CLEAR vs. TSA Paycheck: Which Works Better?

CLEAR VS. TSA PAYCHECK: It may seem like an inconvenient process but security screening ensures safe travel. This prevents prohibited items from entering sterile sections of the airport. It also identifies low or high-risk passengers. That doesn’t make it any less frustrating. It adds to your travel time by hours and comes with numerous procedures.

Some efforts have been made to alleviate the stress associated with this process. This doesn’t alter the high level of security by any means. It only has the aim to fasten airport check-ins. The two commonly used ones are TSA PreCheck and CLEAR. With these, you won’t have to worry about waiting at long queues. 

Both of these services have similarities and dissimilarities. The TSA Precheck is offered by the government. This facilitates physical screening. On the other hand, CLEAR is administered by a private company. The service focuses on document or identity screening. 

It’s easy to confuse between the two. Several travelers assume you can enter both lanes if you are a member of one. You can’t ensure a speedy screening process with CLEAR services. It’ll only help you go ahead in the security line. This is why many individuals prefer to get both services. 

The TSA PreCheck is available in most airports. CLEAR is available in 32 of the largest airports only. Unlike TSA PreCheck, CLEAR is available in stadiums all over the country. Neither of the two programs is free. CLEAR is a more expensive process though. 

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Each membership costs $179 per year. A TSA PreCheck membership costs $85 for five! The only way you can curb the price is if you hold privileged status in airlines. Some credit cards help too. Let’s compare the two to see what each service has to offer first. 


CLEAR is a travel program certified by the Department of Homeland Security. This program verifies its members’ identities at dedicated biometric security stands. These passengers can use the CLEAR lane to expedite part of the airport security process. 

This platform is available at stadiums and certain concert arenas too. The biometric data collected includes fingerprints and eye scans. You won’t have to wait in a long line for the TSA to check your boarding pass and photos! 

Once the first screening is complete, jump into the physical screening process immediately. This is where the benefits end. You can accelerate the process if you hold a PreCheck membership. 

CLEAR is available at multiple airports, stadiums, and arenas across the United States. It’s harder to find in smaller towns though. Check the program’s location guide to see if it’s in your area. 

This service shortens the time spent at airport security. Getting your ID checked can take hours on busy days. If you are a CLEAR member, you can make use of the special lane. Just get your iris scanned and be on your merry way. 

How do you know if you’re eligible for CLEAR? 

Any American citizen or a permanent resident over the age of 18 can apply for CLEAR. All you need to do is confirm your identity. This can be done through an unexpired card such as a driver’s license or a resident card. 

Once you’re a member, you can add three family members for $50 each year. Children under the age of 18 can use the CLEAR lane without cost. They must be accompanied by a CLEAR member though. 

What’s the application process of CLEAR? 

Applying for CLEAR is easy. It only takes a few minutes. First, you need to register online. Then complete the rest of the process at a CLEAR security checkpoint. 

You need to answer a few questions and share an identification document. Scan your fingerprint and irises too. This helps authenticate your identity at airports. The best part? There’s no wait time. Start using this once your account is set up. 

How much does the CLEAR program cost? 

The CLEAR application process costs around $179 every year. You don’t have to make any appointments before visiting a center. Jumpstart the process by filling out a quick online application. Bring a photo ID with you to fulfill the formalities. 

Also, be prepared to share your biometric information. Clear program is significantly costlier than the TSA PreCheck one. There are ways to reduce the fee. Make use of the free trial first. It’s two months long and that’s enough to figure out whether this program suits you or not. 

Use the revamped American  Express® Green Card to avail traveler’s credit. Your cost is now $79 per year. Members of the Delta SkyMiles enjoy a lower fee of $119 per year. The Delta Diamond Medallions elites can make use of CLEAR services for free. 

Some airlines have partnerships with CLEAR too. United is one of them. General Mileage Plus members can enjoy this program for $119 every year. A co-branded credit card can get it for $109. Top-tier ones such as the United Premier 1K elite can acquire it without charge. 

These memberships last a year only. You can let it renew automatically. Or cancel it by changing the settings of your profile. 

What are the advantages of using CLEAR? 

With CLEAR, you can verify your identity through a touchless biometric scan. You no longer have to face the hassle of waiting in line for a TSA representative. The queues are significantly shorter so you can reach the boarding gates faster. 

It also accelerates the security process at stadiums and arenas. Sign up for a CLEAR Sports pass to enter sports venues quickly. You can do this for free! The program is aiming to expand its reach. It already has. Members of the Hertz Gold Plus Rewards® can rent a car through the Hertz Fast Lane. 

Now that you know what this program entails, let’s look into TSA PreCheck. 

TSA PreCheck

The TSA PreCheck is a travel program administered by the Transportation Security Administration. It falls under the  Department of Homeland Security. The application process requires a background check. 

This program was launched to improve the flying experience for low-risk travelers. They simply have to go through a walkthrough machine rather than a full-body scan. 

If you’re eligible, you’ll be given a known traveler number. You can use this while booking flights. With this, you can enter the expedited PreCheck Security line. You won’t have to go through the struggle of removing your shoes, belt, or jacket. 

That’s not all though. You can also leave your laptop and TSA-approved liquids in your carry-on. For some, it makes all the difference. Some passengers are randomly selected for the traditional screening process. You won’t be able to avoid it then. 

This service is available in all the airports of the country. Even the mid-sized ones. You can check the full list at TSA PreCheck website to be sure. Around seventy-three airlines adopted the process too. This includes American Airlines, Delta, United Airlines, and more. 

How do you know if you’re eligible for TSA PreCheck? 

You are eligible for TSA PreCheck if you are an American citizen. Foreign citizens with specific citizenship or permanent residence can apply too. There are no age limits to this. Children who are 12 or under can use the PreCheck lane when they’re traveling with a member of the program. 

What’s the application process for TSA PreCheck? 

Signing up for this program is no hassle. Head to the TSA PreCheck website and register online. Find the nearest enrollment center and make an appointment for an interview. There are over 360 application centers to choose from. 

Bring an identification document such as a birth certificate or driver’s license. The center will conduct a background check and collect your fingerprints. You’ll hear back from the center within two weeks or so once the interview is complete. 

If you’re deemed as a low-risk traveler, you’ll get a known traveler number. Popularly known as KTN. Enter this number to your flyer profile while making any reservation. Otherwise, you can always add it while checking in for a flight. 

You can now take advantage of the TSA PreCheck lane. Travelers who used this claim the wait time is less than five minutes!

How much does the TSA PreCheck program cost? 

The application process costs $85 only. That too for five years. There are ways to offset the price. Plenty of travel credit cards offer statement credit. You get to enjoy some other benefits too. Frequent travelers are highly encouraged to obtain a travel card. You get travel insurance and even access to the airport lounge. 

You can renew your membership online. You have up to six months before the current status becomes obsolete. You only need your name, date of birth, and KTN number. Some members are required to renew it in person though. 

What are the advantages of using TSA PreCheck? 

Apart from the quick screening process, you get to enjoy comfort. You no longer have to remove shoes, belts, or jackets to appease the security. You can also keep your laptop and TSA-approved liquids in your carry-on. 

The wide availability of TSA PreCheck lanes is a plus. Hundreds of airports have adopted this process making it an easy process. Some credit cards also cover the application fee making it free of cost! 

There is a catch. TSA PreCheck lines tend to be longer than CLEAR ones. A few extra minutes is worth not having to strip down and go through the grueling screening process! 

What happens when you apply for both TSA PreCheck and CLEAR? 

Hear us out. There are advantages of enrolling in both programs. Combined, they make your trip through airport security a breeze. You complete the necessary screening within minutes. TSA PreCheck can expedite your airport screening but CLEAR will help you get in stadiums too. 

Some passengers are randomly selected for traditional screening in TSA PreCheck. You can avoid that problem by applying for a CLEAR membership. Some airlines don’t accept the TSA PreCheck membership. CLEAR doesn’t discriminate. Things are different this year. 

The number of restrictions has increased to impede the spread of coronavirus. CLEAR eliminates the risk associated with touch. Confirm your identity through a simple scan and avoid endangering yourself. 

Invest in both to maximize your airport experience!

So which program is better? 

Now we’re at the crux of the matter. Which program is better? Which helps you get through airport security faster? How do you avoid the crowd and tedious screening process? Let’s weigh the pros and cons once again. If you want an inexpensive way to get through airport security, TSA PreCheck is your best bet. 

You might have to endure a few extra minutes at the line but that’s worth the hassle. 

If you want to maximize your experience at multiple places, CLEAR might be the better choice. It comes with a steep price tag though. It’s also limited to a few locations. TSA PreCheck is undoubtedly available in more locations. Again, you may be subjected to random security screening. Both Clear & TSA have distinct advantages and disadvantages. 

Neither are interchangeable services. CLEAR relies on biometrics to confirm your identity which is ideal in today’s society. A thorough physical check-up doesn’t sound as safe. The two are most beneficial when they work in tandem. One without the other feels incomplete. If you get CLEAR without TSA PreCheck, you avoid the cue but face security screening. 

So it comes down to see what works best for you. Being a traveler is no easy task. Getting through customs is a pain. The crowd is worse. Ask yourself what matters to you the most. If you travel domestically frequently, TSA PreChecks is enough. If you want the VIP experience, get yourself a CLEAR membership. Focus on reaching your destination in a stress-free manner! 

Regardless of your final choice, both offer a convenient way to get through security. Think about your habits, destinations, and frequency of trips before making the final choice!

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