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Yesterday the new Barclays Arrival® Premier World Elite Mastercard® was introduced, which is Barclays’ entry into the premium card market. This is a card that was highly anticipated, especially since there were rumors that Barclays would be introducing a new transferrable points currency with the card. More transferable points currencies is always a good thing!
Unfortunately the card hasn’t been very well received. Let’s take a closer look at why, and whether the card is really as bad as some people are making it to out to be.
The very basics of the Barclays Arrival Premier Card
On the most basic level, the new Barclays Arrival Premier has a $150 annual fee, and offers 2x miles per dollar spent with no caps, in addition to 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, if you spend exactly $25,000 you’d receive 75,000 miles. Each “mile” is worth one penny towards a travel purchase statement credit, or alternatively points can be converted into airline miles, though not at a 1:1 ratio. The transfer ratios are as follows:
|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|
Did I hope for more from this card? Yes, absolutely. Do I still think there’s potential with this card? Yes, absolutely. Frankly I’m a bit surprised by the response from some regarding this card. Like I said, I hoped for better, but I’m not offended by this card in the same way others are. This card has the potential to be valuable, and I’ll actually go so far as to say that I think this card could make sense in the future.
What I like about the new Barclays Arrival Premier Card
Let’s start with the very basics here. If you use this card to spend exactly $25,000 per year then you’d receive 75,000 miles, which is worth a $750 travel statement credit. If you subtract the card’s $150 annual fee, you’re looking at $600 worth of rewards on $25,000 of spend, which is the equivalent of a 2.4% return.
There aren’t any travel cash back cards I know of that offer that kind of a return without a significant investment required. For someone who spends that much in non-bonused categories, that’s actually not bad. Of course this return is based on spending exactly $25,000, and it will be lower if you spend more or less.
At that point you’ve also amortized the annual fee, and then have the equivalent of a 2% cash back travel card with no foreign transaction fees and international Chip & PIN technology. On top of that, you have a cash back currency that’s extremely flexible, as those miles can also be converted into airline miles.
While specific thresholds are required, there’s not a card I know of that has this compelling of a cash back travel rewards structure, even after you account for the annual fee.
What I don’t like about the new Barclays Arrival Premier Card
I think Barclays went about the introduction of this card wrong:
- They’re not offering any sort of a sign-up bonus, which is in stark contrast to other credit cards we’ve seen introduced, that often have mega sign-up bonuses at first; you’d think they’d want to create a splash at first, rather than test the waters like this
- While I appreciate that they intend to add more airline transfer partners, I think the card would be more lucrative if they had a few unique airline partners upfront, rather than duplicating what most other currencies have; Japan Airlines is a unique transfer partner that is potentially valuable, but it also has the worst transfer ratio, at 1.7:1
- The card could have really been differentiated if it added one other perk that makes it unique; instead the card only offers a Global Entry fee credit (which so many cards offer nowadays), and a LoungeKey membership (which comes with no free visits)
Long story short, I could see myself applying for this card if it had a compelling sign-up bonus and/or more airline transfer partners. Unlike some others, I actually see quite a bit of value in terms of the return the card offers for non-bonused spend, at least for the first $25,000 each year. However, it’s going to take more to get me to “buy in” here than what they’re offering right now.
I’m happy to see the introduction of a new transferrable points currency, but like others, I was disappointed by the Barclays Arrival® Premier World Elite Mastercard® not having any sort of a sign-up bonus, the lack of unique airline partners, and the limited perks. The return on spend itself is solid:
- You earn $750 worth of travel rewards (in the form of 75,000 miles) after spending $25,000, which comes out to $600 in rewards after subtracting the annual fee
- At that point you get a card that offers the equivalent of 2% in travel rewards with no foreign transaction fees and Chip & PIN technology, which is fairly solid as well
If Barclays introduced a sign-up bonus and added more airline transfer partners (with the 1.4:1 ratio at most), I’d pick up this card in a heartbeat.
What would it take for you to apply for the new Barclays Arrival Premier Card?