This series of articles about credit cards, points and miles, and budgeting for travel is brought to you in partnership with The Points Guy.

Advertiser Disclosure: This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. This relationship may impact how and where links appear on this site. This site does not include all financial companies or all available financial offers.

Airports are the gateway to the world, but rarely are they peaceful and easy to navigate. Stress can mount quickly as security lines stretch, and wait times at customs can get even longer.

Luckily, Global Entry will expedite your customs experience when traveling home from abroad and get you through security lines faster when traveling domestically. Along with Global Entry, PreCheck, Nexus and Clear are other popular game-changers for savvy travelers seeking a smoother and more efficient journey.

Don't sign up for these programs until you've read this helpful guide. We'll walk you through the best credit cards to get and which ones will cover you for which programs. You'll be breezing through customs and immigration without the added expense in no time.

The best credit cards for airline miles

The best credit cards for Global Entry in 2024

Chase Sapphire Reserve: Best for global travelers 

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is widely regarded as one of the best travel credit cards on the market, and for good reason. One of its standout features is the $100 Global Entry application fee credit, issued every four years. This $100 credit applies to Global Entry and other trusted traveler programs such as TSA PreCheck and Nexus. Nexus is a prescreening program available for travelers entering the U.S. and Canada, which can be useful for frequent travelers.

By covering multiple trusted traveler programs, the Chase Sapphire Reserve allows cardholders to save time and hassle at not just one but multiple checkpoints during their travels. Whether it's speeding through airport security with PreCheck or breezing through customs with Global Entry or Nexus, this credit offers a wide range of benefits that cater to different types of travelers. 

Welcome bonus: Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,125 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.

Rewards: Earn 10X points on Chase Dining purchases, hotels and car rentals through Chase Travel℠; 5X points on flights booked through Chase Travel℠; 3X points on other travel and dining (including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out); 1X point on all other purchases.

Global Entry benefits: Up to $100 application fee credit towards Global Entry, TSA PreCheck or Nexus applications every four years.

Other travel benefits: Annual $300 in travel statement credits, Priority Pass Select membership, trip cancellation/interruption insurance, trip delay reimbursement, primary rental car insurance (up to $75,000 in the U.S. and abroad), lost luggage reimbursement and no foreign transaction fees.

Credit score required: Excellent.

Annual fee: $550.

Pros

  • Application fee credit towards Global Entry, TSA PreCheck or Nexus.
  • The $300 annual travel statement credit partially offsets the annual fee.
  • High earning potential on travel spending.

Cons

  • A high annual fee of $550 may be difficult to justify for some cardholders.
  • Application approval is subject to Chase’s 5/24 rule: Chase likely won't approve a credit card application for someone who has opened five or more new credit cards from any issuer in the past 24 months.

Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partners: How to get the best value

The Platinum Card® from American Express
The Platinum Card® from American Express © Ryan Patterson / The Points Guy

The Platinum Card® from American Express: Best for domestic travelers

It might sound antithetical to bring up domestic travel when we’re discussing Global Entry. But not everyone travels internationally all the time. Travelers who fly domestically on occasion will benefit from a domestic trusted traveler program like TSA PreCheck and Clear Plus. The Platinum Card offers application fee credits for both. 

The Platinum Card includes up to $189 annually in Clear Plus membership fee credit and up to $100 towards Global Entry every four years. Since TSA PreCheck is included with Global Entry approval, you can get up to three trusted traveler memberships covered with this one card.

Clear is beneficial for domestic travel, as it allows members to skip security screenings at select airports, while PreCheck is a great alternative when Clear isn’t available. Overall, the Amex Platinum Card also comes with over $1,500 in travel credits and complimentary airport lounge access, making traveling significantly more enjoyable.*

Welcome bonus: Earn 80,000 points after spending $8,000 within six months of account opening. 

Rewards: Earn 5X points on flights booked directly with airlines or Amex Travel (up to $500,000 per calendar year); 5X points on prepaid hotels booked with Amex Travel; 1X points on everything else.

Global Entry benefits: Up to $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit every year, plus $189 annually towards CLEAR Plus membership.

Other travel benefits: Up to $1,500 in annual travel, dining and entertainment credits; Hilton and Marriott Gold elite status; rental car elite status with Avis, Hertz and National rental car; comprehensive travel insurance; access to Amex’s Global Lounge network; no foreign transaction fees.

Credit score required: Excellent/Good.

Annual fee: $695. (see rates and fees)

Pros

  • Includes a $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit every year, plus $189 CLEAR Plus credit annually. 
  • Access to airport lounges, including Centurion Lounges and Priority Pass Select.
  • Up to $200 in annual airline fee credits for incidental fees.

Cons

  • High annual fee of $695.
  • Some benefits may not be useful for all cardholders who don’t travel often.
  • The current welcome bonus isn’t subject to Amex’s once-per-lifetime rule.

American Express Membership Rewards transfer partners

United℠ Explorer Card
United℠ Explorer Card © The Points Guy

United℠ Explorer Card: Best for no annual fee for the first year

The United Explorer Card's $95 annual fee is waived the first year, making it a great option if you want a card with Global Entry application fee credit at no extra cost. Additionally, the United Explorer Card offers other travel benefits such as free checked bags and priority boarding on United flights with 2 one-time passes each year for your anniversary, making it a valuable card for those who fly with United frequently. 

Travelers can further improve their airport experience with two annual United Club lounge passes. A 25% in-flight purchase rebate can add up substantially, given the inflated prices passengers often pay on flights. Overall, the combination of no annual fee and valuable travel benefits make the United Explorer Card a top choice for those looking to save money on their Global Entry application while enjoying additional perks during their travels.

Welcome bonus: Limited-time offer: Earn 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.

Rewards: Earn 2X miles spent on purchases from United; 2X miles on dining, including eligible delivery services; 2X miles on hotels booked directly; 1X miles on all other purchases.

Global Entry benefits: Up to $100 as a statement credit for Global Entry, TSA PreCheck or Nexus application fee credits every four years.

Other travel benefits: Two United Club passes annually; Premier upgrades on award tickets; 500 Premier Qualifying Points (PQP) for every $12,000 spent (up to twice per year); complimentary first checked bag for you and a companion; 25% statement credit on purchases of food, beverages and Wi-Fi onboard United-operated flights and on Club premium drinks; priority boarding for the primary cardmember and companions on the same reservation; access to The Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection; no foreign transaction fees.

Credit score required: Good to Excellent.

Annual fee: $0 the first year, then $95. (see rates and fees)

Pros

  • Application fee credit towards Global Entry, TSA PreCheck or Nexus.
  • No annual fee during the first year. 
  • Valuable perks when flying United.

Cons

  • High annual fee of $95, which may not be worth it for infrequent travelers. 
  • Limited airline options as the card is specific to United Airlines.
  • Some benefits, such as priority boarding and free checked bags can also be obtained with lower-tier United credit cards or elite status.

10 amazing U.S. hotels you can book with points

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card © The Points Guy

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card: Best for a low annual fee

With an annual fee of only $95, the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card provides great value for frequent travelers who want to save money on their Global Entry application. The card’s substantial welcome bonus and 2X miles earn rate on all spending is great for racking up airline miles for international and domestic travel. 

Cardholders can redeem Capital One miles at a rate of one cent each towards travel purchases or transfer them to 15 different airline transfer partners. The two annual lounge visits and waived foreign transaction fees make it an excellent credit for international travel.

Welcome bonus: For a limited time: Earn 75,000 bonus miles after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months after opening an account, plus a $250 Capital One Travel credit valid during the first year of card membership.

Rewards: Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel; 2X miles on all other purchases.

Global Entry benefits: Up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck every four years.

Other travel benefits: Rental car insurance, travel accident insurance, Hertz Five Star status, up to two complimentary visits a year to Capital One and Plaza Premium lounges, no foreign transaction fees.

Credit score required: Excellent

Annual fee: $95

Pros

  • A $100 application fee credit every four years towards Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.
  • Generous welcome bonus with easy redemption options. 
  • Reasonable annual fee for a card offering Global Entry application fee reimbursement.

Cons

  • Lacks category bonuses outside of Capital One Travel.
  • Capital One pulls applicants’ credit from all three bureaus.

Traveling to Japan using points and miles

Capital One Spark Miles for Business
Capital One Spark Miles for Business © The Points Guy

Capital One Spark Miles for Business: Best for business

The Capital One Spark Miles for Business (see rates and fees) is an excellent choice for business owners looking to save on their Global Entry application fee. Not only does this card offer a $100 credit every four years towards the application fee, but it also comes with a waived annual fee for the first year. This means that you can enjoy all the benefits of this card without having to worry about any additional costs.

Beyond these valuable perks, the Capital One Spark Miles for Business card earns 2X miles on all spending and incurs no foreign transaction fees. These miles can be redeemed for travel purchases or transferred to various airline and hotel loyalty programs, providing even more value. 

Welcome bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus miles after spending $4,500 within the first three months of account opening.

Rewards: Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase for your business; 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel.

Global Entry benefits: Up to $100 application fee credit towards Global Entry or TSA PreCheck every four years.

Other travel benefits: Two annual Capital One lounge visits, no foreign transaction fees.

Credit score required: Good to Excellent.

Annual fee: $0 annual fee for the first year, then $95. (see rates and fees)

Pros

  • Reasonable annual fee for a card offering Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit.
  • Waived annual fee during the first year of card membership.
  • Two annual lounge visits.

Cons

  • The $95 annual fee may be a deterrent for some small businesses
  • Limited travel benefits beyond the Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit.

10 amazing hotels around the world you can book with points

Expedite your time getting through airports with these programs
Expedite your time getting through airports with these programs © Prostock-studio / Shutterstock

What’s the difference between Global Entry, TSA PreCheck and CLEAR?

Global Entry, NEXUS, TSA PreCheck and CLEAR are all programs that offer expedited screening processes for travelers. While all three programs offer benefits for frequent travelers, they each have different focuses and eligibility requirements.

TSA PreCheck vs. Clear: which one is best to expedite your travels

Global Entry
Global Entry processing terminals © Caroline Tanner / The Points Guy

Global Entry

Global Entry is a program offered by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) that allows pre-approved, low-risk travelers to expedite their entry into the United States. It includes a background check and an in-person interview at a Global Entry enrollment center. Once approved, travelers can use automated kiosks at select airports to complete their customs declaration and skip the traditional customs line. If you’re approved for Global Entry, you’ll automatically be enrolled in TSA PreCheck.

TSA PreCheck vs. Global Entry: A guide to picking the best one for you

PreCheck offers expedited security clearance at airports in the US
PreCheck offers expedited security clearance at airports in the U.S. © Joe Raedle / Getty

TSA PreCheck

TSA PreCheck is a program offered by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) that allows eligible passengers to go through an expedited security screening process at participating airports in the U.S. This includes access to dedicated security lanes where passengers can keep on their shoes, belts and light jackets, as well as leave laptops and liquids in their carry-on bags.

Amex Platinum vs. Capital One Venture X: which premium travel credit card is best for you in 2024?

Clear kiosks at an airport
CLEAR kiosks at an airport © Caroline Tanner / The Points Guy

CLEAR

CLEAR is a private company that offers an expedited security screening process for its members at participating airports. It uses biometric technology to verify identity and allows members to skip the standard ID check line. CLEAR does not provide any benefits for customs or immigration processes like Global Entry or NEXUS do. CLEAR is only available at around 50 airports and venues nationwide.

TSA PreCheck vs. CLEAR: which one is best to expedite your travels

Nexus and Global Entry stations at Pearson International Airport in Toronto
Nexus and Global Entry stations at Pearson International Airport in Toronto © Zheng / Xinhua / Getty

NEXUS

NEXUS is a joint program between CBP and Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) that offers expedited processing for pre-approved travelers entering both countries. It includes Global Entry benefits as well as expedited processing at land borders and NEXUS lanes at select airports.

TSA Precheck vs Nexus

Who should get a credit card for Global Entry?

Anyone who wants to save time and hassle at the airport should consider getting a credit card for Global Entry. The application fee credit is very reasonable at $100, which is the same cost as some credit card annual fees. By opting for a card like the Capital One Venture or United Explorer Card, you can get your Global Entry application fee covered and earn points and miles toward your next vacation. It’s a win-win. 

Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partners: How to get the best value in 2024

How to choose the best credit card for Global Entry

When choosing the best credit card for Global Entry, there are a few factors to consider. First, look for a credit card that offers a statement credit or reimbursement for the Global Entry application fee. This will help offset the cost of the program.

Secondly, consider the other benefits and perks offered by the credit card. Many travel rewards cards offer additional benefits such as airport lounge access, travel insurance and bonus points on travel-related purchases. These can all be useful for frequent travelers who are looking to expedite their airport experience with Global Entry.

Lastly, it's important to compare annual fees and interest rates among different credit cards. While some premium travel cards may have higher annual fees, they may also offer more valuable benefits that make it worth it for frequent travelers.

Overall, when choosing a credit card for Global Entry, consider your personal spending habits and travel needs to find a card that offers the best combination of benefits, rewards and value.

How to travel to New Zealand with points and miles

TSA PreCheck will ease your travels and help save time
TSA PreCheck will ease your travels and help save time © Elijah Nouvelage / Bloomberg / Getty

FAQ

How much does Global Entry cost?

The cost of Global Entry is $100 for a five-year membership. This fee is non-refundable and covers the cost of the application process, background checks and enrollment in the program. Many travel credit cards offer reimbursement for the Global Entry application fee as a benefit.

Best travel credit cards for hotels

What is the difference between Global Entry and TSA PreCheck?

Global Entry is a program that allows expedited clearance for low-risk, pre-approved international travelers entering the United States. TSA PreCheck is a program that allows expedited security screening for domestic flights within the United States.

How to use points and miles to save money on travel

Who is eligible for Global Entry?

U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents and citizens of certain other countries are eligible for Global Entry. 

Best credit cards for road trips

Global Entry stations
Global Entry is the easiest and most convenient way to return to the U.S. after traveling abroad © U.S. Customs and Border Protection

How can I get Global Entry for free?

You can get Global Entry for free through certain credit cards that offer a statement credit or reimbursement for the application fee. 

The best travel credit cards

Can I use my Global Entry credit for someone else?

Yes, you can use your Global Entry credit for someone else’s application as long as you provide your credit card as payment.

The best flexible rewards credit cards for airlines in 2024

* Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions, and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by Amex Assurance Company.

Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.

Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

This article was first published Oct 6, 2023 and updated Feb 14, 2024.

Explore related stories

Dominical, Costa Rica - An aerial view of a car driving along a dirt road surrounded by water on either side.  © Jordan Siemens / Getty Images

Destination Practicalities

Getting around in Costa Rica

Jul 3, 2024 • 6 min read