Do you have five minutes of time to spare? That may be all you need to renew your TSA PreCheck membership based on the program’s new digital setup.
The PreCheck program is informing existing members that they can update their memberships if they are approaching the expiration date that occurs at the five-year mark. Members actually have the option to renew up to six months before a membership expires. Of course, your actual experience will depend on exactly what’s going on with the Transportation Security Admnistration’s website at the moment you try to renew your membership.
More than 7 million people currently use PreCheck. The expedited screening process provided to PreCheck members is designed to allow low-risk travelers to get through security checkpoints quickly. The program is in place at checkpoints that are operated by 56 participating airlines at more than 200 airports. PreCheck members don’t need to remove their shoes, belts or light jackets when passing through TSA screenings. They can also keep their laptops inside their bags. The TSA claims that 93 percent of PreCheck passengers get through security lines with waiting times that equal five minutes or less.
A five-minute processing time is certainly good news for existing PreCheck members. However, it’s important to remember that short wait times are not guaranteed by the TSA just because you have PreCheck membership. Travelers must still comply with all requests made by TSA agents or risk facing some serious penalties. You could still be asked to remove your shoes or take items out of your bag at any point during the screening process at an airline’s security line.
You might want to reconsider if forking over the $85 for a five-year PreCheck membership is really worth it when there might be a better option. PreCheck will only speed up the process for you if you are boarding a flight. It won’t help you get through customs more quickly when you return back to the United States from another country. That’s what Global Entry is for. This program could be a better option to consider if you take international flights frequently. Global Entry only costs $15 more than PreCheck for a five-year membership. However, there is a kicker. Access to TSA PreCheck is included in the cost of Global Entry for qualifying travelers. That means that signing up for PreCheck as a standalone program could be a waste of your time.