Is TSA PreCheck Worth It? It Can Save You Time During a Busy Travel Season

Long lines at the airport won't be a problem with TSA PreCheck.

Passengers lined up at the airport to check in their luggage.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

One way to make your vacation better is to spend as little time as possible in the airport. Programs like TSA PreCheck can help you bypass long lines during a busy summer travel season amid a record tourism rebound. A March 2023 survey from The Vacationer found that 85% of Americans plan on traveling at least once this summer, which is 5% more as compared to 2022. 

With increased travel demand, you could see crowded airports and long lines at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). To combat lengthy wait times, TSA PreCheck provides an expedited screening program in approximately 200 airports across the United States. 

With a membership to the program, you can drastically reduce the time spent waiting in the security line. Even better, you won’t have to worry about removing your shoes, electronics, belt or jacket when being screened.

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How much does TSA PreCheck cost?

Before you buy, keep in mind your application to be deemed a low-risk traveler includes an in-person enrollment portion, and it could take longer than usual to be processed due to an influx of travelers. 

A five-year TSA PreCheck membership costs $78, and you can renew it for $70 up to six months before it expires. It could cost you less, though, as select travel rewards credit cards cover some or all TSA PreCheck application fees through statement credit reimbursement. 

Additionally, teenage children can now accompany a parent or guardian through the PreCheck line for free. Previously, only children 12 and under were eligible, but the policy has since been expanded to include kids aged 13 to 17. 

Is TSA PreCheck worth the money?

With a $78 one-time fee, you pay about $15.50 per year over five years. What do you get for your money? Shorter wait times. In May 2023, 89% of TSA PreCheck passengers waited less than five minutes in security lines, according to the TSA

Even if you're not rushing to catch your plane every time you travel, TSA PreCheck can come in especially handy at some of the busiest airports. With the ability to breeze through the security line, you'll have more time to make your way to your gate — which in bigger airports, could be quite a trek from TSA.

Quick service via TSA PreCheck is also great for frequent fliers who plan to take multiple trips over the course of a year, which 44% of Americans plan to do in 2023, according to the Vacationer.

Get TSA PreCheck benefits with Global Entry.

If you often travel internationally, you may be better off applying for Global Entry. Run by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Global Entry costs $100 and includes a TSA PreCheck benefit. 

Additionally, it offers expedited customs processes when returning to the United States from out of the country. Instead of dealing with customs interviews and paperwork, Global Entry members can complete their customs declaration at a Global Entry kiosk. 

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Erin Bendig
Personal Finance Writer

Erin pairs personal experience with research and is passionate about sharing personal finance advice with others. Previously, she was a freelancer focusing on the credit card side of finance, but has branched out since then to cover other aspects of personal finance. Erin is well-versed in traditional media with reporting, interviewing and research, as well as using graphic design and video and audio storytelling to share with her readers.