CLEAR Vs. TSA PreCheck: You Can Now Get Both at the Same Time

CLEAR Vs. TSA PreCheck: You Can Now Get Both at the Same Time

CLEAR Vs. TSA PreCheck: You Can Now Get Both at the Same Time

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CLEAR Vs. TSA PreCheck: You Can Now Get Both at the Same Time

If you’ve ever checked in your bags, wandered to the airport security line, and promptly thought “we are definitely going to miss our flight” when you saw how long it was, well, there’s now yet another way to avoid that.

When TSA PreCheck launched in December of 2013, it had just seven airline partners and was only available in about 40 airports. Today, the government-run service is available at more than 200 airports with 93 participating airlines, allowing approximately 32 million travelers to use expedited security lines without removing their shoes, laptops, or liquids.

And while signing up for PreCheck is pretty easy, the final step of the process — going to an interview at an approved TSA PreCheck office — can be quite difficult if you don’t happen to have an office near you.

CLEAR vs tsa precheck- airport security line

Both CLEAR and TSA PreCheck aim to shorten how long it takes for travelers to get through airport security lines. Photo: Jim Lambert/Shutterstock

But as of late April 2024, TSA PreCheck has a new partner, and it’s one you probably recognize if you travel a lot: CLEAR.

“The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced today that it is expanding TSA PreCheck® with CLEAR, which is now offering TSA PreCheck enrollment services at participating airports,” wrote the April 30 release. That means you can apply for CLEAR and TSA PreCheck online at the same time, rather than having to do each separately. It also means you can do the in-person part of the application at a CLEAR airport office, instead of having to go to a TSA office. With the announcement, CLEAR becomes TSA’s third PreCheck enrollment partner, along with IDEMIA and Telos. Travelers never had to decide between CLEAR vs. TSA PreCheck, but now, getting them both will require only one application process.

Right now, there are only three CLEAR enrollment centers, at Orland International Airport, FL; Sacramento International Airport, CA; and Newark Liberty International Airport, NJ; but more will be opened in the coming months.

CLEAR vs. TSA PreCheck

CLEAR vs tsa precheck - clear kiosk

Photo: Michael Vi/Shutterstock

TSA PreCheck and CLEAR are both tools to get you through TSA security lines faster, but they work in different ways. When it comes to CLEAR vs. TSA PreCheck, the latter is run by the government and lets you use a special security lane with less strict procedures. These lines are usually much shorter, as they’re available only to TSA PreCheck holders, and also move faster, as PreCheck holders don’t need to pull out laptops or remove shoes. It’s not the same as Global Entry, though Global Entry holders automatically get TSA PreCheck, too.

But CLEAR is a private service that speeds up the part before the security check: the identification check, where you show your license or passport to a TSA officer. CLEAR members can use the fingerprint or eye scan kiosks at select airports to bypass the ID check, going right to the security scans. If you have both CLEAR and PreCheck, you may be able to go straight from the CLEAR kiosk into the TSA PreCheck security line, though some airports may still funnel you back into the general security line. Without TSA PreCheck, you’ll need to use the general security line, even if verify your identity with CLEAR.

CLEAR is available at 70 airports as well as some other large venues, like Madison Square Garden in NYC and the Chase Center in SF. But it’s not without controversy, and a new bill proposed on the West Coast would ban the use of CLEAR at California airports, claiming it’s inequitable and not fair to other travelers.

Of course, there’s a cost to the convenience. While TSA PreCheck on its own is $78 (total) for the first five years, followed by a $70 renewal fee every five years, CLEAR is far pricier, setting users back $189 per year. Since it’s not available at all airports, it’s worth checking if your usual airport has a CLEAR line before springing for both programs.

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Hi, I’m Steven, a Florida native, who left my career in corporate wealth management six years ago to embark on a summer of soul searching that would change the course of my life forever.