How Does CLEAR Save Me Time in Airports?

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CLEAR's main objective is to streamline your way through long lines at security checkpoints. The biometric identity company does this by giving you a safer and faster way to breeze through the screening process at airports and security lines at public venues.

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The CLEAR Basics

When you enter the first half of the traditional airport security screening process, you typically have to wait in a long line to show your photo ID and boarding pass to a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officer.

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This is where CLEAR works to get you to the front of the line at over 50 U.S. airports, from New York to Los Angeles and Seattle to Orlando.

If you are a U.S. citizen or permanent legal resident over age 18, with a valid, government-issued ID, such as a U.S. driver's license, permanent resident card or U.S. passport, you can apply for CLEAR membership.

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How CLEAR Expedites Security Screening

After airline check-in, CLEAR members skip the document-verification screening process because CLEAR saves each member's unique biometric data in the form of fingerprints and iris scans as an encrypted code that verifies their identity.

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If you are a CLEAR member, you enter the airport's CLEAR lane and use the safe, touchless scan to verify your boarding pass and biometrics at a CLEAR kiosk. After verification, the CLEAR agent will escort you to the TSA physical screening line. Your family members under age 18 can use the CLEAR lane with you without needing their own CLEAR membership.

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If you happen to have TSA Precheck along with your CLEAR membership, you'll save even more time.

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TSA Precheck and CLEAR Work Together

CLEAR saves you time during the first half of the airport security process. You'll still need to move from the CLEAR lane to airport physical screening for standard airport security line steps, such as shoe and belt removal and screening of your carry-on baggage and electronics.

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TSA Precheck is administered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and is available at over ​200​ U.S. airports and airlines. The TSA Precheck program expedites the security checkpoint process for low-risk travelers with preapproval to pass through the precheck line.

The TSA Precheck website states that in December 2021, ​94 percent​ of TSA Precheck members got through the precheck line in under ​five minutes​. Working in tandem, CLEAR and TSA Precheck can ease your way through airport security lines.

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Likewise, if you have a Global Entry Card, you can use that to expedite the customs process upon returning to the U.S. from an international airport.

Is Time-Saving CLEAR Worth It?

A time-saving feature is only worth as much as your time is worth to you. If you don't mind standing in unpredictably long lines and trudging through multiple airport security screening processes, you may not think CLEAR is for you.

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As far as CLEAR cost goes, the current annual fee is ​$179​. Add the ​$85​ charge for TSA Precheck and, if you don't fly often, it may seem a steep price to pay. However, by using certain credit cards, like the American Express Platinum Card or Green Card, you can get most or all of that money back as a perk in the form of a statement credit. If you are a cardholder, find out if your credit card company is a CLEAR partner.

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With frequent flyer loyalty programs, you can save big on your CLEAR membership's annual fee. For instance, Delta SkyMiles members and United MileagePlus members receive discounted rates. Delta Diamond Medallion Members receive free CLEAR membership. Find deals like these and the time savings of your CLEAR membership can cost you a lot less than the published annual fee.

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Your CLEAR enrollment and biometrics also get you through security lines at stadiums and other major venues with a CLEAR lane. You can also use CLEAR's free Health Pass feature to keep your health information on hand.

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More Travel, More Savings

CLEAR membership saves time at security lines, especially if you frequently travel through the country's busiest airports, like Atlanta (ATL), Dallas (DFW)or Los Angeles (LAX). If you mainly travel through smaller airports, you may not encounter long lines or need to use CLEAR lanes. How often you use CLEAR will determine how much you get out of it.

Consider also:4 Best Travel Rewards Cards

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