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As the different credit card companies battle to win the business of premium travelers, they are offering more perks and introducing more credit cards. One of latest premium rewards credit card to enter the landscape is the Barclays Arrival Premier Card [Expired], a hybrid premium travel credit card that attempts to bridge the gap between premium and mass consumer travel rewards cards.
With a $150 annual fee (waived the first year), the new Barclays Arrival Premier Card offers a few perks exclusive to high-end premium travel credit cards like The Platinum Card® from American Express and the Chase Sapphire Reserve without shelling out $550 for an annual fee.
But how does the Barclays Arrival Premier Card compare to the Amex Platinum or Sapphire Reserve? You’ll have a better idea after you look at the facts.
Barclays Arrival Premier Card: $150 (waived the first year) [Expired]
Amex Platinum: $550
Chase Sapphire Reserve: $550
At first glance, the Barclays Arrival® Premier World Elite Mastercard® is substantially cheaper than either of the other two cards. But as you know with any premium travel credit card, looking at the annual fee alone isn’t a good indicator. The real value of any premium travel credit card lies in the value of the card benefits that can dwarf the annual fee cost.
Welcome Bonus Barclays Arrival [Expired] vs Amex Platinum vs Sapphire Reserve
Barclays Arrival Premier Card: None [Expired]
Amex Platinum: 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months ($600+ value)
Chase Sapphire Reserve: 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months ($750+ value)
The Barclays Arrival Premier Card doesn’t offer a traditional sign-up bonus, but they attempt to make up for it with an annual purchase rewards loyalty bonus. The lack of a sign-up bonus will probably ward off a few travelers, and it is a negative in most people’s books for sure. But since the annual fee is only $150 (that’s waived the first year), Barclays has to offset the benefits somewhere.
Barclays Arrival Premier Card: 2x points on all purchases plus an annual loyalty bonus
Amex Platinum: 5x points on airfare and hotels plus 1 point on all remaining purchases
Chase Sapphire Reserve: 3x points on dining and 1 point on all remaining purchases; 3 points on travel immediately after earning $300 travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
All of the premium travel credit cards with a $550+ annual fee have tiered purchase rewards that generally earn more points for travel-related purchases.
The Barclays Arrival Premier Card takes the flat rate approach and earns 2 points on all purchases. This may or may not be exciting as it depends how much non-travel spending you make with your premium travel credit card and the Arrival Premier might be the better option if your non-travel spending is equal to or greater than your travel spending.
What makes the Arrival Premier’s purchase rewards exciting is the annual loyalty bonus:
- Earn 15,000 bonus miles after spending $15,000 each card anniversary
- Earn an additional 10,000-mile bonus by spending $25,000 in between card anniversaries
If you spend $25,000 this year, you’ll earn 75,000 total points worth $750 in award travel.
Point Redemption Options for Award Travel
Barclays Arrival Premier Card: Travel Statement Credits and Point Transfers
Amex Platinum: Travel Statement Credits and 1:1 Point Transfers
Chase Sapphire Reserve: Travel Statement Credits and 1:1 Point Transfers
If you want simplicity, the Barclays Arrival Premier Card offers travel statement credits where each point is worth 1 cent each. You can also transfer your points to several airlines, but the best redemption ratio is 1.4 Arrival points for 1 frequent flyer mile. Unless you need to “top off” your frequent flyer balance, only redeem your points for statement credits to get the best value.
Flexible point redemptions are where the Sapphire Reserve and Amex Platinum excel and help justify their notably higher annual fees. Both credit cards have 1:1 travel partners to the largest and most popular airline and hotel travel partners. So, your points can easily be worth at least 2 cents each; that’s double the value of an Arrival Premier statement credit.
If you prefer to redeem your points for travel directly through the credit card travel portal, your Sapphire Reserve points are worth 1.5 cents each for all award travel. If you value redemption value over purchase rewards, bonus offers, and card benefits, the Sapphire Reserve is probably your best option.
Additional Card Benefits
Additional travel benefits are what separate the $100 travel credit cards from the $550 travel credit cards. If you travel on a regular basis and use the additional benefits, the $550 annual fee can easily save you thousands of dollars that a basic travel credit card won’t.
Barclays Arrival Premier Card [Expired]
The Arrival Premier isn’t as benefit-rich, but the benefits can still pay the annual fee:
- Global Entry – $100 automatic statement credit for the cost of one Global Entry application fee every five years
- Discounted LoungeKey airport lounge access ($27 per visit)
- Free two-day shipping via ShopRunner
By far, the Amex Platinum has the most extensive list of travel benefits. But they aren’t quite as flexible as the Chase Sapphire Reserve:
- Global Entry application fee reimbursement
- $200 annual air travel credit
- $200 in annual Uber credits
- Complimentary airport lounge access to The Centurion, Priority Pass Select, Delta SkyClubs lounge networks
- Boingo wifi hotspot access
- Upgraded Hilton Honors membership status
- $550 Fine Hotels and Resorts Travel Credit
Chase Sapphire Reserve
The Sapphire Reserve’s benefits are more “middle of the road” between these three credit cards:
- Global Entry application fee reimbursement
- $300 annual travel credit
- Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership
- Primary rental car collision damage waiver
Is the Barclays Arrival Premier Card Better?
You might prefer the Barclays Arrival Premier Card if you don’t travel on a regular basis but can spend enough to earn the purchase rewards loyalty bonus by spending at least $15,000 a year. But honestly, a better alternative is going to be the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Capital One Venture if you don’t already own them. Both cost $95 per year, but don’t offer much in terms of additional air travel benefits.
Before you apply for the Barclays Arrival® Premier World Elite Mastercard®, ask yourself these questions:
- Which purchase rewards best fit your spending habits?
- Do you need 1:1 point transfers?
- Can the travel benefits pay or exceed the annual fee?
The Arrival Premier could be an option for travelers that aren’t quite ready for a full-fledged premium travel credit card like the Amex Platinum or Sapphire Reserve. But, if you answered “yes” to the last two questions for either the Sapphire Reserve or Amex Platinum, paying a higher annual fee upfront can save you more money over the course of the year.
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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.