A benefit of the Citi Prestige card is a $100 credit towards the Global Entry application when you pay the application with your card. Since the application is $100 and Citi automatically credits your account, I thought I might as well make use of it. This is my experience with the Global Entry application process.
What is Global Entry and why would I want it?
Global Entry is a program for US citizens (and a handful of other folks) that allows you expedited customs when returning to the USA. Once approved, you are also enrolled in TSA Pre√ which allows you to move through TSA checkpoints in airports quicker (and you get to keep your shoes and belt on and your liquids in your carry on). It is good for 5 years.
Global Entry Application Process
Step 1 – Fill Out an Application
Go to the online application website and sign up for GOES, the Global Online Enrollment System. After you have a login, proceed to fill out the Global Entry application. They will want to know your contact info, drivers license, passport number, current and past address (for last 5 years), current and past employment (for last 5 years) and travel history (for last 5 years).
Step 2 – Pay $100
This is the interesting part; you won’t know if you have been approved or denied until after you pay the $100. So hypothetically you could apply, pay $100, and get denied and be out $100. All the more reason to use a credit card that will pay your fee for you.
Step 3 – Wait for Approval
About 2 days after I applied I received an email notifying me I had a new message in my GOES inbox.
I went back to the application website and logged in and had a “Conditional Approval Notification” waiting for me. It looked like this:
Step 4: Schedule your interview and fingerprinting
You are given a list of locations where you can go for your in person interview. The soonest available interview was about 2 weeks out for me. You are shown a grid with the options of interview times for each location.
Step 5: Interview
I scheduled my appointment at King County International Airport (also known as Boeing Field) in Seattle. It is a MUCH smaller airport than SeaTac and you can park for free just outside the terminal. You may be able to find a smaller airport in your city as well.
The interview took about 10 minutes. I met with a US Customs Boarder Patrol Officer in their office (there were a couple other people interviewing at the time as well). The agent asked very basic questions; basically going over all the info that I had entered through the online application to make sure it was correct. I was also asked about any criminal background.
Then I had my photo taken and my fingerprints scanned. The agent also checked my passport and drivers license. That was it.
Step 6: Wait… but not for long!
With the standard federal bureaucracy, I figured it would take a while before I was approved. Nope. That afternoon when I got home I received an email saying I had been approved! Perhaps if I had a criminal record of some kind it would have taken longer.
The agent told me I would receive a card in the mail in 2 weeks if I was approved but that you don’t actually need to carry the card (although I probably will just to be safe when traveling).
The Global Entry Membership number you are assigned during your application also works as your Known Traveler Number that allows you access to TSA Pre Check. I went back into my already booked flights and added the number.
If you have a credit card that pays the application fee, there is no reason not to go through the Global Entry application process. Yes, you give the government a photo and your fingerprints, but to be honest they probably already have that info on me and lots more. My next international flight is in 2 weeks. Look forward to see if I actually save some time.
UPDATE: I received the card in the mail 8 days after the interview. I honestly doubt I will ever use the Global Entry card as it is very limited. From the letter that accompanied the card:
Card may only be used for expedited entry into the United States from Mexico and Canada via the dedicated NEXUS and SENTRI lanes. The card is NOT valid for entry into Canada using the NEXUS lanes or at the NEXUS kiosks at Canadian pre-clearance airports. Only passports or U.S. lawful permanent resident cards may be used at the Global Entry kiosks.
So the only time you can use this card is if you are driving back in to America from Canada or Mexico (or by sea… not sure how that works). And ALL passengers in your vehicle must have a valid NEXUS/SENTRI/Global Entry card. It may be helpful for people that often cross these boarders alone or with others that have a card as well. For me, it will go into my sock drawer (actually I have a safe, but sock drawer sounds so much more quaint).
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