Flying domestic with lots of cash
June 17, 2010 3:26 PM   Subscribe

I might be flying domestically (USA) with a large sum of cash. Will I have issues with TSA?

According to google, I should be ok, but I was hoping for actual experiences. I'm talking thousands of dollars of cash (under 10K). Can I get a private screening? Should I even request one?

posted by fuzzypinkslippers to Travel & Transportation (8 answers total)
I used to carry cash for my ex-boyfriend (so we would each be under the $10k limit) through airport security and customs all the time and it was never an issue -- they never even noticed it. Thousands of dollars in hundred dollar bills is actually not that big of a wad in your pocket.
posted by Jacqueline at 3:29 PM on June 17, 2010

I know someone who tripped security travelling (internationally) with ~$30,000 in US cash. The machines detect large sums of bills. In the end it was all fine, they just wanted to know where the money came from to know it came from legitmate sources. Since it did in her case she was eventually (the next day) allowed to board a flight.

May not be an issue domestically since you're not moving large sums of money between countries.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 3:29 PM on June 17, 2010

I travel with lots of cash as a poker player and never have had a problem. Other players I know have been quizzed on domestic flights, but generally it is only a problem on international trips where you have to declare the cash.

If you have it in your pockets and not through the xray, they never see it unless they have the new body scanners. In theory, the TSA isn't supposed to care about cash because it isn't a security threat, but when they quiz poker guys I know, they usually seemed to be focused on the question of possible drug dealing. If you can explain where the cash came from, it should be no issue at all.
posted by Lame_username at 3:43 PM on June 17, 2010

My friend just did this (with the cash in a zippered bank pouch) and had no problems.
posted by lakeroon at 3:49 PM on June 17, 2010

I have traveled both domestically and internationally with large sums of cash distributed over various places on my body. I've never had a problem.
posted by hapax_legomenon at 4:55 PM on June 17, 2010

Oh, and I have never requested a private screening or mentioned anything to TSA about it. YMMV but I would not draw this kind of attention to myself, especially when you're doing nothing wrong. You never know when you might get a super gung-ho or inexperienced agent who gets all fired up about the situation.
posted by hapax_legomenon at 4:57 PM on June 17, 2010

My comment concerns international travel, but it's possible something similar might apply, if you are really worried. When I traveled with sketchy baggage, (big heavy homemade electronics), I spoke with a US Embassy official a few days in advance, showed her supporting press materials, and she was very nice and wrote a personalized letter for me. I don't think you need to bother, but I was pleased at how well that worked.
posted by StickyCarpet at 5:48 PM on June 17, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. I made it through without any difficulty. I shoved the cash in my pockets and no one was the wiser. They did manage to toss my hand lotion though...
posted by fuzzypinkslippers at 5:57 PM on June 24, 2010

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