I first got the Nexus Trusted Traveler Program in 2013. Before that, I used to think that it was a lot of money, or a big hassle to apply for the program for just crossing the US/Canada border (which I do maybe 1-2 times a year). Someone I was dating suggested I get the Nexus card, and I thought okay, why not. It was a long process though but now that I have it is a breeze and has made my traveling life so much easier.
Nexus Canada: The Best $50 I have Spent
Seriously, I would say that getting my Nexus card is the best $50 I have ever spent.
It lasted for 5 years (so $10 a year) and I was happy to fork over another $50 USD to apply for another 5 years. Is $10 a year worth it to avoid the hassle of waiting at airport line ups when flying and waiting for 50 minutes at the Canada-US border when driving to the states? Is the $10 a year worth it for not having to be interrogated or given a very suspicious “talking to” every time you go across the border by customs officers?
A resounding YES.
(you can get it for free with a lot of credit cards, for example, the TD Visa Infinites provide a rebate for the Nexus application every few years)
It is also free for children.
The Downsides of Nexus Canada
The one downside of traveling with Nexus (e.g. in a car border crossing) is that everyone in the car must have Nexus too otherwise you can’t be in the Nexus lane. After I got my NEXUS I must admit I became a bit of a Nexus snob. Meaning that if my mom and sisters wanted to go to the states I wouldn’t go with them (they go about every 1-2 months, and it baffles me why they don’t have Nexus yet!).
I wouldn’t go with my friend to the states too and then after a few years (of me touting the amazing Nexus benefits) she applied for Nexus and loves it now. It’s like a total MLM scheme without any commissions, just all sales pitches for Nexus haha!
The other downside of Nexus is that they are very strict. If you break the rules you can get a ban on your Nexus membership. One time we were frazzled traveling with our toddler and I think I packed a mandarin orange in our carry on to be eaten on the plane before we arrive in the United States (really didn’t meant to carry fruits with seeds into the US and disrupt their fauna and flora), and we got a very stern talking to and warning that our Nexus membership could be revoked.
The Perks of Nexus
The great thing about Nexus Canada is that Nexus membership free for children under the age of 18. FREE! Of course they will be traveling with you and therefore you will need to have a Nexus membership which doesn’t help you avoid the $50 Nexus membership.
As mentioned above, with land crossings, the wait time is minimal (like 5 minutes, maybe 10 minutes max with all the crossings that I have done) versus something like 45 minutes to an hour with the non-Nexus line.
At Canadian airports (and some US airports that support Nexus- not Global Entry) you can bypass the security line up and opt for the Nexus line up. It’s usually much faster. Though with young children, you usually get to bypass the line anyway so the Nexus card doesn’t save you that much time.
Lastly, since you are vigorously screened already the customs officers are much kinder and often they ask minimal questions. Usually it’s just how much you spent. Often even if I go over they seem to be lenient and don’t charge me taxes or duties even though I go over.
The Nexus Application Process
The process took a long time, about 3 months from what I recall. Once the process was over and done with it has been a breeze and zero maintenance (except for the renewal process which I will get into).
First there was the application which was a detailed application. Here’s how to apply for Nexus. Then you fork over your membership money. Then you wait. After a few months, you get an email that you have received conditional approval. Then you schedule an interview. If you schedule an interview at the airport (in my experience anyway) then you can get the retina scan done and then you will have access to use Nexus at the airport. After a few weeks of more waiting, then you will get your card.
There was a bit more of a delay than usual with the US government shut down in January.
The Nexus Canada Renewal Process
The Nexus renewal process was much easier, I just renewed in 2018. They basically reminded me that I had to renew my Nexus card. All it involved was submitting an online application after receiving an email reminder (it’s more for the online application compared to the paper application) and waiting.
Then I got the Nexus card in the mail and they just re-used my previous Nexus card picture. This process didn’t take 3 months like the application, but it did take a few weeks from what I recall.
How to Get Nexus Canada Card for Free
There are multiple cards in the US market that gives you the opportunity to get the Global Entry for free. Recently, CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite came out with a perk for their credit card that rivals these US credit cards, by paying for your Nexus card (initial application or renewal), a $50 USD/ or $50CAD value.
Related: PC Travel Review
Unfortunately I got this card after I paid for my renewal, but the CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite card (my review of the card) gives you a rebate for a Nexus application every 4 years. Also, that card was a FYF card (first year free) so at that time, there’s absolutely no excuse in not getting a Nexus. However, it since has an annual fee of $120 now but does come with a lot of other perks, like cell phone damage insurance and four luxe airport lounge passes annually.
Of course, it’s not worth it for you if you don’t travel at all or if you don’t cross the border to Canada or to the United States via a land border crossing! So save your $50! But for me, this has been a great ‘investment’ and has given me a great return on investment via time saved, happiness factor, and satisfaction.
Do you have Nexus?
What do you think of it, do you think Nexus is worth it?
Are you a big of a fan as I am?
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8 thoughts on “Nexus Canada: Is it Worth It?”
Not being a big traveler, I have never heard of it. Although in my travel over the years, Canada has been a go-to spot, but we fly. So, I really do not have an opinion…..Tom
@Tom- Do you use TSA Precheck or Global Entry? I think those are more popular in the US (or seen more often).
It is so worth it! It also gives you Global Entry and TSA Pre-check in the US which are super valuable too, when you’re flying in and out of US airports regularly. Nexus isn’t widely popular in the US, so a lot of Americans don’t know about it. I always tell American friends about it if they live near a border though since it’s cheaper than Global Entry ($100) or TSA Pre-check ($75).
@T- I didn’t know that! I tried using TSA Pre-check and they have told me that I didn’t qualify using it with my Nexus. I should try again next time.
You scan your passport at the Global Entry computer, not your Nexus. And you enter your Nexus ID as the trusted traveler number when you check in for your flight, that’s what gives you TSA Pre-check for that flight! I love not taking my shoes off, haha.
@T- MIND BLOWN. Thank you! I’ll definitely try this next time.
I haven’t heard of Nexus before, maybe because it’s discussed more in Canada than here in the US. For only $50 for five years, it’s definitely worth skipping the long lines at the airport especially if you travel a good number of times between Canada and the US. I would apply for one if I traveled to Canada for even once a year…lol!!
@Kris- Ha you should come up! Yeah, I guess we do head to the US quite often. I just went there the other day to pick up a package (bathroom vanity lights, haha).