You are currently viewing NEXUS card: essential guide (2024)

Having a NEXUS card is definitely one of the best tricks travel pros use (that so few people know about, like sooooooo many simple travel tricks). And honestly, there are very few situations where it would make sense NOT to be a NEXUS member.

Savvy travelers love to skip lines and save time… especially when it’s this easy.

Here is the 1st part of this guide (the 2nd part will be on how to actually use your NEXUS card very soon).

 

Video about the NEXUS card

I had done this very short video, I’ll have a more detailed one at the same time as part 2 of this guide.

 

 

Here are the details. 

 

Basics of the NEXUS card

The NEXUS membership is for low-risk, pre-approved “trusted travelers.”

It allows you to skip many lines and get priority access to save a lot of time when traveling. You get through almost instantly!

It works at:

  • Security checkpoints in airports in Canada AND in the USA
  • Customs in airports in Canada AND in the USA
  • Land border crossings between Canada and the USA

The NEXUS card is offered jointly by:

  • The Canadian Government (Canada Border Services Agency)
  • The American Government (U.S. Customs and Border Protection)

This is absolutely wonderful. We are talking about HUGE time savings.

It’s especially great given that you can even easily get paid to get NEXUS for free with the right credit cards! Even if you decide to actually pay for it, it’s so affordable and worth it!

You’ll get:

  • A priority line to skip the queue before the screening
  • An expedited screening to speed up the actual process too

You’ll save time both on:

  • Departure (it allows you to spend more time in airport lounges or get to the airport later)
  • Arrival (it allows you to explore your destination faster or get home faster)

For example, when leaving on a trip, at the security checkpoint, you will pass through almost instantly (in 16 Canadian airports), regardless of your destination. If you go to the United States, you will also pass through American customs almost instantly. 

On your way back, you will pass through Canadian customs almost instantly (whether you’re arriving from the USA or not). If you leave from an American airport, you also get TSA Pre-Check privileges which are even better than the privileges at Canadian security checkpoints.

This is all thanks to express priority lines for NEXUS card holders.

Same thing by car in both directions (at the busiest border crossings); almost no wait! Thanks to dedicated lanes for NEXUS cardholders only.

It’s so great to pass in front of everyone waiting in the normal line, both by air and by land. You’ll really get used to it!!!

My girlfriend and I have had NEXUS cards for many years, and we will obviously keep renewing our membership. I really can’t recommend it enough!

 

Important details about the NEXUS card

Here is relevant information about the NEXUS card.

 

Credit cards that pay for the NEXUS card

First of all, many Canadian credit cards have a NEXUS credit as a benefit: in other words, you charge the NEXUS fees to your card, and it will be credited automatically on your statement, so it’s completely free (or almost free with the one less generous card).

Warning: that’s in addition to getting hundreds of dollars in welcome bonuses with these cards, of course (this NEXUS credit is NOT included in our Flytrippers Valuation of the welcome bonus; it’s really in addition to the rewards that cards give you).

Best credit cards with
NEXUS credit
TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card
TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card
Min. income (card):
Min. spend (bonus): $12k in 12 mos. (or $7.5k for lower bonus)
WELCOME BONUS
(Flytrippers VALUATION)
ends September 3rd
Rewards: ≈ $641
Annual fee: $139
NEXUS credit: C$100
and free bag on AC
$5k spend option also available
TD® Aeroplan® Visa* Infinite Privilege* Card
TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege Card
Min. income (card):
Min. spend (bonus): $24k in 12 mos. (or $12k for lower bonus)
WELCOME BONUS
(Flytrippers VALUATION)
ends September 3rd
Rewards: ≈ $976
Annual fee: $599
NEXUS credit: C$100
and AC lounge
access (AC flights)
CIBC Aventura® Gold Visa* Card
CIBC Aventura Gold Visa Card
Min. income (card):
Min. spend (bonus): $3k in 4 mos.
WELCOME BONUS
(Flytrippers VALUATION)
Rewards: ≈ $484
Card fee:
NEXUS credit: C$100
and 4 lounge
passes (worldwide)
CIBC Aventura® Visa Infinite* Card
CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite Card
Min. income (card):
Min. spend (bonus): $3k in 4 mos.
WELCOME BONUS
(Flytrippers VALUATION)
Rewards: ≈ $484
Card fee:
NEXUS credit: C$100
and 4 lounge
passes (worldwide)
American Express® Aeroplan®* Reserve Card
American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card
Min. income (card):
Min. spend (bonus): $7.5k in 3 mos.
WELCOME BONUS
(Flytrippers VALUATION)
Rewards: ≈ $1041
Card fee: $599
NEXUS credit: C$100
and AC lounge
access (AC flights)
Platinum Card® from American Express
Platinum Card from American Express
Min. income (card):
Min. spend (bonus): $10k in 3 mos.
WELCOME BONUS
(Flytrippers VALUATION)
Rewards: ≈ $1600
Card fee: $799
NEXUS credit: C$100
and unlimited
lounge access
American Express® Gold Rewards Card
American Express Gold Rewards Card
Min. income (card):
Min. spend (bonus): $1k/month for 12 months
WELCOME BONUS
(Flytrippers VALUATION)
Rewards: ≈ $1180
Card fee: $250
NEXUS credit: C$50
and 4 lounge
passes (Canada)
Terms and conditions apply. Flytrippers editorial opinion only. Financial institutions are not responsible for maintaining the content on this site. Please click "See More" to see most up-to-date information.
Best credit cards with
NEXUS credit
WELCOME BONUS
(Flytrippers VALUATION)
NEXUS
credit
TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card
Min. income (card):
Min. spend (bonus): $12k in 12 mos. (or $7.5k for lower bonus)
Rewards: ≈ $641
Annual fee: $139
C$100
and free bag on AC
$5k spend option also available
ends September 3rd
TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege Card
Min. income (card):
Min. spend (bonus): $24k in 12 mos. (or $12k for lower bonus)
Rewards: ≈ $976
Annual fee: $599
C$100
and AC lounge
access (AC flights)
ends September 3rd
CIBC Aventura Gold Visa Card
Min. income (card):
Min. spend (bonus): $3k in 4 mos.
Rewards: ≈ $484
Card fee:
C$100
and 4 lounge
passes (worldwide)
CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite Card
Min. income (card):
Min. spend (bonus): $3k in 4 mos.
Rewards: ≈ $484
Card fee:
C$100
and 4 lounge
passes (worldwide)
American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card
Min. income (card):
Min. spend (bonus): $7.5k in 3 mos.
Rewards: ≈ $1041
Card fee: $599
C$100
and AC lounge
access (AC flights)
Platinum Card from American Express
Min. income (card):
Min. spend (bonus): $10k in 3 mos.
Rewards: ≈ $1600
Card fee: $799
C$100
and unlimited
lounge access
American Express Gold Rewards Card
Min. income (card):
Min. spend (bonus): $1k/month for 12 months
Rewards: ≈ $1180
Card fee: $250
C$50
and 4 lounge
passes (Canada)
Terms and conditions apply. Flytrippers editorial opinion only. Financial institutions are not responsible for maintaining the content on this site. Please click "See More" to see most up-to-date information.

 

The TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card has an amazing increased bonus.

Each adult should take advantage of their own welcome bonus to get more free travel.

But otherwise, the NEXUS credit you get can be used for other travelers’ NEXUS fee, not just for the credit card holder only. That means that with some of the $100 NEXUS credits, you can probably even charge the NEXUS fee for 2 people and have only a small amount left to pay — we’ll confirm the exact terms and conditions and update this at the same time as part 2 of the guide.

My NEXUS kit (photo credit: Andrew D’Amours/Flytrippers)

 

Cost of the NEXUS card

If you don’t like getting free travel, honestly, the price of NEXUS is so low that I can’t imagine anyone would really stop themselves from getting a NEXUS card because of the price. It just seems unthinkable to me.

The cost of this awesome luxury is only US$50 for 5 years (≈ C$68).

That works out to an absurdly low price of C$14 per year. Even if you only sadly travel once a year, saving that much time makes that $14 worth it.

The fee is for the application and is non-refundable. So if you are not accepted into the program, you still have to pay. You have to pay online, by credit card only (which you should obviously always do for everything anyway to earn travel rewards).

The NEXUS program is completely free for minors (those under 18 years of age), but an application must still be completed for them.

 

Eligibility for a NEXUS card

Not everyone can get the NEXUS card.

As I said, it’s a “trusted traveler” program, so there is a thorough assessment by Canada and the United States separately. They call it an extensive background and risk check. And the in-person interview is mandatory (I’ll get to that in the next section).

Here are the 4 official conditions listed to be accepted for a NEXUS card:

  • Be eligible to enter Canada or the United States under applicable immigration laws
  • Provide accurate and complete information on the application
  • Not be in violation of any customs, immigration, or agricultural laws
  • Meet all other program eligibility requirements

They also say you may not be eligible if:

  • You have been convicted of a felony offense without a pardon
  • You have a criminal history, including arrests and pardons

In short, for the majority of Canadians, acceptance is almost guaranteed. If you’re not sure, get one of the cards that give you a credit to pay for NEXUS, that way you literally have nothing to lose by applying for NEXUS.

And the NEXUS card is not just for Canadian citizens. Permanent residents of Canada are also eligible. However, you must have lived in Canada for at least 3 years in that case.

In terms of required documents, it’s pretty simple: you need proof of citizenship and residency.

 

Effort required to get a NEXUS card

The price should certainly not be a barrier for any traveler, and the requirements should not be for most travelers.

But perhaps you may think that because they don’t travel that much, the time saved with NEXUS is not as worthwhile because there is some time you need to invest to:

  • Complete the online application for the NEXUS program
  • Go to an in-person interview for the NEXUS program

But, in my opinion, yes, it is worth it anyway! Because you can schedule the interview whenever you want, and you can certainly find the time to go do that.

Unlike the time saved in the airport when you have a very limited time to travel (everyone always complains they don’t have enough time to travel and that’s why they always make terrible travel decisions that cost them an insane amount of extra money)…

I think it’s much better to invest some time outside of your trips to save time during your trips. That’s always the key to traveling for less and traveling better, actually: planning and preparing your trips well. It’s not rocket science, as explained in our free ebook with the 7 best travel tips (with 100+ other tips).

 

Example of a NEXUS card

For those who are curious, the NEXUS card is exactly the same size as a standard driver’s license.

It comes in a special little RFID-blocking sleeve (which is surprisingly resistant; it has survived many years of my lack of finesse or carefulness across 60+ countries in those 5 years since I’ve had it).

NEXUS card sleeve (photo credit: Andrew D’Amours/Flytrippers)

 

The whole thing weighs only 7 grams total. That’s much less than a premium metal credit card like The Platinum Card from American Express (18 grams), so it’s not cumbersome during your travels.

Here’s what the NEXUS card looks like, with some of my private information redacted of course.

My NEXUS card (photo credit: Andrew D’Amours/Flytrippers)

 

How to get a NEXUS card

Here’s everything you need to know to get a NEXUS card.

In practical terms, here’s the step-by-step process to get a NEXUS card:

  • Complete the application online (a few minutes)
  • Pay with a credit card (ideally one that pays for NEXUS)
  • Wait for conditional approval (from 2 days to 2 years)
  • Schedule an in-person interview (easy with our pro tip)
  • Do the in-person interview (under 30 minutes)
  • Get your NEXUS card in the mail (about 3 weeks)

Let’s look at each step.

 

Online application for the NEXUS card

Of course, filling out the online application is pretty simple. 

Just read what is written and provide the requested information, as you would for any form.

 

Payment for the NEXUS card

I’ve already covered this above; it’s so easy to get it for free (AND get a huge welcome bonus).

If not, it’s so cheap.

 

Conditional approval for the NEXUS card

It’s quite fascinating right now, as many of our readers have reported getting approved for NEXUS in under 48 hours. It’s the absolute ideal time to apply while there is this glitch in the governments’ application processing order.

Normally, it can take a few months to get conditional approval (I think it took me a few months when I first applied over 5 years ago).

During the pandemic, the length of the wait could even reach 18-20 months, so 48 hours is truly phenomenal.

To manage your expectations, I would still not assume it will only take 2 days, but as they ramp up their approvals to clear the backlog, the sooner you apply, the sooner you’ll get approved. 

 

Scheduling the in-person interview for the NEXUS card

First, when we say “NEXUS interview,” it’s actually NEXUS interviews, as there are 2:

  • Interview with American customs officer
  • Interview with Canadian customs officer

There are 2 things to consider when scheduling your NEXUS interview:

  • Location
  • Timing

I’ll start with the location.

You can do the interview at the:

  • 8 major Canadian airports with USA customs preclearance
  • 16 major land border crossings from BC to NB

The interviews had been paused for a long time because of the pandemic the governments’ response to the pandemic. Then by a dispute about guns in Canadian airports.

Interviews restarted nearly 1 year ago, in early April 2022 at the land border and in March 2023 in Canadian airports.

Many Canadians live close to the land border and that may still be the best option, because the process is different based on whether you choose to do your NEXUS interview at the land border or at the airport. Even before the pandemic, back in 2017, I did my interview at the land border myself as it was already more convenient. 

But if you really want to do the NEXUS interviews in a Canadian airport, the process is a bit different and requires you to take a Canada–USA flight to complete the process because they must be completed separately and the USA interview must be completed after going through customs (which requires a ticket).

You cannot do 1 interview at the airport and 1 interview at the land border; you must do both at the same type of customs.

You can read all the details in our post about the reopening of NEXUS centers in Canada while you wait for our deep-dive post about the NEXUS interview itself very soon.

And now the timing.

Just like with literally anything in the world of travel, it’s really not that complicated: invest more time, and you’ll make travel more affordable and make travel more enjoyable.

Every single week, someone complains that they can’t find an interview slot. Of course, if you check once and never check back, you might only see an appointment slot in 2 months. Kevin, Flytrippers’ other co-founder, got his appointment in 3 days in December, as have many savvy travelers who followed our tips.

Simply go back to the NEXUS website every day to see if last-minute appointment slots opened up for the next few days, because they often do.

For certain NEXUS centers at the land border, you can use our Twitter bot pro tip, to automatically get an alert when appointments open up. But for NEXUS centers in Canada, it is sadly suspended for now. 

In other words, just like when you are looking for a cheap flight: look often, look at all options, and be flexible!

 

Doing the in-person interview for the NEXUS card

Many wonder about the interview process. Kevin will soon share a detailed post about his December interview for a more thorough walkthrough.

In my case, I went to the Champlain (NY) land border crossing with my girlfriend in 2017. We were able to do the interview together at the same time. I found it to be pretty informal. Like any customs experience, it depends on which customs officer you encounter.

I didn’t feel like it was an interrogation or anything like that. This makes sense, since you are already conditionally approved for a NEXUS card when you’re at the point of going in for the interview.

The nice customs officer rather:

  • Revalidated all our information
  • Asked a few more questions
  • Took our fingerprints
  • Took a photo of our irises
  • Took a photo of our faces

But most importantly, he thoroughly explained how the program works.

It took less than an hour total for both of us. It was really very simple.

 

Activation of your NEXUS card

You’ll get final approval the day of the interview or the next. You can already immediately use the TSA Pre-Check privilege at security checkpoints in USA airports, since that doesn’t require having the physical card (I’m spoiling part 2 about how to use NEXUS).

For every other NEXUS privilege, you need the physical NEXUS card. You’ll receive it by mail in about 2 weeks.

Then, you simply need to create an online account on the USA government website to activate your NEXUS card.

 

How to use the NEXUS card

Come back soon for the 2nd part of this guide with more details. In the meantime, here are 2 teasers.

 

My 2023 experiences with the NEXUS card

I wrote about examples of all 4 airport benefits of the NEXUS card as I experienced them on my January 2023 trip to Miami and Cartagena

This summer, I just tried the new improved and accelerated NEXUS security process in Canadian airports, I’ll share a detailed post soon.

 

Sharing the NEXUS card

To be clear, there are no shared privileges, family accounts, companion benefits, or anything like that.

Obviously, the NEXUS program is for “trusted travelers” and not for “trusted travelers and any random person that happens to be with them.”

Only NEXUS card holders can use the priority lines at airports (both at security and customs), so if accompanying persons do not have their own NEXUS card, they will have to go to the regular line (except at security in USA airports, where your travel buddies might get the same privileges; see the upcoming section on how to use NEXUS).

By land, you cannot use the NEXUS lane if someone in the car with you is not a NEXUS member, regardless of age. It’s a very serious offense if you do this, and you could lose your NEXUS card privileges entirely.

In short, it’s simple: these are lines and lanes for NEXUS card holders, not for NEXUS card holders and companions.

 

Want to get more content to learn pro traveler tricks?

Sign up for our free newsletter

 

Summary

The NEXUS card is absolutely great for travelers, at least those who want to save time when traveling. With credit cards that offer it for free or even with the regular very low price, it is clearly worth it.

What would you like to know about the NEXUS card? Tell us in the comments below.

 

See the deals we spot: Cheap flights

Explore awesome destinations: Travel inspiration

Learn pro tricks: Travel tips

Discover free travel: Travel rewards

 

Featured image: Chicago O’Hare airport (photo credit: Gary Meulemans)

 

Share this post to help us help more people travel more for less:

Andrew D'Amours

Andrew is the co-founder of Flytrippers. He is passionate about traveling the world but also, as a former management consultant, about the travel industry itself. He shares his experiences to help you save money on travel. As a very cost-conscious traveler, he loves finding deals and getting free travel thanks to travel rewards points... to help him visit every country in the world (current count: 71/193 Countries, 47/50 US States & 9/10 Canadian Provinces).

This Post Has 26 Comments

  1. Sue

    We did the interview at YVR without having a flight. It was pre pandemic. Maybe rules changed?

  2. Steve Podkowka

    Your card summary above shows the CIBC Aventura Gold card with a Nexus credit of $100 but I believe that the credit is only $50.

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      Hi, some parts of their website do say $50 for some reason, but they refer to this section in their terms and conditions so it really should be $100.
      nexus credit cibc

  3. Joan

    Regarding the ads I see on Facebook about getting into airport lounges for free. Can you please explain this. We have had nexus for years and never seen this claim before. Can you please explain if this is just the airport waiting areas or those private airline run lounges? thnaks for the info.

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      Hi, the NEXUS program and airport lounge access are 2 completely separate things. I’m not sure which ad you are referring to, if you do see it again please send the link here so I can double check.

      But maybe you mixed up separate benefits a same card has, like for example the CIBC Aventura Gold Visa Card and the CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite Card gives you both a credit to pay for NEXUS and 4 airport lounge passes for free. But completely separate. You can read more about airport lounge access.

      1. Sebastian

        Please see the link. In FB it shows access to lounges.

        (LINK REMOVED BY MODERATOR)

      2. Andrew D'Amours

        Yeah, we recommend to just use the official NEXUS website always, and not some random website that charges you to literally fill out a 4-minute form that everyone can do on their own.
        Not sure why they are talking about lounges but it’s irrelevant because I can assure you NEXUS does not have anything to do with lounges.
        Some credit cards that offer a credit to get NEXUS for free also have lounge access, but those are separate benefits.

  4. Francois Bergeron

    I want to apply on-line for a Nexus card. Apart from writing my profile, I cannot find any form to complete. Where is it the application form? There should be a questionnaire, spaces to fill, anything to give information about. I find nothing. The site I visit is https://ttp.cbp.dhs.gov/dashboard. I see: Nexus, “to begin”, And then, it basically says that should apply if it is not done already. ok, Where to apply? I appreciate your help. 😊

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      I can’t simulate it because I already have NEXUS but if you create an account on that link, there has to be an option to create an application on your dashboard somewhere. If you share a screenshot of your dashboard (block out personal info, if any) I can help.

    2. Francois Bergeron

      After 2 weeks of trail and error, I have been able to submit the “inscription initiale” and I am ” en attente d’examen”. The registration system is unstable, it is why it takes so long to thru. Still, I am optimistic and expect to get some feedback from them in “1 or 2 days” as they post on their site. :))

      1. Andrew D'Amours

        Just to be clear, 1 or 2 days was the outlier. Their website says 12 to 14 months 😛
        nexus program wait time

        It almost certainly won’t take that long, but still, it’s best to manage your expectations a bit haha!

  5. Jhon

    Hi,

    Its been already 4months since I have applied for the Nexus from Canada.
    Any idea on when I will get the conditional approval ? Thanks.

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      Hi, the governments can’t even do something as simple as processing applications in the order they were received. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any way to speed things up, although we’ll try to reach out to get an official response.

  6. SHerry

    Can the Nexus card be renewed or do you have to start again. Ours expire October 2024 and February 25. How far ahead should I apply. Thanks.

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      Hi, you don’t need to start again, you can renew very easily online. I think you can start a year before expiry. I just renewed mine, I will share a detailed post about the experience soon 🙂

  7. Milada

    When you did your interview in Champlain NY, were you interviewed by both CBP and CBSA at same appointment?

  8. Angela

    Does vaccination status come in play for the nexus card?

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      That’s a good question, let me look into that for the next part of the post.

  9. George

    Hi, are there business lounges at certain airports that a Nexus card will give you access to?

  10. Ian

    Can a Nexus card be used at YYZ to go to Portugal

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      Hi, yes a NEXUS card works to bypass airport security in all major Canadian airports as mentioned, and YYZ is the busiest in Canada so definitely included 🙂

  11. Vicky

    This is so helpful. Great guide. Exactly what I was looking for. I knew I could count on FlyTrippers! Can’t wait for part 2.

Leave a Reply