Comparing TSA Precheck and NEXUS: Choosing the Right Option for You – Lonely Planet

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Streamlining Airport Security: A Comparison of TSA PreCheck and NEXUS

Navigating airport security can be a hassle, but trusted traveler programs like TSA PreCheck and NEXUS aim to make the process easier. Both programs offer expedited security screenings, but they cater to different travel needs and have unique benefits. To help you decide which program is right for you, we’ll compare TSA PreCheck and NEXUS in terms of eligibility requirements, benefits, costs, and coverage areas. By understanding the differences between these programs, you can make an informed decision and enjoy a smoother journey through airport security.

What is TSA PreCheck?

TSA PreCheck is a trusted traveler program operated by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in the United States. It is designed to expedite the airport security screening process for eligible passengers, providing a more efficient experience at security checkpoints. Approved travelers benefit from dedicated TSA PreCheck lanes, which typically have shorter lines and faster processing times than standard security lanes.

Participants in TSA PreCheck can keep their shoes, belts, and light jackets on, and they do not need to remove laptops or compliant liquids from their carry-on bags during screening. This streamlined process saves time and reduces the hassle associated with traditional security screenings. TSA PreCheck is ideal for travelers who want expedited security screenings at over 200 US airports.

How to Apply for TSA PreCheck

To apply for TSA PreCheck, you must be a US citizen, US national, or lawful permanent resident. The application process involves filling out an online application, scheduling an in-person appointment for a background check and fingerprinting, and paying a non-refundable fee of up to $85. Once approved, you will receive a Known Traveler Number (KTN) that you can use when booking flights to access TSA PreCheck benefits.

Credit Cards That Cover TSA PreCheck Application Fees

The TSA PreCheck application fee is up to $85 and is valid for five years. However, many credit cards offer statement credits towards this fee. Some cards even provide credits for both TSA PreCheck and Global Entry, which includes PreCheck membership. Here is a list of credit cards that cover TSA PreCheck application fees:

What is NEXUS?

The NEXUS Trusted Traveler Program is a joint initiative between the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). It aims to expedite the border clearance process for pre-approved, low-risk travelers who frequently cross the US-Canada border. NEXUS allows members to use dedicated lanes at land crossings and kiosks at airports to streamline their entry into either country.

To apply for NEXUS, you must meet certain eligibility criteria and undergo a background check and in-person interview. The application fee is $50 for five years, and once approved, you will receive a NEXUS card that grants you access to expedited lanes and kiosks when entering the US or Canada.

How to Apply for NEXUS

To apply for NEXUS, you must create an online account on the CBP’s Trusted Traveler Programs website. After creating an account, you can complete the NEXUS application form, pay the $50 application fee, schedule an interview at a NEXUS Enrollment Center, and provide the required documents during the interview. Once approved, your NEXUS membership will be valid for five years.

Credit Cards That Cover NEXUS Application Fees

Several travel credit cards offer credits towards NEXUS application fees. These credits are renewed every four years, making them perfect for membership renewals. Here is a list of credit cards that cover NEXUS application fees:

Comparison Between TSA PreCheck and NEXUS

Here is a comprehensive comparison table highlighting the key differences and similarities between TSA PreCheck and NEXUS:

Other Trusted Traveler Programs

If neither TSA PreCheck nor NEXUS suits your specific needs, there are other trusted traveler programs that might be a better fit. Here are two additional programs and their benefits:

Global Entry

Global Entry is a trusted traveler program that expedites the customs and immigration process for pre-approved travelers entering the US. It is particularly beneficial for frequent international travelers. Global Entry includes TSA PreCheck benefits, making it a comprehensive option for those who want expedited processing at both security checkpoints and customs.


CLEAR is a trusted traveler program that focuses on expediting the security screening process at airports and venues using biometric technology. It complements TSA PreCheck and Global Entry by providing expedited identity verification. CLEAR is ideal for frequent travelers who value speed and efficiency in passing through airport security.

Which Program Should You Apply For?

The choice between TSA PreCheck and NEXUS depends on your travel patterns and needs. If you primarily travel within the US, TSA PreCheck is the more suitable option. However, if you frequently travel between the US and Canada, NEXUS offers additional benefits for expedited processing at both countries’ borders. Assessing your travel habits and preferences will help you determine which program aligns best with your needs.


Trusted traveler programs like TSA PreCheck and NEXUS can significantly streamline your travel experience. By understanding the differences between these programs and considering your specific travel needs, you can make an informed decision and enjoy expedited security screenings and border crossings. Remember to check if your credit card offers statement credits towards application fees, making these programs even more accessible.

About the Author

“As a travel enthusiast myself, I understand the importance of maximizing credit card rewards and miles to enhance your travel experiences. That’s why I partnered with The Points Guy to bring you this series of articles. Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or just getting started, I hope these resources help you make the most of your credit cards and points. Happy travels!” – [Author Name]

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