In the interest of full disclosure, One Mile At A Time earns a referral bonus for anyone that’s approved through some of the below links. These are the best publicly available offers that we have found for each card. Please check out our advertiser policy for further details about the partners we work with. Thanks for your support!
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.
UPDATE: The offers and terms of the Barclaycard Arrival & Arrival Plus have changed. You can find the best current offers here.
Readership continues to grow exponentially, and often I forget to go “back to the basics.” There are those that have been reading for eons that know the details of every credit card offer out there. And then there are always the newer readers that are completely lost.
So today I figured I’d answer a question that may be obvious to many of you, but I’m sure reader Karin isn’t alone in her confusion. She sent along the following question:
I know I sound totally stupid but could you please explain the Barclay rewards card to me and why you love it so much and how to use it to get the most out of it?
I looked it up and found nothing and then called and talked to a young woman who was actually telling me how to calculate percentages which is not what I needed.
I even read your post on it and I STILL don’t get it (maybe because they use the term, “miles” when it’s really points or somesuch.) and maybe I don’t spend hundreds of thousands on non-bonused stuff.
So what are the perks of the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®, and who should pick it up?
Big picture on Barclaycard Arrival Plus
To give the five second summary of why you should consider the Barclaycard Arrival Plus:
- It has a great sign-up bonus
- It’s one of the most rewarding credit cards for non-bonused everyday spend (~2.22%)
- It has no foreign transaction fees
- The card accrues cashback towards travel, so there are no confusing mileage programs to learn
Barclaycard Arrival Plus sign-up bonus
The Barclaycard Arrival Plus offers a sign-up bonus of 40,000 miles after spending $3,000 within the first 90 days of card membership.
Up front it’s worth explaining what Barclaycard Arrival “miles” are. These aren’t miles that can be transferred to any airline currency. Instead each mile is a cent that can be redeemed towards the cost of travel, from airline tickets to hotels to cruises to car rentals. That means a $400 airline ticket would cost you 40,000 “miles.”
Furthermore, you receive a 10% refund on redeemed miles.
Put another way, the 40,000 mile sign-up bonus will get you a $400 travel purchase. Then when you redeem those miles, you’ll receive 4,000 miles back, which you can apply towards a $40 travel purchase. And then you’ll get 400 miles. And then 40. And then 4.
So the sign-up bonus alone is worth $440+ towards the cost of travel, which is great for a card with the first year’s annual fee waived.
Everyday spend on the Barclaycard Arrival Plus
As I explained above, you basically earn a return of ~2.22% on everyday spend. That’s because the card accrues two miles per dollar spent, each mile can be redeemed for one cent towards the cost of travel, and you receive a 10% refund on redeemed miles.
As far as I’m concerned, one of the other cards which is most valuable for everyday spend is the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express. That’s because I value Starpoints at ~2.2 cents each, so the return is roughly comparable.
I tend to think cash is more valuable than miles, all else being equal, but it all depends on your redemption patterns. And there are certainly cards with lucrative category bonuses.
But for non-bonused, everyday spend, it’s tough to beat a return of ~2.22% that’s basically “good as cash” for most of us.
Comparing this to a cashback credit card
There are some no annual fee credit cards which offer 2% cashback, like the Fidelity Investment Rewards American Express Card. Then there are cards like the Citi® Double Cash Card, which offers 1% cashback when you make purchases, and then 1% cashback when you pay for those purchases.
The Barclaycard Arrival Plus has no annual fee the first year, and an $89 annual fee after that. But before assuming that one of the other cashback cards that accrues 2% cashback is better since they don’t have annual fees, keep in mind that the Barclaycard Arrival Plus has no foreign transaction fees, a return that’s ~0.22% higher, and some other great perks. If you travel internationally with any frequency, having a card without foreign transaction fees is vital.
On top of that, keep in mind this is a Chip & PIN card, not a Chip & Signature card. That’s what many cards in Europe are, so that’s great news when traveling abroad, since it means you can use the card at many automated machines, like at train stations.
So, who should get the Barclaycard Arrival Plus?
Big picture, who do I think this card is great for?
The average semi frequent traveler
This is a card I frequently recommend to friends that aren’t true hobbyists but still like to travel.
The average traveler isn’t aspiring for a first class ticket to Bali and a stay at a St. Regis, but rather for a domestic economy ticket and a stay at a 3-4 star hotel.
Furthermore, there’s a learning curve to redeeming traditional mileage currencies. It’s the same reason we hire tax accountants, personal trainers, consultants, etc. — because we realize we’re at an information disadvantage.
With Barclaycard Arrival miles, no one is at a disadvantage when it comes to redeeming. A cent is a cent. Now of course for some people a cent goes further than for others, but that’s a whole different story.
Redeem your miles at hotels which don’t participate in loyalty programs, like Amankila
The idea is that it’s tough to beat a return of 2.22% combined with waived foreign transaction fees, a great sign-up bonus, and no information disadvantage on the redemption front.
People that make a lot of non-bonused purchases
If you’re a big credit card spender, it’s really useful to be able to diversify the rewards you get for your spend. Rather than putting hundreds of thousands of dollars on one card per year, spreading around spend can be useful.
An increasing number of airlines are imposing fuel surcharges on award tickets, so for example, a cashback card is a great complement to a mileage earning card, since you can use those points to offset the fuel surcharges.
Barclaycard Arrival Plus bottom line
To me this is one of the of the simplest, most rewarding credit cards out there, without much of a learning curve on the redemption front.
So while it might not be the most useful card for the extreme hobbyist that spends a moderate amount on credit cards, I find that this is one of the best cards to recommend to friends, given how simple the rewards structure is.