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Ten years ago, the State Department began offering American citizens the Passport Card, a credit card-sized travel document that can only be used to re-enter the United States at land-border crossings or ports-of-entry by sea from select countries. To date, more than 17 million Passport Cards have been issued, according to the State Department, representing about 10 percent of all passport holders. But given the card’s restrictions, does it even make sense for a U.S. citizen to opt for a Passport Card over a Passport Book? Below is a handy list of pros and cons to help you decide.



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  • PRO: Passport Cards costs $80 less for first-time applicants—$65 each compared to the $145 required for Passport Book applicants.
  • CON: Passport Cards cannot be used for international air travel, even within the 19 (mostly Caribbean) countries that accept the cards at land or sea ports.
  • PRO: Since it’s the size of a credit card, the Passport Card easily fits into your wallet and can be used as proof of U.S. citizenship when flying domestically.
  • CON: It only grants access to 19 countries—all three in North America, most of the Caribbean and Bermuda. If you want to visit faraway lands, this isn’t a good option.
  • PRO: At just $30 per renewal every 10 years, Passport Cards are a fraction of the cost of the $110 required to renew Passport Books. This is especially appealing when traveling with kids, whose cards only cost $15 to renew.
  • CON: Passport Cards are not accepted in all of the Caribbean. Countries that have either opted out or are embargoed include Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Haiti, Cuba, and French West Indies (i.e. Guadeloupe, Martinique, Saint Barthélemy, and the French side of Saint Martin).
  • PRO: The Passport Card is an excellent way to legally visit the following by land or sea: Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, The Bahamas, British Virgin Islands, Caribbean Netherlands (Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba, Curaçao, Sint Maarten), Cayman Islands, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent, the Grenadines, and Turks and Caicos.
  • CON: Passport Cards only grant access to the above and are not needed for travel to Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, or faraway Guam, all of which accept a driver’s licenses by land, sea, and even air travel.
  • PRO: If you want to reach some of the best countries in the North West hemisphere—namely Mexico, Canada, St. Lucia, Anguilla, Virgin Islands, Turks and Caicos, and Dominica—the Passport Card will get you there, albeit by land or sea only.

For more information on the U.S. Passport Card, visit the State Department website.

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Blake Snow

Blake Snow

Blake writes for fancy publications and Fortune 500 companies as a seasoned writer-for-hire and energetic travel columnist. He lives in Provo, Utah with his loving family and loyal dog, and hopes to visit all seven continents someday.

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