TSA has been aggressively promoting its Precheck product by getting airlines, hotel chains, credit card companies, loyalty programs and corporations, such as Microsoft, to spread the word and, in some cases, reimburse Precheck enrollment fees for employees or members. Amex Gold and Platinum, Amex U.S. Bank FlexPerks and some other cards provide card holders reimbursements for Precheck (or Global Entry) application fees for a few years now. Some airlines, including JetBlue, had limited time offers to pay Precheck enrollment fees for upper level frequent fliers. Currently United Airlines, Club Carlson and, as of July 28, Hilton Honors, allow customers to redeem accrued points for TSA Precheck fees. That’s not the best use of your points/miles though.
Now TSA is upping its Precheck enrollment game in more creative ways. Last summer TSA approved the opening of Precheck enrollment centers at H&R Block tax service offices in 27 states. More locations have been added since then. Precheck enrollment sites have been set up in Department of Motor Vehicle offices across Virginia. The company also offers temporary Precheck sign-up centers as a perk for attendees at some big conferences and now has a “Summer Tour” under way bringing pop-up enrollment centers to easy-to-access hotels in 15 cities across the country.
The newest place Precheck is being marketed is at music concerts. As part of a freshly inked deal with mega concert promoter LiveNation, travelers are being encouraged to apply for Precheck status at festivals, such as the two weekend-long Watershed country music festival underway in central Washington State. Under the new partnership Precheck enrollees will not only get expedited security clearance at airports, they’ll be able to access their Precheck status to get Fast Pass lanes at many Live Nation concerts as well.
TSA is aiming for a 25 million goal by 2019. Currently they’re adding about 250,000 people a month and the number is growing. It took 14 months to get the first million Precheck enrollees signed up, 10 months to get the second million and just five months to reach 3 million. 4 million should be reached in about three months.
Although TSA PreCheck is a great feature, you might want to sign up for Global Entry instead. GE members skip the lines at Customs and Border Protection and instead use touch-screen kiosks in the arrivals area of airports. Global Entry costs $100 every five years (vs $85 for Precheck), but members are automatically eligible to the TSA PreCheck program at no additional fee. And you can get it for free as well with some credit cards. One drawback for GE is that sometimes Global Entry enrollment centers do not have available appointments for months, but you might be able to find last minute openings due to cancellations. / NBCnews