Select credit cards will cover the fee, helping you move through immigration in a snap.
We’ve all been there: Our international flight lands in the U.S. and we race off the plane, only to come to a full stop at the lengthy lines at immigration and border control. Luckily, there are ways to move through customs quickly. Chief among them is the Global Entry program, which allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the U.S. And guess what? You might be able to get this travel perk for free.
The premise of Global Entry is simple: Travelers who have it present their machine-readable passport or U.S. permanent resident card, place their fingerprints on the scanner for fingerprint verification, and complete a customs declaration. The kiosk then issues a transaction receipt and directs the user on next steps—usually to baggage claim and the exit. But while getting through Global Entry is typically a breeze, applying for it can be a bit of a hassle. Some people also balk at the non-refundable application fee of $100 per person. Little do most travelers know, however, that the fee may be waived—or even included—in some of the premium travel rewards credit cards. Here are some you should have on your radar.
Citi/AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard: If you fly American Airlines often, then this card is worth its $450 annual fee. In addition to reimbursement for Global Entry and TSA PreCheck fees, other noted perks are Admirals Club membership, two AAdvantage miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases,10,000 AA Elite Qualifying Miles after $40,000 spent in purchases (in a calendar year), and no foreign transaction fees.
The Platinum Card from American Express: This Amex card will reimburse you for the $100 application fee, and you can use this benefit every five years—the length of a Global Entry membership. The card also covers the $85 fee for TSA PreCheck, but since the latter is included in Global Entry, it makes more sense to just bite the bullet and apply for Global Entry. Other perks worth mentioning? Airport lounge access, no-fee foreign transactions, complimentary Boingo Wi-Fi, and $200 annual airline credit; all of which help take the sting out of the annual $450 fee. Other Amex cards—including the Platinum Card from American Express Exclusively for Mercedes-Benz and the Business Platinum Card from American Express OPEN—also offer a credit for Global Entry.
Citi Prestige: Similar to the Citi/AAdvantage card, the Prestige includes a $100 fee credit for Global Entry every five years. There’s also $250 in annual travel credit, select airport lounge access, 3x points on air travel and hotel purchases and 2x points on dining at restaurants and entertainment, and for the golfer—or really, just anyone interested in hitting the links—three free rounds of golf. The annual fee is also $450.
The Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card: For the hotel fan (so long, Airbnb!), this card from Chase will pull its weight—think $100 hotel credit on paid stays of two nights or longer; three upgrades to the Ritz-Carlton Club Level each year; and five points per $1 spent at any participating Ritz-Carlton hotel or worldwide partner hotel. And while this card doesn’t specifically offer reimbursement for Global Entry, it does give users a $300 annual travel credit, which can be applied toward the $100 application fee. Suddenly, the card’s $395 annual fee doesn’t seem so bad.
Expedia + Voyager Card from Citi: Similar to the Ritz-Carlton card, this card benefits return purchasers—in this case, those that frequently buy and book through Expedia. Users get four points for every $1 they spend on eligible Expedia purchases, including flights, hotels, activities, and vacation packages. The card, which has a $95 annual fee, also comes with $100 annual air travel fee credit, which can be used toward checked bags, in-flight entertainment or refreshments, and—you guessed it—for either the Global Entry or the TSA PreCheck application fees.
Posted from Conde Nast Traveler