Is Global Entry Worth It?

Short answer: absolutely. However, we are all in different boats and the answer may not be as clear-cut for some. Before we figure out if it's worth it for you, let's get educated on what Global Entry is especially for those of you that don't know. It is a U.S. Customs and Borders Protection program that low-risk traveling individuals can enroll in to expedite the customs process upon arriving back in the States after an international trip. Members don't need to wait in the long customs lines, fill out any declaration forms and get to use special kiosks designated only for Global Entry members. Just scan your passport, take a picture, get your fingerprints scanned and you're good to go. Members go through a rigorous background check in addition to having an in-person interview at the local Customs office which is usually at the airport. Global Entry costs $100* to apply and is good for 5 years. As an added bonus, Global Entry includes enrollment in TSA pre-check, which is the program that allows you to by-pass the long security lines for a much shorter one that doesn't make you take off your shoes or remove anything from your bags. With an expedited customs process and special security lines, it's no question that Global Entry takes some of the pain out of traveling. But is it really worth the $100? You should definitely ask yourself how much you see yourself traveling over the next few years. There's no set rule, but I think if you take at least 1 international trip per year, the benefits will outweigh the costs. If you're traveling internationally several times in the next year but don't know about years 2-5, I still think it's worth it. And if you've got domestic travel sprinkled in there in addition to the international trips, then you've got even more reason to do it. One other thing -- this program requires you to have a pristine record so if you've been arrested, frequent jet setter or not, that's a no-go.

If you're still not sure, I can say from experience that I was incredibly pleased in just the first time using my Global Entry. When I arrived back in Boston from my European honeymoon, our flight from Paris landed at the same time as many other international flights and the line for customs was as long as ever. There was no wait to use the designated kiosk and then it only took a minute or two to scan our passport and fingerprints. We were on our way to baggage claim in record time, so quickly that the first suitcase wasn't even on the carousel. We actually had to WAIT for our luggage, which is rare for an international arrival. We fetched our bags before the non-Global Entry folks had made it through customs so the taxi line was non-existent. Door to door, from stepping off the plane to arriving in my downtown Boston apartment, was 30 minutes! The process was easy, painless and quick. Three words that you otherwise would never associate with air travel.

If you're interested in applying for global entry, visit the website here. Happy traveling :)

*The fee is waived if you're an American Express Business Card holder. Awesome!