I Just Zoomed Through Airport Security Using This Card Hack

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  • Airport security has two stages: identity verification and the security screening.
  • A few credit cards offer statement credits for free or discounted CLEAR membership, which lets you speed through the identity verification stage, putting you at the front of the screening line.
  • Most travel cards also offer free TSA PreCheck, which speeds up the screening process with shorter lines and fewer requirements for travelers going through them.

A one-two punch to take down airport stress.

A good travel rewards credit card is a must for rewards collectors who like to travel. They make it easy to earn free travel with points, ideally without having to go above and beyond your regular spending.

But the best travel cards do so much more. Like cards that come with complimentary airport lounge access or elite hotel status.

Not all of the perks are quite so flashy, though. For example, my new favorite card perks: CLEAR and TSA PreCheck.

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Getting to the front of the line

While TSA PreCheck has been around for a while, CLEAR is a bit newer. But new or not, it's still well worth consideration -- especially when you have a card that gives you access for free.

So, what's CLEAR? Well, it's part one of my two-part airport security hack.

Airport security is a multistage process.The first stage is identity verification. This is the part in which you stand in that super long line to get to the person who verifies you are who your ticket says you should be. This usually requires showing your boarding pass and driver's license or passport.

With CLEAR, you skip this part.

Instead, you simply go to a handy kiosk and scan your boarding pass. Then the kiosk checks your biometrics. Once you're cleared -- pun intended -- you're escorted to the front of the line by a helpful CLEAR representative.

In my latest flight, having CLEAR shaved a solid 20 minutes off my airport security wait. Considering my flight was set to board about fifteen minutes after I hit security, that was a very important time savings. And since my credit card covered the cost of membership, it was absolutely free.

Leaving it all in your bags

The second part of the security process is the screening. This is the fun part where you get to basically empty your bags, take off half your clothes, and wander barefoot through the full body scanner.

This is where the rest of the card hack comes into play via TSA PreCheck.

In case you haven't heard of it, TSA PreCheck is a program run by, you guessed it, the Transport Security Administration (TSA). Basically, you go through a background check and brief interview, then get some fingerprints taken.

So long as you pass, you're given a Known Traveler Number to add to your boarding passes. This lets you use the PreCheck line at most airports.

In the PreCheck line, you don't need to remove shoes, belts, or light jackets. You can also leave your electronics and liquids safely in your luggage. Oh, and you tend to get through screening in about half the time.

The vast majority of premium travel rewards cards include a credit for TSA PreCheck, making this airport fast pass effectively free.

A two-part time-saving hack

Getting through airport security can be an utter nightmare, especially during the busier times of year. I've personally sat in security lines that took nearly an hour to get through. Even if you leave plenty of time before your flight, an hour in an airport security queue can be stressful.

But it doesn't have to be that way.

With the right travel cards in your pocket, you can take advantage of this two-part airport security hack that gets you through in minutes, not hours. And besides the credit cards' annual fees -- which I'd be paying anyway -- it's completely free. This means you can save time and money, which is pretty much as good as it gets.

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