You don’t hear a ton about Barclay credit cards in the travel world. Most of their offerings are less than exciting. JetBlue and Hawaiian Airlines are their airline co-branded cards, but the offers aren’t anything to write home about.
Enter the increased sign-up bonus of the Barclay Arrival Plus Mastercard.
Here is the skinny:
- 50,000 points worth $500 when redeemed for travel purchases
- 5% points back when points are redeemed
- 2x points on all purchases
- $89 annual fee waived for the first year
- No foreign transaction fees
- 0% APR on balance transfers for 12 months
This 50,000 point offer the best we have seen on the Barclay Arrival Plus card. The typical sign up bonus is 40,000 points worth $400 towards “erasing” your travel purchases. With the 5% points rebate, you effectively receive $525 worth of travel. $500 X 5% = $25 in bonus points once the $500 is applied towards travel purchases.
Two points per dollar from all purchases is another great benefit assuming you don’t mind using your rewards towards travel purchases. If you spend $1,500 on your Arrival Plus card per month, you will earn $360 per year in travel credit. (on top of your $500 bonus).
This card or a points card?
Some people may not benefit from this type of cash-back travel card. This card erases travel purchases so you are effectively paying cash and then being reimbursed. Some folks prefer to just redeem points for their free flight or hotel stay. A nice benefit with the Arrival card is that you can wipe out charges for rental cars and cruises. These two items are typically difficult to find ways to redeem with your conventional points. Another huge advantage would be for error-fares or budget airlines that don’t offer a way to directly redeem points.
If there was a round-trip error fare from the West Coast to Italy for $350, it would make sense to pay cash for that flight. Most conventional points are a fixed value. That means you’d have to spend 60,000 points round-trip in economy to cover your flight to Italy no matter the cash price. Whether the flight to Italy was $350 or $900, the points required would be the same. (in theory) Say you book an error-fare for $350 and redeem 35,000 of your Arrival Plus points to erase the purchase, you effectively booked a round-trip to Italy for “free” using 35,000 Arrival points. Compare that to 60,000-70,000 points needed on Delta or United for the same round-trip flight.
The one caveat is that the travel purchase must exceed $100 to use your points to “erase” it. If you book a one-way ticket for $85 you would not be able to erase that purchase. That sucks. Considering you can technically use this card to erase Uber and Taxi fares, it is a bummer they have this $100 minimum now in effect. (Consider the Capital One Venture card for small travel purchases, it is similar but no minimum purchase amount)
If you purchase a lot of cheap Southwest flights, you could just buy $100 gift cards and then erase those $100 gift cards with your Arrival points. You would then spend the gift card freely with any cheap Southwest flight.
Also note that using your Arrival card will earn you points (and earn status qualifying miles/points) with the airline or hotel. You earn the points even though you eventually can erase the purchases using your Arrival points. If you use conventional miles, say 12,500, to pay for an award flight, you will not earn ANY miles since the flight was not paid for with “cash”.
Barclay is known for only approving two new credit cards a year. They also like to see your existing Barclay cards being used often (If applicable). If you have a Barclay card that has sat in a drawer, considering using it before applying for another Barclay card. If they have to manually review your application it will help your approval odds by having activity on your existing card.