I got a 2 month free trial of Clear after buying Spirit Airlines plane tickets. After testing out the process a few times, I’ll share my experience and thoughts on whether this pricey service is worth it.
TLDR; No, Clear is not worth it, especially if you already have TSA Pre-Check, which has far more benefits at a lower cost.
What is Clear?
Clear is a fast-track identity verification lane at the airport that lets you speed up the process of making your way to your departure gate.
Clear is quite expensive at $189 per year. The service is not offered freely on many credit cards except for the American Express Platinum Card ($695 annual fee), Business Platinum, Green ($150 annual fee), and Centurion.
Some Delta SkyMiles credit cards offer a discounted Clear membership rate of $149 per year.
Signing Up Online
It’s very easy to sign up for Clear online. The free Clear trial requires you to input your credit card details, and your membership is automatically charged at the end of the trial period unless you manually cancel it beforehand.
After you’ve signed up, you need to visit a Clear Plus airport location to add your ID and use your eyes or fingerprints to verify your identity.
Afterwards, you can use Clear Plus right away.
Biometric Data and Identity Check at the Airport
The first time you use Clear, you need to visit an authorized airport and complete a verification process. You need to enter the email address you signed up with to begin the process.
Clear needs two ways to verify you are who you say you are. They let you choose between several identity verification options including eyes, face, right hand, left hand and more.
I opted for the eye verification and two right finger prints.
After that, Clear needs to scan your ID. I used my “real ID” Florida driver’s license to do this.
Then Clear asks you personal questions to verify you are who you say you are. It asked me for my mother’s birth month (using her name, not saying she was my mother) and to select which one a group of street addresses I was previously associated with. I’m not going to lie, it was very creepy that Clear knew all this information. It was similar to the questions you ask on a “credit” check when opening up a new credit card.
Afterwards, I confirmed that my address was correct and then proceeded to finish the process.
Since it was the first time using Clear, I had to go to a TSA security agent to have my ID physically scanned and verified by a human, but the Clear employee informed me that next time I wouldn’t have to do this part.
After that I was on my way to the normal security checkpoint.
The first time I used Clear after the first “identity check” went fine. There was still a line of about 5 or 6 people ahead of me, but it went fast. The machine scanned my eyes and I was on my way.
The second time I used Clear, the line was actually much longer than the TSA Pre-Check line. I waited in line anyway and did the eye scan process. A message appeared on screen saying I was randomly selected to have my identity verified by airport security.
What? I thought. Isn’t that Clear’s entire business model? While the human identity check of my ID wasn’t a big deal, I found it ironic that that’s precisely what customers are paying to avoid.
The third time I tried to use Clear, it wasn’t available since my trip was international.
Is Clear Worth It?
No, I do not believe Clear is worth it, especially if you have TSA Pre-Check. If you travel domestically very often, it could save you some time, depending on how lucky you get with the length of the normal security line.
But honestly, Clear is far more inferior than TSA Pre-Check, so why not just sign up for that service instead and get the benefits of speedy identity check and speedy airport security check?
Clear vs. TSA Pre-Check
You may be wondering how Clear is different from TSA Pre-Check. Clear simply streamlines the process of identity verification. It doesn’t make going through airport security any faster.
TSA Pre-Check on the other hand, does make going through security quicker as you can keep your shoes on and don’t need to take out your laptop.
Clear works domestically only, while TSA Pre-Check can be used on both domestic and international trips.
TSA Pre-Check is much cheaper than Clear, too, costing an average of $20 per year, compared to Clear’s enormous $189 fee.