The BarclayCard Arrival Plus Credit Card comes with a generous signup bonus worth $400 when redeemed towards travel costs. The bonus alone is reason enough to apply for this card. Unfortunately, it may be the only reason.
Don’t get me wrong, the Arrival Plus has some great benefits. But once you factor in the annual fee which kicks in after the first year, there are better credit card options. Let’s start with the basics.
- Earn 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days
- Earn 2X miles on all purchases
- Get 5% miles back after each redemption
- 0% intro APR for 12 months on balance transfers (3% fee) made within 45 days of account opening
- No foreign transaction fees
- MasterCard World Elite Benefits
- $89 annual fee (waived the first year)
Here’s my problem with the Arrival Plus: in reality, it’s a credit card that earns cash back that you can only redeem as statement credits against certain travel costs. Barclays’ marketing department, by calling it “miles” instead of cash back, hopes you won’t notice the redemption restrictions. We’re not fooled.
According to the faq, a travel is defined as:
airlines, hotels, motels, timeshares, campgrounds, car rental agencies, cruise lines, purchase and travel agencies, discount travel sites, trains, buses, taxis, limousines, and ferries as defined by the merchant category code
You can redeem miles for non-travel credits, but at half the value of travel redemptions–a non starter to be sure. In addition, travel statement credit redemptions start at 10,000 miles for $100–that’s a fairly steep minimum.
All that aside, the numbers aren’t bad. 2x “miles” on all purchases amounts to 2% cash back. Add to that the 5% miles back after each redemption, and now it’s effectively a 2.1% return on all purchases. This is a strong return, albeit redeemable only against travel costs.
Compare with Citi Double Cash
By comparison, Citi Double Cash earns 2% on all purchases that you can redeem for cash deposited right into your bank account (not restricted to travel) and no annual fee. Double Cash does charge a foreign transaction fee, but there are other no-annual-fee cards that don’t.
Arrival Plus’s 2.1% is better than Double Cash’s 2.0%, however, you’d need to spend at least $89,000 per year in order for the extra 0.1% to just cover the annual fee. Once you’ve earned and redeemed the signup bonus, it seems hard to justify paying the $89 annual fee to keep this card after the first year.
Do you have this card? How do you like it?