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How to Get Global Entry for Free

If you’re not a member of Global Entry yet, don’t let the $100 application fee scare you. There are ways to get Global Entry for free — using the right credit card is the most common. I spoke with Anton Radchenko, an aviation lawyer and the founder of AirAdvisor, to develop this guide on everything you need to know about the Trusted Traveler Program

Ready to apply? Here’s what you need to know to get Global Entry for free. 

Global Entry Costs and Requirements

Applying for Global Entry is a fairly straightforward process, but be prepared to fill out a ton of information. To start, create a Trusted Traveler Programs account. Once you complete the application, you pay a $100 non-refundable fee. Customs and Border Protection will then review your application. At this stage, you can be conditionally approved or denied. 80 percent of applications are reviewed within two weeks, but some can take up to 12 months or longer. 

Once conditionally approved, you must schedule an interview at a Global Entry Enrollment Center. These appointments can be pretty hard to get, so it’s essential to give yourself plenty of time before an international trip to complete the process. At the interview, you’ll need to bring your passport and another form of identification, which can be a driver’s license or an ID card. 

“Even though new appointment times are released on the first Monday of each month for Global Entry, they get snapped up fast. Not only are appointments scarce, but they can only be done at specific locations, usually only in larger cities,” says Radchenko. “Travelers going for the Global Entry program have been getting pretty creative in getting these coveted interviews, like taking short vacations to cities where there are openings.”

After the Global Entry interview, you’ll receive your card in the mail and can start using the associated benefits. Your membership is valid for five years. Global Entry includes all TSA PreCheck benefits, so you don’t need to enroll in these programs separately. 

To be eligible for Global Entry, you must be 18 years or older and be a citizen or lawful permanent resident of the United States. Minors require a parent or guardian’s consent to enroll in the program. You can also be a citizen of one of the following countries:

  • Argentina
  • Brazil
  • Bahrain
  • Dominican Republic
  • India
  • Colombia
  • United Kingdom
  • Germany
  • The Netherlands
  • Panama
  • Singapore
  • South Korea
  • Switzerland
  • Taiwan
  • Mexico

Note that requirements might vary if you are a citizen of one of these countries, so research before applying. 

Reasons for potential denial or ineligibility can include providing false information on the application, being convicted of any criminal offense, having been in violation of customs and immigration regulations in any country, or being the subject of an ongoing investigation, among others. 

As a full-time digital nomad, there isn’t a program that I recommend more than Global Entry. As a testament to its effectiveness, I recently traveled from Lima, Peru (LIM) to Wilmington, North Carolina (ILM), with a layover in Atlanta, Georgia (ATL). My flight from Lima to Atlanta arrived an hour late, cutting my layover to just over an hour. I was able to deboard the plane, go through immigration, collect my suitcase, recheck my bag, go through security (with TSA PreCheck), take the train from the international terminal to the domestic Delta terminal, and reach my gate in just 35 minutes. If I had not had Global Entry, I absolutely would have missed my connecting flight. 

Michael Paulsen/Houston Chronicle via Getty Images

Credit Cards That Offer Free Global Entry

Paying a $100 fee every five years for Global Entry is more than worth it. However, if you want the benefits without incurring an additional cost, many credit cards reimburse the application fee. There are tons of cards on the market with this perk, so you might already have one in your wallet and not realize it. Here are the cards that cover Global Entry fees, plus their annual fees. 

Credit Cards With an Annual Fee Under $100:

These cards include:

  • Aeroplan® Credit Card: $95 
  • Arvest Visa Signature® Credit Card: $0
  • Bank of America Premium Rewards Credit Card: $95 
  • Capital One Venture Card: $95 
  • Choice Privileges Select Mastercard®: $95 
  • IHG One Rewards Premier Credit Card: $99 
  • Navy Federal Credit Union Visa Signature® Flagship Rewards Card: $49 
  • PenFed Pathfinder Rewards Visa Signature Card: $95, waived for existing PenFed Honors Advantage Members
  • Provident World+ Travel Visa Signature Card: $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $45 
  • United Explorer Card: $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95
  • USAA Eagle Navigator Visa Signature Credit Card: $95
  • U.S. Bank Altitude Connect Visa Signature Card: $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95 (effective Sept. 9, 2024, $0 annual fee)
  • U.S. Bank FlexPerks Gold American Express Card: $85 

Premium Credit Cards:

  • Capital One Venture X Card: $395 
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve® Credit Card: $550 
  • Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard: $595 
  • Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express Card: $350 
  • Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card: $650 
  • HSBC Elite World Elite Mastercard: $395 for qualifying HSBC bank clients
  • Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card: $650 
  • MasterCard Black Card: $495 
  • MasterCard Gold Card: $995 
  • The Platinum Card® from American Express: $695 
  • SKYPASS Select Visa Signature Card: $450 
  • Truist Enjoy Beyond Credit Card: $195 
  • UBS Visa Infinite Credit Card: $495 
  • United Club Infinite Card: $525
  • United Quest Card: $250 
  • U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite Card: $400 

Business Credit Cards: 

  • Capital One® Venture X® Business Card: $395 
  • IHG One Rewards Premier Business Credit Card: $99 
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card: $199 
  • The Business Platinum Card® from American Express: $695 
  • Capital One Spark Miles for Business: $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95

Other Ways to Get Global Entry for Free

There aren’t a ton of ways to get Global Entry for free outside of credit cards. Some hotel and airline programs will allow you to redeem your points and miles for a TSA PreCheck application fee, but most don’t offer the same for Global Entry.

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