Please note this site has financial relationships with American Express and this post may contain affiliate links. Read my Advertiser Disclosure policy here to learn more about my partners.
Platinum card from American Express offers have changed. Please go here for current offer.
I think that Global Entry (and Pre-Check) is such a game changer in the world of travel. Getting back to the US after a trip just to stand in very long lines at customs can be a real downer of a way to end a vacation for anyone – add in some tired kids who are bored, don’t want to stand, need to go to the bathroom, etc., and it can be a very poor way to end a vacation. If you travel with any regularity I think that the $100 fee for Global Entry is absolutely worth it since with Global Entry you skip the line and head straight to a kiosk. The process usually takes me less than 60 seconds. The $100 fee can be refunded if you have an The Platinum Card® from American Express, and each authorized user can also get the $100 refunded via a statement credit. However, Amex Platinum cards come with hefty annual fees and obviously not every family has one, or can realistically afford $100 per family member to pay for Global Entry out of pocket simply to avoid some lines.
Thankfully, as a reader reminded me today, there is another option out there for some families to be able to use Global Entry for free for their children. The solution lies with the Canadian program, NEXUS. With NEXUS you can not only get into Canada without the massive customs lines there (I have waited in about a 90 minute line in Montreal before), but you can also get Global Entry by way of having NEXUS. Of course, Global Entry can then get you PreCheck to use on domestic flights which saves you time when going through security. Best of all, NEXUS charges just $50 for adults and children are free! Let me repeat that last part for dramatic effect….CHILDREN ARE FREE!
So, NEXUS is $50 for adults and free for those 17 and under (you do need a custodial parent in attendance to apply). NEXUS also gets you Global Entry. Global Entry also gets you Pre-Check. Sounds almost perfect!
As a current NEXUS or SENTRI member, how can I use Global Entry kiosks?
ll current NEXUS members, and U.S. citizens and U.S. lawful permanent residents who are SENTRI members, are eligible to use Global Entry kiosks once they provide 10 fingerprints and document information to CBP. If CBP already has your 10 fingerprints and document information on file, you can use Global Entry kiosks without further action and at no additional cost. If you are a Mexican national in SENTRI, you must apply for Global Entry through your GOES account. For additional Global Entry benefit information, log on to your GOES account.
So, what’s the catch you must be thinking? Well, I have Global Entry that I obtained “for free” while having the Amex Platinum card, but do not yet have NEXUS in large part because I would want NEXUS for my air travel into Canada, so I would need an iris scan done at certain locations that I don’t particularly frequent, such as airports in Monteral, Vancouver, Calgary, etc, However, I do have trips to both Vancouver and Toronto booked over the next 6 months so I hope to get it done then. My daughter will be with me in Vancouver, so we can all get it done then if we want. So, the catch is you need to travel north to a NEXUS enrollment center to get NEXUS. That will be easy for some, and pretty impossible for others. However, you don’t necessarily have to go all the way to Canada.
Hopefully someone will correct me if I am wrong, but my understanding is you do not yet have to have done the iris scan with NEXUS for your Global Entry to be active. That means, that even if you have only done the rest of the NEXUS process at some of the US enrollment locations, you still have Global Entry. For example, the reader who emailed me referenced getting hers and her children’s NEXUS done at the enrollment center in Seattle. There are also NEXUS enrollment centers in Detroit, Buffalo, Niagara Falls, Port Huron, and more. The locations are all in the northern states, but that is easier for some to get to than Canada.
I think I have a basic understanding of how the NEXUS-Global Entry relationship works, but I would love to hear from some of you who have actually acquired NEXUS in part to also get Global Entry. This “free” Global Entry solution for children 17 and under is not worth it for everyone, but if you live in or have plans to visit some of the enrollment center cities anyway, it can be well worth your time to get this done while you are there.