Denver, CO

Should you get CLEAR if you already have TSA Pre-Check?

Brittany Anas
Security lines have been longer than usual at Denver International Airport. TSA Precheck and CLEAR memberships can save travelers time.Denver International Airport

By Brittany Anas / NewsBreak Denver

(Denver, Colo) With the busy summer travel season approaching, officials at Denver International Airport are encouraging passengers to arrive two hours before their boarding time—not departure time as has been the advice in the past.

A surge in travel after two years of COVID restrictions plus major construction projects at Denver’s airport require extra time (and patience) to navigate DIA, which is the third busiest airport globally. As a result, security lines have been snaking around baggage claim, and travelers have used Twitter to complain about the long waits.

If you’re a frequent Denver-based traveler, you may already have TSA Precheck, which can expedite your time through security. But you’re probably curious: Should you also get CLEAR now that the airport is becoming extra busy?

Maybe. If you’re a frequent flier and want to shave a few extra minutes off your wait time in the security lines, getting CLEAR might be the best option for you.

First, an explainer: TSA Precheck requires a background check and it expedites the physical screening process. You can leave your laptop in your carry-on bag and you don’t have to take off your shoes when going through security. In most scenarios, TSA Precheck travelers have access to shorter lines than standard travelers. TSA says that 94 percent of Precheck passengers get through security in under five minutes.

CLEAR, on the other hand, uses biometrics to scan your eyes or take your fingerprint to speed up the travel document check process. Once you check in at the CLEAR kiosk, an employee escorts you to the front of the security line. In a nutshell, you get to cut in line before everyone else, including anyone in the TSA Precheck lane.

However, CLEAR is a private service and it costs more than government programs like TSA Precheck and Global Entry, which offer several years of membership with a single fee. The standard cost for CLEAR is $189 annually.

But some credit cards like the Platinum Card from American Express or The Business Platinum Card from American Express provide statement credits to cover the cost of CLEAR memberships. Mileage programs through United and Delta also provide discounts on CLEAR memberships.

CLEAR kiosks are available at more than 50 airports and stadiums, including Denver International Airport.

At DIA, TSA Precheck passengers and TSA Precheck passengers with Clear should use the North Security Checkpoint. The South Security Checkpoint is for standard screening travelers, but does have a CLEAR lane.

The bottom line? The two services can work in tandem, and, combined, can be the quickest route through security. However, it’s possible to enroll in CLEAR—but not TSA Precheck (and vice versa).

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Brittany is a journalist in the Denver metro area with more than two decades of writing and editing experience. She covers travel, restaurants and other lifestyle topics.

Westminster, CO

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