I just touched on Global Entry yesterday and why everyone, including less frequent travelers, should consider signing up. Even if you don’t fly internationally, the ability to speed through PreCheck on nearly ever trip, at a cost of only $20 a year, is quite a good deal.
And I pointed out that if you get a NEXUS or SENTRI card (intended for frequent travelers to Canada or Mexico, respectively) you can save 50% because those memberships cost only $50 for five years — just $10 per year — with all the same benefits as Global Entry. No, it doesn’t make any sense. Customs and Border Patrol officials have said as much, but the generous policy continues.
The catch is that you need to conduct your interview at a select number of CBP offices. While you can do a Global Entry interview at many airports across the U.S., these NEXUS and SENTRI locations are much fewer. For example, most NEXUS enrollment locations are in Canada or at border crossing stations. The only U.S. airport that participates is Seattle-Tacoma. Fortunately, anyone can enroll as long as they can make it to Sea-Tac for their interview, including during a connection to another flight (as long as you don’t mind re-clearing security).
One benefit of the American Express Platinum Card is that it includes a credit to cover the cost of Global Entry. But others preferred the extra benefits of NEXUS/SENTRI for frequent trips to our northern and southern neighbors. In the past, you could usually get American Express to cover that cost instead — after all, it’s half as much.
Well, now American Express has shut down this alternate option, in theory although I haven’t tested it in practice. The letter I got in the mail yesterday was pretty clear:
With the Global Entry Fee Credit benefit, we will apply a $100 credit to your account when you charge the Global Entry membership application fee to your Business Platinum Card®. Additional Business Platinum Card members on your account are also eligible for the $100 statement credit, but only when the Global Entry application fee is charged to their individual cards.
Please be advised the benefit applies to the “Global Entry” program. Other program applications, including but not limited to, NEXUS, SENTRI, and Privium are not eligible for the statement credit.
I’m not exactly sure why they want so hard to exclude these other options, but it might have something do with covering their asses if something goes wrong and a person has difficulty claiming their credit or requests two credits. Another possibility is that the CBP has specifically asked them to direct people toward Global Entry. I know they are working hard to boost enrollment, and the TSA might be part of that effort, too, to get as many people as possible into PreCheck.
If, like me, you already have Global Entry (e.g., from an airline loyalty program) you can easily get that credit applied to the application for a spouse or friend. It’s just taken off the bill, and no one checks who actually applied. But the credit is still one per cardholder. If you have additional cardholders, each one needs to make their own application. This is still a good way to get Global Entry and a host of other travel benefits.
Each additional card costs $175. Correction: $175 gets you THREE additional cards, which is a great deal.
Even if you only get one additional card, after subtracting the $100 cost of Global Entry, that’s $75 to get benefits like Priority Pass Select membership, access to
American Airlines or Delta lounges when traveling with those carriers, elite status and discounts with Avis, National, and Hertz, and the ability to book through the Fine Hotels and Resorts program. Pretty much the only benefit that doesn’t carry over is the $200 annual airline fee credit, which is limited to the primary account holder. If you get three additional cards (say, two parents plus a spouse) then you get three $100 credits for Global Entry, benefits for everyone, and all for less than $60 per person.
Update: American Express will be ending its partnership with American Airlines on March 22, 2014.