In Search For A Good Travel Rewards Credit Card: Barclaycard Arrival Review

Barclaycard Arrival World Mastercard Sea Turtles

With my new goal of traveling at least 10 weeks a year, I’ve come to the realization it’s wise to get a credit card whose primary design is to rack up maximum travel rewards points so I can travel even more. I’ve found the card in the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®.

Before publishing this post, I had a grand total of one personal credit card – the Citi ThankYou card. I’m not a believer in getting multiple credit cards because I’m all about simplifying my finances. I also pay my credit card bill off in full every single month, so there’s no need to take advantage of those 0% introductory rates. But with my new mission to travel post retirement, it’s only prudent to take advantage of great benefits.

If I got the Barclaycard Arrival before my four week trip to Europe this summer, I would have been able to accumulate over 18,000 awards points! Better late than never because I’m going on another two week trip to attend the US Open tomorrow in NYC. The last time I went to the US Open was twelve years ago and I can’t wait to return!

WHY THE BARCLAYCARD ARRIVAL IS A GOOD FIT FOR TRAVELERS

Barclays background: Barclays is a British multinational bank and financial services company that was founded in 1690. In 2004 Barclays bought Juniper Financial Corporation in an effort to expand their U.S. reach. Barclays now has 48 million customers in four dozen countries and territories.

1) Flexibility: The most significant difference between the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite Mastercard® and other travel credit cards is the way miles are used. A typical travel reward credit card such as the U.S. Bank FlexPerks card partners with 150 airlines, and you must make your travel arrangements through U.S. Bank and one of their partners. You redeem your points to “pay”. With Barclaycard Arrival, you are not restricted by partnering companies. You chose any airline or cruise company you would like, any hotel you would like, etc. and pay for your travel arrangements on your Barclaycard Arrival card.

Because you’re booking your travel as someone would who is not using rewards, you’re not confined by blackout dates or participating airlines. This is the ultimate in flexibility. You are free to book your travel plans through Expedia or other travel sites to try to find the best deals.

Once you have your arrangements in place, you can choose to redeem your miles for statement credit. Simply put, use your credit card to pay for your travel, redeem your miles, and watch your balance disappear. Rather than having you use your miles to pay for your arrangements upfront, Barclaycard credits the money you spend on the backend as a statement credit for the travel arrangements you already paid for.

According to Barclaycard Arrival, travel expenses include airlines, travel agencies, tour operators, hotels, motels, resorts, cruise lines, passenger railways, and car rental agencies. The only caveat here is that you must redeem miles for travel purchases within the last 90 days, so don’t dawdle.

2) Bonus Miles: When you redeem miles to cover travel expenses, you get 10% back. Let’s say you redeem 25,000 miles. You’ll automatically get a bonus of 2,500 miles toward your next trip. Keep in mind you’ll get 1 cent per mile, so redeeming 25,000 miles will be worth $250.

3) No Limit: There’s no limit on the number of miles you can accrue, and they don’t expire. Of course, your account must be in good standing, and it can’t have more than 13 consecutive months of inactivity.

4) Insurance: Barclaycard offers other benefits such as $200,000 in automatic travel accident insurance, reimbursement for expenses if your bag is lost or delayed, trip cancellation coverage, and $0 fraud liability.

5) Double Miles: You earn 2 miles for every dollar you spend. This can be for purchases you or your authorized users make. Given I spent $9,200 on my four week Euro trip, I could be halfway to a round trip ticket to Hawaii already if I got the card before I left.

6) Sign Up Reward For New Members: Barclaycard is currently offering 40,000 miles to new members (that equates to $400 for travel), assuming you use your card for at least $3,000 in purchases within 90 days of sign up.

HOW MUCH ARE THE FEES?

There are minimal fees with the Barclaycard Arrival as long as you use your credit card responsibly and pay it off each month, which we all do. Let’s review.

What You’ll Love – No Foreign Transaction Fees

As I mentioned before, there are no foreign transaction fees when you make a purchase in another country. While the friends you are traveling with use their card and pay a 3 or 4% transaction fee, you can use yours and pay no fees. (Again, folks, research your cards. Choosing the right card makes a difference.)

Potential Fees You Won’t Like

There is an annual fee of $89 (waived for the first year). Some might balk at this, but considering how quickly you can accrue points and the flexibility of the rewards program, this shouldn’t be a deal breaker. To put it another way, $89 dollars is equivalent to roughly 8,900 points. You get 40,000 points for signing up and spending $3,000 within 90 days so you’re already way ahead.

The APR is on the high side and ranges from 14.99% to 18.99%. It continues to amaze me how much credit card companies can charge consumers despite the 10-year bond yield hovering at only around 3%. If you goodness forbid want a cash advance, the APR is 25.24%.

Hopefully nobody reading this post ever carries a revolving credit card balance. Use a credit card to your advantage, and don’t let credit card companies earn money off you because you are spending more than you can afford.

A No Fee Alternative to the Barclaycard Arrival 

If you’d rather not pay an annual fee, Barclaycard Arrival offers another version of the card by the same name: BarclayCard Arrival™ World MasterCard® – No Annual Fee Card. As a trade off, rather than earning two miles for every dollar you spend as you do on the Barclaycard Arrival with an annual fee, you’ll only earn two miles for every dollar spent on two categories–travel and dining.

For every dollar spent on everything else, you’ll earn one mile. I this this is a fine alternative, especially for folks who aren’t super avid travelers who aren’t focusing all their money on just one card to earn double the points. However, if you can focus your spending on a card that offers 2X the miles, the annual $89 is pretty low.

You also get a signup bonus with the no annual fee version – charge $3,000 in 90 days and get 20,000 miles added to your account. Like the Barclaycard with an annual fee, this card does not charge foreign transaction fees.

ADDING BARCLAYCARD ARRIVAL TO MY WALLET

Based on my renewed desire to travel for 10 weeks a year with a travel budget of $2,500 each week, I should be able to rack up around 50,000 miles a year just on travel if I use my Barclaycard Arrival. I will easily spend another $1,000-$2,000 a month on expenses on the card, providing a total of around 100,000 rewards points every year thanks to earning 2X points for every dollar spent. 100,000 rewards points is equivalent to $1,000 and can be used to buy at least two round-trip tickets to Honolulu or NYC from SF every single year. Perfect!

GREAT CREDIT CARD ALTERNATIVE

Are you looking for the best credit card for balance transfers, flexibility, and rewards? Check out the benefits of the Discover it® credit card and maximize your purchasing power. You can earn 5% cash back rewards without any annual fees, over limit fees, or foreign transaction fees. And did you know Discover has been ranked #1 for customer loyalty for 17 years in a row? Discover it cards are accepted at over 9 million merchants nationwide and their U.S. based customer service team is available 24/7. Just remember to spend within your means!

Regards,

Sam

 

 

Sam started Financial Samurai in 2009 during the depths of the financial crisis as a way to make sense of chaos. After 13 years working on Wall Street, Sam decided to retire in 2012 to utilize everything he learned in business school to focus on online entrepreneurship.

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Comments

  1. insourcelife says

    This is a nice option for those that travel a lot, especially overseas. I’m gonna bookmark this for later as there is not much travelling happening with a 1 year old currently.

    • says

      For sure. I’m glad I found it. One of the benefits of being a PF blogger. We are more on top of the good offers around.

      Otherwise, I can’t be bothered with two many credit cards. Wallet getting too fat.

  2. Laura says

    I’ve never heard of this card, but it sounds like a great travel card. I particularly like that it’s not locked into any specific airline, since I always just travel on whatever airline is cheapest.

    Like you, I tend toward simplicity when it comes to my credit cards, so I’m not sure if I’ll take the plunge for this one… I have some decent cash back rewards on my current card so, although I might be missing out on a few bucks, I’m pretty happy with my current setup.

  3. Mark says

    Very timely post. I just got my Barclay’s Arrival card in the mail on Friday. My plan is to get the 40,000 mile bonus and then after a year have them switch my account to the no annual fee card.

  4. says

    Those are good benefits. I like that they let you make travel arrangements first and aren’t forced into booking with them. Flexibility is so convenient when you’re making plans and traveling long distances. I really like how credit cards offer benefits these days. I remember the days when a credit card was just a credit card and that was it.

  5. says

    This card is going in my next App-O-Rama. I love me some free travel, and have already taken 3 trips this year on credit card rewards. This is Barclay’s biggest contender to date for travel rewards! Great review Sam.

  6. says

    I have had an (United) airline credit card for years. Everything depends on the redemption and availability of flights. The recent mergers has made redemption much harder. I will look into this card to see if it works for me.

    • says

      United really screwed me in Frankfurt by canceling a on my after siting on the Tarmac for 3 hours. We had to stay over night. It was a disaster! I cannot get locked into only traveling with united! Is rather walk.

  7. says

    Unfortunately for us, my Fiancee has an old Barclaycard without a balance but Barclaycard only allows you to have one card at a time (and I also have a Barclaycard with a 0% purchase on it currently) so we both can’t get this yet. As soon as he can cancel his unused Barclaycard for long enough for them, we are jumping on this!

  8. gary says

    I’m gonna throw a monkey wrench in the works.

    We have a Amex Premier Rewards Gold Card. OK, it’s 185 bucks a year. It has a good accumulation scheme, BUT the real beauty of the card is being able to convert points into airline miles.

    Example: We recently booked a trip to Europe in Business Class for 210,000 miles for 2 tickets via Aeroplan, Air Canada’s mileage program. That 12,000 dollar airfare for two tickets essentially cost us 2100 dollars via a cash for points conversion.

    We exclusively use our Amex rewards points for airline travel, and the 185 dollars a year fee, at least for us, is well worth it.

  9. says

    I would be signing up for this but with a newborn…I won’t be traveling much in the near future. Also, we’re looking to buy a place so I don’t want any dings on my credit report. Previously for travel bonuses I signed up for the Chase Sapphire and the Citi Premier. I should have gotten into credit card bonuses earlier.

  10. says

    I’ve been seeing a lot about this card around the web. It might be time for me to give it a try myself. I’ve been a big fan of the Chase Sapphire Preferred card for the past year and a half.

    I also can’t believe the mighty Sam only has one credit card! I understand simplifying your finances, but with a high net worth individual like yourself, you’re just leaving money on the table by not taking advantage of credit card signup bonuses.

  11. mike says

    Hi,
    Interesting article. My wife and I will be traveling to China to adopt in about a year. Can you recommend a rewards card for us to use that will hopefully lead to savings for our flights? Thanks!

  12. Mark Senatori says

    That Barclays card sounds awesome! I have Bank of America Alaska airlines credit card and I am very dissatisfied with it.
    I originally got the card for the 25,000 miles with future plans of making an affordable trip to Hawaii. They boasted rewards of a mile for each dollar spent and 3x’s the miles when purchasing their tickets. When later trying to buy a plane tickets I realized that their tickets with alaskaair were are at minimum 28% more expensive than it’s competitors. Since then I ended up going to Hawaii with other airlines.
    Problem 2: Never having enough miles and inflexibility. Each time I save enough miles, they seam to have increased the number of miles needed for a particular trip. I know this makes me sound crazy, but I think it is true. Last year I needed 30,000miles to go to Hawaii and for that same trip during the same time of the year this year I need 37,000miles. Also, then number of flights that were eligible for mile redemption went down a lot.
    First chance I get, I’m definitely going for that barclays, thanks for the wisdom man.

    • says

      No problem Mark. You’ll just have to determine getting the one with the $89 fee or the one without. I don’t travel that much anymore, so I’m happy to use the one without the fee, but with less bonus miles.

  13. ap999 says

    I personally found it crazy that you only have 1 credit card and that’s it! I see your point about keeping it simple and totally agree. But since I travel a lot I find it safer to have at least 2-3 cards to include a back up debit card even if you are not using them all. Its good to have a back up credit card, I am glad I always have, there has been on occasions when a card gets declined while overseas randomly… even when I told my CC company I’ll be visiting multiple countries during a certain time frame, but some times they’ll pick it up as fraud any way when it was me using it, and that is when a back up can be handy. Some times its hassle to just call your CC company when your overseas in the moment you need to use it, especially due to long distance charges or not having available cell phone to use. Also if I am going out, its best to keep the extra cards some were safe in your hotel like the safety deposit box. You just never know if you’ll get pick pocketed, drunk and loose your wallet. Al though its never happened to me personally, but last thing I would want while traveling is not have a back up means to access any funds, if the only card or two should get stolen, damaged or declined due to fraud alerts from your credit card company.

  14. Matthew Horn says

    I just signed up for this card after a week of mind numbing internet research. I came to the conclusion that the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Barclay Arrival were easily agreed to be the 2 best. I am brand new to this game, but after much deliberation I chose to use the Barclay Arrival. I am of the belief that the Chase card has the potential to be more valuable for international flights (my primary goal) because the card can be linked with other Chase cards that give you crazy deals from time to time (like 10% extra miles when buying at Lowe’s during a certain quarter). Also, when using Chase’s Reward miles for big cost items, I’m told anyway, that transferring miles is more cost effective than simply paying for it and then being reimbursed on the back end.
    However, and this was the deal breaker for me, Chase only gives 2x points on dining and travel. Being from a small town, my wife and I budget only $115/mo for dining and only take 1 or 2 actual “trips” a year. That means we only get 1x points on pretty much all of our purchases. With the Barclay we get 2x points on all of it. My goal now is to make every purchase we have on the card. I’m sure I can’t do literally every penny, but I think we can spend around $70,000/yr on the card. If so, we can earn aprox. 140,000 points or $1400 worth of travel ready money each year. That is 1 round trip ticket to Italy for my family. A few years of that and I can get 4 round trip flights for no cost.
    I’m sure that if I went nuts and got 4 or 5 different cards, tried to use all of their bonuses, watched all of their bonuses each quarter, changed cards for each spending category, and tried to travel a bit more that I could do it faster. But, I like simple with my finances and don’t think I could keep it going for years. We also have a 1 year old and a 3 year old, so we aren’t putting them on a plane right now. I like that I can build this up for a bit and fly for free when I’m ready.

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