Why Travelers Should Invest in Global Entry

I first learned about the Global Entry program a few years ago from a few coworkers who travel frequently for business. After taking my first trip overseas or “across the pond,” I witnessed what it meant to be a member of the program and knew it was something I wanted to invest in – especially after researching more details on Global Entry.

Why travelers should invest in global entry

What is Global Entry?

Global entry is a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol program for pre-approved, low-risk U.S. citizens traveling back into the U.S. from a trip abroad. It allows you to go into a separate lane for expedited access through customs, which can save you quite a bit of time! While it benefits international travelers greatly, there are also benefits for people who travel domestically as well.

Benefits of Global Entry

The main benefits of Global Entry are simple. Shorter wait times! Nobody enjoys long lines, am I right? 

Domestically, members get to go through the expedited TSA Pre-Check lines, where you can breeze through without having to deal with taking your shoes off, laptops out of your bags, etc. 

And internationally, when returning to the U.S., you’re directed to a kiosk to handle your check-in to the country yourself and just show your printed pass to the customs officer before breezing along to the next checkpoint. This is especially helpful if you have a connecting flight you’re worried about catching! 

The Global Entry Approval Process

To apply, you have to fill out a detailed form on the Global Entry website with information like travel history, address, birthday, social security number, job details, etc. You also pay a $100 non-refundable application fee at this point, which also covers your membership for five years, if you’re approved.

After 1-2 weeks, you’ll receive notification that you’re “conditionally approved,” provided all of your info checks out. Then you’re able to access the appointment calendar, where you can schedule a date/time + airport that works best for you. Note that most airports are booked out pretty far for appointments and not all have weekend availability. 

The in-person appointment takes less than 10 minutes! You meet with a customs agent who goes over your application and takes your fingerprints for the fast-track kiosk you’ll use when coming back through customs post-international trip.

Another week or two later, you’ll get your official Global Entry card, which you bring with you when traveling. It also contains your “known traveler number,” which you can add to your airline profile to ensure you get TSA Pre-Check for domestic flights (at participating airports).

Cost of Global Entry

To apply for (and become a member of) the program, you pay a $100 non-refundable fee. For comparison, you pay $85 to be a member of TSA Pre-Check. A $15 difference to include an expedited line for international travel?! Yes, please!

Final Thoughts

Becoming a Global Entry member is hands down the BEST travel investment I’ve ever made. At the $100 price point, this program is incredibly affordable, since it’s good for five years, which means it comes down to $20 per year. 

I officially became eligible to use Global Entry benefits at the end of May (2016). While I only took one big international trip last year (and therefore only used global entry once), I flew on about a dozen domestic flights, where I was able to take advantage of TSA Pre-Check, which is the greatest thing ever, especially when you’re dealing with long security lines!

Are you a member of the global entry program? What travel destinations are on your radar for the year?

  • Alexis Schroeder

    My friend got Global Entry and it’s so convenient! I travel often, but am slowing down the traveling for the next few years, so I’ve decided not to get it yet.

    • It really is! I usually do one big international trip each year, but it’s worth it even for the domestic/TSA piece!

  • I love Global Entry. It’s been so easy… though I miss getting my passport stamped in the US. That has apparently gone by the way side. :(

    • You’re right! I didn’t even think about that. Although I noticed during our recent Europe trip they hardly stamped our passports despite visiting multiple countries. Major bummer!

  • I got TSA pre-approval this year and need to do Global Entry next! My job will pay for it due to how much I travel so it makes sense to take advantage!

    • Woohoo! It’s life changing isn’t it?! It’s definitely worth the extra $15 too – you get both TSA and Global!

  • I would have done Global Entry (8 transatlantic flights in 2016!) but I ALWAYS get an X on passport slip and I was told that won’t go away until I change my name :( So even if I got through everything quickly, I’d still have to see an officer. So annoying!!! I think I might apply for a redress number to avoid the X in the future…I guess my name is close to a terrorist’s name (or so I was told…)

    • Wow, 8?! That’s crazy! I can’t believe they flag you so much! If it makes you feel better I always get selected for the “random check” going through security. Ridiculous!

  • I have heard of this before but I do not have it yet. I have the TSA-approval though! I remember when we got back from Cancun we had to wait in the longest line ever. It is so worth getting!!

    • I couldn’t agree more! It’s the best travel investment I’ve made by far!

  • Nicole Kroutil

    I am not in the States but when I was growing up in Hong Kong they gave us a permanent residency card which, when coming back to the city from any holiday (all trips would be considered overseas) you go into a separate line up where you insert your residency card into the machine it opens a gate you walk through and then give your fingerprint (to make sure it matches card) and boom you’re done. No more waiting in the long lines for other residents who haven’t lived there long enough to get this card and no visitor line up obviously :) takes 5 minutes to get through as opposed to 30-40. Glad the states is incorporating this kind of service! :)

    • That sounds awesome! It really saves SO much time – long lines are no fun!

  • OMG this would be a total lifesaver! Thanks for sharing.

    Alix | http://www.apintsizedlifeblog.com

    • It really is! It’s especially great if you have a connecting flight home on your way back from a foreign country. The lines get SO long!

  • This is so awesome! I’ve never heard of it but I would definitely consider it for traveling! What an awesome way to save time!

    • It’s the best travel investment I’ve ever made! $100 for 5 years and all the expedited lines!

  • This is so practical and something I never even thought of! Thanks for sharing, love.

    • If you travel even a few times a year it’s totally worth the investment!

  • I hadn’t heard of this but it sounds like a great idea! I had been looking into TSA pre-check but this might be a better option.

    • Oh it definitely is! It’s good for 5 years and it’s only $15 more than pre-check!

  • Candy Kage

    This is new for me and something I want to look into. Would be helpful as we are travel this summer.

    • Definitely worth it! Where are you traveling to this summer?

  • This would be so insanely useful for saving time and headaches in international travel. I need to invest in it for sure!

    • It really is! Any big international trips on the horizon for this year?

  • Liz Hagan

    So worth it! It is such a time saver and just less airport hassle!

    • Couldn’t agree more! Best travel investment ever!

  • I had never even heard of Global Entry until a friend was recently telling me how her and her husband were applying for it.

    I don’t travel internationally enough to make it worth it but I can see how beneficial it would be..especially at only $100!

    • It’s great! The $100 covers you for 5 years, so if you look at it per-year it’s totally worth it. Plus, you get Pre-Check for domestic flights!

  • Tia

    I swear by Global Entry. It has been my lifesaver many times.

    • It’s so amazing! AND you get Pre-Check?! I can’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t get it!

  • Rachel Golden

    I’ve actually never heard of this program before! Now, granted, I’ve only traveled abroad once and I’ve only flown once before that, but it seriously sounds like a life saver! I’ve I flew more often I would definitely invest in this. I sounds like SUCH a time-saver.

    (The only time I flew abroad I almost missed my connecting flight because my first flight was delayed and had to seriously sprint through the airport to catch it on time. This definitely would have helped me out, then!)

  • One of my biggest regrets is only getting TSA recheck and not going all in for Global Entry! You travel so much that I am sure it was a great investment!

    ​xx katie // a touch of teal

    • Ah, bummer! Once it expires you should look into Global Entry to take advantage of both! It’s hands down the best travel investment I’ve made!