At the end of last year I was granted access into the TSA PreCheck program as a Delta Diamond Medallion. I’ve been able to use the benefit only a single time – in Atlanta. My travel most always originates in Savannah (where TSA PreCheck would be a waste), and I just haven’t been originating my return at Delta hubs.
In February, during my last round of apps, I applied for The Platinum Card® from American Express. The $450 annual fee is hefty, but the following benefits make it worth it for me:
- Targeted 100,000 point sign-up bonus (standard is 25,000)
- $200 Incidental Airline Credit (got mine with AA.com)
- $100 Global Entry Fee Reimbursement
- Hertz #1 Gold Club, National
- Access to American, Delta, and US Airways clubs (Already have access to Delta through Delta Reserve card and/or Delta DM status)
This past week, I was in Boston and ended up in New York on Thursday/Friday. Thursday afternoon I went to JFK Terminal 4 to the Global Entry office. Six CBP officers were sitting at desks talking to one-another or interviewing others for the Global Entry program.
I had brought copies of all of my paperwork, including my receipt, application, and appointment confirmation. The CBP officer highlighted my Global Entry Membership Number and indicated I should keep this filed if needed. This information is also available on GOES (Global Online Enrollment System – User management system for Trusted Traveler programs).
I had assumed we’d review my application, and then some level of grilling … it was a bit easier than that. The officer asked my to verify my address and how long I had lived there. From that point we discussed how lovely Savannah was, how I had somewhat adapted to allergies in the South, and that my allergies in the north were kicking my butt. The conversation then went on how to remedy allergies and I indicated that I used local Savannah honey. A couple of teaspoons every morning seems to manage it for me; I got a quart from a local farmers market. He laughed and said his grandmother had told him the same thing… and that he should probably listen to her.
After about 10 minutes of discussing allergies and why I moved from Central Massachusetts to Savannah (Snow; thank you very much), he placed a small CBP sticker on the inside of the last page of my passport. In the event of a problem with a Global Entry machine, I’m supposed to show this to a CBP officer to get assistance.
I then had a closeup picture of my face taken, my four right fingerprints scanned, my four left, and my thumbs together. We then turned around and he showed me how to use the Global Entry machine.
- Approach the machine, and slide in my passport (much like we do at self-service check-in kiosks)
- Look at the camera to take my picture
- Place either my right four or left four fingers on the fingerprint scanner
IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card
- Annual Fee: $49 fee waived for the first year
- Foreign Fees: No
- Card Type: Hotel
The IHG Rewards Club Visa is often cited as one of the most underrated hotel credit cards, with good reason. The official offer is for 70,000 points after $1,000 spent within three months, with the first year’s fee waived. The card comes with an annual free night certificate that can be used at any IHG property, including Intercontinental hotels - making this certificate worth upwards of 50,000 points. This is far more generous than some other hotel cards, which limit the categories in which free night certificates can be redeemed.
Cardholders earn 5 points per dollar at IHG hotels; 2 points per dollar at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants; 1 point per dollar everywhere else. Moreover, you’ll get a 10% rebate on award redemptions, up to 100,000 points per year. The card also comes with Platinum status, though that doesn’t get you much with IHG. Still, this is a fantastic card to have in your wallet, with benefits that far outweigh the already low $49 annual fee.
- Earn 70,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months of account opening
- Enjoy a free night of card membership at over 4,700 hotels worldwide
- Earn 5 points for each $1 spent at our hotels
- Earn 2 points per $1 spent on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants
- Bonus points redeemable at hotels such as Intercontinental® Hotels & Resorts, Crowne Plaza® Hotels & Resorts and Holiday Inn®
- Automatic platinum elite status, as long as you remain a cardmember
- $0 introductory annual fee the first year, then $49