Is the U.S. Passport Card Right for You?

By Jody Yetti

US-TRAVEL-PASSPORT CARDThere’s a lot of confusion about the new U.S. passport card. Is it better than carrying around your birth certificate? Yes. Is it as resourceful as a regular passport? Not even close. We break down the details of the new card so you have what you need before embarking on your next journey.

The Purpose of the Card

The passport card is intended for travel between border countries and seaports of entry. If you are driving from country to country, for example, from the U.S. to Canada, you can flash that spiffy little card to cross the border. The U.S. passport card lets you enter the United States from Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean.

There is a microchip in the card called an RFID (radio frequency identification) chip that allows border agents access to stored records in the government data bases. There is no personal information stored on the chip itself, but it serves as a red flag of sorts. (You didn’t realize it got so technical, did you?)

The card also provides access by sea, for example, when you’re returning from a trip on a closed loop cruise. You can visit Mexico via cruise ship with a U.S. passport card as long as you embark and disembark in the U.S. If you only take cruise vacations from the U.S., the card will work for you.

Word to the wise: in the event there is a family emergency, and you are forced to leave your Mexico vacation and fly home, you will not be allowed back into the United States with a passport card. This is why a regular passport is a great option for travelers.

So what is the attraction to the card?

Even though it can’t be used for international travel, the cost of the passport card is only $45 and it is good for 10 years. The card size is half the size of a passport, which makes carrying it in your wallet an easy solution.  Of course, if size matters, wouldn’t it have been wiser for the U.S. Department of State to come up with a smaller passport instead of a card with air limitations?

A United States passport has myriad attractions. It gives you total air, land, and sea access, within the confines of the law. The passport card to like having an invitation to the party of the year, but when you show up you’re not on the guest list.

Think about it: If a dashing foreign paramour wants to whisk you away from a party, do you really want to worry how fast you can get to the passport office? Ladies, be prepared.

Fewer Options

I’ve always said, limitations are some of the the worst things. This get-up-and-go girl needs a full access pass wherever she happens to be, and if you’re like me, why would you settle for the passport card? It would be like shopping for a size 6 dresswhen you know you’re a size 8. You’d own it, but you don’t have much use for it, so why buy it at all? If I tell you for double the price you can have a dress that fits and comes with a matching jacket that you can wear with other outfits, wouldn’t it make more sense to buy it?

A United States passport is that versatile dress. It’s the single best form of citizenship you can possess. An adult passport costs $100 dollars and it’s good for 10 years. (Passports for children under 16 are valid for five years.)

So why would people take the time to have a card issued that restricts air travel in and out of the USA? Necessity is the mother of invention and having a valid U.S. passport, without restrictions, is just plain common sense.

Jody Yetti, a single woman business owner and seasoned traveler, has been in the travel industry for more than 20 years. She owns Jody’s Travel Inc., a full-service travel agency for single women and other savvy travelers, located in Moriches, NY. Jody can be reached at 631-281-3636 or