How I Accidentally Broke Global Entry Rules — Reader Mistake Story

Aug 22, 2018

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Today, I want to share a story from TPG reader Corina, who ran into trouble while returning from an international trip. Here’s what she had to say:

I recently traveled out of the country with my husband and our eight-month-old son. Both my husband and I have the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, and we used the $100 application credits to enroll in Global Entry and TSA PreCheck. When we got back to the States from this recent trip, we proceeded thankfully into the much shorter line for Global Entry. It was only then — after we had our photos taken and were standing in front of the agent — that we were told our son also needed to have Global Entry in order for us to use it ourselves.

Dumbfounded, and aghast at having our Global Entry cards rendered useless, we proceeded to the regular line. For some reason both of us had a big X through our photographs at these kiosks, so not only were we denied Global Entry, but also we were ushered into a lengthy line of people who required extra screening. We finally got through it, but it took so long that we were unable to use the next benefit of our Reserve card: Priority Pass lounge access.

We have since learned that if we add our son as a secondary cardholder (for a $75 fee), he’ll be able to get his own Global Entry membership so this doesn’t happen again in the future.

Unlike airline and hotel elite benefits, which sometimes extend to travel companions, a Global Entry membership only works for one person. Each individual needs to enroll separately (including young children), and you must be enrolled to use the expedited security lanes. Attempting to bring someone else with you could not only delay you further, but also cause your membership to be revoked. That’s not the case for TSA PreCheck, which extends to children 12 or under who are traveling with a parent or guardian. So long as your boarding pass has the PreCheck indicator, they should be able to accompany you.

The list of cards that come with a Global Entry application credit continues to grow, and some of them even offer an additional credit to authorized users (though the Sapphire Reserve card does not). There’s generally no age restriction for secondary cardholders, so you can add children to your account in order to save on their enrollment in an expedited security program. If you’ve already signed up or you have more than one card that offers Global Entry, keep in mind that you can also use your credits to cover someone else’s application. In that case adding them to your account wouldn’t be necessary, though there may be other benefits to doing so.

I appreciate this story, and I hope it can help other readers avoid making the same mistake. To thank Corina for sharing her experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending her a $200 airline gift card to enjoy on future travels, and I’d like to do the same for you. Please email your own travel mistake stories to info@thepointsguy.com, and put “Reader Mistake Story” in the subject line. Tell us how things went wrong, and (where applicable) how you made them right. Offer any wisdom you gained from the experience, and explain what the rest of us can do to avoid the same pitfalls.

Feel free to also submit your best travel success stories. If your story is published in either case, I’ll send you a gift to jump-start your next adventure. I look forward to hearing from you, and until then, I wish you a safe and mistake-free journey!

Photo by Craig F. Walker/The Denver Post via Getty Images

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