CLEAR Airport & Stadium Security Review: Is it worth it? [2019]

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Have you ever wanted to shave off time and avoid those long security lines at airports and stadiums? Well, with CLEAR that is now a possibility. CLEAR is a subscription service that replaces your ID with your fingerprints or iris using technology. It works with both TSA Pre-Check and regular TSA security to allow you to cut in front of every person in the TSA ID check line.

But is CLEAR worth it? In this review, I will tell you everything you need to know about CLEAR and then give my impressions and thoughts after using CLEAR for a month. I’ll also show you which airports and stadiums have CLEAR and how to enroll.

Nov 27, 2019 update: There is currently a two month free trial being offered — scroll down to the free trial section to sign up!


What is CLEAR?

CLEAR uses your biometrics to clear you through ID check at airports and stadiums so that you can avoid the lines to get through security in VIP fashion.

At airports, CLEAR works in conjunction with regular TSA lines and TSA Pre-Check lines. So, if you don’t have Pre-Check, you will go through the regular TSA line. If you have Pre-Check, you go through the pre-check lines.

I recommend getting TSA Pre-Check as it makes security easier and you can easily find credit cards that offer TSA Pre-Check credits.

One of the top cards for this is the Chase Sapphire Reserve, which also comes with Global Entry and TSA Pre-Check credit. Another card that has Global Entry and TSA Pre-Check credit would be the American Express Platinum. Global Entry does give you TSA Pre-Check with the added benefit of speeding through immigration. You can find out how to use the Global Entry and TSA Pre-Check credit here.

Image via CLEAR

CLEAR is also available at stadiums. CLEAR at stadiums allow you to bypass the ID check line and go straight to the front.


Which airports have CLEAR?

CLEAR is available at 60+ locations which include the following:

  • Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)
  • Austin–Bergstrom International Airport (AUS)
  • Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI)
  • Chicago O’Hare Airport (ORD)
  • Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)
  • Dallas Love Field Airport (DAL)
  • Denver International Airport (DEN)
  • Detroit Metro Airport (DTW)
  • Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL)
  • William P. Hobby Airport (HOU)
  • George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH)
  • McCarran International Airport (LAS)
  • Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
  • Miami International Airport (MIA)
  • Minneapolis−Saint Paul International Airport (MSP)
  • Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY)
  • LaGuardia Airport (LGA)
  • Westchester County Airport (HPN)
  • John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)
  • Orlando International Airport (MCO)
  • Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX)
  • Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC)
  • San Antonio International Airport (SAT)
  • San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
  • Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC)
  • Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA)
  • Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA)
  • Dulles International Airport (IAD)


Which stadiums have CLEAR?

CLEAR can be found at different stadiums across the country. This means you can avoid the long ID check lines while entering stadiums and also enter in priority lines for concessions. Nothing is worse than missing part of the game while you wait in a long and winding line for some nachos!

You can find CLEAR at these stadiums (most are baseball venues currently):

  • Atlanta – SunTrust Park
  • Baltimore — Oriole Park at Camden Yards
  • Cleveland — Progressive Field
  • Denver – Coors Field
  • Detroit – Comerica Park
  • Los Angeles – Dodger Stadium, Staples Center, and Banc of California Stadium
  • Miami – AmericanAirlines Arena and Marlins Park
  • New York – Citi Field, Madison Square Garden, and Yankee Stadium
  • Oakland – Alameda County Coliseum
  • San Francisco – AT&T Park
  • San Jose – Avaya Stadium
  • Seattle – T-Mobile Park, CenturyLink Field

You can view the specific locations for the CLEAR benefits for each stadium on the CLEAR website. For example, here are the entry points for CenturyLink Field in Seattle.

North Plaza

  • CLEAR Lanes open 2 hours before game time
  • CLEAR Enrollment available 3 hours before game time

Southwest Entrance

  • CLEAR Lanes open 2 hours before game time
  • CLEAR Enrollment available 3 hours before game time

Delta Sky360 Club

  • CLEAR Concession Lanes available in sections 210 and 234

Concessions

  • CLEAR Concession Lanes available in section 309 (Elysian Brewing) and section 120 (Smokehouse BBQ)

And here are the entry points for Yankee Stadium in NYC.

Babe Ruth Plaza

  • CLEAR Lanes open 1.5 hours before game time

Gate 6 (near Hard Rock Cafe)

  • CLEAR enrollment only
  • Enrollment opens 2 hours before game time

Suite Entrance

  • CLEAR Lanes open 1.5 hours before game time
Enjoy CLEAR at sporting events.

Cool CLEAR services

CLEAR does offer some unique services that make travel or attending sporting events more enjoyable.

Delta Sky Club members can access Sky Clubs using CLEAR for a one-touch solution at all 50 US Sky Club locations.

At Citi Field, you can access the stadium without your phone or stub as CLEAR will already have your ticket.

Concession stands at Seattle stadiums use CLEAR for the age verification instead of pulling out your ID to show to the clerk.

Sky Club CLEAR fingerprint scanner. Image via Delta

How much does CLEAR cost?

You can obtain CLEAR in different ways with varying prices.

Standard CLEAR subscription

CLEAR uses the yearly subscription model, and the regular price for CLEAR is $179 a year. You can add up to three adult family members for only $50/year each. Also, kids under 18 are free and don’t need to enroll.

Your CLEAR membership automatically renews each year for an additional 12 month period at the annual full member rate.

Delta SkyMiles discount

If you are a Delta SkyMiles member, you can get CLEAR for $119 a year. If you hold Delta Silver, Gold, or Platinum Medallion status, you can get CLEAR for $109 a year. Delta Diamond Medallion members get CLEAR for free. You can access the exclusive CLEAR rate for SkyMiles members here.

United MileagePlus discount 

If you are a United MileagePlus member, you can get CLEAR for $119 a year. If you hold United Premier Silver, Gold, Platinum, or US United Credit Card, you can get CLEAR for $109 a year. Premier 1K members get CLEAR for free. You can access the exclusive CLEAR rate for United members here.

Amex Green Card

The Amex Green Card offers a $100 annual credit for CLEAR memberships.

CLEAR free trial

CLEAR typically runs free trials. If you end up signing up for CLEAR at the airport as I did, you will likely only get a one-month free trial but other times you can find longer trials. For example, I received an offer for a two-month trial via email

The nice thing about CLEAR is the ability to cancel and get a refund for the remaining months you have left for that subscription year. 


The CLEAR experience

CLEAR does one thing well: making you feel like a VIP.

When CLEAR works, it goes something like this.

While entering the CLEAR lane, the CLEAR ambassadors always have a big smile and guide me to the pod to perform the biometric and boarding pass scans. Ambassadors are a delight and make CLEAR a true VIP experience.

I primarily scan my right-hand index and middle fingers at the pod, but there is the option for me to scan my left-hand index and middle fingers or scan my eyes. Sadly, none of these worked all the time as I explained below.

After the pod verifies it’s me with a valid boarding pass scanned, the ambassador then walks me to the TSA officer. The ambassadors usually block non-CLEAR members or escort me past non-CLEAR members in the line if the pods are outside of the TSA area.

Without the ambassadors, I think CLEAR wouldn’t be as enjoyable as it is now. Most of them interact with you, ask if you need any help, and seem to be enjoying their jobs.

CLEAR TSA Pre-Check lane at LGA Terminal C

Enrolling in CLEAR

There are two different ways to enroll in CLEAR. You can enroll in CLEAR online or at the airport/stadium.

Enrolling via the website

The best way to enroll is via their own website, and the other way is with a recruiter. When you signup for CLEAR online you can use referral codes or get super long free trials that last more than 3-months.

Enrolling online is easy and you can do so here.

Simply follow that link, and input some of your basic personal information such as your name and birthdate. Then, you will be prompted to input your payment information and just like that you will have completed the first step of enrolling.

Once you enroll online, you will mention to the ambassador that you completed the online enrollment and just have to finish the verification process. Once the verification process is done, you will be cleared to go through security.

Image via CLEAR

Enrolling at the airport or stadium

You can also enroll for CLEAR at airports or stadiums.

I ended up signing up for CLEAR through a recruiter at the airport for a month free trial, which is not ideal. However, I was running late for my flight, and the TSA Pre-Check line was too long. Within 2 minutes I enrolled. After enrollment, I went through security. I then later got matched for a 3-month free trial by emailing CLEAR.

In rare cases, CLEAR ambassadors trying to recruit members can be a little too pushy and annoying. I have nothing against them, but I have encountered about two recruiters at DTW that kept pushing the sale on people that said no.

Enrolling for CLEAR at a stadium is similar. You will usually see big banners for CLEAR and recruiters will help you through the enrollment process. Once you are done, you are on your way to grab some drinks, snacks, and relax before the game or event.

Image via CLEAR

CLEAR biometrics need some work

Last time I used CLEAR the pod couldn’t recognize my fingerprints after 5 attempts of scanning. Then the ambassador mentioned how my hands were too cold and it won’t work because my hands are too cold. So, the ambassador switched to the iris scanner, and that took ages. I never used the iris scanner after the enrollment process making me look a little stupid moving back and forth to be in the right position to perform the iris scan.

After the pod recognized me, I was able to proceed to security screening. The sad thing is, I took so long that everyone that was in the regular ID check lane passed me.

This isn’t the only time I had issues with the fingerprint scanners while using the pods. I have used CLEAR 6 times and every time those fingerprint scanners did not recognize my fingerprints the first or second attempt of scanning my fingerprints. They aren’t as good as the Global Entry fingerprint scanners or even my phone’s fingerprint scanner.

I thought it was just me having this issue. When I brought up CLEAR to my friend, that friend right away complained about the fingerprint scanners not recognizing their fingerprints.

CLEAR TSA Pre-Check lane at DTW McNamara Terminal

Is CLEAR worth it?

CLEAR is worth it for frequent fliers. However, for the average person, it’s not worth the fee.

When I am in the US, I fly an average of one or two times domestically a month, but I cannot justify the $109 a year fee since I am a medallion member. I for one travel with my partner and my partner isn’t a US citizen or a permanent resident. One has to be a US citizen or permanent resident for CLEAR membership.

CLEAR is also rather limited to which airports services. CLEAR is a domestic product and isn’t available outside of the US. For me, I cannot see paying the $109 yearly fee for just me and only usable within the US.


Final word

When CLEAR works, it’s an excellent service. I love the ambassadors working at the pods. It’s a VIP experience for cutting the line.

Moreover, when CLEAR doesn’t work, it’s a little disappointing. It’s a service that you pay, but you cannot use properly because of inaccurate biometric scanners on the pods that aren’t as good as other biometric scanners on other kiosks.

This article was originally published Nov, 30 2018 and recently updated. 

UponArriving has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. UponArriving and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

4 comments

  1. I love seeing biometrics being used for identification purposes. With our current ID systems we’re basically using primitive facial recognition. We had might as well use biometrics, with both online and offline storage of the data, to mitigate identity theft. If our cell phones can already perform accurate facial recognition, voice recognition and fingerprint detection, why not?

    1. I am totally for biometrics for identification. It’s exciting seeing biometrics becoming a thing not only in the US but all over the world.

  2. I have been a CLEAR member since they began…when your biometrics were stored on a card with a chip (with my photo), like the data on a credit card. Here are a few random thoughts:

    1) My home airport is SFO, which can certainly get rather crowded at peak times. Using CLEAR saves me (and my wife) a minimum of five minutes and has saved as much as 20+. Specifically, because I have had knee replacement surgery, I can’t go through the metal detector but must use the scanner¹. Not only does CLEAR get me through the long security lines, as the above diagram shows, but then a TSA agent (actually, at SFO, it’s a private company) takes me to the head of the line to use the scanner. I cannot imagine *not* having CLEAR, and for me, it’s ABSOLUTELY worth the money. YMMV.

    2) I certainly agree CLEAR should *always* be used in conjunction with TSA Pre-Check.

    3) CLEAR is now available at MSY, something *not* mentioned above. It should also be noted that there are airports at which CLEAR may be available in one terminal but not at another, *or* for one airline but not another.

    4) With regard to fingerprints, iris, etc., for me personally fingerprints RARELY work at the CLEAR kiosks — again, it’s just for me; my wife’s fingerprints work fine every time — and I have to use the iris scan probably 90-95% of the time. That always works for me. That said, it only takes a few minutes to re-do/re-calibrate your biometrics. This has been done 3-4 times, and I still tell the Ambassadors to just use my iris…

    5) Since no one at AT&T Park has ever asked to see a photo ID, I’ve yet to figure out why CLEAR is there.

    _______________
    ¹ Some Pre-Check lanes use a scanner. Stupidly (IMHO), SFO only has a metal detector at the Terminal 2 Pre-Check lane. (T2 is the terminal I fly in and out of the most.)

    1. I loved reading your thoughts! I remember when they used the card before, I never used it back then and certainly having the card now would be super cool throwback item. I heard about TSA agents that are from private companies taking CLEAR members directly the scanner, but I haven’t encountered that yet! I do wish DTW offers that service. I will start to tell the ambassadors to skip fingerprints and do my iris to clear me. I still have hope for my fingerprints to work, but it’s probably just my fault.

      Just updated the article to reflect MSY having clear. Thank you for pointing it out. 🙂

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