The Barclaycard Arrival Plus(TM) World Elite MasterCard® is a travel rewards card with a limited-time offer worth at least $400 and the annual fee is waived the first year. Here are the card highlights:
- Earn 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days – that’s enough to redeem for a $400 travel statement credit
- Earn 2X miles on all purchases
- Redeem for travel or cash back statement credits, gift cards and merchandise. Redemption values vary.
- Get 5% miles back to use toward your next redemption, every time you redeem
- Chip technology, so paying for your purchases is more secure at chip-card terminals in the U.S. and abroad
- Miles don’t expire as long as your account is open, active and in good standing
- No foreign transaction fees
- 0% introductory APR for 12 months on Balance Transfers made within 45 days of account opening. After that, a variable APR will apply, 16.99%, 20.99% or 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness. Please note, there is a fee for balance transfers
- Complimentary online FICO® Credit Score
- $89 annual fee waived for the first year
Rewards program details. With this card, you earn 2 miles per $1 spent on all purchases. There are no special categories. These miles (easier to think of them as points, really) are then redeemable towards travel booked from any merchant or retailer classified as Airlines, Travel Agencies & Tour Operators, Hotels, Motels & Resorts, Cruise Lines, Passenger Railways and Car Rental Agencies. You can redeem towards any airline on any date.
First, visit any booking site (Delta.com, Expedia.com, Hilton.com, Hotels.com, etc) and buy a ticket with this credit card. You don’t need to use any specific portal. Let’s say you buy an airplane ticket for $250. Then, you visit your Barclaycard account website and you’ll offset your purchase. You’ll redeem 25,000 “miles” and see a $250 statement credit on your statement. (Accruing those 25,000 miles would have taken $12,500 in accumulated purchases, if not part of sign-up bonus or other incentive.) I’ve done this multiple times, and it always went smoothly with no issues.
Travel statement credit redemptions start at 10,000 miles for $100 toward a qualifying travel purchase of $100 or more made within the last 120 days. For example, you could use 10,000 points for a $100 credit towards a $200 plane ticket, if you wished.
On top of that, the card gives you a 5% miles rebate when you redeem for any travel. So if you redeemed 50,000 miles, you would get 2,500 back in your account after about a week. Although this adds a layer of complexity, you can calculate that technically getting $500 of value out of 47,500 miles at 2X miles/$ spent works out to 2.11% cash back towards any travel. Everything else (gift cards, merchandise) offers a worse redemption ratio, so don’t bother.
Comparison with alternatives. 2X miles is nice and the rebate adds a bit extra. However, this card also has an $89 annual fee that is waived for the first year. So for the first year you’re good, but the competition offers multiple cards earning close to 2% cash back with no annual fee at all. A few examples:
- Citi Double Cash Review
- Fidelity Rewards Visa Credit Card Review
- BankAmericard Travel Rewards Credit Card Review
Again, the math says that you would have to put over $80,000 in purchases on this card annually in order to get the 0.11% advantage to offset the $89 annual fee (after the 1st-year waiver). That’s a big number. Now, Barclaycard did offer me a second fee-free year when I called in to cancel the card a couple years back (your results may vary). This bought me enough time to spend all my miles. I could have also used 8,900 miles to offset the second year $89 annual fee. A final option is to downgrade the card to the no annual fee version after a year.
Bottom line. $400 value sign-up bonus towards travel. 2.11% effective rewards card towards travel. Long-time readers know that I want to see a $500 net value over the first year before I try out a new credit card, and this card satisfies that hurdle and paid for a chunk of my summer travel. However, past the first year of ownership, I do not like the idea of eventually paying an $89 annual fee with a theoretical max of 2.11% back when I can get 2% back with no annual fee from other cards.