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Update: Some of the offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here: BarclayCard Arrival.
This past week, TPG reader Manu sent me a message via Facebook:
“What is the advantage of the Barclaycard Arrival over the Fidelity Investment Rewards American Express Card, which also gets 2% cash back on all purchases, but (unlike the Barclaycard) has no annual fee?”
When it comes to cash back, the Fidelity American Express (which earns 2% across the board and has no annual fee) is hard to beat. Manu wants to know why anyone would bother the Barclaycard Arrival (an ostensibly similar product) when it has an $89 annual fee (waived the first year). There are a few reasons.
First, Arrival has no foreign transaction fees, so if you’re an international traveler, you don’t want to use your Fidelity Amex abroad. That difference alone could easily make up for the annual fee if you’re someone who puts a significant amount on your card outside the U.S.
Beyond that, if you’re going to redeem for travel anyway, then the Barclaycard Arrival actually gives you 2.11% back on all of your spending, since you get a 5% rebate when you redeem points for travel expenditures. Barclaycard just announced that they expanded the list of eligible travel categories and increased the redemption period from 90 days to 120 days, giving you a full four months to cover your travel expenses with points. They also just launched Chip and Pin capability, which makes the card even more useful for international travel. I just traveled to France last week and was able to easily purchase train tickets at unmanned kiosks, where other Chip and Signature cards would have floundered.
Lastly, Barclaycard Arrival has a killer signup bonus! You’ll get 40,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first three months. Again, that annual fee of $89 is waived the first year, so in the short run, the Arrival card earns a TKO against the Fidelity Amex. Still, you should do the math to determine whether the annual fee makes sense for you given the extra 0.2% earnings and the added perks. I think for international travel it absolutely makes sense, but for someone who’s only going to have one card and doesn’t want to pay any fees, Fidelity is a solid choice.
Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.
- Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- Named Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, July 2016
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
- No foreign transaction fees
- 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
- No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards