Please don’t buy “free” TSA PreCheck with Southwest or Club Carlson points

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Don’t fall for this terrible use of points or miles. I LOVE PreCheck. LOVE.

Lately, people have been getting emails inviting them to get “free” TSA PreCheck (worth $85) by spending the following currencies:

Club Carlson: 65,000 points

Southwest: 9,000 points

Now, I don’t use Club Carlson’s “GoldPoints” currency. I did, a thousand years ago when it was tied to the Food Emporium’s loyalty program, but that ended a long, long time ago. At a cursory glance, they seem worth about 1/3 to 1/2 a cent a point. So they are giving you $85 worth of PreCheck for around $200-$325 worth of points. BAD DEAL.

I know a Southwest point is worth about 1.5 cents each. I don’t fly Southwest often (no pre-assigned seats aren’t my thing) but I have and I’ve looked up flights often. It’s a fixed currency. So $135 worth of Southwest Rapid Rewards points will get you $85 worth of PreCheck.


1. What terrible deals!  Use the points for the program intended and get much better value. At minimum 1.5x the value.

2. Why do PreCheck at all when you can get Global Entry for $100?  For $15 more you can skip the immigration line on return to the US from abroad. If you fly internationally ONCE in the next 5 years you will find this well worth it.

3.  Some credit cards will even reimburse your Global Entry (or PreCheck) fee anyway!

Cards that do this (which all have hefty annual fees but also many other benefits) include:

  • Citi Prestige
  • American Express Platinum card
  • Citi/AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard
  • Ritz-Carlton Rewards