Do You Need a Passport Card? | Determining Whether it’s Worth the Cost

Hey, it’s Ernest from Trip Astute In this video, we’re exploring passport cards and whether you need one the next time you apply or renew your passport

(light chiming music) Last week, I shared my crazy experience of replacing a lost passport less than two days before an international trip In that video, I mentioned something called passport cards, so I thought I’d do a video on what it is and how it works When you apply for or renew a passport, it’s one of the options, so I know some folks have asked me whether I think it’s worth the cost But first, if you’re new here, welcome to our channel Trip Astute is a travel channel that is focused on sharing ways to make travel easier, affordable, and more enjoyable

Traveling can be stressful and expensive, so we’re looking for ways to help you maximize your experience through travel tips, points and miles, and innovative gear If that sounds interesting to you, please consider subscribing As I mentioned earlier, getting a passport card is one of your options when applying for or renewing a US passport It costs $65 for new applicants 16 and over, $50 for new applicants under 16, and $30 for renewals This is significantly cheaper than a regular passport, which usually costs around $145 for new applications and $110 for renewals

Like the passport book, it lasts for 10 years Keep in mind that you can get both a passport book and a passport card Basically, it’s not an either or situation Most people would get one in addition to a regular passport book The passport card is basically an ID version of a normal passport book, but it does have it’s own unique card number that is different than a regular passport

It also has an RFID chip inside, but it doesn’t contain as much information as a standard passport book It supposedly just returns the passport card number which is only meaningful to government systems What makes the passport card different is that it can only be used for specific land and sea border crossings For example, you can use it to enter the following North American and Carribean countries if you’re entering via land or sea However, if you’re flying to any of these locations, you still have to use a traditional passport book

This also applies to reentering the US You can use a passport card when entering the US by land or sea from these countries Again, air travel back to the US from these countries requires a traditional passport book Also, there are a few countries in the region that do not accept passport cards Here’s the list of countries that do not participate in the program

So you might be asking, “who should get a passport card, and is it worth getting?” For most people, I honestly don’t think it’s worth the cost Even though a normal passport book is more than twice the cost, it works almost everywhere, making it a lot more versatile In fact, when I last replaced my passport, I did not opt to get a new passport card since I didn’t feel like I was getting much value from it I think the passport card works for folks who might live near a border and want a less expensive and more convenient way to get in and out of the country Since the card is the size of a normal ID, it’s a lot easier to carry in your pocket or wallet

Though again, if you have any desire to travel by air outside of the US, you’re going to need a passport book If you’re someone who only likes to travel on cruises from the US, then the passport card could also be an option for you If you’re planning to travel by ship to the Caribbean, I would check with the cruise company to see what’s needed They should be able to advise whether a passport card is enough For most cases, it should be ok, but if you think you’ll be making any other stops, especially at one of the countries not included on the list from earlier, then you’ll want to plan accordingly

Another reason that someone might want a passport card is that it is a federal ID that proves your nationality While I don’t want to get into our current politics, a passport card could help you to prove your nationality immediately if you’re in a place or situation where that may be an issue Also, the passport card is REAL ID compliant, so if you don’t have already have a driver’s license or any other form of ID that meets the requirement, this can do the trick Lastly, I know some people carry their passport card in their wallet while leaving their regular passport book in a secure location like a hotel safe While I like the idea of keeping your regular passport book secure and protected, I still think it’s safer to carry a photo copy of your regular passport in your wallet

I might be overly cautious with this one, but I worry that a foreign official might not accept or recognize my passport card, especially since it uses a different passport number I like to carry one photocopy of my passport in my wallet, as well as a digital copy that I store in the cloud via my password manager You can also email yourself a picture of your passport as well Having multiple copies helps in case you want to keep your main passport secure in your hotel, or even in the event that you need to get a replacement while traveling For more information on that process, see our video on what to do if you lose your passport

So, in summary, I think the passport card is not worth it for most Americans, unless you happen to live close to a border and make regular trips in and out For the majority of travelers, I honestly think that a regular passport book is the way to go It just gives you more options and flexibility, which are two things I want whenever I’m on a trip Do you have a passport card? If so, do you use it? Let us know in the comment section below I’m curious whether you all have found your passport cards to be useful

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