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Anyone who has flown in recent years knows how stressful a day at an airport can be. To make a long day on the road a lot less hectic, you may want to consider investing in TSA PreCheck. For $85, you can use TSA PreCheck for five years to bypass the longer security line everyone else has to go through, and you can skip the process of removing shoes, jackets, three-ounce liquids, and portable devices.
If TSA PreCheck sounds appealing to you, but you don’t want to add extra costs to your travel budget, you may find that one of your credit cards or a travel loyalty program will pay for the privilege for you. Let’s take a closer look at how you can get TSA PreCheck for free.
Loyalty programs that allow you to purchase TSA PreCheck with points and miles
Here’s a look at your options when it comes to travel loyalty programs:
InterContinental Hotel Group’s loyalty program, IHG Rewards, offers the opportunity to purchase TSA PreCheck for one person for 30,000 points. You can book select IHG hotels for as little as 10,000 points per night, so consider a compromise. The company owns and operates Holiday Inn, Hotel Indigo, InterContinental, EVEN Hotels and others.
When you purchase TSA PreCheck through the IHG website, it creates a certificate with an authorization code. You then present the code as payment when you attend an in-person meeting after completing the application online or in person. This option is also only for new TSA PreCheck applicants and not for those renewing their status.
Southwest Rapid Rewards
Similarly, you can use Southwest Rapid Rewards points to purchase one TSA pre-check. This system also gives you a code that you use as payment and is only suitable for new applicants.
However, since Southwest points are valued at about 1.6 cents, you will spend about $150 worth of points to get the $85 TSA pre-screening. This might not be the best deal unless you just don’t have any extra points or one of your family members has points that would otherwise expire.
Transferring Southwest points from one account to another is not free, so it’s best to use them to purchase TSA PreCheck.
United Mileage Plus
You can also use 11,000 United Mileage Plus to cover the TSA PreCheck application fee and you are allowed to purchase up to 10 miles per year. Again, you will be given a code to pay, and this is only good for new applicants.
If you have additional Marriott points, you can get a free TSA PreCheck code with 25,000 points. Marriott passes points to most airlines at a 3:1 ratio, making them worth about one-third of an airline mile or point. So it’s a slightly better deal than Southwest or United as 25,000 points divided by 3 for cost comparison would be about 8,333 points compared to their 10,000 points. The offer works exactly the same as other deals.
If you are a Platinum Orbitz Rewards member, you can apply for a TSA Pre-Validation for free.
Radisson Rewards Americas
If you are a Radisson Rewards Americas member, you can redeem 65,000 points for the TSA PreCheck registration fee. Once you use these points, 65,000 points will be deducted from your account and you will receive an email with an authorization code.
Cards that offer TSA PreCheck and Global Entry credits
Chase Sapphire Reserve is one of several credit cards that offer TSA or Global Entry pre-screening credit once every four years (another program that gives you TSA pre-screening and fast track back to the U.S. when you travel overseas) when you pay with your card.
Some other cards that offer credits for TSA PreCheck and Global Entry include:
You can also get TSA PreCheck using the miles and points you have earned in lieu of paying a fee. Several airline and hotel loyalty programs allow you to use your points to “purchase” TSA PreCheck, although you should consider whether these points can be put to better use on free flights or hotel rooms.
However, if you have points that are just lying around, you can also use them for something useful and save $85 on the cost of TSA PreCheck. Credit cards are very helpful, but since they only offer one credit card, you may still need to complete a TSA pre-screening for other members of your household.
TSA PreCheck is a great tool to have in your travel toolbox. While $85 isn’t a bad price for a faster, less stressful trip, it’s always worth seeing if your credit card rewards program or travel loyalty program will cover the costs before you pay for it yourself.