Waiting in airport security lines is pretty much the worst way to start your vacation. And unfortunately, they've been growing longer than ever lately, which has pushed many semi-frequent flyers to consider the $85 investment in TSA PreCheck. If you're ready to experience the benefits of those who are ushered through that "miracle line," you may not have to shell out a dime thanks to these reward and loyalty programs. Though the program costs $85 for five years, there are five alternatives for getting the VIP treatment gratis.
1) Citi Prestige credit card
Yes, there's a $450 annual fee attached to this card, but if it's already in your wallet, listen up: you'll be reimbursed the $85 PreCheck enrollment fee if you charge it to your Citi Prestige. We'd recommend stepping it up a notch and spending $100 to enroll in Global Entry (which includes admission to TSA PreCheck), as the Prestige card will reimburse the full cost of that as well.
2) The Platinum Card from American Express
Another high-brow card that'll run you $450 annually, but if you already have one for its airport lounge benefits, you should know that cardholders receive a full $100 reimbursement for Global Entry enrollment or $85 for TSA PreCheck enrollment. (Psst... if you're not enrolled in either, take advantage of the Global Entry kickback given that it includes automatic inclusion in PreCheck.)
3) Club Carlson points
If you spend more nights in hotel beds than your own, it's possible that you've racked up quite a few Club Carlson points. Beginning in July, Club Carlson members will be able to redeem 65,000 points to receive an authorization code which can be used towards the $85 application fee for five years of hassle-free security screenings with TSA PreCheck. We'd recommend using those points towards hotel stays that cost much more than $85, but at least it'll soon be an option to consider.
4) Thanks Again points
If you're a member of the Thanks Again program, dubbed a "loyalty and engagement platform for airports," you can now redeem reward points for membership in TSA PreCheck via a newly launched multi-airport app. Using the new Thanks Again app, members can locate the places they want to shop, park, or dine across a growing network of 100-plus airports, keep track of the Thanks Again Points they rack up, and determine how they want to redeem them.
5) American Airlines AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard
If you're a loyal AA flyer, it's worth spending the $450 annually to own this card. Not only do you gain access to American's network of airline lounges, but as of last April, you'll also get $100 reimbursed when you charge your Global Entry application to the card. Once you're a Global Entry member, you'll also gain membership in TSA PreCheck.