Glossary

TSA PreCheck (TSA Pre✓®)

TSA PreCheck is a US government program that allows travelers deemed low-risk by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to pass through an expedited security screening at certain US airports.

How do you qualify for TSA PreCheck?

To qualify for TSA PreCheck, you must submit an online application and then complete a 10-minute, in-person appointment at the airport that includes a background check and fingerprinting.

Do you always get TSA PreCheck when you apply?

At this time, only US citizens, US Nationals and Lawful Permanent Residents (LPR) are eligible for the application.

Additionally, there are three types of disqualifying criminal offenses that may cause TSA to deny your application. If a background check reveals criminal offenses in other countries, TSA will deny your application; if you have a record of violating TSA security policies or have any security-related offenses on an airplane, boat, etc. they will also deny your application.

Do seniors automatically get PreCheck?

No. Anyone who wants to receive PreCheck needs to apply. However, TSA does provide people who are 75 years old or older access to an expedited screening process in the regular screening lines: You can keep your light jacket and shoes on.

What documents are needed to apply for TSA PreCheck?

To apply for TSA PreCheck, you must provide an original or certified copy of identity/citizenship status documentation during the application process and the names on all documents must match exactly with the name provided on the application. If you have legally changed your name, you must provide an original or certified name change document (such as marriage certificates and divorce decrees) in addition to the required documentation.

You can use: an unexpired US passport (book or card); unexpired Enhanced Tribal Card (ETC); unexpired Free and Secure Trade (FAST) Card; unexpired US Enhanced Driver’s License (EDL) or unexpired Enhanced Identification Card (EID); Permanent Resident Card or Green Card; unexpired foreign passport AND immigrant visa with I-551 annotation of “Upon Endorsement Serves as Temporary I-551 Evidencing Permanent Residence of 1 Year” or unexpired Re-entry Permit (I-327).

If you do not have any of the above documentation, you must provide a valid photo ID and a document that meets citizenship requirements (e.g., a birth certificate, certificate of citizenship, etc.)

Can you get TSA PreCheck with a felony?

You will not be able to get TSA PreCheck with certain felony convictions on record, including convictions for espionage, murder, threat, and Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) violations.

Along with felonies, some criminal offenses, including extortion, bribery, and firearms related incidents, can disqualify you from being approved for TSA PreCheck if they occurred in the last seven years. Additionally, if you were found not guilty by reason of insanity for a crime, you could be barred from participating in the program.

How long does it take to get TSA PreCheck?

The online application for TSA PreCheck takes about 5-10 minutes to fill out (and be sure to complete the application in one go because you will get timed out of the website). After you fill out the application, you must submit the non-refundable application fee and you must make an appointment to get interviewed, submit fingerprints, etc. After the appointment, you should receive written notification within two to three weeks. There is also the option to check your status online.

How long does it take to get a TSA PreCheck interview?

It depends on where you are located. After filling out your TSA PreCheck application, the website will show interview locations that are near to you and potential interview dates and times. You may be able to schedule an interview within 24 hours, or it may take longer.

How long does the TSA PreCheck interview take?

The TSA PreCheck interview only takes about 10 minutes

What should I bring to the TSA PreCheck interview?

For your TSA PreCheck interview, you should bring the same form of identification that you indicated on your application (see above). Your photo will be taken, so be prepared.

Can I get a TSA PreCheck interview at the airport without an appointment?

Yes, if you’ve already filled out the application online. However, you may end up waiting quite a bit; it’s best to just make an appointment.

How much does TSA PreCheck cost?

The application for TSA PreCheck costs $85. If approved, it lasts for for five years.

How can I get TSA PreCheck for free?

Some travel rewards credit cards will reimburse your TSA PreCheck application fee You’ll pay the fee upfront, but once it hits your bill your credit card will give you a statement credit to match it.

Alternately, being an elite member of certain loyalty programs, like Delta’s SkyMiles, can get your application fee reimbursed; some programs, like United Mileage Plus, allow you to use points for your application.

If you’re a member of the US Armed Forces, enter the DoD ID number from the back of your common access card into the “known traveler number” field of your flight reservations or when updating your Defense Travel System profile for official travel and you’ll receive TSA PreCheck.

Which credit cards pay for TSA PreCheck?

The following credit cards offer a statement credit for the TSA PreCheck application fee:

  • Bank of America® Premium Rewards®
  • BB&T Spectrum Travel Rewards
  • Capital One® Venture® Card
  • American Express® (various cards)
  • Chase Sapphire ReserveSM
  • Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World EliteTM MasterCard®
  • Citi Prestige® Card
  • Diners Club® Carte Blanche® Corporate Card
  • Expedia® Rewards Voyager Card from Citi
  • HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard®
  • IHG® Rewards Club
  • Marriott Rewards®
  • MasterCard® Black Card™
  • MasterCard® Gold Card™
  • Navy Federal's Visa Signature® Flagship Rewards Card
  • Orbitz Rewards®
  • PenFed Pathfinder Rewards American Express®
  • Provident World+ Travel®
  • Radisson Rewards™
  • SunTrust Travel Rewards World Elite Mastercard®
  • UnitedSM Explorer Card
  • United MileagePlus®
  • US Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite® Card
  • US Bank FlexPerks® Gold American Express® Card

Is TSA PreCheck worth it?

If you’d like to go through what is usually a shorter security without taking off your shoes, coats or removing your computer and quart-sized bag of liquids, yes, TSA PreCheck is worth it, especially if you travel frequently.

What are the benefits of TSA PreCheck?

With the TSA PreCheck symbol on your boarding pass, you can utilize a dedicated security line in which you don’t need to remove your: shoes, laptops, liquids, belts and light jackets. It’s faster: In April 2019, 93% of TSA PreCheck passengers waited less than 5 minutes in security lines. Plus, it’s convenient: More than 200 airports and 67 airlines provide TSA PreCheck.

Will I get TSA PreCheck every time? Is PreCheck guaranteed?

If you include your Known Traveler Number (KTN) when you book your ticket (or save it in your airline user profile), then you’ll most likely find the TSA PreCheck symbol on your boarding pass. However, the TSA site states that TSA “uses unpredictable security measures, both seen and unseen, throughout the airport. All travelers will be screened, and no individual is guaranteed expedited screening.”

Can my spouse get TSA PreCheck if they are traveling with me?

No. Your spouse must also have PreCheck to travel through that lane with you.

Can I bring a guest through TSA PreCheck?

No, you cannot bring a guest through TSA PreCheck.

Can I bring my family through TSA PreCheck?

If your family member is aged 12 years or younger and you have a TSA PreCheck symbol on your boarding pass, then they can go through the PreCheck lane with you. If he or she is older than 12, then they need to have their own TSA PreCheck KTN.

Is there an age restriction to apply for TSA PreCheck?

No. However, if a person 12 years or younger is traveling with a parent or guardian who has TSA PreCheck, they can go through the lane with them.

Is known traveler number (KTN) the same as TSA PreCheck?

No. Enrolling in TSA PreCheck will give you a KTN, but these numbers are also issued with Global Entry, NEXUS, and SENTRI. If you’re in the US Armed Forces, you can use your Department of Defense issued ID number as your KTN and receive TSA PreCheck.

Is TSA PreCheck better than CLEAR?

TSA PreCheck cost $85 for five years; CLEAR is $15/month (though some Delta elite flyers receive reimbursement for CLEAR entry). TSA PreCheck is available in more than 200 airports; CLEAR is available in 35. However, if you want to use biometrics (eye scans) to verify your identity and want to be escorted to the front of the line at the scanners like a VIP, then CLEAR might be better for you. In most situations, though, TSA PreCheck is a better choice.

Which is better, TSA PreCheck vs Global Entry?

Global Entry has an edge. It not only saves you time when you’re returning from an international trip and you need to go through customs but since it includes TSA PreCheck, it also saves you time in the security line when departing. If you apply for (and receive) Global Entry, you’ll automatically receive TSA PreCheck (while TSA PreCheck doesn’t automatically grant you Global Entry) so it has an advantage there.

Can I upgrade from TSA PreCheck to Global Entry?

No, you can’t upgrade from TSA PreCheck to Global Entry. You’ll have to apply for Global Entry separately, or wait until your TSA PreCheck is about to expire and then apply for Global Entry.

Last Updated 
May 16, 2019
Scott Keyes
Co-Founder & CEO

Scott has traveled to 46 countries (and 46 states!), living in California, to Oaxaca, to Oregon. He’s left-handed, drinks five cups of tea daily, and holds a vendetta against the “Happy Birthday” song. On a dare, he once ate 13 hot dogs (and a bowl of Dippin’ Dots) at the ballpark. He grew up in Ohio and founded Scott’s Cheap Flights in a Denver coffee shop. Favorite airport: PDX.