TSA Pre✓® Is Great, But Please Don’t Use Your Points To Pay For It

If you’re traveling this Thanksgiving weekend, I sure hope you have TSA Pre®. If you don’t, why not? It’s one of the easiest ways to help make travel less stressful. I’ve written about the ways you can enroll in the program in this post. I just ask one favor, when you apply,  PLEASE DON’T USE POINTS TO PAY FOR THE APPLICATION FEE.

Thank You.

Here’s why…

I say this because I recently received this email from IHG

Screen Shot 2017-11-21 at 11.15.39 AM

First of all, the people using the TSA Pre® line don’t all dress like this. They usually don’t even know how to go through the checkpoint properly (but they would know if they read our article on that subject). More importantly, using points for the application fee is a HORRIBLE value.

TSA Pre®  enrollment fee is $85. If you spend 30,000 IHG points, you are getting a value of 0.283 cents per point. Even for IHG points, which aren’t worth that much, it’s about half of the value they sell points for during a promotion (I purchased points for 0.575 cents each earlier this year).  Instead of using points for your enrollment fee, you could use those same 30,000 points for a free night in a category 5 IHG hotel, which could be worth over $200.

I did a little more searching and found there are other miles and point programs that will also let you pay for your TSA Pre® enrollment fee with your points. In all instances, this redemption is a terrible value:

  • Carlson Hotels – 60,000 Gold Points
  • United Airlines – 10,000 MileagePlus Miles
  • Marriott  – 25,000 Marriott Rewards Points
  • IHG – 30,000 IHG Rewards Club Points

A much better idea would be to pay for your TSA Pre® application fee with a credit card that reimburses that fee to you. The TSA even provides a list of those cards on their website. Instead of using the credit for TSA Pre® you can also use the credit from these cards to reimburse the $100 Global Entry application fee, which I think makes more sense for most travelers.  (Where applicable, I’ve included a link to my review of the card, otherwise it is direct to the bank’s website).


That’s a bunch of cards that will pay the fee for you. Some of these cards even waive the annual fee the first year. That means there’s no need to waste your points or miles to pay for the enrollment fee for TSA Pre® or Global Entry. Actually, it’s never a good idea to purchase anything with points or miles so don’t go buying headphones, purses, magazines or a set of knives from your loyalty program.

May your travels this holiday season be joyful and your line at the TSA Checkpoint be short.

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