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This week we saw the introduction of the new Barclays Arrival® Premier World Elite Mastercard®. The card 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
Given that each mile can be redeemed for a one cent statement credit towards travel, the card offers a return of up to three cents per dollar towards travel on the first $25,000 of spend each cardmember year, and a return of two cents per dollar towards travel on any remaining spend. Of course when considering that value you’d want to subtract the $150 annual fee from the rewards you’re earning.
It’s not a bad card, but I do feel like they failed to make a splash in the market, especially given the card’s lack of a sign-up bonus.
Since the card has a $150 annual fee, I wanted to share what I consider to be the best alternative that will cost you roughly the same out of pocket.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve’s “real” $150 cost
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card has quickly become one of the most popular travel rewards credit cards in the US, despite having been introduced in the US market less than two years ago. The card has a $450 annual fee, and offers the following amazing benefits:
- A sign-up bonus of 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 within three months
- A $300 annual travel credit
- Triple points on dining and travel
- A Priority Pass membership with unlimited guesting privileges
- Fantastic travel and car rental protection
- The ability to redeem points for 1.5 cents each towards travel purchases
- A Global Entry fee credit every four years
- The ability to add authorized users for $75 each
The way I view it, the card’s real annual out of pocket is $150 (you pay $450 upfront, but get reimbursed $300 over the course of the year). That’s because you get a $300 travel credit, and that’s so easy to use. You don’t need to register to redeem it, but rather any travel purchase is automatically reimbursed for anything coded as travel, from flights to hotels to parking to Uber to trains. Basically anyone who has the Chase Sapphire Reserve should be maxing this out, because if you don’t spend at least $300 per year on travel, this probably isn’t the card for you.
What do you get for that $150?
This is where the Chase Sapphire Reserve really shines. The card offers a big 50,000 point sign-up bonus, 3x points on dining and travel, and a Priority Pass membership with unlimited visits and guesting privileges, among other things.
The points earned on this card are 50% more valuable than the points earned on the Barclays Arrival Premier. That’s because each point can be redeemed for 1.5 cents towards the cost of a travel purchase.
Supercharging your Sapphire Reserve points earning
In addition to the excellent bonus categories on the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the no annual fee Chase Freedom Unlimited® can increase your points earning even more. In my opinion it’s the best credit card duo out there.
If you have that card in conjunction with the Reserve, then those points can be converted into Ultimate Rewards points that can be redeemed for 1.5 cents each towards travel, or be transferred to a travel partner.
Putting it all together
If you have both the Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card and the Chase Freedom Unlimited® you’d pay a total of $450 in annual fees, though you’d receive a total of a $300 travel credit, meaning the real cost is about $150 per year for most. For that you earn:
- 3x points on dining and travel (with the Reserve)
- 1.5x points on everything else (with the Freedom Unlimited)
Those points can be redeemed for 1.5 cents each, so that means you’re earning 2.25% towards travel on everyday purchases, and 4.5% towards travel on travel and dining purchases.
Then you get all kinds of awesome benefits thrown in, like a Priority Pass membership, great travel protection, and much more. You can also convert points at a 1:1 ratio to nearly a dozen travel partners, while Barclays points convert at a 1.4:1 ratio at best.
If you’re willing to get creative and apply for both of these cards, then this combination is almost certainly better than what you’d get with the Barclays Premier.