Travel Expertise: Global Entry, Real Benefits for Travelers
Benefits from travel cards aren't what they used to be, except when it comes to Global Entry.
As a frequent flier, I love whatever perks that I might be afforded for being in airports so often. But usually, those benefits come with a hefty price. Whether it's jet lag from jetting to and from different time zones or the membership fees on the travel credit cards I utilize to earn points for more travel. Despite having a system where I make travel work me, at the end of the day, you pay for the lifestyle in some way.
But this is a choice. Despite having a career, where traveling is a non-negotiable, I would also say that travel is my hobby. Even if I'm just taking a road trip for a change of scenery, I'm likely to rent a car with a preferred travel vendor for the benefits. I'm likely to use my CC for gas purchases on the road and I'll probably check any offers for hotels through that same credit card.
Lately, though, Ive been feeling little bit miffed by the "perks and rewards" because they continue to give less and less. As such, my loyalty is waning and I'm re-evaluating my systems. I believe in working smarter and not harder - every travel dollar that I spend, must provide free travel somewhere down the line. Sadly, those opportunities are changing.
Optimistically, I'm happy to say that there is a one travel card that I carry that comes with real benefits for travel and that's my Global Entry card.
If you're not familiar with Global Entry, it's the the Trusted Traveler program offered through the State Department, where citizens can be identified as trusted travelers and expedite much of the Customs and security protocols when traveling.
Here's a quick look at the benefits:
- Cost: Global Entry costs $100 for a five year enrollment. Once you've been successfully approved for the program, you are also automatically enrolled in TSA Pre-Check, which is $85. You essentially get domestic and global travel benefits in one great price. In recent years, American Express and Citibank have offered a Global Entry statement credit (as long as you used the card to pay for it), making the fee free. One other fun fact is that you can also get a tax credit for it (which I took advantage of).
- TSA Pre-Check: As I mentioned, having Global Entry automatically enrolls you in TSA Pre-Check which can be such a clutch lifesaver during busy airport travel days - or when you might be running just a little too late for the airport. Be sure, to add your Known Traveler Number to all of your flights. It's best to create profiles with the airlines loyalty programs and add it there, so you can forget about it. But if you don't want the hassle, be sure to have it added at check-in for each flight.
- Global Entry: While it appears the state department might be expanding the program to other countries, for now Global Entry provides expedited entry back into the US via the Global Entry kiosks and a dedicated GE line at customs after bag check. While it might not seem like much, after a 14 hour long haul flight, the last thing you want to do is stand in a line waiting for your passport to be stamped. You are still required to present your GE "bio data receipt" to a CBP officer. But honestly that's always been my favorite part of getting back stateside. When they say, "Welcome Home."
- Canada: I might need to do a little more research into what the actual terms are for using GE in Canada, but upon traveling back to the US from Vancouver last year, I was allowed to use the expedited security check line. If you're not sure how this works, just be sure to have your GE card available and ask an officer (politely).
- Global Entry Card: Most of the time, you just won't need to use it because your Known Traveler Number is associated with your passport. And you're primarily going to use your passport. But on a few occasions, when I've had a connecting flight and had to pass through customs, it's come in handy. There may be an instance where the dedicated line in closed, thrusting you back in the fray of madness that is leaving an international arrivals terminal. But in this event, have your GE card in hand and head to the exit for flight crew or handicap passengers and ask (politely), if you can use your card to exit there because normal Global Entry is closed. It has always worked for me. And it save a ton of time.
Hopefully you'll consider Global Entry as a part of your personal travel system. I can't really imagine a travel life without it.