Apart from flight delays and cancellations, waiting in security lines can be one of the worst experiences at the airport. Lines are often crowded, it can take a lot of time to get through them, and you typically can’t avoid them completely.
With paid programs such as CLEAR Plus, however, you could reduce your airport screening times and get on to your gate and final destination faster. Learn how this new ID platform works and whether it might be right for you.
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 1,000 employees and over 5 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 and touchless 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. 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.
Travelers are likely to see CLEAR kiosks at major U.S. airports in these locations:
- Atlanta (ATL)
- Boston (BOS)
- Chicago (MID and ORD)
- Dallas/Fort Worth (DAL and DFW)
- Denver (DEN)
- Houston (HOU and IAH)
- Las Vegas (LAS)
- Los Angeles (LAX)
- Miami (MIA)
- Minneapolis-Saint Paul (MSP)
- New York (EWR, HPN, JFK, and LGA)
- Orlando (MCO)
- Phoenix (PHX)
- San Francisco (SFO)
- Seattle-Tacoma (SEA)
- Washington, D.C. (DCA and IAD)
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
- FTX Arena
- 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?
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 vs. TSA PreCheck
CLEAR 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 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, 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
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.
CLEAR family plan
CLEAR’s 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 student plan
CLEAR 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.
CLEAR also offers discounted pricing for Delta SkyMiles members.
|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 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.
|Basic||$179 per year|
|Silver||$149 per year|
|Gold||$149 per year|
|Platinum||$149 per year|
|Premier 1K||Complimentary membership|
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 credit cards. It’s uncertain whether other card issuers will follow suit, but Amex is the first to offer direct CLEAR perks with some of its cards.
|Card||Annual fee||Rewards rate||CLEAR benefits|
|American Express® Green Card||$150 (Terms apply)||3X points on eligible travel and transit purchases, and at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery in the U.S.; and 1X points on all other eligible purchases||
|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||
Is CLEAR 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 comparison for more details.
Is CLEAR better than Global Entry?
CLEAR could be better than Global Entry if you typically don’t travel internationally. 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.
Does CLEAR 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.
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.
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