Global Entry is a program of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection service that allows pre-approved, low-risk travelers to receive expedited clearance upon arrival into the United States. In my opinion, it’s a no-brainer decision for any frequent traveler to sign up for this program. The $100 non-refundable application fee is a small price to pay in order to blow past the long immigration lines when returning to the United States. Your Global Entry status is then good for five years. So that’s $20 a year. Where else can you buy VIP treatment for twenty bucks?
What makes this an even better deal is when you’re approved for Global Entry, you also get a Known Traveler Number (KTN), giving you access to TSA Pre✓® lanes at domestic airports. This program charges an $85 membership fee if you apply for it separately, so it only costs an extra $15 to get expedited entry when entering the U.S. on international flights (as well as some cruise ports and land crossings). You could just apply for TSA Pre-Check instead of Global Entry but the process is similar and if you’re getting reimbursed, why not go for the better deal?
Priority Pass is a program that provides access to airport lounges, business suites and credits you can use at airport restaurants. While you can buy a membership into the program, most people from the United States have a Priority Pass Select membership through having a credit card which provides it as a perk. That’s where things get interesting. While the access to the club may be limited due to capacity issues, the cardholder will get in by showing their Priority Pass card (or a digital card if available). If you want to bring in a guest, each card has rules that are worded slightly differently and those small differences may cost you an additional $32 for each extra guest in your party.
Back in the day, I had a list of things I needed to do before going on a trip. Among other things, I had to print out the itinerary, pack the travel books and call the banks to let them know I was going to be using my cards in places I usually didn’t. This was especially important if I was traveling outside of the U.S. because the last thing I wanted to do when I was in a foreign country was to pay for a phone call to the bank to unfreeze my account.
Times have changed. I don’t bring a stack of travel books with me on vacation and my entire list of plans for the trip are stored on my iPhone. But do I still need to let the bank know I’ll be traveling? There’s a good chance I already booked the tickets using their card so knowing I’ll be visiting an area should already be in their computer system, right? Not exactly. Here’s what the banks say about informing them of your travels (and Spoiler Alert!: Most of them still want you to alert them about your travels)…
By now, I’m sure you have a credit card with a chip, or EMV chip to be specific, in your possession. It’s that thing on your card that makes the person at the checkout tell you, “You need to use your chip in the bottom thingie,” or makes them say when you try to insert your chip card, “We don’t use that chip thing yet, so you need to swipe your card.”
In the U.S.A., we like the think we lead the world in just about everything, but when it comes to credit card security we are decades behind the curve. EMV ( Europay, Mastercard and Visa) chip technology was introduced back in the 1990s and rolled out throughout Europe in the 2000s. The chip in the card is used to confirm the information instead of reading the information off the magnetic strip on the back. This technology is harder to counterfeit and, supposedly, cuts down on fraud. The banks in Europe rolled out this technology first because credit card fraud was, at the time, much more common there. When the chip cards were introduced and helped prevent fraud, the criminals went to the least protected market, the USA, so they could continue with the scamming. Lucky us.