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Update: The offer mentioned below for the Capital One Venture Rewards Card has expired. View the current offer here.
While Barclaycard may not have as many travel credit cards as some of the other big issuers, they’ve been on a roll lately with their US Airways World MasterCard and Virgin America Elevate cards- both of which can offer huge value if you know how to leverage the points and perks of those cards.
They also recently launched two versions of a new product called the Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard. This is a fixed value miles program, which allows you to purchase travel yourself and then get statement credits at the rate of 1 cent per mile when you redeem for travel. While 1 cent per dollar spent is standard earn rate for fixed value programs, Barclaycard is kicking it up a notch by offering 2 miles per dollar on all purchases on the $89 annual fee card or 2X on travel and dining on the no fee version. The $89 annual fee version (the fee is waived for the first year) of the card comes with a 40,000 mile bonus opportunity ($400 in value towards travel) and the no annual fee version of the card comes with a 20,000 mile bonus opportunity ($200 in value towards travel).
Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard – With $89 Annual Fee waived for the first year
- Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days — that’s enough to redeem for a $500 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
- Miles don’t expire as long as your account is open, active and in good standing
- No foreign transaction fees on anything you buy while in another country
- 0% introductory APR for 12 months on Balance Transfers made within 45 days of account opening. After that, a variable APR will apply, 16.24%, 20.24% or 23.24%, based on your creditworthiness.
- Please note, there is a fee for balance transfers.
There is also a non-fee version, though its bonus is just 20,000 bonus miles for the same initial spending requirement and since the annual fee is waived for the first year on the premium card, you might as well get that one instead.
Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard – No Annual Fee
- Earn 20,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days — that’s enough to redeem for a $200 travel statement credit
- Earn 2X miles on travel & dining and 1X miles on all other purchases
- Get 5% miles back to use toward your next redemption, every time you redeem for travel statement credits
- Chip card technology, so paying for your purchases is more secure at chip-card terminals in the U.S. and abroad
- No foreign transaction fees on anything you buy while in another country
- 0% introductory APR for 12 months for each Balance Transfer made within 45 days of account opening. After that, a variable APR will apply, currently 16.24% or 20.24%, depending on your creditworthiness.
- Complimentary online FICO® Credit Score access for Barclaycard Arrival cardmembers
So as you can see, the major differences are that with the card with the $89 annual fee, you can earn 40,000 bonus miles when you spend $1,000 within 90 days and 2X miles per $1 you spend on all purchases; while the no annual fee card earns just 20,000 bonus miles for spending $1,000 within 90 days and 2X miles only on travel and dining purchases and 1X miles on all other purchases.
Both function like most other fixed-value points cards where you earn a certain amount of points per dollar you spend then you can redeem those points at a rate of one cent each for travel. However, only these two also have a special feature where you get 10% of the miles back that you redeem towards travel.
So if you were to spend 100,000 miles on a trip (equating to $1,000), you’d get 10,000 miles (worth $100 value) back. That can add a tremendous amount of value back to your miles portfolio. If, for instance, you choose the annual fee card, you’re essentially earning 2.2 cents per dollar you spend – that’s a good rate above most other fixed-value cards, which either only offer bonuses on certain spend categories, like the Citi Forward or US Bank Flexperks Travel Rewards Visa, or just offer a flat rate like the Capital One Venture at 2 points per $1, or the Citi Thank You Premier, which earns just 1 point per dollar, which can then be redeemed for 1.33 cents each.
You can also redeem miles for cash back statement credits, gift cards and merchandise but at the rate of between 0.5-1% depending on which card you have. Cash back statement credits start at 2,500 miles but for just $12.50 in value. Gift card redemptions start at 5,000 miles for $25, so you’re getting a value of 0.5 cents per mile and bringing your return on spending to just 1% with the annual fee card and potentially just 0.5% on the no annual fee card. Merchant gift card redemption rates vary.
Other credit cards like American Airlines’ co-branded Citi cards offer a similar 10% mileage refund up to 10,000 miles annually, and certain cards offer you a per-point bonus like Ultimate Rewards points earned with a Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold or Ink Plus being worth 1.25 cents each instead of 1 cent when redeemed directly for travel, but this is the only one I know of that offers a 10% refund on all miles you spend, giving you a bonus of up to about 20% on your redemptions, though the downside is that you need to have the miles to redeem first and will then get them back rather than just being given a value bonus when it comes time to redeem them. So in the end, you’re using just 90% of the points you need for redemptions even though you have to have 100% of them before redeeming.
Though the no annual fee version just earns 2X points on just travel and dining (like the Sapphire Preferred), the annual fee card earns 2X points on all purchases, matching the Venture. When you factor in that 10% mileage refund, that means you’re getting 2.2% back on your dollar. With the Capital One Venture, you get 2% back, and with the US Bank Flexperks Visa, you get between 1-2% return on your dollar.
Another interesting feature of the premium card is that you get a membership to TripIt Pro, which normally costs $49 per year. TripIt Pro is basically a travel organizer and planner that will keep track of your flight itineraries automatically when you have emails forwarded to it, can store maps, directions, photos and other helpful details as you plan trips, send you mobile alerts about things like flight and gate changes, will share your itineraries with contacts you designate, and comes with complimentary 1-year memberships to Hertz #1 Club Gold and Regus Gold (which can be worth much more than $49).
Both cards are also World MasterCards, which is a special premium category of product that offer several value-added benefits including:
Master Rental Insurance, which will pay for physical damage and theft to most rental vehicles with an MSRP of $50,000 or less when the World MasterCard is used to initiate and pay for the entire rental transaction.
Mastertrip protection including travel assistance, replacement of lost tickets, documents and luggage. It works when you’re traveling 50 miles or more from home, and can transfer up to $5,000 to cover travel emergencies. The service also helps to locate luggage (though it is not baggage insurance). They also provide assistance to people in emergencies including referrals for doctors or lawyers.
World MasterCards reimburse travelers up to $300 for amenities if your bags are delayed more than 4 hours as long as you pay for the cost of your trip with the card.
The cards’ Worldwide Travel Accident Insurance provides automatic coverage up to $1 million for accidents while traveling, and like many other premium credit cards, World MasterCards also offer warranty extension, doubling any warranty beyond the manufacturer’s up to a total of 12 months. You also get purchase protection, which includes coverage of lost or damaged items within 90 days of purchase up to $1,000 per purchase and $25,000 annually per card annually. They provide price protection, which means that if you buy something with your World Mastercard and the same item is available for a lower price within 60 days, you get the difference between the new price and the price you paid, up to $250. You can file four claims per year.
Master Roadassist provides 24-hour emergency roadside assistance through AAA when you’re 100 miles or more from home. Though you have to pay, it’s better than calling a tow company because fees are pre-negotiated to be fair.
Priceless New York is a perks program that with exclusive deals and offers in New York City that they email to customers, like access to exclusive concerts, or shopping perks like free delivery from FAO Schwartz and a $50 restaurant gift card for the Shops at Columbus Circle.
World MasterCard holders also have access to 15% discounted prices on MasterCard Airport Concierge service. They can meet you at the plane door and get you fast-tracked through immigration, assist with baggage on departure, or send a chauffeured luxury vehicle upon arrival – these services and more are available.
World Experiences and Offers at Fairmont, Mandarin Oriental and Relais & Chateaux properties when you use the card to pay for your stay – kind of like Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts works, or Visa Signature Hotels. At Fairmont hotels, you receive a room upgrade to best available and late checkout (2pm) for free – though blackout dates do apply. At Mandarin Oriental properties, you receive complimentary breakfast, priority check-in and VIP status, which may include some kind of in-room amenity. At Relais & Châteaux hotels worldwide, you’ll receive the fourth night free or a bottle of champagne after a three-night stay.
To see the full list of World MasterCard benefits check out the benefits page here.
All in all, these two cards, but especially the premium one with its larger sign-up bonus and TripIt Pro subscription might just change the fixed-value points sphere for the better. The fact that the premium version earns 2 miles per $1 on all purchases, comes with a 10% miles refund and all the benefits of a World MasterCard make it a very solid product and one I’m considering for my next round of applications. The Barclaycard Arrival Plus is one of the best travel credit cards on the market right now because you can use the miles to cover many expenses that traditional miles won’t cover. Plus, for a limited time the sign-up bonus is 50,000 bonus miles if you make $3,000 or more in purchases in the first 90 days after account opening – which equates to $525 when you use them for travel expenses.
The Barclaycard Arrival Plus is one of the best travel credit cards on the market right now because you can use the miles to cover many expenses that traditional miles won’t cover. Plus, for a limited time the sign-up bonus is 50,000 bonus miles if you make $3,000 or more in purchases in the first 90 days after account opening – which equates to $525 when you use them for travel expenses.