Redeem 65,000 Points For TSA Pre-Check Enrollment… Ouch!

Airline loyalty programs have increasingly been adding opportunities for members to enroll in TSA Pre-Check. Some airlines have given TSA Pre-Check memberships away to elite members for free, while others have been allowing members to redeem points for them. On top of that, several credit cards offer Global Entry and TSA Pre-Check fee credits.

TSA-Pre-Check

For example, a few months ago I wrote about how Alaska Airlines now lets you redeem 10,000 points for the $85 TSA Pre-Check enrollment fee. That’s a horrible value at 0.85 cents per mile, given that I value Alaska miles at ~1.8 cents each.

However, they have nothing on Club Carlson. I just received an email from Club Carlson saying how points can now be redeemed for the TSA Pre-Check enrollment fee. It’s sort of shameless and a bizarre marketing technique, in my opinion. Here’s how it’s described:

Use your points to enjoy five years of hassle-free travel with TSA Precheck, the program offering expedited security when you fly. Make your whole travel experience more convenient and efficient for just 65,000 Gold Points®.

The TSA Precheck application fee is normally $85, but as a Club CarlsonSMmember, you can now use your points to cover the application fee.

Take advantage today!

Club-Carlson-Points

It’s not unusual for loyalty programs to provide horrible redemption values, though typically they try to hide how bad of a value you’re getting by not displaying the cash cost of something. In other words, they’ll have online malls where you can redeem points for merchandise, but they won’t say how much something would otherwise cost.

In the case of Alaska letting you redeem 10,000 points for the $85 TSA Pre-Check fee, they didn’t phrase it as if they were giving you an incredible value, but rather just as another way for you to redeem your miles.

But in the case of Club Carlson, they’re directly saying you can save $85 for “just 65,000 Gold Points,” and to “take advantage today.”

To me that seems sort of stupid, since they’re trying to create the direct expectation that their points are worth that little, which seems like something they wouldn’t want to do.

This doesn’t even address the fact that getting TSA Pre-Check as such represents a terrible value for most:

  • You can instead spend $100 to get Global Entry, which gets you expedited immigration; this comes with TSA Pre-Check, so it’s well worth spending the extra $15 and getting it all bundled
  • The very best value is signing up for NEXUS, which costs just $50, and gets you expedited screening at US and Canadian borders; on top of that it also comes with Global Entry and TSA Pre-Check, so it’s the best kept secret, as it’s the most comprehensive membership

But hey, if you think Club Carlson points are worth 0.13 cents each and don’t value Global Entry, this deal is for you.

Has anyone seen a worse value for redeeming points for TSA Pre-Check?

Comments

  1. I mean like….. it’s JUST 65k points, no biggie. We all TOTALLY have that many club Carlson points

  2. Excellent point about the upgrade to Global Entry for only $15 more. I am currently waiting for the early August interview at LAX. So those choosing Global Entry instead of TSA Pre need to allow a month or two before the benefit can kick in for international travel.

  3. I read this article and within 30 minutes have a pending NEXUS app. Pretty big drawback is the limited amount of interview locations, but I saw there’s one in a city I’ll be visiting in September. Fingers crossed. Thanks for the info!

  4. I sort of had an WTF moment as well but then I thought about it. Don’t forget that they give 40,000 points for just renewal of their credit card. So it is sort of par for course.

  5. Good for you Ben in having the nerve, the independence of mind, to brand this latest Club Pesos promotion what it is…. “stupid.” Club Pesos now tells the world what everyone but Ariana A seems to know all too well… that Club Pesos are increasingly worthless….. They just presume we’re all “losers” and can’t figure out just how bad this promo really is.

    By the way, back in April, you compared Club Carlson to Hyatt in the same sentence. Maybe they once were peer/competing programs…. but today, that’s a lot like saying Howard Johnson’s (among Wyndham’s aging clunker brands) is equal to say, Crowne Plaza.

    I have a ton of Club Pesos, and to be candid, I’m having trouble finding decent values anywhere for using them…. (plunking down 44,000 points for a hotel that costs under a $100 not very smart in my book) Every time I think I found a good CC value, (via say award mapper), I find out the property is “off line and not taking reservations.” Among those remaining, so many seem to be deteriorating, badly.
    Ok, so there’s a lot of great value to be had (if I want to risk life and limb) by going to Egyptian or Tunisian Club Blu properties….. just don’t have the nerve up yet.

    (oh, but maybe Club Pesos knows this, and is giving me a “last ditch” way to unload our stash…. What’s next, magazine subscriptions? I kin he’uh it now — for a mere 50,000 k, you too can have a subscription to Glamour Magazine for 6 months! Weeo, whupteedoo)

    all sarcasm intended. 🙂

  6. For Nexus, note that interview locations are limited to US border towns and several Canadian locations. Of those, only 12 offer iris scans (necessary for air travel) and only 1 of those 12 is in the US (Champlain, NY). If you don’t plan on travel to those Canadian airports or to Champlain any time soon, Nexus may not be your best option, even though it is more inclusive and cheaper.

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