TSA PreCheck vs. Global Entry


Want to know the differences between TSA PreCheck and Global Entry before making a decision?

We did.

And we figured out the nit-picky details.

TSA PreCheck vs Global Entry
Sick of this?

There are only three differences:

  • Benefits
  • Interview Locations
  • Cost

We”ll go over each of them below.

TSA PreCheck has been quite scrutinized lately, and justly so, due to the tremendous wait times at airports that the program does not seem to alleviate.

Still, either program is worth considering.

The main factor for many when choosing is the distance to the nearest interview location.

Scroll down to see what we mean.

But if you need an answer now we will give you one and you can stop reading the rest of this article.

Which should I get?
Get Global Entry.

It’s better.

That’s it. End of discussion.

As long as you can get to an interview location that is.

The Global Entry program has included benefits, is managed by the CBP and you’ll get access to TSA PreCheck INCLUDED with membership.

So there…you can stop reading the rest of this article concerning these two Trusted Traveler Programs.

But in case you want more specifics…keep on reading.

Though we do want to say it again:

Everything vs. Not as much
Global Entry membership has TSA PreCheck included as one of its benefits.

A stand alone TSA PreCheck membership has NO other benefits.

No Global Entry, NO SENTRI, NO NEXUS.

So there, NOW you can stop reading.

Benefits between Global Entry and TSA PreCheck

See the TSA PreCheck signs with folks leaving their shoes on their feet and laptops in their bags.

Naturally you want THAT, right?

TSA PreCheck lanes at San Diego airport with Global Entry membership
TSA PreCheck comes with Global Entry

Well there are two ways to get TSA PreCheck:

1: Apply directly through the TSA and receive: “precheck”. You’ll get a KTN number sent to you via email. You will not get any sort of TSA PreCheck card.


SENTRI card with Global Entry card. Both share each others benefits2: Apply for Global Entry and receive: A Global Entry card with your photo on front and KTN or PASS ID on the back.

The difference:

With Global Entry membership you get TSA PreCheck INCLUDED. Along with the benefits of Global Entry. And a SENTRI pass. AND A NEXUS card.

Global Entry comes with a lot.

With just an application for TSA PreCheck you get…TSA PreCheck.

Thats it!

No use of Global Entry kiosks returning from your European vacation.

No use of SENTRI lanes when returning from Mexico.

Just PreCheck.

And that proves more than enough for some.

Thousands of folks sign up for PreCheck every month.

However, if you want PreCheck and travel out of the country at least every once and a while…consider Global Entry.


In a nutshell:

  • Global Entry cost: $100 for 5 years
  • TSA PreCheck cost: $85 for 5 years

At only $15 more over 5 years…Global Entry memberships is clearly the better choice considering how much more its members my get in terms of benefits, in our opinion.

If the price difference over 5 years between the two programs deters you, perhaps you should not apply for any program and save your money.

Though, the CBP has seen that Global Entry members have received TSA PreCheck more often than members of the stand along PreCheck program.

For what it’s worth, we here have used our Global Entry cards for air travel 30+ times in the last 2 years and have ALWAYS received TSA PreCheck.

The application process for either program is the same:

  • Online application
  • In-person interview


Global Entry members will not need to re-apply for TSA PreCheck in order to use it’s benefits. It’s included upon membership and the PassID (KTN) is assigned to you when you get your Global Entry card.

Your PassID will be on the back of your card and servers as your KTN or “Known Traveler Number” for getting that all important TSA PreCheck printed on your boarding pass when you purchase tickets.

KTN is located on the back of your SENTRI card

TSA PreCheck interview vs Global Entry interview

Both programs require an online application and an in person interview.

The applications

The TSA PreCheck application is managed by the TSA themselves and found on the government’s Universal Enrollment website.

It is quite user friendly and intuitive.

Their web interphase is quick and painless and makes you wish they could transfer their computing know how to the actual security screening process.

This is not the same Global Entry.

Global Entry Kiosks
Global Entry Kiosks

Global Entry applications are completed through their enrollment system called GOES or “Global Online Enrollment System”

The GOES Global Entry application, feels like it was designed in 1995, and requires applicants to create a UserName and Password along with entering basic appropriate information about your citizenship, address history, work history and countries visited.

The GOES application requires multiple page refreshes and redundant questions such as entering your Name and Date of Birth a total of 3 separate times.

The non intuitive and poorly structured form can deter some.

You can even get denied your Global Entry application for some pretty strange reasons, and loose your $100 application fee in the process.

Something Better
We see this as room from improvement and have put all Global Entry application questions one One Page. It’s even Mobile Friendly too. Take a look before you apply and gather your documents beforehand.

The Interview:

The Interview Locations: This can be a huge determining factor.

Global Entry Interview with passport
Global Entry Interview

Can’t get with the program if you can’t get to an interview location.

  • There are 300 + TSA PreCheck enrollment centers.

Don’t let the only double digit number of Global Entry intervew locations deter you. Most are in all major cities and major airports.

Some airports have Global Entry mobile enrollment centers set up at certain times for frequent flyers to take advantage of enrolling. So keep an eye out.

Another downside for Global Entry interviews: available interview dates.

At some interview locations for Global Entry available interview dates are 6 months after your application is conditionally approved.

We love Global Entry, but this does seem a bit much.

The shortest, or should we say closets interview dates to when your application is approved seem to be at the San Diego Global Entry enrollment centers.

San Diego has two SENTRI enrollment centers that function as Global Entry enrollment centers as well.

Global Entry Finger scan and custom kiosks at airport
Your fingerprints will be scanned so you can use Kiosks like this.

Available dates are usually the following month after approval.

Nearby Long Beach and Los Angeles Global Entry interview dates are further in the future, for example.

Your Global Entry interview is conducted by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer at one of these location where photo will be taken and fingertips scanned as well.

Your TSA PreCheck interviews are conducted by a TSA “officer”.

The amount of TSA enrollment centers and available officers to staff them can be quite a boon (a good thing) for those that just want the expedited security screening and who NEVER travel internationally.

The format and questions asked are relatively the same.


Programs designed to ease traveling woes do have a peculiar way of making them available to the populous.

TSA PreCheck for all…and that’s all you get.

For an extra $3 a year you become a Global Entry member and get it all.

Most all enjoy either program when it works correctly.

And depending on:

  • how much you travel
  • how soon you need to be a member
  • where you live


The choice between the two could go either way.

Some specific points that need to be mentioned

Global Entry membership is only available for U.S. citizens with a valid U.S. passport as well as citizens of Germany, Netherlands, Panama, South Korea, Columbia, Singapore, United Kingdom and Mexican Nationals.

Other Countries
Your Global Entry membership will even grant you privileges into other countries’ traveler programs through International Arrangements: Such as Germany and Australia.

A small perk, but another nod toward Global Entry

Just want to be told which to get?

Apply for Global Entry.

You’ll get TSA PreCheck included and have a handy Global Entry card to carry your PassID around wherever you may be purchasing tickets.

And if there is an opportunity to take advantage of Global Entry’s benefits, you’ll be glad you’re a member.

Have additional insight into the TSA PreCheck vs Global Entry debate?  Let others know.


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