If you've traveled by air, you know that airport security can be a little bit of a hassle. Enter the CLEAR expedited security programme, designed to make this necessary step a little more bearable, and yes, even faster.
In this article, we'll go over everything you need to know about CLEAR. How does it work? What distinguishes it from other expedited security programmes? And, most importantly, what are the advantages for you, the traveller?
Join us as we take a closer look at CLEAR, exploring its features and answering the most common questions potential users may have. By the end, you'll know whether this programme is a good fit for your travel needs.
H2. 1. What Is The Clear Program?
Since everybody hates long lines, the CLEAR program was created. It was a new answer to the ever-present problem of airport security checkpoints.
The CLEAR program is a streamlined system that employs biometric identification technology to authenticate its members' identities. Because of this, CLEAR can provide a variety of perks to its members.
One of the main benefits of Clear is that members can bypass the security queues and continue directly to the physical screening. This reduces wait times and allows tourists to avoid the stress and aggravation of standing through long lines.
Plus, with the information regarding wait times and gate changes on CLEAR’s mobile up, its members would have a much easier time navigating the airport.
On top of that, identity security is also one of the main focuses of the CLEAR program. With the biometric identification and screening procedure, its members can have peace of mind and temporarily forget about identity fraud.
Clear's security commitment has also resulted in collaborations with the Department of Homeland Security, the Transportation Security Administration, and other government officials.
Because of these reasons, the program not only helps enhance the customers’ experience but also helps the security reduce the workload. That’s why the CLEAR program has quickly gained popularity and love from the travelling communities.
First established in 2010, it has extended to 56 commercial airports and other locations around the United States. If you are already interested in the program, you can check the list here.
H2. 2. Enrollment guide
To use the CLEAR program, you have to enrol in the program before your trip. To do so, you must present a valid form of identity, such as a passport or driver's licence, as well as fingerprint and/or iris scans.
You can start this process online or in one of the CLEAR locations. If you opt for the former, you still need to finish the process at the airport next time your fly.
The reason being the final step has to be done in a CLEAR-supported location. This step includes answering basic questions to authenticate your identity, producing a valid photo ID, confirming a payment method, and adding your biometrics (fingerprints and a photograph of your irises).
The whole process would take you around 5 minutes to complete. If you forgot to complete this before the departure date, there is no need to stress too much.
One thing to remember, though, is that some airports may have different CLEAR procedures. Hence, even if you have experience in using the CLEAR program, check the airport's guidelines before your trip. Especially if it is a new airport, you are coming to.
Important: Sadly, at the moment, according to CLEAR themselves, the program is “currently only available to US citizens and legal permanent residents 18 and older with a valid government-issued photo ID”. This information is extracted from clearme.com on September 2023. We will update new information if available.
H3. Step-by-step guide
Step 1: To begin, go to the CLEAR website and click on the "ENROL TODAY" option. You can also register in person at any of CLEAR's airport sites.
Step 2: After that, you will be asked to input your personal information, including your complete name, email address, zip code, and date of birth. You must also create a password for your account.
Step 3: You will then be asked some more questions in this step. The first concerns whether you want to add a family member to your CLEAR membership program. Consider carefully since it is much cheaper for them this way – only $60 for each additional adult member (up to 3 people). Then make sure to put, if you have one, a promo code in the “Promo Code (Optional)” box.
Step 4: Now, you need to insert your credit card information. Before doing so, remember to read their terms & conditions. It is laborious to read this, but it is a good idea if you want to understand everything thoroughly.
Step 5: After entering your identifying details, you will be requested to set up an in-person verification session. During the appointment, a CLEAR representative will verify your identity and collect biometric data, such as fingerprints and iris scans.
Step 6: After completing the verification process, CLEAR will email you confirming your admission is complete. After that, you can begin using CLEAR throughout the partner airports.
H2. 3. Membership Programs And How To Save Money
If you do a simple Google search for the CLEAR program’s membership cost, your result probably is $189. This $189 price is annual, with $15.75 billed monthly. With this, you are allowed access to airports and stadiums.
Moreover, all members can add up to three adult family members (children under 18 are free) to their membership for an extra $50 per year. Yes, it is a costly program. So, the question is how to get the benefits with less pain.
H3. 1. Get extra benefits from AVIS
If you are like us, the same $189 would be more tolerable with more benefits.
Since CLEAR has partnered with AVIS, program members also receive some perks when renting cars from AVIS. You can check the details here, but we picked these great ones from the list:
- CLEAR Members can save up to 25% off base rates and up to 35% off PAY Now with Avis Worldwide Discount (AWD) number S607800.
- Receive 25% more points for every dollar you spend (Avis Preferred Points).
- Complimentary upgrades (whenever available).
Even though the same amount of money will leave your pocket, this might be nice if you need a car during your journey. However, it’s worth noting that even though there are 65 CLEAR locations, only 54 have CLEAR x Avis available.
H3. 2. Saving up to $40
This one seems, and probably is, more appealing. In collaboration with Delta Air Lines and United Airlines, CLEAR provides members a direct discount on its annual rate. Similar to the case of AVIS, only 51 out of 56 locations of CLEAR are available for this.
Delta SkyMiles members
Free CLEAR annual membership
Diamond Medallion® Members
Premier® 1K® members
$149 CLEAR annual membership
($40 savings off the standard rate)
Platinum/Gold/Silver Medallion Members and eligible Delta SkyMiles American Express Card Members
Premier Platinum/Gold/Silver members and United U.S. Credit Card Members
$179 CLEAR annual membership
(with a 14-day trial)
H3. 3. Ways To Get CLEAR For Free You Don’t Want To Miss
Interestingly enough, there are some discounts you can not find on CLEAR’s website. Those are the benefits of American Express’ business card holders. They offer up to $189-329 statement credit per year towards a CLEAR and CLEAR Plus membership (terms apply):
- The Business Platinum Card® from American Express (Annual fee of $150)
- The Platinum Card® from American Express (Annual fee of $695)
- American Express® Green Card (Annual fee of $150)
- Centurion® Card from American Express (Annual fee of $5,000)
Despite additional fees, several perks American Express provides are worth looking into. If you are already looking for a business card and are also interested in the CLEAR program, they are a no-brainer.
H2. 4. What About CLEAR’s Customer Support Service
For $189 a year, every aspect should be considered. And customer service is one of the most important ones. Clear's customer service is an essential part of its membership program.
The company provides its members with various support systems, including a dedicated customer service hotline and a live chat function integrated into its website.
Members can also receive help through Clear's mobile app or by emailing the company's support team.
Clear's individualised help program is one of its differentiated features. This program provides one-on-one help to members needing additional aid or direction during enrollment or while navigating the airport.
Clear's website also includes a comprehensive FAQ section that answers many valuable and relevant questions. The company has also been active on social media platforms. By utilising many platforms, Clear staff may communicate with its members to discuss their program experiences.
H2. 5. Do you know about CLEAR Sports?
Even though the main topic here is the CLEAR Expedited Airport Security Program, it is important also to address the CLEAR Sports program. It is free for everyone and included in your CLEAR membership.
If you are unfamiliar with this one, it’s another program of CLEAR designated for entering stadiums. With this access, you can enter the venues via CLEAR Lanes in all collaborated stadiums.
Like the CLEAR program in airports, taking family members with you is possible. Each day, a member can bring one adult company through CLEAR Lane. Children under 18 do not need a membership and may enter the Lane with an adult.
To enrol on the program, there are three steps you need to take:
Step 1: Download and open the CLEAR app and select the “Sports and Events” section.
Step 2: Login (if you already have an account) or enrol using a quick selfie. You will then have a QR code.
Step 3: Go to the CLEAR Lane and show an Ambassador your QR code.
It is a relatively simple process. And it is a free program! That’s why it’s worth signing up for your love of sport, and you don’t go to the airport that often.
H2. 5. CLEAR Vs. TSA Precheck vs. Global Entry
Although these programs are not the same as CLEAR’s, they can be great alternatives. Since these programs are for international flights from and to the U.S., the potential candidates for CLEAR are also for these programs.
H3. 1. TSA Precheck
TSA PreCheck is a program to accelerate security screening for passengers travelling from US airports. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) manages the service, which is available at over 200 airports around the US.
TSA PreCheck allows people to keep their shoes, belts, and light jackets on. If you carry laptops and liquids in your luggage, you might not need to take them out. For frequent flyers, this can save a huge amount of time and hassle.
To enrol in TSA PreCheck, you must first fill out an online application and then make an appointment at a TSA PreCheck location. Applicants must submit their fingerprints and submit to a background check at the appointment.
Regarding the fee, TSA PreCheck costs $78 for a five-year membership, or around $16 each year. Members of some airline loyalty programs, such as Delta SkyMiles and United MileagePlus, may also be eligible for discounted or free TSA PreCheck membership.
H3. 2. TSA Precheck vs CLEAR
While both TSA PreCheck and CLEAR provide expedited security screening, they have several key differences.
To begin, while TSA PreCheck is available at about 200 airports in the United States, CLEAR availability is only at approximately 60 locations. TSA PreCheck may be more convenient if you usually fly at airports without the CLEAR program.
On the other hand, as mentioned above, CLEAR members also benefited from its sports program. So, a CLEAR program is still a great option if you are a sports fan.
Another thing is the fee. CLEAR is twice as expensive as TSA PreCheck ($189 vs. $78). This price gap comes from additional benefits CLEAR provides, such as access to premium airport lounges and faster stadium entry.
Furthermore, CLEAR provides a more streamlined security screening process than TSA PreCheck because you can bypass regular security lines after completing biometric screening. If you are late for your flight, this can come in handy.
Finally, the decision between CLEAR and TSA Precheck is determined by your travel habits, interests, and money. If you frequently travel through airports that provide CLEAR and value the identity verification process, CLEAR may be the superior option.
TSA Precheck may be a better alternative if you frequently travel through different airports and value the convenience of faster security lines.
H3. 3. Global Entry
Kind of opposite to the TSA Precheck, Global Entry is a program provided by the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Interestingly enough, Global Entry members also receive perks from TSA Precheck.
It is intended to speed up the customs process for pre-approved members entering the US from another country. Besides U.S. citizens and U.S. lawful permanent residents, people from selected countries are also qualified for this program. These include:
- Citizens of Argentina
- Citizens of Brazil
- Citizens of Bahrain
- Citizens of India
- Citizens of Colombia
- Citizens of the United Kingdom
- Citizens of Germany
- Citizens of The Netherlands
- Citizens of Panama
- Citizens of Singapore
- Citizens of South Korea
- Citizens of Switzerland
- Citizens of Taiwan
- Mexican nationals.
Regarding the benefits, this program accelerates customs and immigration procedures thanks to using automated kiosks. The Global Entry application process includes submitting an online application and paying a non-refundable cost of $100.
Applicants are then subjected to a thorough background check and an in-person interview at a specified centre.
If the application is approved, the applicant will be given a Global Entry card that is valid for five years. The card can be used at participating airports and other ports of entry, making admission into the United States faster and easier.
One thing to take into consideration is that the application processing time is stated to take around 4 to 6 months. You will need to plan to apply for this program.
However, after your interview with the CBP, you will receive a Global Entry card and your Known Traveller Number after 7 to 10 days. By adding this Known Traveller Number to your airline reservation, you can also access the benefits provided by TSA Precheck.
H3. 4. Global Entry vs CLEAR
The easiest thing to notice is that Global Entry is primarily for international travel. In contrast, CLEAR is intended to expedite the domestic airport security process.
The application process is another distinction between the two programs. A background check and an in-person interview are mandatory in the Global Entry application process, which can take several weeks to complete.
CLEARs, on the other hand, may be done in a matter of minutes. Furthermore, CLEAR does not require a background check because it uses biometric identification to confirm the identity of its members.
In terms of cost, both programs have membership fees. Global Entry has a non-refundable fee of $100, while CLEAR charges $179 per year for its standard option.
Even though $100 is expensive for people who don’t travel internationally that often, some credit card companies (American Express, Chase, and Citi) reimburse this.
In short, if you frequently travel within the United States and seek a faster security screening process, CLEAR may be your best option.
Global Entry is the better alternative if you travel internationally frequently and want quicker customs processing and security screening.
H2. 7. Who Should Get Clear
It is important to reflect on your experience. Did the airports you were in have long queues? Did they have TSA Precheck or CLEAR? Can you apply any discounts on the membership? At the end of the day, it comes down to personal preferences. “Worth it” is subjective.
CLEAR can be helpful for anyone who travels through airports regularly and wishes to save time and trouble during the security screening process. It is especially advantageous for business travellers, frequent fliers, and those who appreciate convenience and efficiency. If you only fly once or twice a year, it might not be worth the cost.
Also, if you have experienced stress or anxiety about airport security and long procedures, the CLEAR program can be significantly useful.
For your information, according to the research on Upgraded Points. The gap between wait times in airports, even the same one, around the U.S. is huge.
For example, while it can be as short as 9.1 minutes at Salt Lake City International Airport, the average wait time can be around 23.1 minutes at Newark Liberty International Airport.
What’s more interesting is that in the same airport, Salt Lake City International Airport, for example, the wait time varies even in the same day.
If you have a flight at this airport on Wednesday from 6 – 7 p.m., you only need to wait around 2 minutes to pass through security. However, this number will increase to 26 minutes if your flight departs on Sunday from 11 p.m. – 12 a.m.
H2. 8. CLEAR’s future
Even though you don’t think the CLEAR program is appealing right now, you might want to keep it in sight. Besides all the mentioned areas, CLEAR may expand into more public locations in the future to simplify the process of identity verification and access control. Some sectors, such as hotel check-in, automobile reservations, and retail, might be CLEAR’s next targets.
The organisation has also shown interest in deploying its technology in healthcare, allowing people to securely access medical records and information using biometric data.
CLEAR, with its superior technology and emphasis on ease and security, may continue to innovate and expand into new industries and locations in the years ahead.
H2. 9. Bottom line
What are your thoughts about the CLEAR expedited airport security program?
We know that there has been a lot of information provided in this article, and it might be difficult to come up with a decision immediately. If that is the case for you, we recommend reaching out to somebody who has actually tried the program.
If that is not possible, you can contact CLEAR themselves and ask for a little bit of consulting. Don’t hesitate to ask. We believe they are happy to help you.
We do, too as well! Leave us any of your questions regarding the CLEAR program, we will answer it as fast as possible.
Again, make sure to keep your eyes on CLEAR and its future program. It seems like a lot is coming.
Bui Hoang Hai