCheck with points and miles.

Marriott Bonvoy

IHG Rewards

IHG Rewards members can redeem 30,000 points to cover the application fee for TSA PreCheck.

Radisson Rewards

In short: We don’t recommend getting TSA PreCheck for free with your Radisson points unless you have zero intentions of redeeming these points elsewhere.

Tactic 2: Get a credit card with a TSA PreCheck credit

Credit cards with no annual fee

Two credit cards offer a statement credit for TSA PreCheck application or renewal fee despite charging no annual fee. But, both are lesser-known cards.

  • The Arvest Visa Signature® Credit Card reimburses up to $100 for either Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fees.

  • U.S.-based HSBC Premier checking account holders can hold a HSBC Premier Credit Card for $0 annual fee. One of the card’s perks: Up to a $85 statement credit every five years to reimburse TSA PreCheck application fee.

This high-dollar perk immediately puts cardholders in the green for outsized value from card membership.

Credit cards with an annual fee less than $100

Additionally, several travel credit cards offer a TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fee credit despite charging less than a $100 annual fee. Even better, some of these cards currently waive the annual fee for the first year. So, you’ll truly pay $0 out-of-pocket to get TSA PreCheck.

Low-annual-fee credit cards with free TSA PreCheck include:

Premium credit cards

Not surprisingly, several premium travel cards offer a TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fee reimbursement as a perk of holding the card.

These cards include:

Premium business cards that offer TSA PreCheck application fee credits include:

When to consider Global Entry instead

Most of the credit cards that offer a statement credit for TSA PreCheck will also cover the application fee for Global Entry. So, even though the application fee for Global Entry is $100, it won’t cost you anything extra to sign up for Global Entry instead of TSA PreCheck.

So, which one is best for you: TSA PreCheck or Global Entry? In short, it comes down to two factors. If you travel overseas, Global Entry will save you time when reentering the U.S.; plus, it automatically includes TSA PreCheck benefits. However, there are fewer Global Entry enrollment sites, and interview availability can be harder to find compared with TSA PreCheck.

If you don’t want to pay to get or renew TSA PreCheck

For those paying for TSA PreCheck out of pocket, the reduced $70 online renewal fee is great news. However, travelers can sign up or renew TSA PreCheck for nothing out-of-pocket by using the right credit cards or certain loyalty program points and miles. Just consider which option is best for your situation and whether you should upgrade to Global Entry instead of TSA PreCheck.

How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2021, including those best for:

This post was originally published on Nerd Wallet

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