If you are sick of standing in line at the airport, it’s time to start thinking of jumping the line. But should you go with TSA PreCheck or CLEAR? Both have their benefits and limitations and I wanted to break down the differences between the two.

TSA PreCheck

TSA Pre-Check

TSA Pre-Check allows you to enter a special TSA PreCheck line at the airport. This is because you have already been pre-screened by the application process.

I first got TSA Pre-Check back in 2018, and I will never ever go back (I actually switched to Global Entry in 2020, but it includes TSA PreCheck — I HIGHLY recommend). I have never stood in a security line for more than 10 minutes (although most of the time there is no line at all) and most of the time I do not have to take my shoes off or my electronics out of my bag when traveling.

According to the TSA, “in June 2023, 88 percent of TSA PreCheck passengers waited less than 5 minutes.”

The Benefits

With TSA PreCheck, you do not need to remove your:

  • Shoes
  • Electronics
  • 3-1-1 Liquids
  • Belts
  • Light Jackets

TSA Pre-Check is available at more than 200 airports and 85+ airlines in the United States and some foreign countries.

Your children, 17 and under, can also join an adult in the TSA PreCheck line when “TSA PreCheck” appears on the child’s boarding pass. I once traveled with a 16-year-old who was not my child though and he was not allowed in the TSA PreCheck line with us.


TSA PreCheck costs $78 to enroll and lasts for five years.

It is then $70 for online renewals or $78 for in-person renewals.

There are credit cards that may offer discounts for TSA PreCheck.

To Apply

1. Apply Online

Submit an online application and schedule an appointment at any of the 500+ enrollment centers.

2. Enroll in person

You can also enroll in person at the airport. This includes a 10-minute in-person appointment that includes fingerprinting for a background check.

Using it To Travel

All you have to do is add your “Known Traveler Number” to your airline reservation before your flight, and then when checking in make sure that your boarding pass says “TSA PreCheck.”


The only limitations I have seen is that occasionally the TSA PreCheck will be closed. This has only happened to me one time and I had to walk through regular security. It can also take a little while to get approved, with seemingly no rhyme or reason to why some people are approved quickly and others are not.

Sign up for TSA PreCheck

You can sign up for TSA PreCheck here.


I have never used CLEAR but I do watch the line when I am at the airport, and many times I have seen the CLEAR line move faster than the TSA PreCheck line.

CLEAR is the private-company equivalent of TSA PreCheck.

The Benefits

With CLEAR Plus, you are allowed to access the CLEAR line at the airports where they operate and skip the regular security line.

At the airport, your face and/or fingertips will be scanned. The platform houses your biometric information in their database and uses member data to verify your identity.

CLEAR also appears to have business accounts, although it’s not clear how much it costs. But if you own a business with employees who travel regularly, it could be a great option.

CLEAR is available at 50+ airports in the United States.


CLEAR Plus costs $189 each year for an individual or $189 a year + $70 per person for a family.

There are credit cards that may offer discounts for CLEAR.

To Apply

You can enroll at your local airport or online. There are sales reps at the airports that will guide you through the sign-up process.

Using it To Travel

When you arrive at the airport, you will find the CLEAR line and there will be a CLEAR rep there to walk you through the process.


Skipping the regular TSA security line with CLEAR does not mean you get to skip the security check. If you have CLEAR and TSA PreCheck, you can go through the TSA PreCheck security check where you can keep your shoes on and your things in your bags. But if you do not also have TSA PreCheck and go through the CLEAR security line, you will skip the regular security line but then be directed to the normal security check where you need to follow the normal rules of taking off your shoes, jacket, belts, etc. and take electronic and your toiletries out of your bag.

Due to a 2022 “incident,” the TSA announced in July 2023 that more CLEAR passengers will be undergoing random ID checks and security screenings.

It does not appear that CLEAR does any security screening other than accessing your identity — so I am not quite sure how they approve customers. TSA PreCheck goes through a stringent security screening process, which is why your membership may not always be approved right away.

Sign up for CLEAR

You can sign up for CLEAR here.

Based on the money alone, I am still very happy with my TSA PreCheck, so I will stick with that. But if you have CLEAR, I’d love to hear your opinions on that. Please comment below!