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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.
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.