Is CLEAR Worth It (And Does It Really Save Time at the Airport)?

SAVING & SPENDING - TRAVEL
CLEAR can make it easier to get through airport security lines, but it might not be worth it for everyone.
Updated April 11, 2024
Fact checked
airport security line

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CLEAR is a service designed to make it easier to verify your identity and get through security faster at U.S. and international airports, as well as some stadiums and event venues. It offers two programs, CLEAR Plus and Reserve.

CLEAR Plus is a membership that allows you to move faster through airport security nationwide in designated lanes at TSA checkpoints. With CLEAR Plus, you can verify your identity at a CLEAR Pod using your eyes, face, or fingerprints, so you can save time and avoid long lines.

Reserve powered by CLEAR is a free service that allows travelers to book a reservation at select airport locations around the world. With CLEAR Reservve, you can book a reservation for a dedicated time slot in the security line to go through TSA security.

In this article

Key takeaways

  • CLEAR provides a quick process for verifying your identity using biometrics such as your eyes, face, or fingerprints, allowing you to get through airport security faster.
  • CLEAR Plus is a paid membership that provides access to CLEAR lines, while Reserve powered by CLEAR is a free service with its own lanes.
  • CLEAR Plus membership costs $189 annually, and there are ways to save, such as family plans, student plans, and discounted rates for certain credit card holders.
  • U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents 18 and older with a valid government-issued photo ID can sign up to CLEAR Plus in more than 50 enrollment locations nationwide.

What is CLEAR?

CLEAR is a secure platform that offers touchless ID verification in dozens of airports and sports and entertainment venues nationwide. The company was founded in 2010 by Caryn Seidman-Becker and Ken Cornick and has more than 3,000 employees and over 12 million members.

You might have already seen CLEAR at the airport close to a TSA security checkpoint. The blue and white kiosks are easily recognizable, as are the friendly CLEAR employees standing nearby. The kiosks can help you avoid long airport lines by placing you directly at the physical screening section rather than in the line where you have to wait for a TSA agent to check your documents.

CLEAR offers a quick process for verifying your boarding documents as part of the standard security screening. Rather than interacting with a person, you use the CLEAR kiosk to verify your identity using biometrics. This service could be a great fit for frequent travelers.

The kiosk may require an eye, face, or fingerprint scan as well as a scan of your boarding pass. From there, you’ll move on to the physical part of the TSA screening.

Who is eligible for CLEAR?

CLEAR is available to U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents who are 18 and older and have a valid government-issued photo ID. Legal, or lawful, permanent residents are sometimes known as “green card” holders. Although they aren’t U.S. citizens, they’re authorized to live permanently within the U.S. and are eligible for CLEAR if they’re 18 or older.

Children under 18 can’t have their own membership, but they can accompany their parents (if they’re CLEAR Plus members) for free.

Eligible forms of photo ID include:

  • U.S. driver’s license
  • U.S. passport
  • U.S. passport card
  • U.S.-issued permanent resident card
  • State-issued ID
  • Global Entry card

CLEAR Plus vs. Reserve powered by CLEAR

CLEAR Plus is the paid membership for CLEAR that gives you access to using CLEAR lanes. Reserve powered by CLEAR is a free service that has its own lanes and requires you to make a booking ahead of time. 

Both services could help expedite the security screening process at applicable airports. Here are some of the primary differences between CLEAR Plus and Reserve:

  • You don't have to make an appointment with CLEAR Plus, but you do with Reserve.
  • CLEAR Plus is a paid membership, while Reserve is free.
  • You can use CLEAR Plus with TSA PreCheck® and go through PreCheck screening after visiting a CLEAR kiosk. Using a Reserve lane will route you through the standard TSA screening.

Where CLEAR works

CLEAR is available in over 50 U.S. locations, including airports, stadiums, and other venues. To see whether CLEAR is available near you, check the CLEAR app or search for locations on the CLEAR website.

Airports

Travelers are likely to see CLEAR kiosks at major U.S. airports in these locations:

  • Atlanta (ATL)
  • Austin (AUS)
  • Baltimore (BWI)
  • Birmingham (BHM)
  • Boise (BOI)
  • Boston (BOS)
  • Chicago-Midway (MDW)
  • Chicago-O'Hare (ORD)
  • Cincinnati (CVG)
  • Cleveland (CLE)
  • Columbus (CMH)
  • Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW)
  • Dallas-Love Field (DAL)
  • Denver (DEN)
  • Detroit (DTW)
  • Fort Lauderdale (FLL)
  • Greenville-Spartanburg (GSP)
  • Houston-Intercontinental (IAH)
  • Houston-Hobby (HOU)
  • Kansas City (MCI)
  • Las Vegas (LAS)
  • Long Beach (LGB)
  • Los Angeles (LAX)
  • Miami (MIA)
  • Milwaukee (MKE)
  • Minneapolis−Saint Paul (MSP)
  • Nashville (BNA)
  • New Orleans (MSY)
  • New York City-John F. Kennedy (JFK)
  • New York-LaGuardia (LGA)
  • Newark (EWR)
  • Oakland (OAK)
  • Oklahoma City (OKC)
  • Ontario (ONT)
  • Orlando (MCO)
  • Palm Beach (PBI)
  • Palm Springs (PSP)
  • Phoenix (PHX)
  • Raleigh-Durham (RDU)
  • Sacramento (SMF)
  • Salt Lake City (SLC)
  • San Antonio (SAT)
  • San Diego (SAN)
  • San Francisco (SFO)
  • San Jose (SJC)
  • San Juan (SJU)
  • Seattle-Tacoma (SEA)
  • St. Louis (STL)
  • Tulsa (TUL)
  • Washington, D.C.-Dulles (IAD)
  • Washington, D.C.-Reagan (DCA)
  • Westchester County (HPN)

Stadiums and venues

CLEAR kiosks can also be found in the following stadiums and venues:

  • AT&T; Center
  • Banc of California Stadium
  • Capital One Arena
  • Coors Field
  • Crypto.com Arena
  • Kaseya Center
  • Globe Life Field
  • Madison Square Garden
  • Oracle Park
  • PayPal Park
  • Target Field
  • University of Texas
  • Yankee Stadium

CLEAR is free to use at sports and entertainment venues where it’s available, but you will have to upgrade to a paid membership (CLEAR Plus) to use CLEAR at airports. Using CLEAR at sports and entertainment venues allows you to use a dedicated CLEAR lane to enter the venue.

How do you get CLEAR Plus?

Signing up for CLEAR Plus is easy and straightforward. You start by registering an account online and then finish your registration in person at a CLEAR kiosk. You don’t have to make an appointment to complete your in-person registration. Simply walk up to a CLEAR kiosk at a participating airport and an employee will help you finish your enrollment.

The in-person part of your enrollment process typically involves answering a few questions and verifying your identity with a valid photo ID. You’ll also have to scan your fingerprints and eyes to attach biometric data to your account. You can pay for a CLEAR Plus membership during the online portion of your registration before you visit an in-person kiosk.

CLEAR charges $189 for an annual CLEAR Plus membership. This membership is good for one person, but you can add up to three adult family members to your account at a discounted rate of $70 per person.

CLEAR Plus vs. TSA PreCheck®

CLEAR Plus and TSA PreCheck® are often confused because they’re both programs that could help get you through certain airport security lines quicker. However, these are separate programs and neither replaces the other.

In general, CLEAR Plus could help speed up the document verification process, whereas TSA PreCheck could help expedite the physical screening process. In many cases, it could be beneficial to have both if you want to maximize your chances of getting through long lines as quickly as possible

When you first get to a TSA checkpoint at the airport, you typically have to get in line until you get to a TSA agent who checks your photo ID and boarding pass. You then proceed to the physical screening portion of the checkpoint.

With CLEAR Plus, you visit a kiosk to verify your identity, and then you’ll be brought directly to a TSA agent and let into the area for physical screenings. Having a CLEAR Plus membership effectively lets you skip the general line where you’d be waiting to see the first TSA agent.

TSA PreCheck lets you enter a TSA PreCheck lane separate from the general line. This often gets you to the first TSA agent quicker than the general line. You will also avoid the hassle of removing your shoes, belt, light jacket, laptop, or approved liquids during the physical screening process, which could reduce the time you spend there.

If you have both CLEAR Plus and TSA PreCheck, you would verify your identity through the CLEAR lane to move quickly to the physical screening area. Then you’d be directed to the expedited area for TSA PreCheck members and speed through the process.

How to save on CLEAR Plus

The standard rate of $189 per year for a CLEAR Plus membership is fairly steep, especially if you don’t travel much. Fortunately, there are multiple ways to save on CLEAR Plus.

CLEAR Plus family plan

The CLEAR Plus family plan costs $189 for the main account holder and then $70 per additional family member up to a maximum of three additional members. That’s $119 in savings per year for each additional adult who gets in on the plan.

CLEAR Plus student plan

CLEAR Plus has a student plan that costs $60 per year, which is $129 less per year than the standard rate. CLEAR partners with SheerID to verify your student address. You need a valid school email address and student ID to enroll in the student plan.

Delta SkyMiles

CLEAR Plus also offers discounted pricing for Delta SkyMiles members.

Membership CLEAR Plus pricing
Basic $179 per year
Silver Medallion $149 per year
Gold Medallion $149 per year
Platinum Medallion $149 per year
Diamond Medallion Complimentary membership

United MileagePlus

United MileagePlus frequent flyer members also enjoy discounted CLEAR Plus pricing and members with U.S. United credit cards receive a fixed discounted rate of $149 per year.

Membership CLEAR Plus pricing
Basic $179 per year
Silver $149 per year
Gold $149 per year
Platinum $149 per year
Premier 1K Complimentary membership

Credit cards

If you compare credit cards, you’ll see that there are a few options for getting a CLEAR Plus membership for free or at a discounted rate. This includes the United cards from Chase mentioned above, along with the following American Express cards. It’s uncertain whether other card issuers will follow suit, but Amex is the first to offer direct CLEAR Plus perks with some of its cards.

Card Annual fee Rewards rate CLEAR Plus benefits
American Express® Green Card $150 (Terms apply) 3X points on eligible travel and transit purchases, and at eligible restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery in the U.S.; and 1X points on all other eligible purchases
  • Up to $189 annual CLEAR Plus statement credit
  • Enrollment in CLEAR is required
The Platinum Card® from American Express $695 (Terms apply) 5X points per dollar spent on eligible airfare (on up to $500,000 per calendar year, after that 1X) and eligible hotel purchases, and 1X points per dollar on all other eligible purchases
  • Up to $189 annual CLEAR Plus statement credit
  • Enrollment in CLEAR is required

All information about American Express® Green Card has been collected independently by FinanceBuzz.

FAQ

Is CLEAR Plus worth it if you have PreCheck?

CLEAR Plus could be worth it if you already have TSA PreCheck because they can work together to expedite screening at the airport. CLEAR Plus and TSA PreCheck are separate services, however.

CLEAR uses biometrics to quickly verify your identity and help speed up the document verification process at airports and certain venues. TSA PreCheck is a trusted traveler program that allows members to use expedited security lanes at TSA checkpoints. Using both services together could help get you through security quicker than using only one or neither of them.

Check out our TSA PreCheck vs. CLEAR Plus comparison for more details.

Is CLEAR Plus better than Global Entry?

CLEAR Plus could be better than Global Entry if you typically don’t travel through international airports. A CLEAR Plus membership offers expedited documentation and identity verification at select airports and venues, whereas Global Entry offers expedited screening when going through customs upon arrival in the U.S.

However, Global Entry also provides TSA PreCheck, which is likely more beneficial than CLEAR Plus for expediting security screenings at TSA checkpoints.

Read our comparison of TSA PreCheck vs. Global Entry vs. CLEAR Plus.

Does CLEAR Plus actually save time?

CLEAR Plus typically saves you time at the airport, especially if you also have a TSA PreCheck membership. Having both often helps you get to the front of the line, including getting ahead of travelers in the TSA PreCheck line depending on the airport and how busy it is.

Bottom line

Getting CLEAR Plus could be worth it if you frequently travel through airports with CLEAR kiosks. It’s not a replacement for TSA PreCheck, but it could provide additional benefits on top of a TSA PreCheck membership to help expedite airport screening. Purchasing a CLEAR Plus membership could also be worth it if you have credit card benefits that eliminate all or most of the cost.

Keep in mind that CLEAR Plus is relatively new and it’s not yet included as a widely available benefit on many credit cards. However, some of the best travel credit cards do offer free or discounted options for CLEAR Plus memberships.

Easy-to-Earn Unlimited Rewards

Benefits

Card Details

  • Earn 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases
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  • No foreign transaction fees
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  • Redeem points for a statement credit to pay for travel or dining purchases, such as flights, hotel stays, car and vacation rentals, baggage fees, and also at restaurants including takeout.
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Bank of <span class='whitespace-nowrap'>America<sup>®</sup></span> Travel Rewards credit card
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Intro Offer

Earn 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases

Annual Fee

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Author Details

Ben Walker, CEPF, CFEI® Ben Walker, CEPF, CFEI®, is a Senior Credit Cards Writer at FinanceBuzz. For over a decade, he's leveraged credit card points and miles to travel the world. His expertise extends to other areas of personal finance — including loans, insurance, investing, and real estate — and you can find his insights on The Washington Post, Debt.com, Yahoo! Finance, and Fox Business.
Yahia Barakah, CEPF Yahia Barakah, CEPF, is a Senior Editor at FinanceBuzz and has created finance-focused content since 2011. As a Certified Educator of Personal Finance, he has a background in institutional investment and asset management, as well as a deep passion for financial literacy.

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