Barclaycard Arrival Plus® Review - Great Rewards, Great Travel Perks

Alex Cohen

Barclays Arrival Plus Barclays Arrival Plus

by Barclays

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4.4

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The Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite MasterCard® is one of the most popular reward credit cards on the market today. With flexible travel reward options and a high, 2.1% reward value on all purchases, the Arrival Plus is a fantastic addition to any serious traveler’s wallet or those looking to get into the rewards game.

Card Details

 Annual Fee $89, waived year 1
 Earning Rewards Earn 2x the rewards on all your purchases, every day. Some exclusions apply
  Reward Values  Points are worth $.01 each when you redeem for travel, $.005 each when you redeem for gift cards
  Extra Bonus  Every time you redeem rewards you get 5% back into your account, thus increasing your reward rate to 2.1%!
  Perks The card has fantastic travel perks including no foreign transaction fees, chip and pin and fraud protection

We love the card because of how easy Barclaycard has made it to both earn and redeem rewards. With the Arrival Plus, you’ll earn 2x the points on most purchases, without any specific category, merchant or changing bonuses to remember. In addition, when you redeem for travel your points are worth 1c each and you’ll get 5% of all redeemed rewards back into your account.

Things We Love and Hate

Pros

  • High earn rate
  • Flexible Rewards
  • Great card for travel

 Cons

  • High annual fee
  • Not the best card if you stick to one hotel or airline 

Barclaycard Arrival Plus® Rewards

One of the best parts of the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® card is that rewards are extremely flexible. The most common question we get asked is “what’s the best way to use my rewards?” and it typically varies for most cards, depending on whether or not you use your rewards for flights, hotels, car rentals or other options.

With the ArrivalPlus®, you can pay for any type of travel expense and redeem your rewards towards them later. That means you can shop your favorite budget airline sites, like Skyscanner or Expedia and redeem your reward towards those purchases.

Included travel categories are:

  • Airlines
  • Hotels, motels, timeshares, campgrounds
  • Car rentals
  • Cruise lines
  • Travel agencies and discount travel sites
  • Buses, taxes, limos, ferries

If you open up a card with a specific hotel or airline, you’re typically stuck searching availability through them and limited to redeeming rewards on their brands for the highest value. Although it’s possible to redeem rewards for high values with those co-branded cards (3-7 cents) using Arrival Points is stress and headache free.

There is one catch with the card - you have to have a minimum of 10,000 points ($100) to redeem. The good news is that Arrival points never expire, so you can keep using the card as scarcely as you’d like until you make $5,000 in purchases.

For those of us that are new to the travel reward world, the card is a no-frills way of earning free travel on your everyday purchases. And with the sign on bonus of 70,000 points, you’ve got yourself $700 in travel to start with.

Why This Card is Awesome for Beginners

If you're new to credit card rewards and want to earn free travel, this card is a perfect first card to add to your wallet.

The sign on bonus gives you over $700 to spend on all types of travel with a ton of flexibility. That means that whether you want to take a cruise or use your favorite discount travel site to book your flights, Barclaycard Arrival points have you covered. And because you earn 2x the points on every dollar you spend, you know exactly what you're earning with every purchase. 

Compare this to cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Citi ThankYou Premier - two of the Arrival Plus's fiercest rivals. With the Chase Sapphire Preferred (CSP for short) and the ThankYou Premier, you earn points which can then be converted to travel through their portals or transferred to partners. On top of that, you have to keep track of the different category bonuses - versus this card which earns a flat 2x/$1. 

For reward travel beginners or those of us who don't want to deal with finding award availability and different categories, this card makes the top of the list. 

The $89 Annual Fee

With any card you open, the most important thing to consider is whether or not you’ll receive enough rewards to outweigh the cost of actually owning the card. Here’s how much you need to spend each year to make up for the annual fee:

  • Year 1: $0 - the annual fee is waived in the first year. But, make sure you can spend $3,000 in the first three months, which would qualify you for the 50,000 point sign-on bonus, worth $500.
  • Year 2: $4,239 - by earning 2.1% back on every purchase, you’d have to spend this amount to breakeven

By far, the best way of justifying this annual fee is by using one of the travel perks included with the card. You can read about those below.

Travel Perks

With the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Mastercard, you get access to MasterCard World Elite card benefits - including a 24/7 concierge service, late check in and check out at more than 1200 properties worldwide, discounts and upgrades on airfare and car rentals as well as trip cancellation for covered cancellation reasons.

Many of the extra benefits included with the World Elite program can actually cover the entire annual fee by themselves. For example - if you purchase 3 consecutive nights at Starwood hotels on your Barclaycard Arrival Plus®, you’ll get the fourth night free!

Chip & Pin Abroad

However, the most important perk for many of us who travel abroad is the ability to use the card as a chip & pin card. Many credit card terminals outside of the US don’t actually take chip & signature, and because our credit cards are still behind with security, having this perk is one less thing to worry about when traveling.

Is the Arrival Plus® Right for You?

Deciding if the card makes sense for you comes down to how complicated you want to make your wallet. If you want a card that's easy to earn, easy to redeem, has a big sign on bonus and great travel perks, consider the card.

About the Author

Alex Cohen

Alex is the founder of Birch and lives in San Francisco with his two dogs, Duncan and Miller, and his fiance, Sarah. Follow him on Twitter @anothercohen