There are dozens of travel reward credit cards on the market, and if you’re completely new to the scene, it can be difficult to decide which one is the best fit for you. American Airlines and United have popular programs, but what if you aren’t already a frequent flyer? No need to let one airline have all the fun, as the Barclays Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® will give you all the flexibility you desire.
Nice sign-up bonus
The greatest selling point of most travel rewards cards is their sign-up bonus—a large pot of miles you get for becoming a new card user. While you do have to meet a minimum spending limit in the first few months of use to unlock your sign-up bonus, typically a bigger promised bonus is better. Barclays offer of 40,000 miles with sign up is worth $400 in travel. The minimum spend for the card is $3,000 spent within the first 90 days of card ownership.
It’s not unattainable. Using the card on gas and groceries and paying off the full balance every month should do the trick. But if you’re on a very tight budget, it may be a stretch. Also, you should never apply for a credit card if you can’t manage your spending, or if your credit score is low.
Earn miles faster
Most travel rewards cards will give you a mile for every dollar you spend. The Barclays Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® doubles that rate. For every purchase you make, you’ll earn two miles per dollar spent. So even if you spend no more than the minimum to get your sign-up bonus, in 90 days, you’ll have 46,000 miles ready to redeem. This makes it easy to reach your travel goals without overspending. 46,000 Arrival Plus miles is equal to $460 in travel!
You’ll also get 5% of your miles back every time you redeem miles! So if you use 10,000 miles on a travel purchase, you’ll get 500 miles delivered right back into your account, giving you a little boost to your next redemption. Barclays used to give Arrival Plus card members a 10% rebate, but 5% still isn’t too bad.
Want even more bang for your buck? The Barclays Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® has a shopping portal where you can find special deals with a rotating slate of partner businesses. From your account’s home screen, look for the “Rewards Boost” button over on the right-hand side, then click on the offer you like best. In July 2016, some examples of online shopping options on Barclays include Rosetta Stone, where you’ll earn eight miles per dollar spent, Toms where you’ll earn four miles per dollar spent, HelloFresh where you’ll earn 15 miles per dollar spent, and AT&T Wireless where you’ll earn a fixed rate of 5,000 miles on any purchase. If you’re flexible on what to buy, click on “All Online Offers” or “All Online Stores” on the left sidebar and sort the results by “Highest Earn Rate.” Using the Barclays shopping portal to order holiday gifts for friends and family is a great way to make use of these higher-earn rates without letting your spending get out of hand.
Redeem miles anywhere
The best advantage of the Barclays Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® is its flexibility. While the Citi AAdvantange card only allows you to redeem miles with American Airlines (or its partner airlines in the oneworld alliance), and the Chase United MileagePlus card only lets you redeem with United Airlines (or its partners in the Star Alliance), the Barclays Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® is not affiliated with any one airline. You can shop around for the best price available, and use your miles on that flight, no matter who’s operating it. What’s more, your miles are good for any travel purchase. You can use your card to offset the cost of a room at any hotel, a train ride, a guided tour, or even the taxes on an award ticket. As long as your purchase is within the travel industry, you can redeem your miles on it. Yup, that includes Airbnb.
Your Arrival miles redemption works a bit differently with Barclays. Instead of using your miles to make a purchase directly, you’ll make the purchase as you would normally, putting it on your Barclays Arrival Plus. Then, you’ll log into your account and click “Manage Rewards.” Select the purchase you wish to redeem your miles for, and how many miles you wish to use. You can redeem your miles for all or part of a purchase. Effectively, you’re using your miles to reimburse yourself for a travel purchase.
Keep in mind that purchases must be $100 or more and have taken place within the last 120 days to be eligible for redemption. You can also only redeem miles on a transaction once, so there’s no knocking $100 off the price now and waiting until you’ve earned enough miles to take care of the rest.
So what’s the catch?
The only issue to take into consideration with the Barclays Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® is the value of your miles. When you redeem, it will always be at a rate of 100 miles to the dollar. For example, your 50,000 mile sign-up bonus would redeem the full amount of a $500 purchase. Plus, you do receive a 5% rebate. In many cases, this will serve you well, but sometimes other programs like those of the Citi AAdvantage and Chase United can offer better value-redemption rates.
In all honesty, you’ll want to use your airline miles for international flights that can cost more cash, and save your Arrival miles for domestic travel, or for the other travel purchases mentioned earlier. In many cases you can fly roundtrip to Europe for 60,000 miles. Unfortunately, 60,000 Arrival miles or $600 won’t cover the cost of a roundtrip Europe ticket in most cases.
If you’re very skilled at money and credit management, you might consider getting two travel rewards cards: the Barclays and a card like the Citi AAdvantage, so you have as many options as possible.
The Barclays Arrival Plus also charges no foreign transaction fees, has its $89 annual fee waived for the first year, features chip and PIN security, and provides you with free access to your FICO credit score.
So is the Barclays Arrival Plus right for you?
While no travel rewards card is perfect for everyone, the Barclays Arrival Plus is one of the best options on the market for many travelers. I personally prefer to use my Arrival miles for travel purchases that my airline miles don’t cover like taxes & fees on award flights, Airbnb, or transportation costs.
You can see more information on the Barclays Arrival Plus to see whether it’s right for you here: Barclays Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®
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Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.