Details on the Barclaycard Arrival Cards – Travel Bonus Category and Redemption Options

by on April 11, 2013 · 32 comments

in Barclays

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Update: The offer mentioned below for the Capital One Venture Rewards Card has expired. View the current offer here

Last week, I posted about the launch of two lucrative new sign-up offers on both versions (one with an annual fee and one without) of Barclaycard’s Arrival card that are shaking things up in the fixed-value travel point sphere.

Barclaycard Arrival Offer

The Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard – With $89 Annual Fee waived for the first year comes with 40,000 bonus miles (~$440) if you make $1,000 or more in purchases in the first 90 days after account opening and earns 2X miles on all purchases.

The Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard – No Annual Fee comes with 20,000 bonus miles (~$220) if you make $1,000 or more in purchases in the first 90 days after account opening and earns 2X miles on travel and dining purchases and 1X miles on all other purchases.

Those miles are redeemable at a fixed rate of 1 cent each for travel and between 0.5-1 cent each for other redemptions such as cash back credits and gift cards (which I’ll get into below).

One of the other interesting features of both cards is that you get 10% of your miles back when you redeem for travel, bringing the return on your dollar up to 2.2% on all purchases on the annual fee card and that high on travel and dining purchases on the no annual fee card.

What Counts as Travel and Dining?

If you get the no annual fee card, the key to your spending strategy will be figuring out just what counts towards that 2X category spending bonus on travel and dining, so I asked for further information from Barclaycard and here is what is included.

Unlike the Sapphire Preferred’s 2X travel bonus, which is eligible on the usual expenses like airlines and hotels, but also on other kinds of transportation including buses, travel agencies, train tickets, and even taxis, subways and parking.

By contrast, the Barclaycard Arrival card’s travel spending category includes the following:

Travel Agencies and Tour Operators (including online agencies such as Expedia, Priceline and TripIt)
Hotels, Motels and Resorts
Cruise Lines
Passenger Railways
Car Rental Agencies

Just note that all of this depends on how a merchant is categorized and there is no maximum to the total miles you can earn as long as your account is open and in good standing.

Miles Redemptions

When it comes to redeeming miles for travel, you cannot redeem fewer than 2,500 miles and you can use them to “pay for travel” on the same categories at a rate of one cent per mile. The way that works is you can redeem miles for statement credits on travel purchases made within the last 90 days.

You can also redeem miles for cash back statement credits, gift cards and merchandise. Cash back statement credits also start at 2,500 miles but for just $12.50 in value, so you’re only getting a value 0.5 cents per point. Gift card redemptions start at 5,000 miles for $25, again just 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. If you redeem Arrival card miles as a statement credit, the credit will be posted to your account within 5-7 business days – so no waiting till your due date to request a credit! There is no maximum to the total miles you can redeem.

The redemption rate for the Arrival cards is different than other cards in the fixed-value sphere. For example, the Capital One Venture lets cardholders redeem points for one cent each towards statement credit, while the Citi ThankYou Premier lets cardholders redeem points in bundles of 2,500 for $25 gift cards. The US Bank FlexPerks Visa lets members redeem for cash back statement credits as well at a rate of 1 cent per point. So if you want cash back, Arrival isn’t your best bet.

That’s why knowing what exactly falls into the travel category is crucial to your points redemption strategy – it could mean the difference between getting a 0.5% return on your spending and a 2.2% return (literally 4.4 times the value!), so before you redeem for a specific expense on your statement, be sure to check that the merchant is correctly categories within one of those travel labels so you get the full value of those points (and that extra 10% points refund).

You can redeem miles as soon as they post to your account by going to BarclaycardUS and visiting “Manage Rewards.”

Regarding that 10% miles refund, here’s how it works. When you make a mileage redemption, you’ll get the bonus miles added back into your account within 1-2 weeks. So if you were to redeem 25,000 miles, you’d get 2,500 added to your rewards account automatically a week or two later that you can use toward your next redemption. That means you have to have enough points in your account for the full redemption you wish to make and then you’ll get a refund rather than just having to redeem 90% of the points off the bat.

Other Considerations
One other major thing to note from the terms and conditions of both cards: “Your credit card account cannot have been inactive for thirteen (13) billing cycles (approximately thirteen (13) months). “Inactive” means you have no balance, no payments and no transactions.” So you’ll have to make a charge at least once every thirteen billing cycles in order to keep your account open and in good standing – otherwise you better use your points before your account is inactivated, though for reasons of maintaining your credit score and history, I would never suggest letting that happen.

Because the annual fee is waived in the premium card for the first year and you get twice the miles as on the no annual fee card, that’s the one I’ll be getting during my next round of applications (assuming the offer is still around) since it equates to $400 worth of travel redemptions of which I’ll earn miles/points on assuming I use for airline or hotel purchases.

That said, if you’re considering a fixed-value card like this for your travel points portfolio, then I would definitely get this one specifically for travel redemptions at up to a 2.2% return on your dollar and not use those miles for non-travel redemptions since the value of those drops to about half.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • roger

    question for the board….
    I have to purchase 3 tickets from NY to London, July travel, will be over $3000.
    What card would you recommend? Credit is excellent, lookinf for a card with a nice sign-on bonus and maybe points for miles travelled….thanks

  • HikerT

    I’m guessing you could also purchase refundable travel to cash out.

  • tlubww

    Do tickets to disney world count as a resort? I’d really like to use these points to cover that!

  • Grant

    Chase Sapphire Preferred has a $3,000 min spend to get 40,000 UR points.

  • Nvtech

    If the benefits of 20k or 40k miles is kept aside, a priceline visa for 2x points on everything might be very comparable for redeeming purposes.
    Most regular fare airline, hotels purchases in the priceline websites are very comparable to other travel websites. Just my thought.

  • gringolatino

    So, head-to-head, which is better, this or the Sapphire Preferred? I’m guessing this one as it allows for 2x rewards on ALL purchases. Thanks!

  • Ben Chapman

    Chase BA and Citi AA…fly Air Lingus w/o fuel surcharge…

  • henry133864

    However, do 40,000 “Barclay” miles stack up to 40,000 of any particular airline’s miles? IE, if a specific AA flight is available for 25,000 miles on the AA website, will it also be available to us for the same cost on the Barclay Travel website?? Do we have any guarantees from Barclay?

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  • PC Sr

    This seems quite identical to Capital One’s Venture card. 2 points per dollar regardless of categories. I like it!

  • thepointsguy

    The venture doesn’t have the 10% rebate on travel redemptions so the Arrival may be even more lucrative depending on your spend/redeem habits

  • thepointsguy

    Depends.. Sapphire preferred if you like first/luxury redemptions. Arrival if you redeem for economy/ need the flexibility of multiple tickets with max flexibility. All depends!

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  • Aly

    Can the points accrued with this card be used on flights anywhere, US or international?

  • spawlowski21

    for redeeming miles on the arrival card, if “you can redeem miles for statement credits on travel purchases made within the last 90 days.” does that mean points accrued before 90 days of redeeming your travel reward don’t count? I may not use my accrued points for a year or so to save up for a RTW trip. thanks!

  • Chuck

    So is the southwest card still the best value for travel purchases? I get 2 pt’s per dollar & can redeem at 1.43cents/pt so almost 3% back on a typical budget fair. Doesn’t have the flexibility of the Barclay, but seems a better value.

    Now on non travel purchases getting 2% back for travel does seem like a better deal as the SW I get 1 at 1.43% for travel.

  • Francesco

    has anyone been able to call customer service and request 2nd year annual fee be waived successfully? I know some banks actually do this to keep your business. Since I use this card every day. Thanks

  • Abdul G Habibuzaman

    Hey. Can we buy Travel Gift cards from OR and claim the miles against that ? I would rather save my miles as Gift Cards for future travel .

  • davec

    Any reason not to get both Barclay’s cards for the 40K + 20K bonus.


    I have the US Airways and Priceline cards from Barclay. Will Barclays allow me to open an Arrival card and close my old Priceline Rewards card in return?

  • thepointsguy

    Possibly- but don’t convert it because you’ll
    Miss out on the bonus- apply and if not approved agree to close priceline if necessary


    Thanks–I’ll give it a shot. Slightly off topic: as is my usual luck, I just got the US Airways card last week and what happens yesterday? They upped the award mileage for the first use. I just lost out on 10K miles. Sigh.

  • thepointsguy

    Never hurts to call and see if they can give you the better offer!

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