For those of you that got in on the 100,000 Point AMEX Platinum offer last week, you can choose your Airline for the $200 Credit whenever. Personally I’d recommend doing it sooner rather than later because AMEX might just decide one day to stop reimbursing Airline Gift Certificates.
Although I selected United as my designated Airline last year, just to be on the safe side, I logged into my AMEX Account to double check that United was STILL selected for 2013. Luckily it still was, so I didn’t need to do anything.
It is hard to believe that it is almost once again a New Year.
In anticipation of 2013, it is always good to get your Frequent Flyer house in order and tie up any loose ends, so below are some things to take advantage of before 11:59PM December 31, 2012.
1. Chase INK Cards Sign Up With Reduced Minimum Spend
Rumor has it come January 2013, Chase is going to bump up the Minimum Spend on the Chase INK Cards back up to $10,000 in 3 months, instead of the current $5,000 in 3 months.
Although there are no hard details yet, typically these “rumors” are spot on and follow the pattern that Chase has done in the past where they lower the Minimum Spend for a month or two, and then bump it back up.
As you know, I applied for the AMEX Platinum Card back in October and one of the many benefits of the Card is that American Express will give you a $100 Credit towards the Global Entry Program.
For those of you not familiar with Global Entry, I have written about it here but basically it allows you to use the kiosks at US Immigrations when re-entering the Country and skip the line.
I got it all set up in December, but I hadn’t had a chance to use it until returning from India. Now that I have used it once, I thought I would take the time to review it.
Global Entry can be summed up in 1 word: AWESOME!
Yesterday, I landed in Newark International Airport after my 16 hour flight from Bombay. Thanks to Global Entry, I didn’t have to do the normal mad dash to get to Immigration to avoid being stuck behind everyone else on the Plane.
I casually took my time, went to the Bathroom, took some photos of the Plane, and when I arrived in the Immigration Line, I simply went to the 10 Kiosks available for Global Entry.
There was no one else in line, so I walked up to a Kiosk and began the process by scanning my Passport.
After you scan your Passport, the information from the exact flight you are coming in from appears on the screen (kind of creepy but also pretty cool).
After you approve that information, the Kiosk takes a picture of you and asks you to scan your 4 fingers.
It then asks you the normal 4 questions that you find on the typical Immigration Form: how much Cash you are carrying, have you been near Livestock, etc. You just press Yes or No for each question.
What I didn’t know is that with Global Entry, you don’t even need to fill out that Immigration Form that they give you on the Plane!
After you answer the questions, it prints out a receipt which you then hand to the US Border Agent standing near by, and that is it.
The entire process from scanning your Passport to handing over the receipt to the Agent only took 40 SECONDS!!!!
Compared to the 2+ hours I have previously spent in the Immigration Line, my mind was blown that I had put off Global Entry for so long!
Also what is great is that you don’t have to get your Passport stamped while arriving back in the US, which allows you to save your precious Passport pages for cooler stamps!
Although Global Entry is pretty awesome, I know the main reason that I didn’t sign up earlier for it was because I travel Internationally only a few times a year. Therefore with some poor logic, I concluded the $100 application fee was not worth it.
Regardless if you have an AMEX Platinum or not, let me tell you that for $100, it is the best travel investment you will ever make in your life. So don’t put it off!
The main reason for not putting it off is TSA Pre-Check.
I will be honest that when I signed up for Global Entry, I had no idea that TSA Pre Check was even an included benefit. That being said, TSA Pre-Check has been the absolute best part of signing up for Global Entry and is also the benefit I use the most.
If you are part of TSA Pre-Check , as part of the Global Entry application process they have already checked your background and fingerprinted you, so they don’t consider you a threat. Therefore as part of TSA Pre-Check, they allow you to do expedited security via a special line at the Airport that NO ONE ELSE IS ALLOWED TO USE!
This special line is basically the equivalent of you being a Pilot and having to go through security.
For as incompetent as the TSA and our Government can seem at times, this is truly one program where they got it right!
The 3 things that I absolutely love about TSA Pre-Check are as follows:
1. There Is No Line…..Ever
Since TSA Pre-Check requires a background check, 99% of flyers are not allowed to the use the special TSA Pre-Check line, which is completely separate from the normal Elite Line. What this means is that you can walk up to TSA Pre-Check Security and you will more than likely be the only person in line.
2. Security Pre-2001
As part of TSA Pre-Check, you don’t have to take your liquids out, nor your laptop, or even take off your shoes. I am so accustomed to taking off my shoes, belt, and watch, that the TSA Agent had to specifically tell me not to do that and to leave it on. You basically throw your bags onto the X Ray, and then just walk through the Metal Detector. It is like you are traveling in a Pre 9/11 era.
3. You Fly Through Security
Since there is never a line for TSA Pre-Check and you don’t have to take your shoes off or anything else like that, you can literally clear security in under 60 seconds! All in all with TSA Pre-Check, you could honestly get to the Airport 5 minutes before boarding and still make your flight. Although, randomly you may not be selected for TSA Pre-Check and you might have to go in the regular line.
So for anyone that flies a lot Domestically for work, I HIGHLY SUGGEST GETTING GLOBAL ENTRY solely for the benefit of TSA Pre-Check. The amount of time and hassle that it will save you will honestly blow your mind!
The $100 application fee (which is waived for AMEX Platinum and United 1K’s), is good for 5 years. So even if you paid for it out of pocket, basically that is $20 a year to not have to go through regular security or wait in line at Immigration. It costs $25 to check a bag, so I’ll let you decided if $20 a year is worth it…
Don’t ever miss another FFU Update or Travel Deal!
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