Barclays Arrival Card Review: Why It May Be the Best Travel Credit Card
For years, the American Express Starwood Preferred Guest card was the gold standard of travel credit cards, including winning our inaugural Credit Card March Madness tournament in 2012.
Then came along Chase Sapphire Preferred, which in most people’s minds, including mine, became the best available travel credit card.
But now, there’s a new kid on the block, and it’s a legitimate challenger to the title of the Best Travel Credit Card… Introducing the Barclays Arrival Card!
The Details for the Barclays Arrival Card
Here are the details of the current sign up deal (bolding mine):
- Earn 40,000 bonus miles if you make $3,000 or more in purchases in the first 90 days from account opening. 40,000 bonus miles equates to $400 off your next trip!
- Earn 2X miles on all purchases
- No mileage caps or foreign transaction fees
- Get 10% miles back when you redeem for travel (i.e. redeem 25,000 miles for travel and get 2,500 miles back)
- 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
- Complimentary subscription to TripIt Pro mobile travel organizer, a $49 annual value!
- Complimentary FICO® Scores as a benefit to active cardmembers. Opt-in to have instant and convenient access to FICO® Scores from your Barclaycard online account.
Why I Love the Barclays Arrival Card
Reason #1: 2x miles on ALL purchases
Most cards offer 1x per $1 on purchases, with some offering 2x for special categories, like travel and dining for the Chase Sapphire Preferred.
Not with the Barclays Arrival card.
It’s 2x on EVERYTHING, all the time.
No worrying about pulling out a separate card for gas, groceries, or eating out.
You’ll get 2x for all spending, which makes it an incredibly hassle free card.
Reason #2: Awesome Availability
With more people using frequent flyer miles, it’s getting tougher and tougher to find the availability you want.
Airlines aren’t releasing as much space, people are scooping it up quicker, and many times, you’re left not being able to get the flights you want.
With the Barclays Arrival card, you don’t have to worry about that.
Because you are actually “buying” the ticket with your Arrival miles, same as you would if you were paying cash, there are no seat restrictions.
If the plane has any seat available on it, you can use your Arrival miles to “purchase” it.
Added bonus: Since you are “buying” the ticket, you’ll actually receive frequent flyer miles for the flight as well!
Reason #3: Total Flexibility with Airlines
Because you are “purchasing” the ticket, as mentioned above, this also means you can fly on ANY airline.
Unlike miles that you earn with an airline, such as United or AA miles, Arrival miles are not tied to a certain airline alliance.
They are a free agent, meaning it doesn’t matter whether the seat you find is on American Airlines, United, Delta, etc.
You can use your Arrival miles. This is key because it provides you with ultimate flexibility.
And flexibility when using miles and points is a great thing!
Reason #4: 40,000 sign up bonus for the Barclays Arrival Card
40,000 (which equals $440 when redeemed for travel) is nothing to sneeze at.
While this isn’t amazing for business or first class travel, since the price of tickets are exorbitantly high, it’s great for economy class travel.
Reason #5: No Foreign Transaction Fee and A Waived First Year Annual Fee
It’s always nice when you can use your card abroad and not get charged extra.
And it’s especially nice when the annual fee ($89) is waived for the first year.
Reason #6: A Few Freebies
To sweeten the pot even more, the Arrival card offers a free subscription to TripIt ($49 annual fee) and also a free copy of your FICO score.
Not Earth-shattering, but a nice bonus!
Is There Anything Bad About the Barclays Arrival Card?
The only thing “bad” about the Barclays Arrival card is that the miles have a specific value.
In this case, they are worth 1.1 cents per mile when redeemed for travel (ex. 40k points is worth $440 in travel).
This means that if you are looking to purchase really expensive tickets, such as business or first class tickets, you’re going to need a TON of Arrival miles.
I’d recommend using your airline miles, like United or AA, for business or first class tickets, and then using your Arrival miles for cheaper tickets, since you’ll need less of them.
Final Word on the Barclays Arrival Card
I absolutely love the Barclays Arrival card, and would highly recommend it to anyone either looking to diversify their miles portfolio or looking for a hassle-free credit card with great rewards.
Because you earn 2x for every purchase, and every point is worth 1.1 cents, you’re earning yourself 2.2 cents towards travel each time you spend $1.
And 2.2 cents towards travel is amazing value.
Couple that with no seat restrictions and being able to fly on any airline, and this card is almost guaranteed to get you to your dream destination for free!
I’m leaning very heavily towards making this my new everyday spend card.
What’s your current favorite travel credit card? Why? Defend your answers in the comments below!
If you choose to apply for the card through the links in this post, I’ll receive a small commission, and I truly appreciate your support. I guarantee I’ll always provide you with the best links, whether I receive a commission or not.
(photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons)