As much as we like to think that points and miles are the be all end all for traveling for free, they’re not. It often takes a lot of time, organization and flexibility to maximize how you earn and redeem points and miles. And even once you master the ins and outs of each rewards program, you may still find yourself stuck in situations where you’ll have no choice but to fork over hefty fees and surcharges to book your “free” trip.
To prevent situations like these, it’s a good idea to have a fixed-value point credit card in your arsenal. There’s been a lot of activity in the fixed-value credit card space recently, so today I want to take a closer look at one of our longtime favorites, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard, and see how it stacks up.
The Arrival Plus isn’t a glamorous card by any means, but it offers a good return on your everyday spending and allows you to redeem miles for any travel expense without jumping through hoops. It also has several less-common, useful benefits for traveling internationally.
The Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® is a popular travel rewards credit card. You’ll get 2X miles per dollar for every purchase you make. You won’t be limited to bonus categories like travel, dining, or gas, like most cards. This is the equivalent of 2.1% cash back as long as you redeem for travel expenses, after getting a 5% redemption bonus.
There’s a sizable signup bonus of 70,000 miles you can earn, for spending $5,000 in the first 90 days. Those miles are worth $700, giving you a 14% return on your spending. You won’t need to pay a fee when you use the card in other countries. And it also has Chip-and-PIN EMV technology, making it useful for all kinds of purchases when traveling abroad.
The Barclaycard Arrival Plus has an annual fee of $89, but it’s waived for the first year. If you spend $5,000 with the card per year, you’ll be able to offset that annual fee and make some profit on top of that. At least $100 of that must be for travel expenses.
Here are what it has to offer
Biggest bonus we’ve seen on the Arrival Plus
If you were to relaunch a card, offering the biggest welcome bonus ever is a great way to go about it. Currently, the Arrival Plus is offering 70,000 bonus miles if you spend $5,000 within the first 90 days. Recently, the card has offered bonuses of 40,000, 50,000, and even 60,000 miles so this is a solid increase.
Simple earning structure: 2X on all purchases
While American Express, Chase and Citi offer cards with a variety of bonus categories to fit just about anyone’s needs, Barclays has chosen to keep things very simple. With the Barclaycard Arrival Plus, you’ll earn 2X points per dollar on all purchases.
Redeem points for travel purchases after the fact
While you earn “miles” with the Arrival Plus, you won’t be earning miles that can be used to book award flights. Arrival miles are really points that can be redeemed for a statement credit when you pay for travel at a rate of 1 cent per mile.
All you have to do is use your Arrival Plus card to pay for a travel purchase — it must code as travel — then go to the Rewards & Benefits Center when your purchase posts to redeem for a statement credit. Basically, it erases the purchase you have already made with the card. The most inconvenient part of this benefit is that you can only redeem Arrival miles for purchases of at least $100 (10,000 miles).
On the flip side, however, you don’t have to have enough Arrival miles to cover the full cost of your purchase. So you can take $100 off a more expensive travel purchase rather than trying to get the exact amounts.
Get 5% of your Arrival miles back when you redeem for travel
One great thing about redeeming Arrival miles is that you get 5% of your miles back when you redeem for travel. Let’s say you earn the welcome bonus of 70,000 Arrival miles. You’d also have an additional 10,000 miles from hitting the minimum spend so you really have 80,000 miles.
If you book a $800 flight or spend $800 on a hotel stay (or a few stays), you could redeem your Arrival miles for these purchases. Once you do so, you would then receive 4,000 miles back into your account. With this rebate, you might have noticed that you’re really earning about 2.1X Arrival miles per dollar.
International chip and pin capability
Besides the welcome bonus, the Arrival Plus‘ chip and pin capability is a great part of this card. While the vast majority of American credit cards are chip and signature, the Arrival Plus at least provides the option for chip and pin when a point of sale requires it — think train stations in Europe.
Free shipping with ShopRunner
Most people are used to getting a free ShopRunner membership with an American Express card. However, as a World Elite Mastercard, the Arrival Plus also provides this benefit which provides free 2-day shipping from 100+ merchants.
Free TransUnion FICO Credit Score
It’s always a good idea to keep an eye on your credit score — and credit report for that matter. With the Arrival Plus, you’ll have access to your TransUnion FICO credit score and it will update monthly so you can track it easily.
This is similar to the benefit provided by many American Express cards which provide your Experian FICO score and many Citi cards which provide your Equifax score.
What counts as travel when redeeming Barclaycard Arrival Plus miles?
Obviously, with a 5% rebate on travel rewards, that’s where you’re going to want to use these miles. Fortunately, the definition of “travel” on the Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite Mastercard® includes quite a few categories:
Car Rental Agencies
Discount Travel Sites
In practice, you likely won’t be using your Arrival Plus miles for many bus trips, given the $100 minimum, but the range of options here is quite nice otherwise.
Who Should Apply for the Barclaycard Arrival Plus card?
Anyone who wants to earn a flat rate of rewards on all their spending.
Consumers who want to earn a big sign-up bonus when they sign up for a travel credit card.
People who prefer to redeem points for travel over other options.
Anyone who doesn’t want to deal with complicated hotel or airline loyalty program rules.
Pros & Cons
Signup bonus: 70,000 bonus miles.
Earn 70,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 90 days of card membership. These miles are worth $700 in travel statement credit.
Earn 2 miles for every dollar you spend on all purchases. There’s no cap on the miles you can earn, and they don’t expire as long as your account is open, active and in good standing.
These are great flat rewards, and a big reason this card is such a strong choice. Many cards don’t offer as many opportunities to earn accelerated rewards — if you don’t eat out much, for example, then a card offering 2x points on dining is less effective. The Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite Mastercard® ensures solid earnings no matter what you spend on.
5% miles back each time you redeem.
When you redeem your miles, you’ll get 5% miles back. For example, when you redeem the 70,000-mile signup bonus, you’ll receive 3,000 miles back.
Intro APR: 0% for 12 billing cycles on eligible balance transfers.
Each balance transfer posted to your account within the first 45 days of card membership will have a 0% APR for 12 billing cycles following your account opening. After 12 billing cycles, the APR reverts to 18.24%, 22.24% or 25.24% variable depending on your credit.
This is a good intro balance transfer offer for a travel credit card. You’ll find cards that offer market-leading intro APRs on balance transfers, but they typically won’t give travel rewards.
No foreign transaction fees.
You won’t incur fees when you use your card abroad or at foreign websites, making it an excellent card to take on vacation or business trips. Typically, providers charge a 3% fee each time you use your card for an international transaction.
Most US cards are chip-and-signature cards without a PIN. The Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite Mastercard® features PIN as a backup option, which can be a lifesaver in Europe and parts of Asia. You can use this card at ATMs and unmanned machines — for example, to buy train or metro tickets, pay fees for toll roads or fill up on gas.
Master World Elite Concierge.
Enjoy Mastercard’s 24/7 concierge service, which the company describes as a “relentless personal assistant”. Use it to secure hard-to-find gifts, reservations at the most exclusive restaurants and more.
$89 annual fee after the first year.
The Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite Mastercard® has a $0 annual fee the first year, followed by an $89 annual fee thereafter.
It hurts to pay late.
Making late or returned payments could result in fees as high as $37.
Maximizing rewards With Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®
The Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® (also called the Barclaycard Arrival Plus®) offers great rewards on every purchase you make, plus a large sign-up bonus when you just start out.
Enjoy 70,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 90 days. You’ll also receive 2 miles per dollar spent on every purchase you make. It’s important, therefore, to use the card whenever you can. Use it instead of your debit card for in-store and online purchases. Also, look at your recurring expenses to see if you can switch your payment account from your checking account to your credit card.
Just keep in mind that some might charge a convenience fee to pay by credit card. In most cases, it’s generally not worth it because the fee is higher than what you’d earn in rewards. The more you use your card, the more miles you earn. And thankfully, the card makes it easy to rack up miles fast.
What Are Barclaycard Arrival Miles?
Barclaycard refers to the rewards earned on the Arrival Plus as miles.
How Many Miles Do I Earn on Purchases?
The Arrival Plus earns 2X miles per dollar on all purchases, regardless of category. When making your purchases, you don’t need to worry if you’re earning 1x or 2x miles at any given merchant as you’re always earning 2X miles.
What Barclaycard Arrival Plus Miles Worth?
Arrival Plus miles are worth one cent towards travel. This value is fixed, which means you’ll always get this value regardless of your travel redemption. 100,000 miles will always be worth $1,000 towards travel, while 50,000 miles will always be worth $500 towards travel.
What Can Barclaycard Arrival Plus Miles Be Redeemed For?
Arrival Plus miles can be redeemed for travel, cash back statement credits, gift cards, and merchandise. While the redemption rate for travel-related purchases is one cent per mile, the redemption rate for gift cards and merchandise is half of that (0.5 cents). The same 100,000 miles you can redeem for $1,000 in travel credits would only net $500 when redeemed for gift cards and merchandise.
How Do You Redeem Barclaycard Arrival Miles for Travel?
The process for redeeming is simple: Make your purchase of $100 or more and then apply your miles against the posted charge as a statement credit. You’ll do all of this through your account at barclaycardus.com.
The Arrival Plus isn’t the best mid-tier credit card on the market — depending on how much money you have in your Bank of America or Merrill account, it might not even be the best fixed-value card.
However, if that doesn’t apply to you and you’re looking for a simple product that’ll help you diversify your points and miles, the Arrival Plus’ 2.11% return on spending and increased sign-up bonus is quite attractive.Plus, having chip and PIN capability and no foreign transaction fees can be very useful for travelers.
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