Barclaycard Arrival Plus Review: Why $89 Worth It
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Is this 2x miles credit card worth the $89 annual fee? Read on to see how the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® compares with top travel rewards credit card.
Pros and Cons
- 50000 bonus miles offer
- Earn 2x miles on all purchases
- No foreign transaction fee
- $89 annual fee
Excellent travel credit card to earn miles for flexible travel rewards
A Flexible Travel Rewards Card
If you want to earn 2x miles with ALL purchases and have the flexibility to redeem miles toward ANY airline purchase, consider the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard.
This card lets you earn miles quickly with no mileage caps. In addition, a 50,000 bonus mile offer makes this card an attractive choice.
In our opinion, this card is an especially great fit for big spenders who don't have a particular airline or hotel brand preference, who don't want to put much thought into how they use their credit cards, but who do like to be delighted with rewards at every swipe.
You'll have to pay an $89 annual fee with the Barclaycard Arrival Plus, but the good news is it's waived for the first year.
Read on for a complete rundown of the card's highlights and to determine for yourself if that annual fee is worth it.
Here's what you get with the Barclaycard Arrival Plus:
- 50,000 bonus miles: New cardholders can earn 50,000 bonus miles after making $3,000 or more in purchases in the first 90 days. This is equal to $500 in travel statement credit.
- 2x miles on all purchases: Some travel cards have tiered rewards or put caps on how many miles you can earn. With this card, you get twice the miles on ALL purchases, with no limit on how many miles you can rack up and no expiration date as long as your account is open, active and in good standing.
- Redeem miles for statement credit: Users can easily redeem miles for statement credit toward any recent travel expense, such as flights, hotels, and car rentals. Miles can be redeemed for any airline purchase to any destination - with no seat restrictions and no blackout dates.
- Redemption bonus: When you redeem miles, you'll get 5 percent of the miles back as a redemption bonus to use toward your next redemption. That's 500 miles back for every 10,000 you redeem.
If you use this card frequently for most of your purchases, you'll see the miles add up fast, and it won't hurt so much when it's time to redeem them because you'll actually get some back.
- No foreign transaction fees: Most cards charge a 3% foreign transaction fee that's added on when you use your card outside the U.S. Fortunately, this card doesn't penalize you for making purchases abroad.
- Smart chip technology: Unlike many smart chip credit cards in the U.S. with "Chip and Signature" technology, this card supports Chip-and-PIN. You'll have to set it up in advance. But that means you'll have an easier time in places like Europe, where they use unmanned kiosks that often require a PIN in addition to a credit card with a smart chip. To learn more, read our guide on chip credit cards.
- $89 annual fee: The biggest downside is the $89 annual fee. But for new cardholders, this is waived for the first year.
How Miles Redemption Works
Miles can be redeemed for statement credit toward any travel-related purchases made in the previous 120 days, including any airline purchase to any destination - with no seat restrictions and no blackout dates.
Barclaycard has a pretty generous view of what is considered to be travel spending, which includes:
- Car Rentals
- Travel Agencies
- Discount Travel Sites
When you use your miles on travel, you will get a credit back on your statement, with every 10,000 miles equal to $100. And don't forget, you will also get 5% of the miles back with every redemption used towards travel.
Your first few months of using the card could look like this:
- Let's say you spend $2,000 each month, and you use the card to stay at a hotel in month two.
- After 3 months, you'll have earned 62,000 miles (the 50,000 bonus miles from spending more than $3,000 within the first 90 days plus 12,000 miles earned from your purchases).
- You can then use 60,000 of those miles toward your hotel stay from the second month, putting $600 back in your pocket via a statement credit (every 10,000 miles equal $100).
- You also get 5% back on that redemption, putting 3,000 miles into your rewards fund (worth $30).
Bonus tip: You can earn even more miles when you shop by going through the card's shopping portal. The next time you're about to buy something from your favorite retailer, check if it's listed here - you could get 2-12 miles for every dollar you spend.
You don't have to worry about losing your miles. As long as your account remains open and in good standing, any miles you've earned with your card won't expire.
Besides rewards related to travel, this card also comes with some other perks:
- 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 12 months. For balance transfers made within the first 45 days of account opening, you get a 0% intro APR for 12 months on balance transfers (after that, the regular variable APR is 16.49%, 20.49% or 23.49%). You can take advantage of this by transferring a balance from another card. Just make sure you have a plan to pay it off within a year.
- You can use your miles for more than travel. If you don't have a trip planned any time soon, you don't have to let your miles go to waste. You can swap them out for gift cards or cash back statement credit. However, the redemption value is only half as great as if you were to use your miles toward travel.
When you redeem your miles for gift cards, merchandise, or cash back, you will get $50 for every 10,000 miles. In comparison, if you redeem 10,000 miles for a travel statement credit, it would be worth $100. Thus, the Arrival Plus is better utilized for travel rewards.
- Travel Insurance: As a World MasterCard, it also comes with handy benefits, such as travel accident insurance, reimbursement for eligible expenses if your baggage is delayed or misdirected, and trip cancellation/interruption coverage.
- Get credit score for free: Barclaycard gives you free access to your FICO score each month.
Downsides of the card
Like any card, the Arrival Plus has some drawbacks, and you should consider them before you apply. Here are a few reasons why you might be more satisfied with another card.
- You can't transfer miles: When you're ready to redeem miles earned with your card, you just apply them as a statement credit to your eligible travel purchases. That's great if you like simplicity, but you don't have much flexibility when it comes to how you use them. If you're an airline miles aficionado, this isn't the card for you.
With something like the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, you can transfer your rewards to partner frequent traveler programs to make them stretch even further.
- No introductory APR on purchases: Unlike some other cards, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus does not offer an introductory APR on new purchases. The variable APR is 16.49%, 20.49% or 23.49% depending on your creditworthiness.
- The reward rate may not be as high: The Arrival Plus gives you double miles on everything, but you could potentially earn more rewards with a different card, depending on your spending habits and how savvy you are with credit cards.
For example, some credit cards have rotating 5% rewards categories. If your spending patterns line up with their rewards categories, you might be able to earn rewards faster with a different card.
- You have to wait until you get 10,000 miles to redeem for travel: This card is designed for people who are making big travel purchases fairly regularly, not for people who are looking for a little change to redeem every month. You can only redeem your miles for travel statement credit in increments of 10,000, and the credit can apply only to travel-related purchases made in the previous 120 days. If you're not a frequent traveler and not a big spender, you may find these restrictions challenging.
HOW IT COMPARES
Because of this card's $89 price tag, you should take the time to compare it to other comparable cards. Take a look at how it measures up.
If you want to transfer miles to airline and hotel partners:
Chase Sapphire Preferred: The Sapphire Preferred card from Chase gives you points instead of miles, but it can still be considered a travel card and give you savings when you go on a trip. In fact, this card's benefits could outweigh those of the Arrival Plus. If you go through Chase's Ultimate Rewards portal, you get a 20% point discount when you use the points to book travel.
But here's the best part. Instead of redeeming points for statement credits, or booking travel through Chase's online portal, you can make savvy transfers of your Chase points to airline and hotel transfer partners (such as United, Southwest, Marriott, Hyatt, and IHG).
In terms of the bonus points, it offers more than the Arrival Plus (see Barclaycard Arrival Plus vs Chase Sapphire Preferred). With the Sapphire Preferred, you can 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®.
The annual fee (introductory annual fee of $0 the first year, then $95) is a little higher than the Arrival Plus, but not by much.
A downside of this card: There's no introductory rate on balance transfers as there is with the Arrival Plus.
How to decide: If you know how to play the airline miles and points game, take a look at the Chase Sapphire Preferred and see if your favorite airline frequent flyer (such as Southwest and United Airlines) or hotel loyalty rewards program (such as Marriott, Hyatt and IHG) is one of their transfer partners.
Interest Rates and Fees
|Introductory APR for Balance Transfers||0% introductory APR for 12 months on Balance Transfers made within 45 days of account opening.||N/A|
|Purchase APR||16.49%, 20.49%, 23.49% Variable based on your creditworthiness and other factors||16.49% to 23.49% Variable based on your creditworthiness and other factors|
|Balance Transfers APR||16.49%, 20.49%, 23.49% Variable based on your creditworthiness and other factors||16.49% to 23.49% Variable based on your creditworthiness and other factors|
|Annual Fee||Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95|
Benefits and Features
|Airline Deal||Introductory Bonus Airline Rewards: Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days - that's enough to redeem for a $500 travel statement credit|
|Points Deal||Introductory Bonus Reward Points: 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®|
|Travel||Travel Rewards: Use miles for a statement credit toward any airline purchase to any destination with no seat restrictions and no blackout dates. Easily redeem your miles for statement credits toward flights, cruises, car rentals, hotels and more. (Redemptions start at 10,000 miles for $100 toward qualifying travel purchases made in the last 120 days)|
Get 5% miles back to use toward your next redemption, every time you redeem
|Travel Rewards: 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases worldwide.|
1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
|Airline||Airline Rewards: Earn 2X miles on all purchases.||Airline Rewards: 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs|
|Hotel||Hotel Rewards: Redeem your miles toward hotel stays.||Hotel Rewards: 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs|
|Points||Point Rewards: 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases worldwide|
|Restaurant||Dining Rewards: 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases worldwide|
|Airline Transfer Partners||Airline Transfer Partners: Airline transfer partners include United Airlines, Southwest Airlines, British Airways, Air France, Korean Air, Singapore Airlines, and Virgin Atlantic.|
We've addressed the pros and cons. Now here are the answers to your burning questions:
How hard is it to get approved?
You usually need excellent credit to qualify for the Barclaycard Arrival Plus. If you are still working on building your credit history, we suggest a no annual fee credit card instead.
What can I redeem the miles for?
Compared to other cards, Barclaycard gives you leeway on how you can use your miles. You get to use your miles for travel statement credit for a variety of travel expenses, including airline tickets, hotel stays, timeshares, campgrounds, car rentals, cruises, and train rides. You can also use them for gift cards or merchandise (at a lower redemption value).
How does redemption work?
When you're looking to get travel statement credit, you can only do it in increments of 10,000 miles (equals $100). Barclaycard's website makes it easy to figure out - just go to the managing rewards section, look for the statement credit option, and Barclaycard will present which charges you can redeem against.
Another card that allows you to redeem miles toward travel purchases is the Capital One Venture.
When do I get the 5% redemption bonus back?
You'll see the 5% redemption bonus miles back in your account within one business day.
Can I transfer the miles?
No, there is no option to transfer the miles to another card or loyalty program.
How are the travel perks?
Limited. While this travel-centric card does come with some nice extras, such as travel accident insurance and trip cancellation insurance, some airline-branded cards and premium travel credit cards offer more benefits.
With a card like the Gold Delta SkyMiles from American Express, a CreditDonkey advertiser, you get extras like your first bag checked free and priority boarding on every Delta flight. That's something to consider if the details matter to you when you're traveling.
To recap, here are the pros and cons when considering this card:
- 50,000 bonus miles if you make $3,000 or more in purchases in the first 90 days
- Earn 2x miles on all purchases
- Redemption bonus
- No foreign transaction fees
- $89 annual fee (waived first year)
- No intro APR on purchases
In general, we think the Barclaycard Arrival Plus is an excellent travel credit card to rack up the miles if you're a frequent traveler. Its flexibility in redeeming miles means that it's especially great for those who don't have an airline or hotel preference.
The 50,000 miles bonus offer is definitely a nice perk, but you need to consider your payment behavior to decide if the card is a good fit for you long-term. If you plan to carry a balance, you may want to consider a credit card with a low interest rate instead.
Otherwise, if you use your credit card frequently and plan to pay your balance on time and in full every month, then this is a great deal. Don't let the $89 annual fee deter you, as you will earn miles twice as fast compared to most other rewards credit cards.
Terms and limitations apply.
David R is a contributing writer at CreditDonkey, a credit card comparison and financial education website. Write to David R at email@example.com. Our data-driven analysis has been recognized by major news outlets across the country and has helped travelers make savvy financial and lifestyle decisions.
Editorial Note: This content is not provided by Barclaycard. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by Barclaycard. This site may be compensated through the Advertiser's affiliate programs.
Disclaimer: This content was first published on May 24, 2013. This content may have been updated on July 7, 2016. Information including APR, terms and benefits may vary, be out of date, or not applicable to you. Information is provided without warranty. Please check Barclaycard website for updated information.
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. This site may be compensated through the Advertiser's affiliate programs.
Disclaimer: The information for the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by CreditDonkey. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.