Count Me a Global Entry Fan


By Robert McGarvey


Maybe it is Phoenix where I live.

But I had read about long waits for Global Entry interviews and when I applied for preliminary approval – on June 4th – I braced myself for a lengthy wait.

I knew I had an international trip coming up in early autumn and my hope was that I’d have the card by then.

A few days after applying I checked online, saw a preliminary approval, indicated I wanted to see the next available appointments – and on the morning of June 19, two weeks after applying, I walked into an office in Sky Harbor Airport and five minutes later, walked out fully approved.

I’ll have the card before July.

Count me a fan also of the Chase Mileageplus Explorer Card which, as of June 1, reimburses for the $100 Global Entry fee.  The annual fee on the card is $95, so it already paid for itself (plus they throw in a couple United Club passes annually, also worth around $100).

I am on record as liking airline credit cards – particularly since I no longer have elite status on any carrier and see no compulsion to do so in Phoenix. When I lived in Jersey City, a few miles from EWR, I thought not flying Continental (later United) was clinically insane.  In Phoenix, I let scheduling and prices pick a carrier and flights I remember were on Southwest, American, Delta, and an Air Canada outing is coming up. Zero loyalty on my part but there’s no penalty in Phoenix for playing the field.

Between the United card and an American Airlines card, I have the perks I want from elite status. Without the hassle of scrambling for miles.

And now I also have Global Entry.

Of course what’s cool about Global Entry is that it ditches the long lines at Immigration at port of entry airports. Who doesn’t remember waiting an hour at JFK or LAX – and that’s after a long international flight.

Global Entry lets cardholders use a special kiosk. Swipe the card, offer your fingerprints, complete a Customs declaration and off you go. What had sometimes been an hour at some airports is sliced to a few minutes.

Literally dozens of airports are equipped to handle Global Entry.  I don’t see any that I have used domestically in the last 10 years as entry points from international trips that aren’t on the list.

Is the in-person interview invasive? Nope. I produced my Passport, the agent asked why I wanted Global Entry (I have an international trip coming up and Global Entry is free on a credit card), she said great. She snapped my photo, I offered my fingerprints and that was about that. I don’t think it took more than 5 minutes.

Also, I was there early for the interview. An agent came out, called a few names of people who weren’t there, turned to me and asked if I  had an appointment. When I said yes, he ushered me in – and I was out of Sky Harbor before my scheduled interview time.

There also now are many interview locations.  When I signed up for TSA Pre some years ago I did so because Global Entry wasn’t doing interviews at Sky Harbor. That changed about a year ago and that’s when I began to want it.

There’s also a new Global Entry on Arrival option that allows those with preliminary approval to complete the process when arriving from an international trip. This is available at a long list of airports.

The Chase United reimbursement pushed me over the finish line.

Bottomline: just about all the negatives I had heard about Global Entry – long waits, invasive interviews, not enough airports – just are no longer true.

It also now smoothly substitutes for TSA PreCheck.  If you will travel at all internationally, Global Entry is the way to go.

That’s all the truer because lots of companies will reimburse traveling employees for Global Entry – I’ve heard from many employees that they get their boss to cover the fee.

Plus, an expanding list of credit cards reimburse the Global Entry fee if your employer is a skinflint.  

Lines at airports just aren’t likely to get shorter. The legal way to reduce the waits is with Global Entry (and TSA Pre).

That makes it a must buy.

2 thoughts on “Count Me a Global Entry Fan”

  1. FYI: i had to wait nine (9) months for the interview at Denver International Airport! And American Express Platinum also reimburses the fee either for Global Entry or TSA Precheck . Moreover the reimbusrsement is for additional card holders not only the account holder.

  2. Interview times just vary by office. Our local office is backed up several of months, but we renewed our Global Entry when coming back from overseas on arrival at the customs hall. Took about 10 minutes (to renew after getting written renewal approval notice by email)… I have heard that this option is now clearing out times at many offices for local appointments so the system is working on clearing out those bottlenecks.
    Also you can get other clearance cards at the same time like APEC for Asia business travelers via your Global Entry interview, if you include those from the extra list when you do your application or renewal application. And, now some countries are mimicking the system, such as Japan. They have created their own “Global Entry” system and if you already have a US Global Entry card, the application process is reduced. You still wait for approval which takes about 6 weeks or so, but when you arrive in Japan or leave Japan, you can do your interview, finger prints, and photo and get your card and picture right on the spot… My wife and I use ours now and we do not even worry about the lines for “foreigners” at Japan Immigration. We simply go to the automated gates, slide in the passport and card, press a few buttons and on our way… The APEC card is similar with speed lines in several Asian nations, so if you are a Asia frequent traveler, there are other benefits to the Global Entry card besides just the Customs and TSA benefits here in the USA…

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