If you’re a frequent traveler, then you know TSA PreCheck and CLEAR have made it easier to get through airport security lines quickly.  Both services charge a fee, so you may be wondering which service is better and is it worth the cost each year in the case of CLEAR?

Travel Noire has a breakdown of the costs, requirements, and benefits to help you determine which one is the best option for you.

TSA PreCheck

Managed by the Transportation Security Administration, TSA PreCheck is an expedited screening program for U.S. Citizens, law permanent residents, and some international visitors. Travelers apply and undergo an advance screening and interview with an agent. It’s costs $85 to enroll but the fee lasts for five years.  Renewal is $70. Once approved, people will receive their Known Traveler Number (KTN). This number is what travelers use when booking a flight so the TSA PreCheck indicator appears on the boarding pass.

The main benefit of TSA PreCheck is travelers save time.  According to the TSA website, more than 90% of travelers with TSA PreCheck wait less than 10 minutes in security lines at the more than 200 participating airports. Another benefit is travelers don’t have to remove anything from their bags like laptops and shoes stay on, unlike the regular screening lines.

Now, there are some downsides to TSA PreCheck. For starters, it’s not 100% foolproof. Occasionally, travelers have to go through random screenings. Also, as it becomes more popular, expedited screening isn’t guaranteed, especially during peak travel times. TSA approval are limited to people who have a pretty clean background. There are some offenses and crimes that could permanently disqualify you from PreCheck.


CLEAR Plus is a yearly membership that allow travelers to move through airport security faster. While TSA PreCheck requires checking your photo identification, CLEAR Plus at the airport uses biometric data such as their iris or fingerprints. Once verified through the kiosk, a CLEAR member will skip ahead the regular screening line. Travelers who also have PreCheck will go directly to that line and in most cases, puts them ahead of other PreCheck travelers.

The downsides with CLEAR Plus are it’s more expensive than PreCheck and members pay every year. CLEAR also has fewer participating airports, so expect some cases where it’s not available. There are also long wait times at the KIOSKS because members essentially have to walk members to the TSA officer, which slows the line down. Also, travelers don’t get to enjoy the amenities such as leaving your laptop in your bag or taking off your shoes. Like TSA PreCheck, some CLEAR members are selected for random identification checks by security agents, which requires showing an ID.

One upside, however, is that CLEAR can be used beyond the airport in places such as stadiums and arenas.

Clear & TSA Pre-Check

Which One Is Worth It?

Deciding which way to go can be hard, especially if you rely on advice from social media users. For some X, formely known as Twitter, users, CLEAR has been worth the experience at the airport and inspired travelers to add TSA PreCheck.

But for other travelers, CLEAR has not been a reliable experience since its offered in less airports. Some people say it only saves time when the CLEAR is fully staffed.

With TSA PreCheck available at more airports than CLEAR, PreCheck is the better option as it eliminates time and make the screening process less stressful. CLEAR membership is more expensive and without TSA PreCheck, travelers will still have to take off their shoes, remove their electronics, and liquids.  CLEAR, however, is a good option for people who can’t get approved for TSA PreCheck.  For an expedited experience, some travelers have success with both services, but the wait times are getting slower when TSA PreCheck and CLEAR are used together.

Global Entry Is The Real Winner

Global Entry is a trusted traveler program managed under U.S. Customs and Border Protection. It allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers flying into the United States from international destinations.

What’s great about Global Entry, is that travelers can go through the custom lines at a faster pace, especially when the connection is tight. Enrollment costs $100 and comes with TSA PreCheck.  For just $15 more, travelers can get both Global Entry and TSA PreCheck.