With so much International travel coming up for me this year, I finally decided to join the Global Entry Trusted Traveler Network to expedite the immigrations process when returning back to the US, and to be eligible for TSA PreCheck to zip through security on outbound flights.
I’ve had my eye on the idea Global Entry for a year or so, but I always told myself I should wait until I got myself an American Express Business Platinum card so that my $100 application fee would be reimbursed by AmEx.
Before heading to Israel a few weeks ago, I did an app-o-rama to add more points and miles to my balances. One of the cards I was approved for during that churn happened to be the American Express Business Platinum card with a lucrative targeted 100,000 Membership Rewards sign-up bonus.
On my way to Tel Aviv, I had a rather unpleasant experience with El Al security at EWR which rang a bell in my head to apply for Global Entry right away as soon as I was back home. Not that having Global Entry would necessarily protect me from future incidents with foreign carrier security, the incident was enough of a trigger for me to finally take the plunge.
For the most part, applying online was easy. The application took about 20 minutes to complete and once approved, I’d be enrolled for 5 years. Even if you’re not getting reimbursed the $100 application fee from AmEx, $20 a year for expedited customs and immigrations sounds like a good deal to me.
Here’s what you need to have handy when applying: a GOES user name and password (you can register here), your valid passport, current employment history, a complete and thorough list of all the countries you’ve visited in the last 5 years, criminal history/arrests (hopefully you don’t have to fill out that part), and a valid drivers license or other acceptable ID that proves your address.
After you apply online, you’re application goes into a “pending review” status and is conditionally approved or denied anywhere between a few days to a few weeks later. For me personally, my application progressed to the “conditionally approved” status in exactly one week.
The next step involves scheduling an interview at a participating airport terminal or nearby government facility. When I first logged on to schedule my interview at EWR, I saw that the earliest available appointment wasn’t until March 16. I selected that date anticipating that something would open up sooner. Luckily, I logged on later that night with hopes that someone canceled their appointment for the following morning. Well, it worked out in my favor because I was able to change my March 16 interview to February 20 at 8:30 am instead.
The interview process was honestly a breeze. I was expecting an intimidating session filled with intense interrogation, but it went something like this instead:
Arrive 8:07 am
Officer: Are you Angelina?
Me: Yes, I have an 8:30 appointment.
O: Ok, come in with me. Have you ever been arrested before?
M: No, never.
O: Ok, I am going to take your picture and finger prints.
M: Sounds good.
O: You’re approved.
The officer then briefly gave me the program run down and instructed me to watch a short video about the Global Entry program. When I left, the time was 8:14 am.
For those who are interested in the exact time line of events in my experience from start to finish, here it is:
- Feb 10: Applied for and was approved for the American Express Business Platinum card
- Feb 12: Submitted my application and $100 payment for Global Entry
- Feb 16: American Express reimbursed me for my $100 application fee
- Feb 19: Received my conditional approval from Global Entry and scheduled my interview for the following day
- Feb 20: Was officially approved after my interview at EWR
I’m so glad it was a rather quick and painless sequence of events for me. What have your experiences been?