How the Barclaycard Arrival Plus Offers Great Flexibility for Travel Redemptions

Sep 29, 2016

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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 Plus World Elite Mastercard has long been one of my favorites due to the flexibility it offers for redeeming for travel-related expenses that can’t be covered (at least, not efficiently) with other types of points or miles. And now that it’s offering a higher sign-up bonus of 50,000 miles (vs. 40,000 miles for the standard offer) after you spend $3,000 in the first 90 days, this very good card is more appealing than ever.

My partner and I both signed up for the Arrival Plus card, and we redeemed the miles from our sign-up bonuses in two very different ways, each time using the rewards to supplement other miles and points redemptions for our trips. To show you just how flexible these miles can be, I’ll detail each of our redemptions below.

1. Disney World Tickets and a Rental Car

We used my sign-up bonus miles for one of our trips to Disney World for our young kids. We’ve flown multiple times to Orlando on Southwest (we both have the Southwest Companion Pass, so our kids fly for free) and stayed in both the Swan and Dolphin hotels (with free character breakfasts thanks to my Starwood Platinum status). The theme park tickets are one of the most expensive parts of a trip to Disney World, and we partially paid for our tickets using Arrival miles to lessen the out-of-pocket costs.

How? You can’t directly get Disney World tickets reimbursed with the Arrival Plus, but you can get charges booked through Travelocity reimbursed. Luckily, Travelocity offers tickets to all kinds of experiences like helicopter rides, city tours and, yes, theme park tickets.

Buy your Disney World tickets at Travelocity so it will code as "travel".
Buy your Disney World tickets at Travelocity so it will code as “travel.”

Anything bought through online travel sites such as Orbitz and Travelocity — even Broadway tickets — should be eligible for reimbursement with the Arrival Plus.

Travelocity also sells Broadway show tickets!
Travelocity also sells Broadway show tickets.

At the time, Barclaycard returned 10% of the redeemed miles (you now get just 5% back), and we used those additional rewards to pay for a rental car on another trip. So even with the lower 40,000-mile bonus, we wound up with about $500 worth of value from just signing up for this card.

2. Bangkok to Bali on Air Asia

Arrival Plus miles helped us save on a flight from Bangkok to Bali. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

We used my partner’s bonus very differently. We needed to be in Bali this year for a wedding and decided to start in Thailand since we’d be in the neighborhood. We used our American Airlines miles (mostly obtained through Citi cards) for a one-way flight to Thailand flying in Cathay Pacific’s business-class cabin. Since American’s routing rules only allow for a <24-hour stopover and we wanted to spend more time in Thailand, we booked a separate one-way award home from Bali. That meant that we needed to get from Bangkok to Bali on our own.

One of the most convenient ways to fly between Bangkok, Thailand and Denpasar, Indonesia nonstop (that is, without an overnight layover in Singapore) is with Air Asia. You can fly Thai Airways, but this one-way itinerary would have cost us 98,000 miles for the four of us, and paid flights were also rather expensive. United awards are another option, but the fees alone cost almost as much as our paid Air Asia flights.

It generally isn’t possible to redeem partner miles on Air Asia (though technically, residents of Asia can sometimes redeem Delta SkyMiles for certain Air Asia flights), which meant that we’d have to pay out of pocket. Arrival miles to the rescue!

Air Asia is a low-cost airline, and most “amenities” — checked baggage, seating assignments, food — are extra. To make things easier, especially since we were flying with two five-year-olds and we didn’t want to worry about seat assignments, we paid about $20 extra per person to book Premium Flex tickets, meaning we could change our flights if we needed; we could choose seats together at the front of the plane; pre-order a meal; and had an extra baggage allowance for our flight.

The flight for all four of us was about $490, and her Arrival miles covered $475 of that cost.

Once you redeem your Arrival points, Barclays automatically returns 5% to your account.
Once you redeem your Arrival miles, Barclaycard automatically returns 5% to your account.

Now that Barclaycard only returns 5% of your redeemed miles and requires an expense to be a minimum of $100 to be eligible for reimbursement, it will require more effort for her to earn enough miles to make another redemption (luckily, she can earn extra miles by joining and participating in the Barclaycard Travel Community).

Bottom Line

Even with the stricter redemption rules, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard is still a great addition to your wallet. Arrival miles are a great supplement to other travel rewards to pay for things like rental cars, taxes and fees on award travel and paid airfare that helps you reach (or maintain) elite status. And with the increased sign-up bonus and no annual fee for the first year, it’s really a no-brainer. If you’re interested in signing up, just make sure you do so sooner than later, since it’s not clear how long the 50,000-mile sign-up offer will stick around.

How have you redeemed your Arrival miles?

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