Editor’s Note: This post is constantly updated.
Since becoming a travel reporter in 2021, I’ve added many tools to my travel wheelhouse that have greatly enhanced my experience as a traveler. One way to improve my travel process is to become a member of Clear, the private sector equivalent of TSA PreCheck.
Since 2010, CLEAR has grown into a rapid security program at 51 airports with more than 14 million members nationwide, including stadiums and other large venues.
Clear is a secure identity platform that uses member data, including fingerprints and iris scans, to automate the identity verification step in the US Transportation Security Administration screening process. CLEAR members go through a separate security lane with dedicated kiosks instead of waiting in line for a TSA agent to review their license or passport.
Once your identity is confirmed, a Clear representative will take you to the front of the line for the traditional security screening machine. If you are enrolled in TSA PreCheck, you will go to the PreCheck screening line and proceed normally. If you don’t have TSA PreCheck, you’ll use the normal screening line where you take off your shoes, unload your electronics, liquids, light jackets, etc.
For one year of access, CLEAR costs $189, compared to $78 for a five-year membership to TSA PreCheck.
To help you decide whether you should pay extra for Clear, here’s what you need to know about the expedited airport security program. This includes its benefits, potential drawbacks, and how to get a discounted (or free) membership.
What is clear?
As mentioned, Clear is an identity verification system based on a secure platform with a database that holds your biometric information, including fingerprints and an iris scan, to verify your identity. It facilitates access through one layer of security to locations like airports and stadiums.
How cleaning works
Clear requires passengers to complete two steps: identity verification and security screening. Identity verification occurs in a separate lane for Clear users only. Travelers submit biometric authentication (a fingerprint or iris scan) at a kiosk instead of waiting for TSA to check their government ID and check their boarding pass. After the scanner verifies a passenger’s identity, a Clearing agent will escort the traveler to the actual security screening area, bypassing everyone waiting in the first line.
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If you are enrolled TSA PreCheck, you will go directly to the TSA PreCheck line. Additionally, if you’re traveling with children under 18, they can use Clear Line for free as long as they stay with you or another paying member.
Where clear works
At this time, CLEAR is available at these airports:
- Austin Bergstrom International Airport (AUS).
- Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI).
- Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport (BHM).
- Boise Airport (BOI).
- Boston Logan International Airport (BOS).
- Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG).
- Cleveland Hopkins International Airport (CLE).
- Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW).
- Dallas Love Field (DAL).
- Denver International Airport (DEN).
- Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW).
- Dulles International Airport (IAD).
- Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL).
- George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH).
- Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport (GSP).
- Harry Reid International Airport (LAS).
- Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL).
- Kansas City International Airport (MCI).
- John Glenn Columbus International Airport (CMH).
- John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK).
- LaGuardia Airport (LGA).
- Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).
- Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY).
- Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport (SJU).
- Miami International Airport (MIA).
- Midway International Airport (MDW).
- Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport (MKE).
- Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP).
- Nashville International Airport (BNA).
- Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR).
- Norman Y Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC).
- Oakland International Airport (OAK).
- O’Hare International Airport (ORD).
- Ontario International Airport (ONT).
- Orlando International Airport (MCO).
- Palm Beach International Airport (PBI).
- Palm Springs International Airport (PSP).
- Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX).
- Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU).
- Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA).
- Sacramento International Airport (SMF).
- Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC).
- San Antonio International Airport (SAT).
- San Diego International Airport (SAN).
- San Francisco International Airport (SFO).
- Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA).
- St. Louis Lambert International Airport (STL).
- Westchester County Airport (HPN).
- William P Hobby Airport (HOU).
- Will Rogers World Airport (OKC).
Additionally, clearance is available at select entrances to the following stadiums during certain events:
- Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium — Austin.
- State Farm Arena — Atlanta.
- Coors Field — Denver.
- Ball Arena — Denver.
- Allegiant Stadium — Las Vegas.
- T-Mobile Arena — Las Vegas.
- Sophie Stadium — Los Angeles.
- BMO Stadium — Los Angeles.
- Miami-Dade Arena — Miami.
- Barclays Center – New York City.
- Madison Square Garden – New York City.
- Yankee Stadium — New York City.
- Chase Center – San Francisco.
- Oracle Park – San Francisco.
- PayPal Park — San Jose, California.
- Lumen Field — Seattle.
- Capital One Arena — Washington, DC
How does TSA Clear compare with PreCheck?
Clear further reduces airport security wait times by automating the identity verification process and moving users to the front of the TSA line. However, being cleared does not automatically grant TSA PreCheck status and is currently available at far fewer airports than TSA PreCheck.
Also, Clear does not prevent you from using the streamlined TSA PreCheck security screening process; It is simply designed so that you can reach it faster than otherwise.
Unlike TSA PreCheck, which doesn’t guarantee PreCheck access every time members fly because they might Randomly excluded and sent to standard lines, there is no random exclusion of passengers on Clear. Also, everyone who enters the Clear line is a member of Clear and knows how to operate the system.
On the other hand, TSA sometimes adds non-member travelers who have no idea how it works in the TSA PreCheck line; It sometimes holds the line up. Additionally, TSA PreCheck only works when traveling with a participating airline. In contrast, Clear works when traveling with any carrier.
With that said, Clear and PreCheck are limited to certain hours and may not be available during your flight.
What is the difference between Clear and Clear Sports?
You can also use Clear at selected stadiums thanks to Clear’s Sports and Events Access; It is free and available to all CLEAR members to allow quick access to games at participating stadiums. However, this membership does not provide access to clear non-stadium locations such as airports.
To use Clear Sports & Events, simply download the Clear app and tap the black “Sports & Events” tile. Log in to register before heading to the Clear Lane to show your QR code to a Clear Ambassador.
Remember, members can bring one adult guest through clear lanes to stadiums and venues each day; Children under 18 do not need a membership and can travel in Clear Lane when accompanied by an adult.
How to Enroll in Clear
You can either start the enrollment process online and finish in a clean slate, or you can Complete the entire process in a clean position. The enrollment process takes about five minutes and no appointment is required.
Just remember that you must complete the final enrollment steps in a clean state. These steps include answering a few simple questions to verify your identity, showing a valid photo ID, providing a payment method, and attaching your biometrics (fingerprints and your iris photo) to your newly created account.
To be eligible for clear enrollment, you must be a US citizen or legal permanent resident who is at least 18 years old. You must also have one of the following forms of photo identification: a US driver’s license, a US passport, a US passport card, a US-issued permanent resident card, a state-issued ID or a US military ID.
How to save in Clear
While the typical rate for a Clear membership is $189 per year, there are many ways to avoid paying that full retail price.
To begin with, clear members who are Refer friends to the program everyone gets a free two-month membership.
Clear has partnered with select airlines to offer the following special membership rates to their members:
Delta SkyMiles discount
United MileagePlus discount
To take advantage of these rates, enter your SkyMiles or MileagePlus number during enrollment, or link your SkyMiles or MileagePlus account after enrollment. Since it’s free to join Delta SkyMiles and United MileagePlus, any US-based passenger can access discounted membership rates by linking their SkyMiles or MileagePlus account to their Clear account.
Once you become a Clear member, you can log into your account on the Clear website and add up to three family members for $60 per year. Children under 18 can use the lane for free when accompanied by a CLEAR member.
Which credit cards cover clearing fees as a benefit?
Some credit cards offer users a free Clear membership. The following cards will set you back up to $189 in clear membership costs per year:
Amex Green Card and Amex Centurion Card information is independently collected by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
If CLEAR is available at your home airport or you visit frequently, the program can be a big timesaver for your future trips, regardless of whether you have TSA PreCheck. Often only one TSA worker checks documents for both the TSA PreCheck line and the regular security line, so enrolling in Clear can save you valuable time.
In addition, CLEAR members enjoy more predictable access to security. This means that people who check in online without a checked bag may arrive at the airport closer to their flight departure time than usual.
If you value a predictable travel experience and like having multiple options when it comes to security, Clear is worth your consideration.
Additional reporting by Bennett J. Wilson, Bill Fink and Jason Steele.