Barclaycard Arrival World Mastercard offers an amazing 2.2% cash back on all purchases towards travel!

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Update: This offer for Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite Mastercard® is expired, but there’s currently an opportunity to earn 50,000 miles after spending $3,000 within first 90 days of having the card. Learn more about the special offer here.

Link: Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite Mastercard®

I’m usually not a huge fan of credit cards that offer cash back or fixed value points, given that you can almost always get more value by using a card offering a “traditional” mileage currency. After all, I’d rather redeem 100,000 miles for an international business class ticket that retails for $10,000 than a coach ticket that retails for $1,000. Still, I like to apply reasonable valuations to miles — just because I redeemed 100,000 miles for a ticket that retails for $10,000 doesn’t mean I got 10 cents per mile of value. The value I got out of the ticket is whatever I would’ve otherwise paid in cash for it.

To put this into perspective, I recently valued many major miles and points currencies, and for me the most valuable currency was Starwood points, at 2.2 cents each. As far as airline miles go, I valued them anywhere between 0.8 cents and 2.0 cents each.

But now there’s a cash back travel rewards card that I think is arguably the single most valuable card for purchases that don’t otherwise fall in bonus categories.

Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite Mastercard® offers two “miles” per dollar spent on all purchases. Each mile can be redeemed for a cent towards the cost of travel, and you even get 10% of your miles back when you make a redemption. This means the card offers 2.2% cash back on all purchases towards the cost of travel, which is an amazing return.

The problem I have with many cash back travel rewards credit cards is that it’s tough to redeem them in a way that maximizes their value. For example, they’ll charge X number of points for a redemption of up to a fixed amount (for example, 40,000 points for an airline ticket of up to $400). That system is a real pain since you have to find a ticket that’s a certain amount to maximize the value.

With this card you can simply request reimbursement for your travel within 90 days, and within 1-2 weeks of that request the 10% mileage refund will be applied as well. This means that you can book travel directly through your preferred travel provider and still be eligible to earn miles, upgrades, etc. You can even go through a cash back rewards site or use a voucher if you’d like, and still get reimbursement through this card for whatever it ends up costing you.

The card even has a great sign-up bonus of 40,000 miles after spending $3,000 within first 90 days. Those 40,000 miles are worth $440 in travel. The card doesn’t have foreign transaction fees either.

While there’s an $89 annual fee, it’s waived for the first year.

I have a confession to make — I’ve never actually gotten a cash back rewards credit card, though in looking at this card I can say it’ll be my first. If you’re reading this blog I assume you spend some money on travel. If you do, this is basically a 2.2% cash back rewards card, and I don’t think there’s another single card out there with as few restrictions and as good of an across the board return for everyday spend. Yes, I suggest still putting dining and travel expenses on the Chase Sapphire Preferred, gas and office supplies on the Chase Ink Plus/Bold, etc., but for non-bonused spend I don’t think there’s a card out there that beats this. While I also value Starwood points at roughly 2.2 cents each, I’d rather have the equivalent of 2.2 cents in travel “cash” than a point that I value at 2.2 cents, the value of which can be volatile.

Link: Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite Mastercard®

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  1. I’d still rather have a straight 2% cashback card like Penfed or Priceline, the extra 0.2% isn’t enough for me to limit it to travel only.

  2. @ afterbang — I can definitely see why many would feel that way. For me there’s something magical about the 2% barrier. I’d buy Starpoints all day at two cents a piece, though probably not for more. 2.2 cents is what I’ve valued Starpoints at since my valuation last year, so I guess subconsciously it takes being offered the equivalent value in travel “cash” for me to actually be interested in a cash back card.

  3. But if you already have a CSP, you are getting 1.07 points per dollar. If you convert those to miles that are valued at 2 cents per mile, you are effectively getting 2.14%. Is it really worth the hassle of another card, an $89 annual fee and dealing with barclays for an additional 0.06% on uncategorized spend?

  4. @ Sunrise089 — For the purchase itself? I would guess probably not since you’re not actually paying for it. Not positive, though.

  5. @ Chris N — If you value any mileage currency at two cents, probably not. The mileage currencies I value most are American and United at 1.8 cents each, so even with the 7% annual dividend by my valuation we’d be talking about nearly a 0.3% difference per dollar.

  6. It’s funny that this card has been around for a while, with little fanfare, but today boarding area is blowing up as multiple blogs pitch it. I wonder why the sudden interest? Ohhh, perhaps bc theirs a new affiliate link out…

  7. @ Jason — Frankly I just recently found out about the card, as I believe the 40K bonus is fairly new. Don’t think the affiliate link is new (actually read about card and then went to check whether there was an affiliate link, and there was indeed). So not an unreasonable theory, though not the reality either.

  8. @ lucky– I love your blog, but I really do feel the need to call out all the bloggers who are suddenly touting this card. If it’s just because the sign up bonus has been temporarily increased, then I’ll give it to all of you. But as far as the return for everyday spending– yes, 2.2% is pretty good, but it’s not that far off from the BofA Privileges Travel Rewards card, which has been out for almost a year now. That card is almost identical to this one and gives 2% back, plus a once a year 10% bonus for BofA customers (so effectively 2.1%). And that card has a $75 annual fee, but it’s waived for anyone with over $50,000 in assets with either BofA or Merrill Lynch, which I suspect may be a lot of readers.

  9. Can you get two Barclays cards at once? I still need to get in on US Air before it goes away and was hoping to do so on my next churn.

  10. @ AdamH — While I’ve only ever had a single Barclays card, I’ve seen many reports of people being approved for two at once, so I don’t think it’ll be an issue.

  11. I’ve got to agree about the referral link thing. This card would likely never have been mentioned be any bloggers otherwise. I suppose that means the affiliate links are doing their job by generating business for the banks.

  12. Can you use a mix of cash and points? Say you book a $1,000 ticket and only have 60,000 points can you get Barclay’s to reimburse only $600 of the charge?

  13. @ Jamie — I don’t have any firsthand experience, though it’s my understanding that since you’re redeeming it as a statement credit against the cost of travel it can cover only a portion of your travel purchase if you’d like. So you shouldn’t have to have enough points to cover the entire purchase.

  14. @ asar — Nothing at all wrong with the card, though this is 10% more rewarding and actually has a decent sign-up bonus.

  15. well, many posters talk about other cash-back cards being better… but do they give a 40k sign-up bonus? probably not… so this is a decent offer indeed.

    and for one i am glad lucky makes referral money off of my applications… it just means he’ll be able to continue blogging and won’t have to get a miserable corporate job.

  16. So what if there is affiliate compensation? How do you expect bloggers to make money? The final decision of whether to apply for a card is up to the individual. The bloggers provide information and perspective. If you feel the information and perspective is not accurate and driven by compensation motives, then don’t apply for the card. Quit clogging up the comments with your whining. Its almost as bad as the useless comments about how in love people are with the bloggers.

  17. I wrote up my experiences with this card in a blog post here:

    To clarify, with the version of the card that I have, travel purchases do earn “double” points — and these same charges may then available for statement credits. You have to have enough “points” in your rewards balance to fully offset a charge — partial reimbursements are not possible. Customer service has generally been a pain to deal with — it has taken multiple phone calls and I am getting conflicting information about whether Priceline charges qualify as travel expenses.

  18. Barclays better get something like this since it will lose the US card very soon. They may even replace US cards with this.

    Downside is Barclays CSR’s are Banglahore’s worse and getting anything done other than online is impossible.

  19. Lucky, you lost a ton of credit in my book. There’s no way that magically all bloggers are talking about this pretty worthless card at the same time. Just check out tpg’s latest post- suprise! Same card review.

    You are 100% selling out it seems

  20. @Mrig
    Amen! Enough with these posters who whine about clear disclosures. People don’t like the fact that referral fees are paid to someone like Lucky who provides his working knowledge? Fine. Then don’t apply for the card. But please don’t feel a need to post and snivel. It is SO unbecoming.

  21. A few other points worth considering: First, with this card, you don’t have to deal with blackout dates or capacity controls that come with redeeming miles. Price is the only issue. Second, you probably earn miles on your flight, so that has an added redemption value, especially for longer flights. The one downside is you won’t be flying business class, since it will be too expensive.

  22. The Chase Sapphire Preferred offers 2.675% cash back for airfare/hotel/car since the 2X plus 7% dividend can be redeemed at 1.25 cent when booking via Ultimate Rewards Travel. That’s huge and much better.

  23. Minor correction to the above post: Chase Sapphire Preferred offers 2.14X UR points for all travel expense. The blogger himself values each UR point at 1.8c. So CSP basically gets you 3.852c/$ travel spend, which blows the Barclay card out of the water.

    So the only reason one may apply for this card is for the signup bonus. But again, there are better offers.

  24. I don’t think anyone begrudges Lucky any affiliate income, he certainly provides some remarkable original content at his own expense. What they fear is that the affiliate links end up distorting his content. It’s a thin line, and easy to cross without realizing it until it’s too late.

  25. If you spend money on plane tickets I think getting 2.67 cents per $1 of nonbonus spend with thank you premier is better. You have to understand flight points but once you do 2.67 is the norm. This card is a little more flexible and easier to redeem but the return is better. I don’t have too much nonbonus spend anymore anyway. With threshold bonuses, hotel free nights, and credit cards that give status or eqm for spend, I just don’t have much true nonbonus spend ever justifying only 2 percent or even 2.1 percent cash back.

  26. I’ve had the Barclay Arrival (2x on all purchases) for 2 months now. The points post very promptly and the rewards redeemed get credited promptly as well. i guess I’ve been “lucky” – customer service has been good so far.
    To date, I have been able to redeem statement credits for car rental, hotel and airline baggage charges. No hassle.
    I use it for spend in categories that I otherwise would just earn 1 pt on other cc’s.

  27. Technicaly this is not 2.2% cashback, but rather 2.22222222…%, as you will get 10% back again on those points you got back last time

  28. @ Jay — Just to clarify I’m not suggesting this card be used for travel spend (I’d recommend the Chase Sapphire Preferred or American Express Premier Rewards Gold card for that), but am saying this is one of the best cards for spend that *doesn’t* otherwise belong in a bonus category.

  29. Can I purchase and plane ticket for someone else and still get a credit on the statement or it has be for myself? Also, do I need to spend $1000 first and wait for the points to be posted onto the account before making my plane ticket purchase? Thanks!

  30. @ Travis — Again I don’t have any firsthand experience, but as long as it appears on your statement I don’t see why you couldn’t purchase a ticket for someone else.

    You could book your ticket anytime even before the miles post. Then when the miles post within 90 days you can request reimbursement.

  31. This card sounds like a big yawn for exactly the reasons you allude to. I find that the best value of reward points is to redeem them for premium cabin air travel. This card is useless for that: for your hypothetical $10,000 ticket, one would have to spend $454,545. In contrast, the same ticket might cost about 120,000 points in a traditional airline program, meaning you’d have to spend only $120,000 to get it through a traditional airline-branded credit card.

  32. @ snic — Right, this card is horrible for premium cabin redemptions. But what do you really value premium cabin tickets at? I assume not the retail value but some other amount.

    Let me ask you this — if you had the opportunity to buy miles in your preferred airline program for 2.2 cents, would you?

  33. This card is only good for the sign up bonus.

    At 2.2%, it is 0.2% better than say, the Priceline Visa or the Fidelity AMEX.

    To just break-even the $89 annual fee, you need to put 89/0.2% = $44500 of spend on the card.

  34. Good question, Lucky. The answer is “probably not.”at your hypothetical 2.2 cpm, I’d have to spend $2640. Although I think that’s a fair price for a TATL or TPAC business class ticket, I’m still reluctant to pay that much for it out of pocket – partly because just by waiting another few months or a year, I can accumulate that number of miles just by doing what I normally do (flying on business and using my credit card), with very little additional expense.

    If I needed a few thousand miles to top off an account to get a ticket right away, I might buy them at 2.2 cpm or even less. But I’ve never yet had to do that – and if I did, the exact cpm would matter less than the total amount I’d have to pay to get the ticket (which is a function of mileage account balance, required miles for the ticket, and cpm).

  35. Looks like my post got garbled somehow. The messed-up sentences should read:

    The answer is “probably not.” To get 120,000 United miles at your hypothetical 2.2 cpm, I’d have to spend $2640.

  36. I found this type of bonus was incredible useful during a 2011 trip to Thailand: I used my Cap1 bonus to cover most of my in-country train, boat, and airfare along with hotels/guesthouses that would accept cards, including paying the cash portion of cash+points at Le Meridian Chiang Mai. Even with the 5% CC fee most Thai businesses charge it was a great tool for travel, and much more useful for me than spending the bonus on a single domestic ticket.

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