Five No Annual Fee (or Low Fee) Cards with Free Global Entry or TSA PreCheck Credit

René’s Points for Better Travel has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. René’s Points for Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our advertising policy, visit visit this page.
Global Entry and APC Kiosks, located at international airports across the nation, streamline the passenger's entry into the United States. Photo by James Tourtellotte

(Photo: James Tourtellotte/CBP)

Travelers not wanting to shell out big bucks for premium travel cards have options when it comes to receiving free Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credits.

René and I both have Global Entry and love it. TSA PreCheck is a must for any US traveler who flies even semi-regularly.

Travel internationally even once a year with a couple of domestic trips here and there? You definitely want Global Entry. Why? Because it speeds you through customs when returning to the US and includes TSA PreCheck.

Global Entry costs $100 for five years. TSA PreCheck runs $85 for five years. The extra $15 is worth it — especially when someone else picks up the tab! 😉

Getting Global Entry (or TSA PreCheck) Credit Through Travel or Charge Cards

Global Entry (or TSA PreCheck) credit is offered as a perk through a number of travel credit cards.

To take advantage of this benefit, you must use the card with an available Global Entry or TSA PreCheck to pay the respective program’s non-refundable application fee. You should see a statement credit within a few days to a week.

Remember: the cardholder does not need to be the Global Entry or TSA PreCheck applicant. I’ve used spare Global Entry credits to give friends the gift of expedited security and customs reentry!

The No Annual Fee Credit Card with Free Global Entry (or TSA PreCheck) Credit

The more I learn about the PenFed Pathfinder Rewards American Express Card, the more I like it.

PenFed Pathfinder Amex CardLearn more about this card!

For no annual fee, you receive:

  • One Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit every four years
  • $100 in annual airline incidentals (onboard food and beverage, baggage fees, club lounge admission, etc)

Why, yes! I’ll enjoy a hundred bucks in onboard cocktails and premium snacks for free every year, thank you! Or maybe I’ll treat myself to the United Club at LAX the next time a client sticks me on UA.

And that Global Entry credit is pretty darn nice, too.

PenFed is a credit union — but anyone can join. It caters primarily to military members, their families, and government employees. Don’t fall into one of those three categories? Take ten minutes and open a PenFed checking account. It requires a $5 minimum balance you can fund from an existing bank account or your debit card. I’m perfectly happy letting $5 sit in the PenFed account knowing I’ll reap the rewards hundreds of times over during the coming years. (I think the interest yield is, like, 0.5%. It’s technically an investment! 😉 )

Read more now about the PenFed Pathfinder Rewards American Express Card

Annual Fee Waived the First Year (And Under $100 Each Year After)

These three cards currently waive their $95 annual fees for the first year — and come with Global Entry and TSA PreCheck application credit.

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card (learn how to apply)

The Capital One Venture Rewards travel credit card.

Learn more about this card!

The Capital One Venture Rewards (learn more) card credits you a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee every four years.

And check this out: you can use the “Purchase Eraser” feature, which lets you apply points against previously purchased travel. You’ll be reimbursed the cash value. Pretty cool, right?

The Venture card was named CNBC’s “Best Travel Card” in 2018 and currently offers a one-time bonus of 50,000 points when you spend $3,000 in purchases within the first three months of being approved for the card. That equals $500 in travel.

Each purchase earns 2X points. There are no foreign transaction fees. And, as mentioned, the $95 annual fee is waived the first year.

Read more now about the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

 

Capital One Spark Miles for Business Card (learn how to apply)

Capital One Spark Miles for Business Credit Card, which offers a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit.

Learn more about this card!

The Capital One Spark Miles for Business (learn more) card credits you a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee every four years.

This card also features the cool “Purchase Eraser” feature!

Earning-wise, you’ll receive a one a one-time bonus of 50,000 points when you spend $4,500 in purchases within the first three months of being approved for the card. That equals $500 in travel.

All eligible purchases earn 2X points. There are no foreign transaction fees. The card’s $95 annual fee is waived the first year.

Read more now about the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

 

United Explorer Card (learn how to apply)

United Explorer Credit Card

Club lounge passes, baggage benefits, priority boarding, and a Global Entry credit are included with the United Explorer Credit Card!

Chase’s United Explorer card is a good deal for people finding themselves on flying United once or twice a year. Cardholders receive two United Club passes each card year anniversary. Considering that one-time club admission runs $59 each, you essentially save $23 each year when using both passes.

New cardholders receive 40,000 bonus miles after spending $2000 in purchases within the first three months of card membership.

You also earn 2X miles on United purchases, at restaurants and on hotel stays.

When traveling United you receive these benefits:

  • First checked bag free when using your United Explorer card to purchase your ticket
  • Priority boarding
  • 25% statement credit on United inflight purchases

The Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit is complimentary every four years.

Learn more now about the United Explorer card

Of the three, I personally favor the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card (read more and compare to other cards) because the minimum spend threshold is lower than the Capital One Spark Miles for Business Card (read more and compare to other cards). The nice things about the Capital One cards include the nifty Purchase Eraser and the ability to use points across a range of travel options.

 

The $89 Annual Fee Card with Hotel Benefits

IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card (learn how to apply)

IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card at https://renespoints.boardingarea.com/ihg-rewards-club-premier-credit-card

Learn how to apply for the IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card

Another Chase card with low annual fee — the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card — offers Global Entry or TSA PreCheck every four years.

Cardholders also receive complimentary IHG Rewards Club Platinum status and a free night at properties 40,000 points or less.

Earn 125,000 bonus points after spending $3000 with the first three months of being approved. Plus, earn 40X IHG Rewards Club points per dollar spent during IHG Hotels & Resorts stays during the first 12 months of your account being opened.

Earn 4X points on all purchases for the first 12 months your account is open!

After that, you’ll receive 2X points at:

  • Gas stations
  • Grocery store
  • Restaurants

1X on all other purchases

The $89 annual fee is not waived.

Learn more now about the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

Why It May Be Worth Getting a Premium Card with Global Entry Credit

Frequent travelers can easily offset the high annual fees from cards such as The Platinum Card from American Express (learn more), The Business Platinum Card from American Express OPEN (learn more), and Chase Sapphire Reserve.

In addition to Global Entry and TSA PreCheck credits every four years, each of the above come with airport lounge access and their own benefits:

The Platinum Card from American Express.

Learn more about the Delta Reserve Card from American Express at https://renespoints.boardingarea.com/dlplat

The Platinum Card from American Express (learn how to apply) carries a $550 annual fee but offers these annual benefits:

  • $200 annual airline incidental credit for a carrier chosen by the cardholder
  • $200 annual Uber credit (offered in monthly installments)
  • $100 annual Saks Fifth Ave credit ($50 each six months)
  • Complimentary admission to American Express Centurion Lounges
  • Complimentary Delta Sky Club access when traveling on Delta Air Lines
  • Complimentary Priority Pass Select membership for airport lounges
  • Complimentary admission to Escape Lounges

You can save a substantial amount of money alone eating and drinking in the airport lounges. That benefit plus the airline and Uber credits easily can earn back your $550 annual fee.

American Express Business Platinum Card

Learn more about the Delta Reserve Card from American Express at https://renespoints.boardingarea.com/dlplat

The Business Platinum Card from American Express OPEN (learn how to apply) carries a $595 annual fee but offers these annual benefits:

  • $200 annual airline incidental credit for a carrier chosen by the cardholder
  • $200 annual Dell credit ($100 each six months installments)
  • $10 Gogo Inflight Wifi Passes
  • Complimentary admission to American Express Centurion Lounges
  • Complimentary Delta Sky Club access when traveling on Delta Air Lines
  • Complimentary Priority Pass Select membership for airport lounges
  • Complimentary admission to Escape Lounges

The Chase Sapphire Reserve card.

Learn more about this card!

The Chase Sapphire Reserve gives its $450 annual fee-paying cardholders:

  • $300 travel credit for airlines, hotels, ridesharing, taxis, parking…
  • Complimentary Priority Pass Select membership for airport lounges

If you can earn back the annual fees on a premium card, it may be worth considering one of those instead. (Or adding another travel card to your arsenal ;-))

–Chris

One comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *