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Best credit cards for Global Entry and TSA PreCheck credits of November 2019

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Even if you only fly a few times a year, the hassle of waiting in airport security lines is often enough to justify signing up for TSA PreCheck and Global Entry. These two U.S. government programs are designed to minimize the amount of time spent waiting in queues, which is a pretty nice travel perk.

Before applying for either program, it's important that you know the difference between them. Global Entry grants members expedited entry back into the U.S. after traveling internationally. For $100, approved members get a five-year membership that includes both Global Entry and TSA PreCheck. If you rarely travel abroad and don't want to pay for Global Entry, TSA PreCheck is $85 and gives you expedited security screenings at participating airports.

It's generally recommended that you apply for Global Entry rather than just TSA PreCheck. For just $15 more, Global Entry grants you access to both.

As more and more travel credit cards compete for customers, they are increasingly offering a TSA PreCheck/Global Entry credit as a benefit to cardholders. For instance, when using any of the five credit cards listed below to pay for your Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee, you will be reimbursed up to $100 in the form of a statement credit. The best part is, this offer is typically available every four years, so it's not a one-time perk.

Credit cards that offer this perk usually come with an annual fee, but when you consider all the additional rewards you can earn using the card regularly, it usually offsets the costs.

Here are top travel credit cards that offer Global Entry and/or TSA PreCheck credit, ranked from lowest to highest annual fee:

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
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Information about the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.
  • Rewards

    5X miles on hotel and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel℠, 2X miles per dollar on every other purchase, plus 10X miles on thousands of hotels on hotels.com/venture (through January 2020)

  • Welcome bonus

    50,000 bonus miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening

  • Annual fee

    $0 first year, then $95

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Variable APR

    17.49% to 24.74%

  • Balance transfer fee

    3% for promotional APR offers; none for balances transferred at regular APR

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Estimated rewards earned after 1 year

    $988*

  • Estimated rewards earned after 5 years

    $2,805

  • See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • Unlimited 2X miles earned on all your spending
  • 50,000 point welcome bonus (worth $500 toward travel) after you spend $3,000 within first 3 months
  • No fee charged on purchases made outside the U.S.

Cons

  • No introductory APR
  • $95 annual fee after the first year

Who's this for? The offers no shortage of travel benefits and rewards. Cardholders earn 10X miles per $1 spent on thousands of bookings on hotels.com/venture through January 2020 (so if you spend $500 on the site, you earn 5,000 miles). If you're looking to take a trip before the end of the year, this is a great way to maximize the amount of miles you can earn. Plus you earn 5X miles on hotel and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel℠ and 2X miles per dollar spent on all other spending.

The card has no annual fee for the first year (after that it's $95), and it has a strong welcome bonus of 50,000 points — equal to $500 toward travel — when you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months following card activation.

Who's this for? The offers no shortage of travel benefits and rewards. Cardholders earn 10X miles per $1 spent on thousands of bookings on hotels.com/venture through January 2020 (so if you spend $500 on the site, you earn 5,000 miles). If you're looking to take a trip before the end of the year, this is a great way to maximize the amount of miles you can earn. Plus you earn 5X miles on hotel and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel℠ and 2X miles per dollar spent on all other spending.

The card has no annual fee for the first year (after that it's $95), and it has a strong welcome bonus of 50,000 points — equal to $500 toward travel — when you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months following card activation.

You can redeem your points for travel purchases by either using a statement credit or by booking travel through Capital One's Reward Center. You can also redeem your points for actual cash in the form of a check, but points are worth half a cent per point if you go this route.

Travelers going overseas can take advantage of no foreign transaction fees. And cardholders also get an application fee credit for Global Entry ($100) or TSA PreCheck ($85) every four years. As an added plus, you can use your Venture® Rewards card to get access to exclusive sporting and music events, plus premiere culinary experiences, including the New York City Wine and Food Festival and the iHeartRadio Music Festival.

A downside: There's no introductory 0% APR period. From the start, cardholders are charged a variable APR of 17.49% to 24.74%. And Capital One indicates on its website this card is for people with excellent credit scores.

*First year rewards incorporates the points earned from the welcome bonus. When we calculated the first year returns for the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card, we assumed the cardholder would spend $572 a year on hotel rooms booked via hotels.com/venture. Since the 10X miles offer is only valid through January 2020, we assumed 2X miles for hotel purchases for years 2 through 5. You may earn a higher or lower return depending on your travel spending habits.

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Information about the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.

Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Credit Card

Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Credit Card
  • Rewards

    2 points for every $1 spent on travel and dining purchases and 1.5 points for every $1 spent on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    50,000 bonus points after you make at least $3,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening

  • Annual fee

    $95

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Variable APR

    17.74% to 24.74%

  • Balance transfer fee

    3%, minimum $10

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Estimated return after 1 year

    $776*

  • Estimated return after 5 years

    $1,879

  • See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • Up to $100 annual airline credit
  • Priority Pass™ Select membership
  • 25% to 75% more points for Preferred Rewards members
  • No fee charged on purchases made outside the U.S.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • No special financing offers on new purchases

Information about the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Credit Card has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.

Who's this for? The Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Credit Card is a great choice for people who have a qualifying relationship with the bank. All cardholders earn 2 points for every $1 spent on travel and dining purchases and 1.5 points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.

Information about the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Credit Card has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.

Who's this for? The Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Credit Card is a great choice for people who have a qualifying relationship with the bank. All cardholders earn 2 points for every $1 spent on travel and dining purchases and 1.5 points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.

However, Preferred Rewards members earn 25% to 75% more points on every purchase, depending on the balance you have in your Bank of America® banking and/or Merrill investment accounts. If you qualify for the highest tier — Platinum Honors, which requires a minimum $100,000 three-month average combined balance — you could earn up to 3.5 points for every $1 you spend on travel and dining purchases and up to 2.62 points for every $1 you spend on all other purchases.

Cardholders can take advantage of an application fee credit for Global Entry ($100) or TSA PreCheck ($85) every four years. Additional travel benefits include travel insurance for trip delays, cancellations and interruptions, an annual $100 airline statement credit for qualifying purchases, such as seat upgrades, baggage fees, in-flight services and airline lounge fees and more.

*First year rewards incorporates the points earned from the welcome bonus

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Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Chase Sapphire Reserve®
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Information about the Chase Sapphire Reserve® has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.
  • Rewards

    3X points on travel worldwide (immediately after earning your $300 annual travel credit), 3X points on dining at restaurants worldwide, 1X point per $1 on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening — worth up to $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

  • Annual fee

    $450

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Variable APR

    18.99% to 25.99%, based on your credit score

  • Balance transfer fee

    Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Estimated return after 1 year

    $1,193*

  • Estimated return after 5 years

    $2,567

  • See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • 3X points earned on travel and dining purchases
  • $300 annual statement credit to reimburse travel purchases
  • Priority Pass™ Select membership
  • No fee charged on purchases made outside the U.S.

Cons

  • $450 annual fee
  • No introductory APR period

Who's this for? Chase Sapphire Reserve® is enormously popular among travelers for its luxe perks and strong rewards program. In addition to offering 3X points on dining and travel purchases, cardholders get a $300 annual statement credit to apply to qualifying travel expenses.

But it's the perks that really make this card stand out for globetrotters. You can get a statement credit of up to $100 (every four years) to help cover Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fees as well as enroll in Priority Pass™ Select, which gives you access to more than 1,000 airport lounges worldwide with free amenities, such as Wi-Fi, snacks, beverages and more. Cardmembers traveling internationally also don't need to worry about foreign transaction fees.

Who's this for? Chase Sapphire Reserve® is enormously popular among travelers for its luxe perks and strong rewards program. In addition to offering 3X points on dining and travel purchases, cardholders get a $300 annual statement credit to apply to qualifying travel expenses.

But it's the perks that really make this card stand out for globetrotters. You can get a statement credit of up to $100 (every four years) to help cover Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fees as well as enroll in Priority Pass™ Select, which gives you access to more than 1,000 airport lounges worldwide with free amenities, such as Wi-Fi, snacks, beverages and more. Cardmembers traveling internationally also don't need to worry about foreign transaction fees.

The Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal has everything you need to plan a vacation from booking rental cars to cruises. You can also use the Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection to book rooms and take advantage of upgrades upon arrival, complimentary meals, flexible check-in times, extra amenities and special discounts.

The value of Chase rewards points varies depending on how you use them. If you redeem points for cash and gift cards, each point is worth $.01, which means that 100 points equals $1 in redemption value.

The value of points increases 50% when you redeem for travel on Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruise reservations when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. This is a great way to maximize the value of your rewards and makes this card stand out from the pack.

While this card does come with a substantial annual fee of $450, the many statement credits help to offset the costs.

*First year rewards incorporates the points earned from the welcome bonus

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Information about the Chase Sapphire Reserve® has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.

Citi Prestige® Card

Citi Prestige® Card
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Information about the Citi Prestige® Card has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.
  • Rewards

    5X points at airlines, travel agencies and restaurants, 3X points at hotels and cruise lines, 1X points on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 within 3 months of account opening

  • Annual fee

    $495

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Variable APR

    18.49% to 25.49%

  • Balance transfer fee

    Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Estimated return after 1 year

    $836*

  • Estimated return after 5 years

    $1,782

  • See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • Up to $250 annual travel credit
  • Priority Pass™ Select membership
  • No fee charged on purchases made outside the U.S.

Cons

  • $495 annual fee
  • No special financing offers on new purchases

Who's this for? Citi Prestige® Card offers a competitive rewards program for common travel expenses: Earn 5X points at airlines, travel agencies and restaurants, 3X points at hotels and cruise lines, 1X points on all other purchases.

In addition to rewards, cardholders can benefit from a complimentary fourth night at a hotel of your choice after a minimum four consecutive night booking through ThankYou.com (based on your average night stay, exclusive of taxes and fees). There's also an application fee credit for Global Entry ($100) or TSA PreCheck ($85) every five years.

Who's this for? Citi Prestige® Card offers a competitive rewards program for common travel expenses: Earn 5X points at airlines, travel agencies and restaurants, 3X points at hotels and cruise lines, 1X points on all other purchases.

In addition to rewards, cardholders can benefit from a complimentary fourth night at a hotel of your choice after a minimum four consecutive night booking through ThankYou.com (based on your average night stay, exclusive of taxes and fees). There's also an application fee credit for Global Entry ($100) or TSA PreCheck ($85) every five years.

Other travel perks include access to over 1,300 airport lounges with Priority Pass™ Select, cell phone protection and an annual $250 statement credit toward eligible travel purchases, which helps offset the $495 annual fee.

*First year rewards incorporates the points earned from the welcome bonus

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Information about the Citi Prestige® Card has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express
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  • Rewards

    5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel and on on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com, 1X Membership Rewards® points on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    60,000 Membership Rewards® points after spending $5,000 within 3 months of account opening

  • Annual fee

    $550

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Variable APR

    See rates and fees

  • Balance transfer fee

    Not applicable

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Estimated return after 1 year

    $812*

  • Estimated return after 5 years

    $1,262

Pros

  • Up to $200 in annual airline fee credits
  • Up to $200 in annual Uber savings
  • Complimentary Global Lounge Collection access with more than 1,200 airport lounges across 130+ countries
  • Special benefits with Fine Hotels & Resorts, such as a $100 hotel credit and complimentary room upgrades
  • No fee charged on purchases made outside the U.S.

Cons

  • $550 annual fee
  • No special financing offers on new purchases
  • This is a charge card, which means you have to pay off your balance in full each billing cycle

Who's this for? The Platinum Card® from American Express offers one of the most competitive rewards programs for eligible airfare and hotel expenses: Earn 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel and on on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com, and 1X Membership Rewards® points on all other purchases.

In addition to rewards, cardholders can benefit from up to $200 in annual airline fee credits to cover incidentals (baggage fees, seat upgrades an in-flight purchases) and up to $200 in annual Uber savings ($15 each month, plus get a $20 bonus in December). There's also an application fee credit for Global Entry ($100) every 4 years or TSA PreCheck ($85) every 4.5 years.

Who's this for? The Platinum Card® from American Express offers one of the most competitive rewards programs for eligible airfare and hotel expenses: Earn 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel and on on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com, and 1X Membership Rewards® points on all other purchases.

In addition to rewards, cardholders can benefit from up to $200 in annual airline fee credits to cover incidentals (baggage fees, seat upgrades an in-flight purchases) and up to $200 in annual Uber savings ($15 each month, plus get a $20 bonus in December). There's also an application fee credit for Global Entry ($100) every 4 years or TSA PreCheck ($85) every 4.5 years.

You can also take advantage of Global Lounge Collection access with more than 1,200 airport lounges across 130+ countries and special benefits at Fine Hotels & Resorts properties, such as a $100 hotel credit, complimentary room upgrades and free Wi-Fi.

*First year rewards incorporates the points earned from the welcome bonus

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Our methodology

To determine which cards will put the most money back in your pocket, CNBC Select evaluated 33 popular travel credit cards offered by major banks, financial companies and credit unions that allow anyone to join. We compared each card on a range of features, including travel rewards (points and miles), annual fee, welcome bonus, introductory and standard APR, one-time perks, annual perks, redemption rates, as well as factors such as required credit and customer reviews when available.

CNBC Select teamed up with location intelligence firm Esri. The company's data development team provided the most up-to-date and comprehensive consumer spending data based on the 2018 Consumer Expenditure Surveys from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. You can read more about their methodology here.

Esri's data team created a sample annual budget of approximately $21,852 in retail spending. This budget is comprised of the most common spending categories, including groceries ($5,019), gas ($2,394), dining out ($3,365), travel ($2,154), utilities ($4,959) and general purchases ($3,961). The travel budget includes spending $527 a year on airfare and $572 a year on hotels. General purchases include items such as housekeeping supplies, clothing, personal care products, prescription drugs and vitamins, and other vehicle expenses. CNBC Select used this budget to compare cards that reward specific purchases and estimate how many rewards the average consumer might earn.

We then estimated how much the average consumer would redeem over the course of a year, two years and five years, assuming they would attempt to maximize their rewards potential by earning all welcome bonuses offered and using the card for all applicable purchases. All rewards total estimations are net the annual fee.

It's important to note the value of a point or mile varies from card to card and based on how you redeem them. When we calculated the estimated returns, we assumed that cardholders are redeeming points/miles for a typical maximum value of 1 cent per point or mile. (Extreme optimizers might be able to achieve more value.)

Our final picks are weighted heavily toward the highest five-year returns, since it's generally wise to hold onto a credit card for years. This method also avoids giving an unfair advantage to cards with large welcome bonuses.

While the five-year estimates we've included are derived from a budget similar to the average American's spending, you may earn a higher or lower return depending on your travel habits.

Best credit cards for Global Entry and TSA PreCheck credit

Credit Card Global Entry and TSA PreCheck terms
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit CardApplication fee credit for Global Entry ($100) or TSA PreCheck ($85) every 4 years
Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Credit CardApplication fee credit for Global Entry ($100) or TSA PreCheck ($85) every 4 years
Chase Sapphire Reserve®Application fee credit for Global Entry ($100) or TSA PreCheck ($85) every 4 years
Citi Prestige® CardApplication fee credit for Global Entry ($100) or TSA PreCheck ($85) every 5 years
The Platinum Card® from American ExpressApplication fee credit for Global Entry ($100) every 4 years or TSA PreCheck ($85) every 4.5 years

For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the CNBC Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.