Can You Get TSA PreCheck For Free? Here's The Best Way To Do It

Unless you're Kim Kardashian, Taylor Swift, Beyoncé, or another celebrity who can jump onto their private jet whenever they want, you are stuck enduring the chaos of airports and security checks. Whether you're living it up in first class or squished into a coach seat, you're still at the mercy of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Yes, that means obeying the infamous 3-1-1 liquid rule, stripping off your shoes, belt, and jacket, cramming your carry-on into an X-ray machine, and possibly being barked at by an officer. That is, unless you've made your life easier with TSA PreCheck, rendering the whole ordeal a tad more bearable.


TSA PreCheck, like Global Entry and CLEAR, is the secret to skipping long airport security lines and avoiding extensive scrutiny. Part of the Department of Homeland Security Trusted Traveler Program, it allows members to breeze through security and navigate the airport with ease. In November 2022, the TSA even did everyone a solid by dropping the price of a standard five-year membership from $85 to $78. If you're active duty military or a Department of Defense civilian employee, congrats! You get a free membership — just enter your DOD ID number in the Known Traveler Number field when booking your flight. For the rest of us? We have to cough up the cash, but the fee is reimbursable with an eligible credit card. Or, you can use your airline and hotel rewards, miles, or points to cover the cost.


You can reimburse the TSA PreCheck application fee with many credit cards

The TSA has teamed up with numerous credit card companies to help their customers save on membership fees. This is probably the easiest way to score TSA PreCheck for free, as there are typically no extra hoops to jump through for reimbursement. Just charge the membership fee to your chosen card, and voilà — your next credit statement will show an automatic reimbursement. The best part? Even if you applied for someone else, your card will still reimburse you, no questions asked. However, don't get too carried away. Most credit card providers only offer reimbursements once every four or five years, so you can't expect the same card to cover your whole family's memberships every time.


Here are just a few of the credit cards that reimburse TSA PreCheck membership fees, but you can find the full list right on the TSA website.

  • American Airlines Credit Union Visa Signature credit
  • Arvest Visa Signature credit card
  • Bank of America Premium Rewards credit card
  • Capital One Spark Miles card
  • American Express credit cards (various types)
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card
  • Choice Privileges Select Mastercard
  • Citi/AAdvantage Executive World EliteTM MasterCard
  • Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express Card
  • HSBC Elite World Elite Mastercard
  • IHG One Rewards Premier Credit Card
  • Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card
  • Mastercard Black Card
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card
  • Truist Enjoy Travel credit card
  • UBS Visa Infinite Credit Card
  • United ClubSM Infinite card

Use your collected points from airlines and chain hotels to cover TSA PreCheck

If you don't own an eligible credit card and don't want to apply for one but still want to avoid paying the fee for a TSA PreCheck membership, check if your loyalty program has enough points or miles to cover the cost. Five rewards programs offer reimbursable membership fees through miles or points redemption: IHG One Rewards, Marriott Bonvoy, Orbitz Rewards Platinum, Southwest Airlines and United MileagePlus. To redeem, you must enroll through IDEMIA.


The downside? The miles/points required for reimbursement are pretty steep. For instance, United MileagePlus requires 10,000 miles and Marriott Bonvoy needs 25,000 points. This might not be the best value for your hard-earned rewards, especially if you travel often and could use them for free airfare or accommodations instead. But if those points are just sitting there with no plans for redemption in the near future, go ahead and use them for TSA PreCheck.

Of course, you could always bite the bullet and pay the $78 fee instead. Since it lasts for five years, that breaks down to just $15.60 per year, which is cheaper than a premium Netflix subscription. And if paying $15.60 per year means you get to zoom through the airport hassle-free, the initial investment is well worth it. Call that travel math.