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Top 10 Ways to Maximize BarclayCard Arrival Miles

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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard

The Barclaycard Arrival’s minimum spending requirement to earn the 40,000-mile sign-up bonus is tripling from $1,000 in 90 days to $3,000 in 90 days very, very soon. So if you’ve been thinking about applying for it, you should do so before that happens – possibly as soon as the next few days. As I mention often, the Arrival is one of the top travel credit cards out there thanks to a high sign-up bonus, lots of great benefits and valuable perks, so if you’re still on the fence, here are the top 10 reasons the Arrival should be in your wallet.

1. Sign-up Bonus Worth $440 in Travel: Each Barclaycard Arrival mile is worth 1 cent apiece when redeemed for travel. Basically, you make a purchase and then redeem your miles for that purchase on your statement within 90 days at a rate of 1 cent per mile. Not only that, but when you redeem your miles for travel purchases, you get a 10% mileage refund, so those 40,000 sign-up bonus miles are worth $400 in travel when you redeem them, but then you get 4,000 of them back, worth another $40 in value, so your total sign-up bonus value comes in at $440.

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2. 2X Miles Per $1 on All Purchases: Many cards offer category spending bonuses where you can earn 2-3 points per dollar on purchases in certain categories, like travel and dining on the Sapphire Preferred, or airfare with the Amex Premier Rewards Gold, but the Arrival offers 2X miles per $1 on all purchases, so your return on spending when you redeem for travel is 2.2% thanks to the earning ratio, and the next benefit, which is…

3. 10% Mileage Refund on Travel Redemptions: When you redeem your Arrival miles for travel purchases (which I’ll get to below), you get a 10% mileage refund, giving you a bonus of up to about 20% on travel redemptions thanks to that 2X per $1 earn rate. The downside is that you need to have the miles in your account to redeem for the entire charge, and then you get 10% of them back rather than just being given a value bonus when it comes time to redeem them. However, 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.

4. Variety of Travel Redemptions: With the Arrival, you get the best redemption rate on travel purchases since you get 1 cent per mile in value plus that 10% mileage refund. Whereas some travel credit cards have very specific earning or redeeming travel categories, such as the Chase Ink Plus and Ink Bold‘s hotel 2X bonus, the Arrival’s travel categories encompass a much broader spectrum of merchants that include:

Airlines
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. These categories really comes in handy for a number of reasons. First, you can redeem your miles at a great rate for travel expenses other kinds of miles or points don’t cover such as rail tickets, cruise tickets and onboard expenses, and car rentals, and you can even use your airline miles to book an award ticket, but then pay for the surcharges and taxes with your Arrival card and then redeem those miles for the rest of the expense so that your travel is completely on points without having to worry about shelling out cash for those surcharges.

Use miles to cut the cost of your next cruise.
Use miles to cut the cost of your next cruise among other redemption possibilities.

5. No Foreign Transaction Fees: These nasty little 1-3% surcharges are one of my biggest travel pet peeves. Some credit cards will charge you for the pleasure of using them while abroad or even just for making purchases from non-US companies, but the Arrival card is a great product for international travelers since it waives these fees. There’s nothing worse than getting home after a great trip and finding that you’re paying another 2-3% on top of whatever you charged while abroad. That can wipe out the value of any points or miles you’ve accrued and it’s just plain annoying – but you don’t have to worry about it with the arrival.

6. World Mastercard Benefits: World Mastercard is a special premium category of Mastercard that offers several value-added benefits including automatic Master Rental Insurance of up to $50,000 for rental vehicles, Mastertrip travel assistance, delayed and lost bag reimbursement, worldwide travel accident insurance, warranty extension, purchase and price protection, Master Roadassist 24-hour roadside assistance, Priceless New York perks with deals and discounts around the city, Mastercard Airport Concierge discounts, World Experiences & Offers at Fairmont, Mandarin Oriental and Relais & Chateaux, and other benefits.

World Mastercards come with several premium benefits.
World Mastercards come with several premium benefits.

7. Having a Fixed-Value Card Makes Sense: I usually focus on credit cards that earn transferable points such as Chase Ultimate Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards that give me the flexibility to transfer points I earn into any of several different airline or hotel programs, but there are a lot of good reasons to include fixed-value points like Arrival miles. The great thing about fixed-value points is that you don’t have to choose one airline or hotel program, but instead you can use them  to help pay for day to day flights and travel expenses that can be redeemed for with normal airline miles or hotel points. You are basically using fixed-value points to “buy” travel via your credit card company, the same as buying a ticket using money, so you can get the last seat on a flight or the last available room at a hotel, and don’t have to rely on award availability. Airlines and hotels also treat these redemptions as purchases since the credit card company is basically buying the ticket for you and taking your points in exchange, so you also earn miles (including elite miles) or night/stay credit on these purchases.

8. Barclaycard is the Issuer: Barclaycard has been making a (welcome) push into the travel credit cards marketplace recently with all-time high offers on several of its credit cards including the Arrival and the Lufthansa card. Not only are these offers worth considering in and of themselves, but it’s also good to keep Barclaycard in mind if you are maxed out on the best offers on American Express, Chase and Citi cards for the moment and have been wanting to look at other issuers. Just be careful since Barclaycard has tightened up on accepting new credit applications and has been known to deny applications for people with a lot of recent credit inquiries. No one knows what the threshold number is, but that can make it difficult to get a new line of credit with them. Anecdotal evidence on Flyertalk suggests that applying for Barclaycard cards within about 3-6 months of a round of other credit card applications often triggers application rejections. However, other FlyerTalkers note that they applied for two Barclaycard cards on the same day and were accepted for one and had their second application put into pending status. That said, some folks have gotten 4-5 Barclaycard cards in the same day, so it is possible, just be careful not to bite off more than you can chew in terms of minimum spending requirements, annual fees and card usage. For the record, I would not recommend applying for 4-5 cards from the same issuer because that activity could clearly be identified as gaming, even if you are initially approved.

Maxed out on Amex, Chase and Citi? Barclaycard is another great issuer.
Maxed out on Amex, Chase and Citi? Barclaycard is another great issuer.

 

9. The Annual Fee is Waived the First Year: The premium version of the Arrival carries an annual fee of $89, but it is waived the first year. That means, if you hit the minimum spend and score all those sign-up bonus miles, you’re pretty much getting $440 in free travel plus value-added benefits like TripIt Pro and waived forex fees, all with no annual fee. It’s like getting hundreds of dollars worth of travel for free, and you have a  year to decide whether all those benefits are worth keeping for the $89 annual fee. It’s like a no-commitment travel discount.

10. The Minimum Spending Requirement is Going Up! As I mentioned yesterday and at the beginning of this post, the Arrival currently carries a minimum spending requirement of $1,000 within 90 days of account opening in order to earn the full 40,000-mile sign-up bonus – meaning you are getting a full 46% return on your spending (40,000 miles plus 2,000 miles from the minimum spending at 2X miles per $1) just with the sign-up and minimum spend earning you get. However, sources at Barclaycard have confirmed that the minimum spending requirement is going up to $3,000 in 90 days, bringing that return on spending down to 15.33% – just a third. I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather only have to spend $1,000 to score a sign-up bonus worth $440 than three times that amount for the same return! So if you’ve been considering this card for your wallet, now is the time to apply before that spending requirement shoots up.

For more information, see these posts:

Have any other questions about the Barclaycard Arrival? Feel free to ask in the comments below.
Barclaycard Arrival™ World MasterCard®