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For a while we’ve been hearing rumors about Barclays introducing a new premium credit card, one that will possibly have airline transfer partners as well. The card is being unveiled today, so we now have full details of the new Barclays Arrival® Premier World Elite Mastercard®. It’s very interesting, as Barclays is creating their own transferable points currency.
Here’s everything you need to know about the new Barclays Arrival® Premier World Elite Mastercard®:
Barclays Arrival Premier annual fee
The Barclays Arrival Premier has a $150 annual fee, which isn’t waived for the first year.
Barclays Arrival Premier sign-up bonus & eligibility
The Barclays Arrival® Premier World Elite Mastercard® doesn’t have a sign-up bonus. That’s in stark contrast to many other premium credit cards (like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card, and Citi ThankYou® Premier Card), which have big sign-up bonuses to lure in new customers. My guess is that they’ll eventually be forced to offer some sort of a bonus, as is the industry standard.
Barclays Arrival Premier return on spend
The card offers 2x miles on all purchases with no caps, much like the Arrival Plus has. On top of that, it offers some spend bonuses:
- Spend $15,000 on purchases in a cardmember year, earn 15,000 bonus miles
- Spend an additional $10,000 on purchases in a cardmember year, earn 10,000 bonus miles
In other words, spending $25,000 on the card in a year earns 25,000 bonus miles, for a total of 75,000 miles, or 3x miles per dollar spent. That assumes you hit certain spend thresholds, of course.
Each point can be redeemed for one cent towards a statement credit for a travel purchase, meaning that this card offers the equivalent of 2% cash back towards travel, or for the first $25,000 of spend you’re really earning the equivalent of up to 3% cash back towards travel. The $150 annual fee on the card takes away some of the upside there, though.
Barclays Arrival Premier mileage transfer partners
Here’s the biggest development of this card, in my opinion. The Barclays Arrival Premier will have airline mileage transfer partners, allowing you to transfer points from what’s traditionally a revenue based currency into a fixed mileage program.
To start, the Barclays Arrival Premier will have nine airline transfer partners, though they say that they’ll be adding more soon. Here are the current transfer partners, and the transfer ratios:
|Arrival Premier Transfer Partner||Transfer Ratio|
(Premier Points : Partner Points)
|Air France / KLM Flying Blue||1.4 : 1|
|Aeromexico Club Premier||1.4 : 1|
|China Eastern Airlines Eastern Miles||1.4 : 1|
|Etihad Guest||1.4 : 1|
|EVA Air Infinity MileageLands||1.4 : 1|
|JAL Mileage Bank||1.7 : 1|
|Jet Airways JetPrivilege||1.4 : 1|
|Malaysia Airlines Enrich||1.4 : 1|
|Qantas Frequent Flyer||1.4 : 1|
Of course I was hoping transfers would be 1:1, though perhaps that was too good to be true. Instead we’re seeing transfer ratios of 1:1.4-1.7. We’re seeing some programs that also partner with other transferable points currencies, like Air France/KLM Flying Blue and Etihad Guest. However, we’re also seeing some unique (and potentially very valuable) partners, like Japan Airlines Mileage Bank. Personally I don’t see much value in the other six programs, aside from some niche redemptions.
I’ll share more on my thoughts on the value proposition below.
One interesting thing I should mention is what a representative for the company told me when I asked about the ability to transfer miles to partner airlines:
While miles transfers are a useful benefit of the Arrival Premier card product, they are not one of the core card benefits. Barclays research found that consumers, and the target audience for this card, are looking for a card that makes it easy for them to earn and redeem points on purchases they’re already making. For these cardmembers, the travel statement credits are an ideal way to redeem their Arrival Premier miles. Miles transfer partners are offered as an additional perk and are ideal for those cardmembers who may need to bump their mileage supply with one of our partner airline programs. For these individuals, using Arrival Premier miles as a “top off” might be the best way for them to achieve a specific redemption goal.
While I can appreciate that not everyone wants to convert these Arrival miles into airline miles, I find it interesting that they go so far as to say that this isn’t one of the core perks of the card, and that this option is intended more to top off an account.
Barclays Arrival Premier perks
The Barclays Arrival Premier offers a few perks:
- A $100 Global Entry fee credit every five years
- A LoungeKey membership, though you’ll have to pay $27 per person per visit, so I wouldn’t view this as much of a benefit
- No foreign transaction cards
- International Chip & PIN
- Mastercard World Elite benefits, including a concierge, extended warranty, price protection, and travel coverage
What do I make of the Barclays Arrival Premier Card?
This card is intriguing. For me what this boils down to is a card that has a $150 annual fee and offers:
- Up to 3x “miles” on the first $25,000 spent per cardmember year
- 2x “miles” on any remaining spend
On the most basic level, each mile is worth a penny towards the cost of a travel purchase, meaning that this card offers the equivalent of 2-3% back. That’s not terribly compelling for me, personally, since the card has a $150 annual fee. That means you’re getting slightly better than a 2% return if you’re a big spender, and I feel like you can do better than that with other cards.
What I’m much more intrigued by is the ability to convert these miles into airline miles. As you can see, for most programs the transfer ratio is 1.4 Arrival miles per airline mile (the except is JAL, which requires 1.7 Arrival miles per mile).
In other words, this card offers:
- ~2.14 airline miles (with the exception of JAL) per dollar spent, for the first $25,000
- ~1.43 airline miles (with the exception of JAL) per dollar spent, after the first $25,000
Interesting. I’d say this card has the potential to be compelling, though it’s not anything that’s offering unheard of value. For example:
- The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express has no annual fee and offers 2x Membership Rewards points on the first $50,000 spent per year
- The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express has a $95 annual fee and offers 1.5x Membership Rewards points per dollar spent when you make at least 30 transactions per billing cycle
- The Chase Freedom Unlimited® has no annual fee and offers 1.5x points, which can be converted into premium Ultimate Rewards points in conjunction with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card, or Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card
This new card for Barclays is competitive with those cards, though I can’t say it’s necessarily better, especially given that it has the highest annual fee.
I have to commend Barclays on coming up with a new card that’s compelling and interesting. I love seeing the introduction of a new transferable points currency, and especially one with some unique partners. Of course I had hoped that we’d see a 1:1 transfer ratio, though I guess it shouldn’t come as a surprise that this isn’t the case, given that the card offers at least double miles on all purchase.
Essentially this card offers 2-3% cash back towards travel, or ~1.43-2.14 airline miles per dollar spent (with the exception of JAL). If this card had a sign-up bonus I’d say it’s seriously worth considering, though without a sign-up bonus I think they might need a bit more to get people interested.
Personally I’d probably get this card if they added some more unique and compelling transfer partners. As of now I think Amex Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards have better transfer partners, though if Barclays is able to add some additional partners, I could see myself getting a lot of value out of this card.
What do you make of the new Barclays Arrival® Premier World Elite Mastercard®?