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What Is CLEAR at the Airport and Is It Worth It?

  • Air Travel
  • Renee Martin
  • 8 minutes

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Long and winding security checkpoint lines are the bane of every traveler! So if there’s a way to skip the crowds, even if it means paying for it, we might be inclined to consider it. Most of us already know about TSA PreCheck, but we may not be familiar with what CLEAR is. To remedy that, we’re taking a deep dive into what CLEAR at the airport is and if it’s worth it.

Long queues at check-in, baggage claim, and, the worst of them all, security checkpoints are a common source of frustration for flight travelers at busy airports. In peak travel seasons like the summer or the holidays, lines at security checkpoints may be hours long. This can be a major source of stress for travelers.

There is, however, a way to avoid waiting in long security queues and the accompanying anxiety. If you’re looking for a way to speed through airport security without having to dig around for your ID or passport, CLEAR is the way to go.

airport parking

What is CLEAR at the airport? 

CLEAR is an expedited security program that verifies your identity using biometrics such as fingerprints and an iris scan. It provides access through a single level of security at places like airports and stadiums. 

what is clear at the airport

CLEAR operates on a secure platform with a database that verifies your identity using biometric information such as fingerprints and an iris scan. It is an entirely different program from TSA PreCheck. So the sign-up processes and security queues are quite different.

The CLEAR network comprises scanning kiosks at major airports and employees to help with the procedure. Clear Plus is an airport membership club that you can join to get this faster screening.

How much does CLEAR cost? 

The standard annual CLEAR membership fee is $189. A yearly membership to use CLEAR at airports and sports stadiums costs $15.75 a month, invoiced annually. Children under the age of 18 are free. Members can also add up to three adult family members to their membership for an additional $50 each year.

How to set up CLEAR

You will have to complete the last steps of CLEAR sign-up at a CLEAR location. These steps include:  

  • Answering a few simple questions to prove your identity¬†
  • Showing a valid photo ID¬†
  • Completing your payment¬†
  • Linking your biometrics -fingerprints and a picture of your iris to your new account.¬†

 You can only enroll if you are a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident. You must also be at least 18 years old and have one of the following forms of photo ID:  

  • U.S. driver’s license¬†
  • American passport or passport card¬†
  • U.S.-issued permanent resident card¬†
  • State-issued ID¬†
  • U.S. military ID

How to use CLEAR at the airport

At the airport, CLEAR members will have access to special CLEAR Lanes. In addition, a CLEAR Ambassador will be standing by to help them scan their fingerprints, eyes, and boarding passes.

A TSA agent then escorts travelers to the front of the security screening queue. There, they’ll be processed quickly without having to produce a boarding pass or other form of identification.

How to use CLEAR at stadiums

In some stadiums, members can use a special CLEAR line to get in quickly. But they will still have to go through bag checks and other forms of physical security. In addition, CLEAR’s agreement with MLB allows fans to access biometric ticketing without carrying paper or digital tickets.

CLEAR has replaced ID age validation and credit card usage at select venues. These include Safeco Fields and CenturyLink, besides biometric ticketing. The intention is to roll out this capability to more locations in the future.

Can I bring a guest through CLEAR at airport?

CLEAR members can add up to three adult family members to their account for just $60 each year. They are then entitled to use CLEAR Plus while traveling with or without you.  

Does CLEAR have an app?

how to use clear at airport

There is a CLEAR app that can help you find CLEAR Lanes near you, gain faster entry to sports and events, and organize your travel to the airport using services like Home-to-Gate.

How can you save money on CLEAR? 

There are a few ways to avoid paying the CLEAR membership fee of $189 per year.   

CLEAR members who refer their friends to the program get two months of free membership. CLEAR has also tied up with certain airlines to offer these membership rates: 

Delta SkyMiles discounts 

  • Diamond Medallion members get complimentary CLEAR membership.¬†
  • Platinum, Gold, and Silver Medallion members get CLEAR at just $109 per year.¬†
  • CLEAR is $109/year for Delta SkyMiles¬ģ Gold American Express Card, Platinum American Express Card,¬†Reserve American Express Card, Gold Business American Express Card, Platinum Business American Express Card, and Reserve Business American Express Card members.¬†
  • General SkyMiles members pay $119 per year.¬†

 United MileagePlus discounts 

  • United Global Services and 1K members get complimentary CLEAR membership.¬†
  • Platinum, Gold, and Silver members must pay only $109/year.¬†
  • Basic card members of the United co-branded cards, such as the United Explorer Card, Business Card, and Club Infinite Card, pay only $109/per year.¬†
  • General United MileagePlus members pay $119 per year.¬†

To take advantage of these rates, just enter your SkyMiles or MileagePlus number when you sign up or link your SkyMiles or MileagePlus account after signing up. Joining Delta SkyMiles and United MileagePlus is free. So, by linking their SkyMiles or MileagePlus account with their CLEAR account, any traveler can enjoy the $119/year membership cost. 

As part of a big change to the American Express Platinum Card¬ģ, cardholders now get up to a $189 credit back per year to pay for their CLEAR membership (enrollment required).¬†¬†

Once you join CLEAR, you can sign in to your account on their official website. You can then add up to 3 family members for $60 each per year. Remember that kids under 18 who are with a CLEAR member can use the lane for free. 

Do credit cards cover CLEAR fees? 

When someone with an American Express¬ģ Green Card buys a Clear membership, they can get up to a $100 annual credit. Also, anyone with an American Express Centurion Card will get a statement credit for Clear membership every year (as will up to three of their family members).¬†¬†

Amex Platinum cardholders also get a credit of up to $189 per year to pay for a Clear membership. The feature is part of the card’s effort to provide more benefits for everyday life (enrollment required).¬†

Is CLEAR worth it? 

If you’re someone who does not mind spending $189/year for reduced security waiting times, then yes, CLEAR is definitely worth it. ¬†

This is because CLEAR allows users to skip the lengthy and intrusive touch-screening process at airport security checkpoints and proceed straight to the boarding gate. CLEAR is now working on an airport extension to improve the curb-to-gate process for all members. 

This will eventually encompass everything from checking and claiming bags to boarding flights. Of course, using airport lounges and passing through security checkpoints will also be a part of it.  

After signing up for CLEAR, you’ll get access to their services anywhere they’re offered. One of the other advantages of the CLEAR program is that CLEAR has simple sign-up procedures that can be done in about ten minutes.¬†

CLEAR Membership offers reduced wait times for passengers with valid IDs at participating airport security checkpoints. Also, the number of airports and stadiums offering CLEAR access is growing.  

Discounts on hotels, airfare, and other travel-related services are just some of the many perks that CLEAR members get via their network of partners. 


Which airports have CLEAR? 

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS)  Miami International Airport (MIA) 
Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI)  Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport (MKE) 
Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport (BHM)¬† Minneapolis‚ąíSaint Paul International Airport (MSP)¬†
Boston Logan International Airport (BOS)  Nashville International Airport (BNA) 
Chicago Midway International Airport (MDW)  Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) 
Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD)¬† Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC)¬†
Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG)  Oakland International Airport (OAK) 
Cleveland Hopkins International Airport (CLE)  Ontario International Airport (ONT) 
Dallas Love Field Airport (DAL)  Orlando International Airport (MCO) 
Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)  Palm Beach International Airport (PBI) 
Denver International Airport (DEN)  Palm Springs International Airport (PSP) 
Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW)  Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) 
Dulles International Airport (IAD)  Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) 
Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL)  Sacramento International Airport (SMF) 
George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH)  Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) 
Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport (GSP)  San Antonio International Airport (SAT) 
Harry Reid International Airport (LAS)  San Diego International Airport (SAN) 
Hartsfield‚ÄďJackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)¬† San Francisco International Airport (SFO)¬†
John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)  Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) 
John Glenn Columbus International Airport  St. Louis Lambert International Airport (STL) 
LaGuardia Airport (LGA)  Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) 
Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)  Westchester County Airport (HPN) 
Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY)  William P. Hobby Airport (HOU) 

Here’s more info on top-rated airport parking,¬†the best parking spots in your city, the most affordable¬†auto insurance¬†for your car, and¬†top-rated car washes near you.

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