Sapphire Preferred vs. Arrival Plus: Have the Tables Turned?

by on August 7, 2014 · 120 comments

in Arrival Plus, Barclays, Chase, Chase Sapphire Preferred, Credit Cards, Ultimate Rewards

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Chase Sapphire Preferred and Barclaycard Arrival Plus have topped my list of best credit cards for travel awards for some time now, with the edge going to Sapphire Preferred for its valuable transfer partners and the lucrative 7% annual dividend on point earned each year. However, with recent benefit changes to both cards (and the announcement of that 7% dividend going away starting in 2016), I thought it was time to reassess the merits of each, and see if the challenger might be able to KO the champ.

Read on to find out what’s new for these cards, what stayed the same, and which one comes out on top.

Chase Sapphire Preferred 
Chase recently announced a flurry of benefit changes, most importantly the discontinuation of the 7% annual dividend starting in 2016 and the addition of primary auto rental insurance, as well as an increase in trip cancellation/interruption insurance from $5,000 to $10,000. For those who rent cars often, that was great news. For those who don’t- not so much. Chase also made some more general changes to the Ultimate Rewards program, like getting rid of the bonus point offered for travel purchases made through the Ultimate Rewards portal (which affects all cards, not just Sapphire Preferred), and eliminating the Pay Yourself Back by check feature (which I generally advised readers to avoid anyway). These changes are immediate for new cardholders, though existing cardholders will see their benefits change gradually over the next 18 months.

The loss of the 7% dividend is significant. Sapphire Preferred earns 2x points on travel and dining, and 1 point per dollar otherwise. The annual points dividend upped those earnings to 2.14 and 1.07 points, respectively. I value Ultimate Rewards points at 2.1 cents each, so Sapphire Preferred previously offered an awesome return of 4.5 cents per dollar spent on travel, or about 2.25 cents per dollar spent elsewhere. Without the annual dividend, those numbers shrink to 4.2 cents and 2.1 cents, respectively. While both values are still respectable, the difference between 2.25 cents and 2.1 cents for regular spending is notable because that moves Sapphire Preferred from above to below the 2.2 cents per dollar offered by the Arrival Plus card.

The primary auto rental insurance definitely increases the card value, and the extra trip insurance is nice if you need it and qualify to use it. The other changes only affect the card indirectly, and I don’t think they’re severe enough for me to alter my valuation of Ultimate Rewards.

The Arrival Plus now comes with a Smart Chip.

The Arrival Plus now comes with a Smart Chip.

Barclaycard Arrival Plus
Back in May, Barclays announced an array of upgrades to the Arrival Plus card, including Chip and Pin capability, expanded travel redemption categories, and an extended redemption period (from 90 days to 120 days). While none of these changes impact the fundamental return of 1.1 cents apiece for Arrival Miles, redeeming them becomes a little easier, and the security chip (along with no foreign transaction fees) makes the card more useful overseas.

The strength of Arrival is in its 2x points earned on all purchases, and in the flexibility the miles earned - you can redeem for travel with any airline, hotel, rental car agency and more, so long as the charge is coded as an eligible form of travel. Redemptions for travel get a 10% rebate deposited back into your miles account, which means you effectively earn 2.2% towards travel for every dollar spent (actually, even more before you earn miles when you purchase travel- even if you later use miles to cover that expense, as we discussed in this post).

The Arrival Plus also has the advantage that when you redeem Arrival Miles for airfare and hotels, you’ll still earn miles, points, and credit towards elite status for your flights and stays, since you’re paying for them with a credit card and then getting reimbursed. This can also be done with Sapphire Preferred through the Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal, where you can redeem points for 1.25 cents apiece, though the options are mildly limited compared to Arrival and you don’t earn Ultimate Rewards points on the actual redemption, like you do with Arrival Plus.

Looking Under the Hood
Sapphire Preferred had a mixed bag of changing benefits, while the updates to Arrival Plus were all positive. Here’s how they stack up side by side.

Features & Benefits Sapphire Arrival Winner
Sign-up Bonus 40k points with $3,000 spending in 3 months 40k points with $3,000 spending in 3 months Sapphire
Base Earning 1 point/$ 2 points/$ Arrival
Travel/Dining Earning 2 points/$ 2 points/$ Sapphire
Chip Tech Chip and Signature Chip and PIN Arrival
Foreign Fees None None Tie
Annual Fee $95 (waived first year) $89 (waived first year) Arrival
Flexibility 11 partners, Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal Any qualifying travel expense Sapphire (*)
Other Benefits  Visa Signature, Primary rental insurance World Mastercard, Free FICO credit score Sapphire

The Real Winner Can Only Be Decided By You
For me, the edge is still towards the Sapphire Preferred because I know how to maximize their transfer partners to actually get much more than 2.1 cents per point in value (like my recent trip to the Maldives using Ultimate Rewards points transferred to Unite or my sweet Park Hyatt Sydney room using points transferred to Hyatt). However, my situation is that I was only booking for me and my schedule is extremely flexible and both of those redemptions have gone up due to Hyatt and United devaluations that have occurred this year after I booked those trips. This goes to show that the transfer partner game is high stakes- you need to be knowledgable and flexible in order to make it work- something not all cardholders can afford to do- especially if you’re a family and trying to book multiple seats on non-stop flights. In that case, bulking up on Arrial Miles may be a more valuable option- especially since you can cover so many other travel expenses using Arrival Miles, like amusement parks and AirBnb.

The difference between Chip/PIN and Chip/Signature technologies is notable, but less substantial than the difference between primary and secondary auto rental insurance, which favors Sapphire Preferred. The free FICO score feature with Arrival is also useful, but you can get free credit scores elsewhere, so it doesn’t add much value in comparison.

Ultimate Rewards points quickly add up if you make the most of the bonuses.

The value of Ultimate Rewards transfer partners keeps Sapphire at the top of my list.

For those who are having trouble deciding, the good news is that there’s really no need to limit yourself to one card or the other. I have and use both cards regularly; each one has its place. I often preach that diversifying your points and miles is a good idea, because when programs (inevitably) devalue, you won’t get hit as hard by being too heavily invested in one loyalty currency.  Arrival Miles are a great means of diversification because they have a fixed redemption value, and because they can be use toward almost any travel expense, which helps fill in the gaps left by other rewards.

So the king of cards still reigns, but if you have room in your wallet for both, you’ll find ways to use them.

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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  • Alan

    Just signed up for the Sapphire Preferred just a couple of weeks ago. You had me sweating. :-P

  • Jesse Creem

    It’s also worth mentioning that the CSP works in conjunction with any other card that Chase has UR with. In particular, the Freedom card, which has rotating 5% rewards. Those points can be transferred to the UR account for the CSP and still get the 20% bonus on travel.

  • Paul

    I’ll mention just briefly that while the Arrival+ is a true pin+chip in that it will be recognized as such and prompt a pin, in practice this only takes place in rare situations such as European public transport kiosks, etc., where it is truly an impossibility for a signature receipt to print.

    In a vast majority of cases (and I’ve used the Arrival+ now in Brazil, China, and across Europe), a waiter or newspaper shop owner will still be burdened by having to find a pen, often with a confused look on his or her face as your signature receipt is printing. It’s superior to the Sapphire Preferred (which is rumored to get chip+pin before year’s end), but you still won’t be one of the cool kids.

  • jokah

    Appreciate the tip as I had no idea I could transfer between UR accounts.

  • G

    Curious why Amex Preferred hasn’t moved up to challenge either card in your mind? 1.5 Membership rewards for every purchase and 4.5 rewards for groceries/3 for gas is pretty good. Just trying to figure out why CSP and Arrival+ are still the clear top two in your opinion? The great thing about AMEX rewards are the airline transfer bonuses–although haven’t seen one in awhile–if there are any AMEX reps reading this, another British Airways transfer bonus would be nice :). The CSP does have the UR Portal and also you can get extra 7500 UR from Freedom each quarter as well. I guess you can get gift cards with Freedom at gas stations and get 5x UR on every gas purchase to trump the 3x on gas. Just curious on your thoughts here.

  • Savvy Consumer

    Correction: For those who rent “cars” often

  • Jason

    You mention trip cancellation/interruption, but how does the Arrival stack up on flight/baggage delay compensation?

  • Drew Jolesch

    One feature of the Barclays Arrivals+ that I think a lot of people don’t realize is free TripIt Pro subscription as long as you have the account open! I didn’t see this feature until I logged into my account on the Barclays website, and am surprised how little they market it.

  • Redpanda

    I agree, the everyday preferred card is very powerful when it comes to earning membership rewards points. If I max out the $6000 grocery limit in a year, I can get 27000 MR points from purchases I would have made anyway. I don’t think this card is getting enough attention only because of the relatively low sign up bonus. Earning a minimum of 1.5 MR points per dollar spent is truly amazing.

  • Redpanda

    Yes! Most people forget about how beneficial the 5.5% back from freedom can be when transferred to the CSP. You can earn upto 33k extra points in a year from the 5.5% back every year. And 1.1 back everywhere else

  • thepointsguy

    Very valid point. I think I’ve been waiting for the signup bonus to get competitive, but we should do an analysis without the signup bonuses considered. Stay tuned

  • Tom

    Sorry, I am missing the boat here. What’s the 20% bonus on travel for CSP? Is this if you book travel through the portal using the CSP UT account?

  • Eric

    Thanks. I’ve noticed the same and thought it was just me!

  • Chad

    As I understand it, Chase didn’t entirely eliminate the Pay Yourself Back feature—they just discontinued the option for mailing a paper check. And they discontinued that quite awhile before they officially announced these changes. You can still do a direct deposit to a valid bank account (converting your UR points to a $ deposit).

  • Jesse Creem

    Yes, if you book through UR it is a 20% increase for travel. That’s how the sign up bonus for CSP is 40,000 points or $500 worth of travel.

  • thehogsters

    I’m sorry but you are crazy to award the “flexibility” award to Sapphire. So Sapphire has 11 partners. BA has unlimited partners. How can you get more flexible than that? You must get more of a cut from Sapphire, that is the only rational explanation.

  • thepointsguy

    Barclaycard has 0 transfer partners.

  • Wade

    Trying to decide right now on keeping the CSP or switching to Barclay. Don’t spend enough to have both. Have the freedom and enjoy racking up points through qtrly bonuses and portals. Does Barclay have any kind of portal? Or am I stuck at a flat 2 points earn no matter what?

  • Gerry

    This post could also have included the Chase Sapphire card, which I think reframes the comparison of CSP vs BA+. CS holders save the $95 annual fee, lose 2x travel and 7% bonus, but keep 2x dining, and need an Ink card for transferability to external partners. Unless you spend $9500/year on 2x travel w/ CSP, CS is the better choice if you also have an Ink. I use my BA+ card for everyday spend that’s not in any bonus category, and love it for simple travel reimbursements for stuff that would otherwise cost me out-of-pocket. No doubt UR points are more valuable for flight and hotel, but while traveling its nice to have BA+ points at 2.22x to reimburse attractions, taxis and other expenses. I see Arrival as a great companion card to Chase’s Three Horsemen, but in that context CS offers me more value than CSP.

  • Redpanda

    I’m not sure you understand what a transfer partner means. The arrival doesn’t have any transfer partners, points are non transferable and are only redeemable for 1 cent each. UR points are transferable to 11 hotels and airlines, where they can be valued at much much more than 1 cent each. Please get your facts straight before you start making nonsensical accusations

  • G

    Question–can you still get UR from the Freedom card under that method–i.e. get UR from Freedom and then transfer to CS or Ink UR account? I get a lot of UR from the rotating categories of the Freedom b/c I can transfer them to my CSP UR account. Can you get the same benefit from Freedom that with CS and Ink? Also, do you still get the UR portals (I guess technically you can get to the portals from Freedom, so my first question remains the crux)? If yes, I may reconsider keeping CSP and switching to CS when I enter a point where my travel significantly drops, no longer justifying that fee. Would appreciate your feedback.

  • Redpanda

    If you are already eligible for an ink card, you are better off getting the ink cash instead of the chase sapphire, the ink cash also has a higher sign up bonus. I don’t think the chase sapphire is a useful card at all. And for people not eligible for ink cards, the CSP is the best choice anyway.

  • Redpanda

    Also, since UR points are worth atleast 2 cents each, all you have to do is spend about 2000 USD on travel in a year to cover te annual fee, which is not a big deal for most travelers

  • Adam

    Amex also has superior fraud controls which to me is worth far more than double points on travel and dining. Plus take the platinum card to buy large items with tight return policies or loss/stolen items purchased. Those benefits again are worth more than double points and make the platinum card even more valuable than just for travel benefits. I’ve come to realize that points are great, but card features and security are a lifesaver when you least expect.

  • Adam

    Brian, I’m curious to understand your feelings about security/value over points???

  • Redpanda

    Barclaycard does indeed have a portal quite similar to the one offered by chase and most airlines/hotels. Personally I find a lot more value in using the CSP+freedom combo for everyday spend, but I think it depends on how well you can maximize the transfer partners. If you enjoy business/first class flights, the arrival will not get you anywhere. Also, remember that the CSP has some very valuable redemptions that the arrival cannot supply. For example, I flew from Detroit to chicago and back a few weeks ago using 9000 UR points for a flight that would have cost me $250 otherwise or 25000 arrival points

  • Gerry

    Yes. You can transfer Freedom and CS to Ink Plus or Ink Bold, which I do every month. Chase doesn’t allow householding of business and personal accounts, so you physically have to type in the destination card # with every transfer. But it’s very easy to do.

  • Rob

    With the Sapphire Preferred now doing primary auto insurance, it is Amex premium car rental coverage no longer needed. I’d occasionally use the Amex since it’s $18 for california residents when I have a rental for a few days for piece of mind.

  • thepointsguy

    Why is fraud an issue when both banks will fully cover all fraudulent charges?

  • thepointsguy

    Correct- they just eliminated by Check, which isn’t that big of a deal

  • Gerry

    Agree w/ you on Ink Cash, very astute point. Don’t agree w/ you on CSP. You can easily make fine arguments to keep many cards that charge annual fees. I try to avoid them. Remember spending $2K for travel on CSP does get you 4K UR points, but it’s only 2K more than you would have gotten anyway using CS (or Freedom or Ink). I don’t value the bonus 2K at $95. But I do get your point.

  • Tom

    Does it have to be booked using the CSP UR account to get the 20% discount?

  • Adam

    Amex will handle the entire fraud process without you having to do extra work. They issue their own card and operate the merchant processing. Look how long it is taking for innocent victims to get through the web of merchant processing with Target, Michaels, Neiman Marcus, and recently PF Changs. It’s not about that the fraud is covered, it’s how quickly and efficiently it gets resolved if it happens. Over Thanksgiving I called Amex and Chase to determine if I should replace my card used at Target. Amex said no sir, we will notify you if there is a problem. Chase said it would be best to replace the card. I like Chase for banking and for the CSP/Freedom, but I feel more secure carrying my Amex for these reasons. This is why I say that there may be more value in security over points.

  • Redpanda

    Have to agree with you there. I don’t have the ink cards so I tend to stick with the CSP, but it may not make sense for most people to pay the annual fee on both the ink and the CSP just for the 2x travel.

  • Redpanda

    Which makes the sapphire preferred the best card to rent cars now because of the insurace along with 2x points

  • ernest

    Hey TPG, do you compare the CSP with arrival plus or with arrival? Arrival plus has World Elite MasterCard, not World MasterCard, which is I believe have more benefits compare to visa signature, except if you compare it together with primary rental insurance for collision from CSP, well but I might be wrong

  • thehogsters

    Ok can I use UR points for Delta, Jet Blue, Sprint? How about Palace resorts in Mexico? ? BA is yes to any hotel or airline you can name = FLEXIBILITY! Don’t forget you get 2% plus 10% back on points used on all not just a well calculated United flight. Sorry are my facts wrong?

  • Jesse Creem

    Yes, it is specific to the CSP UR account but it is very easy to transfer your points from one account to the other.

  • josefismael

    “The strength of Arrival is in its 2x points earned on all purchases…”

    Wait, what? Why don’t I have this card????

  • josefismael

    “The strength of Arrival is in its 2x points earned on all purchases…”

    Wait what? How do i not have this card yet???

    Superficial question – does the BA+ card have that sweet metal alloy? I’ll be honest, that’s one of the reasons I keep the CSP around :)

  • ocvagabond

    @disqus_6pqZEHCly2:disqus Was that redemption you mention by transferring to BA Avios?

  • Digitalfarce

    About to apply for Chase. Does 2x points. on “travel” mean airfare, bus, taxi, hotel, parking, etc? Travel is quite vague.

  • ocvagabond

    So where are these “mythical” gas stations that allow you to purchase gift cards with credit cards? Seems like every place I’ve tried helps me out finding their Prepaid Center only to then say, “I’m sorry, you can only buy gift cards with cash or debit.”

    Is there a trick here or a website I simply haven’t stumbled onto yet?

  • G

    Because the redemption is fixed value. In other words, it would be good for cheap flights but not as good for more expensive flights. Redemption value is 1 cent, i.e. 25,000 “miles” = $250 travel expense (actually, 22,500 miles after 10% redemption).

    Two scenarios:

    Scenario 1: $100 roundtrip domestic flight would “cost” 9900 miles (after 10% rebate) with BA+. That same domestic flight would “cost” as low as 9000 BA Avios to the normal 25,000 domestic on United, Delta, etc. Obviously, 9900 miles on BA+ is better than 25,000 miles. I don’t have a BA+, but if I did, I would use BA+ there over Avios because I would also accrue airline miles for the flight and save my Avios for something much more valuable than 1.1 cent redemption. That is a flight I would always “buy” rather than redeem points for.

    Scenario 2: $500 roundtrip flight would cost 45,000 miles (after 10% rebate) with BA+. In contrast, that domestic flight would cost anywhere from 9000 BA Avios up to 25,000 United, Delta, etc.

    In other words, I don’t personally think it is a great use of points unless you are flying cheaper routes. Where you likely come out ahead with the BA+ is if you need a mileage run that isn’t too expensive or possibly on cheaper transcon flights–I used to see DC to Seattle or LA for $250ish roundtrip. BA+ would be a great choice there (IMO) because you would be paying with 22,500 miles and still accruing all of the miles. Or, if you have mileage runs, BA+ miles could be a good choice. The other place it is a good choice is for travel you can’t use miles for. However, I typically get more value out of MR or UR than BA+. But, that might just be me.

    Of course, now that I write all of this out, I’m wondering why I haven’t given more thought to the BA+. There are all kinds of flights that I bought that I could have simply been reimbursed for.

    TPG, is this pretty much the way you view BA+ and how you use it? I don’t have any experience with the card–do you usually use it on cheap flights only?

  • Redpanda

    Yes, I used BA avios to redeem an AA flight

  • G

    As far as I can tell, your facts are wrong. You can use UR for all of those redemptions–it is called the UR Travel Portal. Look above in his grid under “flexibility”–11 Partners, Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal. Using the portal, you can book any of those redemptions you refer to at 1.25 UR. It is a terrible value, but it is similar to all of the redemptions on BA+. I would rather use UR on airfare or hotels where I will get much more than 1.25 value, but you CAN do it if you want.

    Anyone else confirm I’m correct on this?

  • G

    It has to be–that’s the only way you can get a roundtrip for 9000 UR (Chicago to Detroit is way under 650 miles each way). BA Avios is the greatest thing for short haul travel since Midwest Airlines’s chocolate chip cookies and oversized leather seats. Man I miss Midwest Airlines.

  • Alan

    So we just signed up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card a couple weeks ago, and I’m likely going to get the Chase Freedom to compliment it. I plan to use the rewards primarily for flights.

    I don’t think the Arrivals Plus card would fit well into our strategy, but is there any advantage to also getting something like the SPG Amex? There is some overlap with SPG’s transfer partners and SPG points seem to be worth a lot for hotel stays. I just wish the sign-up bonus were larger.

    Plus, our annual spend on credit cards is probably around $20k so I don’t want to spread us too thin. Thoughts?

  • G

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but Ink are business cards only, correct? The major benefit is the 5x on internet/phone/office supply stores, correct? Other than that, is there anything else for the Ink? It still has the $95 fee, correct? Inquiring minds (well one mind for sure) wants to know.

  • G

    I got an SPG Amex when there was a 30K bonus. Sometimes that comes around–that is the largest that I have seen.

  • Alan

    Well even that additional 5k bump could be worth another free night (or two in the right hotels).

  • G

    Sorry, I should have qualified that statement with “if you can find gas stations” that will allow you to buy gift cards with CCs. I was able to do it at one point, but that dried up during the first quarter this year. I’m going searching again this quarter though. It might be mythical now, but at one point it wasn’t.

  • ocvagabond

    Maybe it’s time to build a user-based community reporting app (think Waze) for this kind of stuff.

  • Redpanda

    The ink cards are business only, which is why I currently don’t carry one. There is one version of the ink card(ink cash) that comes with no annual fee, the same 5x categories and 2x on restaurants and gas. The annual fee versions come with 2x on gas and hotels

  • Ed

    Include a subscription to Expert Flyer an I’m sold.

  • Ed

    Where do you get the idea of 1.5 Membership rewards?? That’s false. ONLY if you hit 20 transactions per month do you get extra points.

  • G

    It’s 30 transactions per month, but yes there is that stipulation. 30 transactions per month has not been difficult though. I was assuming in those numbers that one is making sure that they hit the required 30 transactions per month. Sorry I was not clear on that.

  • Ed

    Those 30 transaction per month makes it a worthless card to me.
    I get more value with a combination of cards instead of just the AMEX Pref.

  • Drew Jolesch

    That would be awesome!

  • manski

    Just signed up for the BA+ card. I’m sick of all the rewards program devaluations and this is a good hedge against it. Seems like some nice perks here

  • WBTM

    Why aren’t they tied for Travel/Dining if they both earn 2 points/$?

  • Larry

    I was ready to post the same thing. Amex Everyday has become my go to card for nonbonus spend. I value chase UR points slightly higher than Amex, but not 1.5x. And while 2.2 cents with Arrival is great, again, I value 1.5 Amex as higher than 2.2 cents. If you only want to hold one card and need other chase benefits, like car rental protection, or access to the chase earning mall, or the like, the analysis may change. I find that with sign up bonuses and retention bonuses, I almost always have at least one card that has the benefit I need on that particular day — whether it’s lounge club access, rental car protection, etc.

    When I’m out of the USA, Arrival takes over because of no forex and chip and pin. I found the chip and pin to be great on a recent trip in Europe. Usually it defaulted to signature when the terminal permitted it, but I had no problem at unmanned stations using pin.

    The Amex 30 transactions requirement has proven to be no hurdle to me whatsoever. My wife is an authorized user, and as it turns out, the types of transactions where we don’t hold a card that gives us better than 1x tend to be the routine, day to day ones anyway, and we usually hit 30 very fast. Add in that grocery and gas are multipliers, and it’s pretty easy. If I find myself short coming up to the end of the billing cycle, I’ll buy a couple of fifty cent amazon gift cards, or when I fill my gas, I’ll do it as a few swipes instead of one. As noted above, the bonuses on the card are cumulative, so if you buy gas and get the 2x, you get the extra 50 percent on both points — effectively 3x for gas and 4.5x for groceries (for the first $6,000 a year).

  • John K


  • Redpanda

    UR points are worth more than Arrival points

  • Digitalfarce

    Can someone please define “travel” qualifications?

  • Nick DeSantis

    erchants in the travel category include airlines, hotels, motels, timeshares, campgrounds, car rental agencies, cruise lines, travel agencies, discount travel sites, and operators of passenger trains, buses, taxis, limousines, ferries, toll bridges and highways, and parking lots and garages.

  • BobChi

    I like, own and use both of these cards. The issue for me is whether the Barclay Arrival gets renewed or not when the annual fee comes due. I’m skeptical. The 2.2% on all charges is only marginally better than I can get elsewhere without paying the rather stiff annual fee. The CSP itself is close if you value a UR point at about 2 cents. It seems to me I’d have to put an awful lot of spending on the BA card in Year Two to justify paying the fee. The CSP, with its category bonuses, is safer for renewal in my mind, though the loss of the 7% rebate will come into consideration. These are a couple of the cards I have where a decision on what I do with one impacts the decision on what I do with the other.

  • Redpanda

    its easy to make 30 transactions in a month, and if you cant, just buy as many $0.50 amazon gift cards as you need until you get the bonus

  • Ed

    What do you mean, “BA has unlimted partners”??

  • stvr

    Why is Fidelity Amex worse than Barclay Arrival? Seems pretty competitive with no annual fee. In year two, you’d have to spend a ton more on Barclay Arrival to justify the $89 annual fee.

  • esnow

    Sorry to ask such a newbie question but can anyone break this down for me? We just started using the Chase Sapphire card and trying to be as savvy as possible. We haven’t yet accumulated enough points for travel.

    The Arrival Plus also has the advantage that when you redeem Arrival Miles for airfare and hotels, you’ll still earn miles, points, and credit towards elite status for your flights and stays, since you’re paying for them with a credit card and then getting reimbursed. This can also be done with Sapphire Preferred through the Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal, where you can redeem points for 1.25 cents apiece, though the options are mildly limited compared to Arrival and you don’t earn Ultimate Rewards points on the actual redemption, like you do with Arrival Plus.

  • Bill Rubin

    I suspect it depends on what kind of travel you typically enjoy. If you largely travel using domestic flights in economy class, then the Arrival seems the better bet, since it’s easier to accumulate points for those. If you travel internationally, especially with premium award flights, then the CSP is still the better card (or Ink Plus/Bold) since you can use UR points to get far more expensive first and business class airfare. If you stay in midscale and budget hotels, then the Arrival is more suited for you, but if you stay in upscale/luxury hotels, the CSP seems more appropriate for the chance to use UR points to stay at luxury Hyatt and Marriott and Ritz Carlton properties.

  • thehogsters

    I mean BA+ is 2.2 cent for any airline, hotel, amusement park, train, car rental, ect. Not just 11 hotels and airlines. Valued at much much more than 1 cent? Only if you fly out of a United hub or on one of the handfull of other Partners. None of these partners have good prices near me except South West. So the great “Flexibility” of CSP would include all of one airline for me to truly receive 2 points from UR. Now Redpanda and Pointsguy tell me how I’m wrong? Maybe I’m missing something in my rational? IDK?

  • Redpanda

    For most international and domestic flights, if you know how to leverage UR points correctly, you can get a lot more value out of them as compared to Arrival points. Arrival will always be 2.2 cents back for a dollar which is why the TPG considers it to not be “flexible”, but i usually end up redeeming my UR points for about 3 cents each. Like the $250 dollar flight on American Airlines I booked a few weeks ago from Detroit to Chicago that cost me only 9000 UR points for a round trip. That’s an easy 2.8 cents per point. Also, combined with the 5.5x UR points on the freedom and the 2x categories on the CSP, and even the 5x categories on the chase ink, i can earn higher valued UR points at a higher rate. I could see using the arrival on basic 1x categories, bit I like to use the Amex SPG or Everyday for those because I get Higher valued flexible currency instead of cash back. I also enjoy redeeming my UR and Amex points for business/first class international tickets, which is something you will need millions of Arrival points in most cases, but can be accomplished with about a 100,000 UR points.

  • pugsley

    Loaf N Jug

  • Redpanda

    Actually, I think it’s faster to use the 5.5x on the freedom, 2x on the CSP and 5x on the ink combined. Same with the amex everyday card.

  • Redpanda

    I think it’s generally faster to accumulate points on the CSP/freedom/ink combo. And the points have more value than arrival miles. I would suggest you don’t redeem UR points at 1.25 cents a piece as they are most valuable when transferred to partner programs.

  • Redpanda

    Use CSP+freedom, I don’t think the arrival card is worth it.

  • Redpanda

    After the sign up bonus wears out, if you arnt spending a ton of money on the spg amex, you probably won’t be able to justify the annual fee. Try the amex everyday preferred instead.

  • ocvagabond

    Thanks. Anyone have any Bay Area recommendations?

  • G

    Let’s assume for just January 2015, that you just buy gift cards for $6000 at a grocery store, get all of your gas for that month on the AMEX preferred, and then just make sure to hit the 30x times transactions with minor purchases. That is 27,000 MR for groceries. 750 MR for gas (assuming $250). And then 1.5x on everything else. Even if you wanted to just use that card for one month and then do spending on other cards for the rest of the year, that seems like great value to me. Granted, that is extreme. I personally like the Amex preferred. However, I’m open to knowing where you get better value–and I will concede that if you have an Ink and buy gift cards at office supply stores, that is better value. However, I don’t have an Ink card and don’t feel comfortable getting one.

  • Daniel

    And more to the point, I checked and they still do statement credits. Why you would ever “Pay Yourself Back” rather than do a statement credit is beyond me. (Actually, it’s obvious; you’re canceling the card, and don’t want to spend more on it …) They said the change is all about security, and not having checks get lost in the mail.

  • josefismael

    Appreciate the breakdown of the numbers G. The big thing for me was the 2x for EVERYTHING. I double my points earning power for purchases that don’t normally have a category bonus (insurance, utilities, online orders, etc)

  • G

    I get that, but you can still get more value using UR or Amex preferred. For instance, you could use the Amex preferred for those non-bonus categories and (assuming you hit the 30 transactions in a month) get 1.5 MR per purchase. 1.5 MR is a lot more valuable,at least to me, than 2 BA+. The reason is that I can transfer MR to Avios and usually get 2.5 to 3 cents per MR on short haul flights. Another option is to use Amex MR at a bonus category like a supermarket and get 4.5 MR per transaction or (if you have one, I don’t) use an Ink card and buy gift cards at an office supply store. You could then use those gift cards and earn 4.5 MR or 5x UR on those orders (of course, utilities is a 5x bonus for Ink anyway).

    But as I said earlier, I do not have a BA+ card, so I might not be the best person to give advice on this. I have tended to avoid those fixed value cards, but I might get one just to see what value I can get out it.

  • Bill

    I honestly don’t know how you can compare a cash back travel rewards card to a points card that has the ability to transfer points directly to travel rewards programs. The Chase Sapphire Preferred is the obvious winner, especially when paired with the Freedom. In addition to the 5% categories on the Freedom, you also get a 10% annual bonus if you have a checking account with Chase. In other words, put only the 2% category spending on the CSP, and use the Freedom for any 1% category spending that you would have put on the CSP before.

    The Arrival+ is a cash back card. How much would you have to spend to be able to buy a round-trip international airline ticket? Much more than you would earning points with the combo I mentioned above.

  • Gisele

    Does Fidelity Amex offer a sign up bonus? The current offer I saw online, doesn’t offer anything for signing up, it just doesn’t charge any annual fees. If that is indeed the case, then there is your answer. Barclay Arrival has the clear edge over Fidelity Amex because it offers you a 40K points signup bonus (after $3K spend over 3 months). Those 40K points are worth $400. So Barclay gives you $400 from the beginning and will only recoup those $400 from you, on the 5th year of membership (Since the annual fee is waived on the first year and it’s $89 each year afterward). With that in mind, the Fidelity Amex only catches up to the Barclay Arrival on the 5th year of membership. Does that sound right?

  • Mike Furgason

    Not sure about the amusement parks redemption for the Arrival. I just purchases King’s Island tickets, coded as Amusement park, but not able to redeem.

  • ed

    Both cards have their caveats. Barclay actually gets 2.2% (10% redemption bonus) for travel redemptions, but 1.1% for everything else. Fidelity gets 2% but only if you put that money first into a Fidelity account. You get 1% otherwise. So both have their purposes.

    Personally I have several other cards that get most of my spend, and my non-category spend is not worth picking up the Arrival+. But for those who put enough spend on it, I think it’s totally worth it. It’s a great card to MS if that’s your thing.

  • Jordan C.

    A little tipsy for this post? “transfer to Unite” “Arrial Miles”

    But in all seriousness, a very valid it time to dethrown the Sapphire king?

  • Chris Allen

    I’m hoping someone can help me with a decision. I have had the Sapphire Preferred for almost 2 years now, 12-1-14 will be 2 years. I used the bonus and points acquired during the first 8 months of it for pretty close to a free trip to San Francisco with myself and friend. Free for me, because I used points for both of us and she reimbursed me actually cost.. It worked out well in my opinion. Anyway, after acquiring another 40,000 points I had decided to wait and try to save for a trip to Europe, but I realize with united devalued and hyatt that might not be worth it. I travel a couple times a year and would love to do it more, but I’m not able too. Now that you guys kinda know how I have used the card in the past and what I wanted to do with it. Is the CSP really better than the Arrival? I have seriously considered closing CSP and switching to Arrival, I can’t afford both fees and need a go to card. I feel like no one is talking about the devaluation combined with the changes by Chase. Together those seem like killing blows to me for the CSP.. Could someone with more experience explain why it isn’t and give recommendations on what to do?

    Thank you

  • Michael Heffner

    120 days to redeem for travel??? HUH? I ONLY have 120 days to cash in? I can’t bank those points for a big redemption later??? Anybody – please explain, I missed this tidbit. I’ve only had the card 4 months, no damage done, but this is not how I intended using this card – within 120 days. I’ve been cranking out spend on it, real spend, most spend. I like the 2.2%.. NOT at 120 days though.

  • Adam’s Mom

    If you want security, why bother with credit cards at all? Just pay with cash….

  • Hogsters’s Dad

    Southwest is one word, not two works. Get your spelling and grammar in check…..otherwise, you lose credibility in anything you state.

  • PJ

    what a no brainer: 1.get both cards 2. score sign on bonus when going forward with both cards : other than travel and dinning items, all 1% items if on Sapphire Preferred go to Arrival after all 2% on Sapphire is certainly better than 2% on arrival 2% on Arriva is surely better than1% on Sapphire.

  • PJ

    I jokingly said to my long time no see nephew ” Get your IQ check !! ” when he mentioned trying to cash 1 penny back for each UR point.

  • Redpanda

    Read my reply to “thehogsters” above, but if that doesnt help, In my opinion,the CSP is much much more valuable when it comes to expensive flights and luxury hotels. I would recommend using the arrival points for small travel charges like cabs, trains or rental cars. This is because the arrival will always have a fixed earn rate of 2x points per dollar, while UR points can, in most cases be accumulated at a much higher rate when using the freedom, ink and sapphire in combination, as long as you know how to use these cards them correctly. Not only that, sometimes UR points can give incredible values of more than 3 cents per point. For example, I booked the park hyatt in the maldives using UR points for a room that goes for $1250 a night for 25000 points, which is a value of 5 cents per point! This can be increased to about 7.5 cents per points if you leverage the points+cash option. This same room would cost 125,000 arrival points which can take forever to accumulate on regular spending. In general, flexible currency is more valuable for these reasons, which is why I also carry the Amex Everyday and SPG cards. There is a time and place for fixed valued currency, but i feel that its not useful for expensive redemptions and only good for small travel charges that otherwise don’t have a loyalty program like train tickets.

  • thehogsters

    Wow thank you Captain Obvious. My phone likes to “auto correct” every other word. If you are so brilliant you might have presumed this? Nice hiding behind a anonymous! I never stated one card was superior to the other. My only opposition to the Points Guy was his “flexibility” award CSP. I keep reading all these post about x amount of UR points and all this. Yes it’s a great card but not one post has shown me how CSP is more “flexible” than the BA+.

  • esnowe

    Thanks so much for your reply, Redpanda. What I am confused about is this: “when you redeem Arrival Miles for airfare and hotels, you’ll still earn miles, points, and credit towards elite status for your flights and stays, since you’re paying for them with a credit card and then getting reimbursed.” How does this work differently than Chase Sapphire? If I redeem my Ultimate Rewards points for a flight on United, would I not be earning toward elite status? This actually brings me to a broader question, which is: if I pay for a hotel reservation at say, a Marriott, using my Chase Sapphire, will I earn rewards points at the Marriott AND earn points on my credit card? Thanks so much again!

  • Redpanda

    The best way to use ultimate rewards points is to transfer them to the 11 hotel and airline loyalty programs. You will not get good value if you use them on the chase portal for 1.25 cents each. So to answer your question, if you were to redeem arrival miles for a hotel stay you would purchase the stay with your card and then wipe the transaction off your statement with arrival points, thus you would still earn hotel points directly from the hotel, but with the chase sapphire, you would transfer UR points directly to the hotel and use the resulting hotel points to book your stay, and as a result earn no extra hotel points. However if you pay for a hotel stay with your sapphire card, you would earn both hotel points and UR points. The real value with the sapphire in my opinion is when you can leverage the points for very high values, for example booking a night at the park hyatt in the Maldives would cost you $1250, or simply 25000 hyatt points which can be transferred from ultimate rewards directly. This same stay would end up costing 125,000 arrival points

  • Redpanda

    You misunderstand, you can collect those points for as long as you want, 120 days to redeem for travel means that once you do make a transaction that you want to redeem your points for, you have 120 days to make a decision to wipe that transaction off your statement with points

  • Glaire

    Good point on the Elite. I don’t think everyone qualifies for Elite. You need a high credit score to qualify.

  • Brian C. Lee

    ” not one post has shown me how CSP is more “flexible” than the BA+.”

    Actually, several comments have shown how it’s more flexible than the Arrival card. When you make statements like the quote above, THAT’S where you loose credibility, IMO.

  • Ed

    My average day spend is extremely low. $50 per week on groceries, $10 per week on gas.
    My major spend is on hotels and airfare. Thousands of dollars per month.

  • David W

    Signing up for my first travel rewards card. Generally traveling international, as budget as possible, staying in hostels and using low cost transportation. Leaving in October for Nepal / India / Southeast Asia for 6 months to a year. Should be able to meet the $3k signup bonus on both cards. For simplicity sake is the Arrival my best option? I don’t have loyalty with any certain airline, but book the cheapest flights possible. Thanks.

  • wandersnotlost

    You can go through the barclay’s shopping portal to Kmart and buy Arco gift cards with your cc.

  • ocvagabond

    That;s not the point though because I would get points based on the purchase at Kmart (non bonus category) instead of at the gas station.

  • Ruth Less

    BEWARE of BARCLAY – they do HARD inquiry each time you apply for credit card and won’t do nothing if you ask them to remove those from your credit score

  • Daniel White

    I used the Barclay travel redemption for a type service. Though not bc when I use I do it through UR and get 5x or something like that. assuming UR actually comes through on the credit which is delayed and purportedly flaky, requiring follow up and possible headache phone calls.

  • Daniel White

    Arrival+ is 2.2 cents per dollar so it’s an Apples-to-Apples comparison and totally useful. Dollars to Dollars makes it pretty simple for me.

  • Daniel White

    Wrong, my Arrival+ is 2.2 cents per dollar, for every dollar…… like the article says…….

  • Daniel White

    I live in LA and the small shops that are newish to CC processing all require it. A few mechanics and the local carniceria are examples.

  • ed

    You clearly did not understand what the comment was saying. I did not say that you do not get 2.2 cents per dollar spent. I said you do not get 2.2 cents per dollar on non-travel REDEMPTIONS. You get 0.5 cents per mile if you redeem your miles for something not coded as ‘travel’ by BarclayCard. This effectively gives you 1% cash back per dollar spent for non-travel related expenses. So to properly get your full money, you should only redeem those miles for travel.

  • freediverx

    I just received an email from Chase about these changes, and your piece seems to have overlooked the most disturbing of them…

    Notice of Changes
    “We won’t provide notice when we change what you can get with
    your points. You understand and agree that we can make these
    changes at any time. You can see what you currently can get with
    your points at our website, Future
    availability of any specific items isn’t guaranteed.”

    Unless I’m missing something, this means that Chase can at any time reduce the redemption value of their points, limit what you can redeem them for, and most importantly, remove the option to redeem points as a statement credit/cash… all with absolutely no notice whatsoever other than to note the changes in the rewards page on their website. This is utterly unacceptable as it opens the door for them to completely devalue your accumulated points at ay time.

    Additionally, there’s an ominous and loosely worded warning about conditions under which they may prohibit you from earning or using your existing points:

    “…if we suspect that you’ve misused the program in any way,
    for example… by repeatedly opening or otherwise maintaining credit card accounts for the sole purpose of generating rewards.”

    I have been using the Chase card for most of my expenses and was saving up points for a future vacation, but after reading this I immediately cashed them out as a statement credit. I also have the Barclaycard Arrival+ and am seriously considering closing the Chase account.

    If you feel I’ve misinterpreted these policy changes, please feel free to educate me.

  • freediverx

    I thought they all did this…

  • freediverx

    The Arrival points can only be redeemed as statement credits against recent, travel-related purchases on your account, and only in 2500 point ($25) increments. The Chase points have the advantage of being redeemable as a statement credit with no ties to specific purchase types, and they can be redeemed in any amount $20 or more, down to the penny.

  • Jeff Bronson

    Maybe you can answer this simple question. I have the Chase Sapphire currently, and am considering getting the Arrival Elite card also. How can I redeem points from both cards for the same ticket? Could I use a flight comparison service like Hipmunk/Skyscanner and purchase through there…or would it have to be done through a rewards portal like Chase Ultimate rewards? Thanks.

  • Abhi

    Its been a year since I closed my Chase Preferred card, If I apply again do I stand a chance to get it again this time?

  • SarahBJones

    I think I am with you. The CSP just seems like a risk, and a lot of damn work shuffling things around? What if I can’t be bothered?

  • SarahBJones

    Is this the same for the Barclays?

  • Imprudent

    I think that the usage agreement states that, for the first use of the Arrival+ at a shop, the user will have to sign the receipt. For each subsequent use at that same business, the PIN should work.

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