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TSA PreCheck vs. Clear: Which Should You Choose?

What is TSA PreCheck?

Run by the government’s Transportation Security Administration, TSA PreCheck aims to quickly get you and belongings through security at 200-plus airports in the U.S. More than 85 airlinesparticipate, and they will indicate TSA PreCheck on your boarding pass, which grants you access to the dedicated lane. Once a Transportation Security Officer (TSO) verifies your ID, you can leave your shoes, belt, and jacket on, and keep your laptop and liquids in your carry-on luggage. You can also walk through a metal detector rather than the full-body scanner

The program doesn’t guarantee you’ll get through security faster, and, indeed, so many people are now clued into TSA PreCheck that the line can sometimes be as long as (or even longer) than the general public queue. But generally, you’ll have a smoother experience than if you had nothing. 

What is Clear? 

Clear is a private membership program that expedites document and identity screening. Available at more than 50 airports, the program allows you to quickly verify your identity at biometric security kiosks using fingerprints and eye scans. When your ID is confirmed, a Clear representative escorts you directly to the luggage and body scanner line, skipping over everyone waiting for an agent to check their physical IDs. It’s not limited to airports — you can bypass parts of security at stadiums and arenas (think Barclays Center, Yankee Stadium, and the BMO Center) at Clear kiosks.

Sports and music fans might find this perk compelling. 

How much does TSA PreCheck and Clear cost?

TSA PreCheck costs $78 every five years, which the TSA recently lowered from $85. (It’s also automatically included with Global Entry approval, another program entirely.) Clear costs $189 per year. Some credit cards offer one or both for free or for a discount, so look into your perks to see if they tip the scale one way or the other.

Do you need TSA PreCheck if you have Clear?

If you want to keep your shoes on, Clear won’t help you. Clear is only for speeding up identity verification. There’s no one stopping you from applying for both, though.

Can you use Clear and TSA PreCheck together?

Yes. If you’re a frequent flier, it might make sense to get Clear so you can zip through identity verification and then get placed on the TSA PreCheck luggage screening line, where you can keep your shoes on, leave your laptop in your bag, and skip the scanner.


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