CLEAR – Is it worth the cost?

Last fall, I arrived at the airport early for a trip to Hawaii. I had plenty of time to spare due to a delay, so decided to sign up for a CLEAR (referral link) free 3-month trial.

What is CLEAR?

CLEAR is an expedited security checkpoint service that allows you to cut the line (even in PreCheck!) for an annual fee.

How does CLEAR work?

The way it works is that when you arrive at a participating airport (many major ones now have it, including … ), you find the dedicated CLEAR signs, usually near PreCheck, scan your fingers, and a CLEAR agent will escort you either to the very front of the security line. Note that if you have PreCheck, you’ll be escorted to the front of the PreCheck line but if you don’t, you’ll be escorted to the front of the regular security line.

Where is CLEAR available?

Currently, CLEAR is available at these airports:

  • Atlanta (ATL)
  • Austin (AUS)
  • Baltimore (BWI)
  • Dallas (DFW and DAL)
  • Denver (DEN), Detroit (DTW)
  • Houston (IAH and HOU)
  • Las Vegas (LAS)
  • Los Angeles (LAX)
  • Miami (MIA)
  • Minneapolis (MSP)
  • New York (JFK, LGA, and HPN)
  • Orlando (MCO)
  • Salt Lake City (SLC)
  • San Antonio (SAT)
  • San Francisco (SFO)
  • San Jose (SJC)
  • Seattle (SEA)
  • Washington, D.C. (DCA and IAD)

How much does CLEAR cost?

I initially signed up for a 3-month free trial and didn’t decide to purchase it at the standard annual rate ($179), mostly because I had no immediate travel planned when the trial membership ended.

Luckily, right before my next trip, CLEAR offered me a promotional rate of $99 for the year. I’m not sure if they offer this to everyone who fails to convert from trial to annual paid membership, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this was standard, either.

Is CLEAR worth it?

Yes. Definitely.

Today, CLEAR saved me about 20 minutes in line at SFO (the airport was packed for the 4th of July). Over Thanksgiving, it saved me at least 15 minutes, and even on slower travel days, I’d estimate it saved me between 5-10 minutes.

While it is kind of cool to be escorted to the front of the line, it also makes me feel a bit… douchey. But I’m willing to overlook awkwardness for convenience (which is basically my life motto).

My prediction is that like, like PreCheck, as people get more word of it and more credit cards offer it as a service, it will become less convenient. But until then, I am one happy camper.

Interested in signing up for CLEAR and getting your first 2 months for free? Use this referral link.

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