Changes Coming To Barclaycard Arrival Plus Card?

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UPDATE: You can find details on the new Barclaycard Arrival Plus Card here.

Barclaycard stopped accepting applications for the Arrival Plus Card this week, which has long been one of the most compelling travel credit cards out there.

The card offers two “miles” per dollar spent, and then a 10% refund when you redeem miles. Each mile could be redeemed for one cent towards the cost of a travel purchase. In practice that meant it was basically the equivalent of a ~2.22% cash back travel credit card, which is rather compelling… especially as airlines devalue award charts and keep making the programs more complicated.

Well, it seems that the Barclaycard Arrival Plus is undergoing some changes, and they’re not positive. Travel Codex has the details on what the changes supposedly entail, which haven’t yet been officially confirmed. It’s worth noting that these changes seem to only apply for new cardmembers as of now.

So what are the supposed changes?

10% mileage refund reduced to 5%

As I explained above, you presently get a 10% refund on redeemed miles, which essentially makes each mile worth ~1.11 cents. Rumor has it that this will be reduced to 5%.

Given that you earn two miles per dollar spent, in practice this would mean you’d really be earning a ~2.11% return on everyday spend. That’s still quite good, though not as good as the equivalent of ~2.22%.

Minimum redemption value of 10,000 miles

Presently when you redeem points towards the cost of a travel purchase, you have to redeem a minimum of 2,500 miles. In other words, you can redeem for as little as a $25 travel purchase. That threshold will apparently be quadrupled to 10,000 miles, which equates to a $100 purchase.

Personally I don’t view that as a huge deal. It’s certainly inconvenient not to be able to redeem towards smaller purchases, but it doesn’t fundamentally alter the value of points, in my opinion. Clearly this is designed to get people to spend more on the card, so they accrue more points.

Elimination of TripIt Pro subscription

One of the cool perks the card offers is a free TripIt Pro subscription, which otherwise retails for $49 per year. Apparently that benefit will be eliminated.


Changes in what counts as travel purchase?

I’ve explained in the past how different credit cards define the “travel” category. Barclaycard Arrival Plus miles can be redeemed towards travel purchases, which include the following as of now:

airlines, hotels, motels, timeshares, campgrounds, car rental agencies, cruise lines, travel agencies, discount travel sites, trains, buses, taxis, limousines, and ferries

While the exact details haven’t yet been announced, apparently the categories which qualify as travel might be narrowed a bit.

Will train travel still count as an eligible travel purchase?

What I make of these changes

I’d like to once again stress that these are rumored changes. They haven’t been officially announced, and it seems like the changes might not apply to existing cardmembers, at least initially.

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus was a great card, though I’m kind of surprised to see these changes. That’s because there are some cash back cards which offer much more flexibility and only a slightly lower return.

For example, the Citi® Double Cash Card has no annual fee and offers 1% cash back when you make a purchase and then 1% cash back when you pay for that purchase. So that return is only marginally less than what you’d get on the Barclaycard Arrival Plus, except the card has no annual fee and accrues “true” cash back, and not just cash back towards a travel purchase.

Let’s keep in mind that credit card companies rely largely on marketing to sell cards, as opposed to a strict comparison of benefits (otherwise I don’t think Capital One would be in business!). In other words, the folks at Barclaycard aren’t going to view the Citi® Double Cash Card as their competition, given that it’s targeted at a different kind of consumer. Instead they’d view another travel credit card as their competition.

Of course most of us are (hopefully) savvier than that!

Bottom line

We’ll want to wait until the changes are officially announced, both to confirm that they’re accurate, and also to see the impact this has on existing cardmembers. If these changes are true they’re certainly negative, and would make me much more likely to pick up a  Citi® Double Cash Card in place of a Barlcaycard Arrival Plus.

If these changes are indeed accurate, what do you make of them? Will it impact your willingness to acquire/use the Barclaycard Arrival Plus?

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  1. The only way I justified the annual fee on this card was using it for non-bonus spending and the TripIt Pro, which is a great product in my opinion. I renewed this card for a couple of years but really I just barely decided to keep it each year.

    If this is the case and they really give us nothing in return, there is no way I am keeping this card, which really stinks. It was a good card for non-bonus spend. I wouldn’t mind if they got rid of some benefits and gave us others, at least make me think about keeping it. But if all, or most, of these changes happen, there is absolutely no reason to keep it open.

  2. It looks like another bait and switch card. It gets you to sign up and later change the rules. I don’t have it but if I did and they made those changes I would cancel it in a minute.

  3. @Lucky Marketing is probably the most important thing. But benefits mean a lot. For example, you rarely mention credit cards from Bank of America or Wells Fargo. I guess probably the main reason being there aren’t many attractive benefits from these card issuers.

  4. Hopefully they will add at least one or two positive changes, too. Even if the the bulk of it is negative.

    I wonder how they will spin this as good news…

  5. The true chip and pin on this card keeps me tethered to it. It’s saved me at numerous unmanned kiosks, gas stations, and toll booths throughout Europe, where even other US chip cards failed (CSP, Citi cards, etc). If Barclays does indeed devalue the perks, I’ll still keep this card until others (finally, hopefully?) begin offering true chip and pin.

  6. It’s worth noting that it really doesn’t particularly matter what the travel categories are on this card, as long as there are some — you earn the full 2.11 or 2.22% back on every purchase, it just has to be “claimed” against a particular travel purchase on your statement. So if whatever category you were going to claim against gets eliminated, you may just have to wait to redeem until you have spending in one of the other categories.

    Whereas on a card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, removing categories from “travel” would have a more direct negative impact.

  7. Note that if these changes are true it’s actually a 2.1052…% CB card. They’re taking back $1.17 out of every $1,000 spent.

    Also LindaK if what you are saying is true then you are a good candidate for downgrading to the no-fee Arrival card (if it still exists!) and putting the rest of your spend on a no-fee CB card… unless you’re spending tens of thousands of dollars at toll booths!

  8. Why is lucky so anti-Capital One?

    Quicksilver @ 1.5%, no annual fee is at least competitive with some of the other no annual fee cards, plus 20% Uber benefit is awesome

    Venture @ 2% on travel is a watered down version of Barclay Arrival, with a slightly lower annual fee

  9. I called Barclaycard, and these changes are not “rumored” unfortunately. The changes that you listed are true.

  10. I keep this card solely because it can do chip+pin. That’s it’s #1 feature by a long shot. (The tripit pro is a nice too). I’m holding on to it until another major USA card adds it.

  11. I was planning to apply for Arrival Plus but with these negative changes, I will instead apply for the Citi Double cash (no fee).

  12. @ wuny65 — Because 1.5% is less than 2%, which is offered by the Citi Double Cash Card, and has no annual fee.

  13. Wow they stopped accepting applications? So is there a possibility this card will be considered a new product, and we can apply for a new one even if recently acquiring the current one?

  14. Luckily I got mine just in time and I already have Doublecash and Sapphire Preferred so I’m covered no matter what they do.

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