Barclays Arrival Card Review: Why It May Be the Best Travel Credit Card

Posted By Trav

Barclays Arrival 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.

Click here to apply for the Barclays Arrival card

 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!

Barclays Arrival Card Eiffel Tower

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!

Click here to apply for the Barclays Arrival card

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.

Click here to apply for the Barclays Arrival 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)


  1. Chris M says:

    Wouldn’t a Business class ticket to Asia require a lot of miles? A round trip ticket from NYC on a good airline is around $5000 give or take. Which is around 500000 miles? Am I getting this right?

    1. Trav says:

      @Chris M- Yep, you’re right. A $5,000 ticket would cost 450,000 points because you get the 10% discount. To get 450,000 points, you’d need to spend $225,000 to get those points. That’s why this card is definitely not the best card to use for business or first class travel, because you need so many points. Instead, I’d use miles from an airline, like AA, where you only need 100k-120k for biz class.

      But for economy class tickets, there is definitely some good value. And since I generally fly economy, I really like this card.

  2. Justin B says:

    Great Post. The fact that you purchase the ticket with this card is really valuable as you would earn miles for the flight as well. I was going to use my points for a cruise but now i’m gonna have to reconsider..

    1. Trav says:

      @Justin B- Yeah, it is nice if you can find a cheap, but long, ticket. Then you can use the Arrival miles to buy the ticket, AND earn some frequent flyer miles!

  3. Geoff says:

    Does Barclays EVER approve an app without “Further Review”/delay???

    1. Trav says:

      @Geoff- I’ve had it happen…once. But not usually. Stinks, but the miles make it worth it! Just make sure you call the reconsideration line instead of waiting for the letter. I usually call 1-2 days after I apply.

  4. Penn Dalton says:

    You get a 10% refund on miles, not a 10% discount. It’s the same thing about how the AA cards from Citi will refund you 10% of your miles, AFTER you use them.

    That being said, thoughts on this compared to the Citi ThankYou Premier?

    1. Trav says:

      @Penn Dalton- Good point. You do have to have enough points in your account to actually make the purchase. Then, you’ll get refunded.

      I like this waaaay more than the Citi Thank You Premier because the Premier offers 2x on airfare and hotels, and 3x on dining out, but only 1x on everything else. I prefer the 2x on EVERYTHING over the special category spends. Makes this card completely hassle free.

  5. Yeah, the 2.2% on all spending definitely makes this card a good “go to” card in the wallet, like when I don’t have a card with a better category reward on gas or whatever. I was just checking the rewards calculator at http://www.creditcardtuneup.com/ and the Arrival card is near the top of the heap for the spending patterns I entered.

    1. Trav says:

      @Credit Card Rewards Geek- Yeah, it really is a great card. 2.2% might not be the best value for EVERY category, as you can get a little better value from some other cards, but overall, it outperforms almost all the others. I’ll still maybe use a certain card for gas or cellphone, like the Ink Bold, but this may become my everyday spend card.

  6. JK says:

    Maybe I missed this, but is the $440 credit only good for a single ticket or could you put the $440 credit towards a money purchase of multiple tickets. ie. 3 SW tix @ $189 each = $567, minus the $440 = $127?

    1. Trav says:

      @JK- It could be put towards multiple tickets. It is a statement credit, so it doesn’t matter how many tickets you buy. Your SW example is dead on.

      1. John says:

        > Your SW example is dead on.

        Not really – Since the 10% is a refund, if you start with 42,000 points (bonus + 2 pts/$ x $1K spend), purchase one $189 ticket (18,900 points) at a time, and wait for the refund to post each time, you’d need only $109.20 cash on the third ticket, and have 798 or so points left over after the last refund.

        However, if you bought all three tickets at the same time (or before the refund posts), you’d need $147 in cash, and when your refund posted, you’d be left with 4000 points.

        1. Trav says:

          @John- Right, it depends on the order you buy them. But the idea that you can buy more than one ticket is certainly true.

  7. Thanks, Trav…I’ve been trying to decide which card to get next and was debating between the Chase Ink Bold and this one…but you make a pretty good case for this one! The one part I don’t like about this particular card though is that if I’m just a few miles short of a free ticket on a particular airline, I can’t transfer the miles from this card to that FF Mile account. Basically I can only use this card by itself, correct? Still, the benefits are enticing! Great post!

    1. Trav says:

      @Lily Ann Fouts- They are both great cards, and I plan on using the Arrival and the Ink Bold as my everyday spend cards depending on what I want to earn. You’re right, it is a bummer that they don’t transfer. If you are only a few ff miles short of getting a ticket with an airline, like United, then maybe it makes sense to get the Ink Bold so you don’t have “stray” points.

      Of course, you know I’d recommend getting both and really diversifying your miles and points portfolio. Just make sure to monitor that credit score!

  8. Justin says:

    Is this limited to the purchase of a single ticket or can it be a credit to multiple tickets?

    1. Trav says:

      @Justin- It can be used towards multiple tickets. It is a statement credit, so if you only use 20k for one ticket, you’ll still have stuff left over for next time.

  9. Jon says:

    Another benefit is that you can still receive airline miles when using your Arrival miles to purchase a particular trip. As far as I understand, when one uses airline miles for a trip, that person doesn’t receive miles for that trip.

    1. Trav says:

      @Jon- Yep, exactly. Since you are “purchasing” the ticket, you get miles for taking the flight. If you use airline miles, you won’t get miles for taking the flight.

  10. Vlad says:

    Hi Trav,
    Great post.
    But I’m trying to understand how is this better than Chase Ultimate Rewards Mall where you can buy any flights with a 20% bonus points?

  11. Seth says:

    Damn this sounds like a great card. I tried to apply over the phone and I was told by the Rep the offer isn’t valid in Iowa. Any idea why that may be?

    Thanks Iowa…

    1. Trav says:

      @Seth- Absolutely no clue why that is. Seems fishy to me. Maybe just apply online? If you choose to use the link in the post, I appreciate the support.

  12. Jeffrey says:

    I have this card, my wife has this card and my mom has this card. If you collect miles by churning credit cards, or if you like to keep your companion pass going with Southwest, you will likely have other priorities for credit card cuse. For me, it is a good deal for the first year but questionable after that point when the $89 fee kicks in.

    1. Trav says:

      @Jeffrey- Yeah, it all comes down to what you value. If you want convenience, this is the best card out there. If you want absolute maximum value, you probably never truly have an “everyday spend” card because you are constantly meeting minimum spends on cards.

      I think I’ll keep it after the first year, just because I like the ease of using the points and it’s another option that could work in a pinch.

  13. Rusty says:

    Could you purchase an upgradable ticket with this card and then upgrade with points from another card, assuming that the ticket is on the second card’s airline?

    1. Trav says:

      @Rusty- Interesting…I wouldn’t see why not. Buying the ticket with Arrival points is the same as paying cash, so that should definitely work. I haven’t done it, so I can’t speak with 100% clarity, but I have no reason to believe it wouldn’t work.

  14. I’ve found my Arrival points valuable for incidental travel costs: seat upgrades, airport shuttles, rental cars etc. You can redeem the miles for anything labeled ‘travel’ which gives you some nice flexibility. So you could take care of flights with airline points and take care of the miscellaneous travel costs with Arrival, combining for a very frugal trip!

    Also, points post immediately with each transaction, and Barclays online setup is very slick. Just another thing making this card so easy to use.

    1. Trav says:

      @friendofthedevl- Great call. Like how you’re thinking. Agreed that it is really easy to pay Barclays online, as well as Chase. They are my two favorites.

  15. cory says:

    Can I book travel with priceline or anyplace and just get a statement credit for the total?

  16. Mark Fink says:

    Can you sign up for a personal and business card on this the way you can with Chase cards?

    1. Trav says:

      @Mark Fink- To my knowledge, there is no business card version of the Arrival card. Have you found one?

      1. Mark Fink says:

        Not that I can see. When I call them in a couple days to follow up on my application, I’ll ask them.

  17. Paul says:

    Arrival is the lazy man’s card for those who aren’t bothered with maximizing their earnings. All I’d ever do is sign up/meet min spend and then cancel after suitable amount of time.

    Most people will likely do much better with the Amex PRG card, that has 2x grocery/gas and 3x airfare. A bit of MS at grocery goes a long way at 2x (easily getting 3c value per $ spend vs 1c for Arrival)

    I suggest Arrival aren’t even close to being a smart choice for short flights. For short/mid range domestic flights, it’s difficult to beat Avios, especially if you take advantage of Amex Avios transfer bonuses (20-35% this year).

    Run the numbers: For example, popular SFO-LAX r/t flights are ~$250 range. That SFO-LAX flight would be 9000 Avios r/t. But would take 25K Arrival points.

    How much spend do you need to get those 9K Avios? Using PRG 2x at grocery, you’d need $4500 spend to get 9000 Avios. But if you took advantage of Amex transfer bonuses, you’d need 17-25% less spend ($3375-$3735).

    How much to “earn” 25,000 Arrival points? You’d need to spend $12.5K at 2% (you’d get a 1,250 pt rebate on that spend) so effective spend would be ~$11.8K = Nearly 3.5x more spend to get equivalent value!

    How about west coast to Hawaii? Everyday fares typically run in the $500 range in economy (but can get very pricey in peak times). That redemption is 25K Avios r/t. You’d need to redeem 50K Arrival points. Again, assuming Amex transfer bonus, you’d need $9.4K-10.4K spend at 2x grocery. You’d need close to $25K spend on the Arrival at 2x (less the 10% rebate in points). More than double the spend needed to get the same value!

    Arrival is a dubious card for everyday spend when you understand how valuable alternative cards are.

    1. Trav says:

      @Paul- I completely agree that if you play the credit card field, and want to delve in to a bunch of cards, that for specific examples there are cards that are better. However, like you mentioned, the Arrival is somewhat of a “lazy man’s” card because if you don’t want to worry about having tons of cards open and which ones get you bonuses and where, it is a great option. And so no, you don’t get the maximum value out of each cent you spend, but overall, it is much more convenient and easy to use.

      On top of that, you are assuming there is availability on those flights using BA Avios points. One of the MAJOR perks of the Arrival, which I mention above, is that there are no seat restrictions, meaning if there is a seat on the flight, you can purchase it. That’s not the case with Avios. You also forgot to factor in to your equation the fact that you earn miles for the flights you fly when you purchase with Avios points.

      So, are there better options out there if you’re willing to play the field? Yes. But if you want to focus predominantly on one or two cards, the Arrival is a nice, easy, and convenient one to use, and to redeem with.

      1. Paul says:

        Saver level is usually readily available for most domestic coach awards so advantage of using Arrival points (to book a much more costly flight in terms of net cost vs using Avios) is essentially worthless “advantage” in the real world.

        And when you need to spent 2x-3x more in real money (ie comparing out of pocket cost to earn sufficient Avios vs Arrival points) to book domestic flights, I can’t see why anyone touts the Arrival. It’s just a lazy man’s card, so let’s just call it what it is. That said, if people understood the money they are throwing away vs using a card (like the PRG) intelligently, I doubt many would elect to use the Arrival.

        I know there is lots of angst about recent devaluations, but steering people to cards that actually cost you significantly more $ seems a disservice.

        1. Trav says:

          @Paul- Again, I agree that there are other great cards out there. Hence, my Best Current Deals page, where many of them are listed. However, as a go to card, I stand by my assessment that the Barclays Arrival needs to be considered by some people. Usually, those are people who don’t want to deal with 10-20 different cards. So call it a lazy man’s card, call it what you like, but it’s a great card for convenience and beginners.

          And, your assessment of the value of BA Avios points only takes in to account if you aren’t stopping over anywhere. If you don’t live in a major hub, or have to make 1-2 connections, the cost goes up dramatically.

  18. Emily says:

    I am new to this frequent flyer bandwagon. If you are essentially “buying” the ticket through the credit card with earned CC miles, does that mean that you can still earn the miles through the actual carrier? I know when I have redeemed United miles through United for a ticket, I didn’t earn miles because it was on redeemed miles. Can you essentially “double dip” by using this card?

    1. Trav says:

      @Emily- Yes, exactly right. You will earn miles for the flight you take if you pay with your Barclays points. Whereas, like you mentioned, if you use “miles”, such as United, you won’t earn miles for the flight.

      1. Emily says:

        Thanks so much! Right now, my goal is simply to figure out how to get my family of four from Roanoke, VA to Rapid City, SD once a year. I will think internationally a few years down the road, when the kids are able to stay with my parents a little longer than they can now at 4 and 1 1/2. I look forward to learning the lingo, and getting what I can to fly home! Thanks so much for your help with this. As an aside, I am really trying to convince my parents to sign up for your next boot camp. They want to go on an around the world trip, and I know they could learn A LOT from you!!

        1. Trav says:

          @Emily- Awesome, the Arrival card is great for the trips you’ll be taking. And you’re parents would 100% benefit from the Bootcamp, and I’d LOVE to have them. That’s exactly the kind of stuff we do in Bootcamp, put together really hard to book itineraries and maximize your miles to the fullest. Looking forward to having them next time around!

  19. Kit says:

    Okay, I’m a newbie here (in the mileage card world). I have the Barclays Arrival card, I’ve gotten my bonus credit, and honestly, I love the card. There are many different ways I’ve seen to maximize points earned.

    My question is about redemption, though. If i’m reading this all correctly, it doesn’t matter which airline I use, so peak/off peak is no longer a factor in WHEN I go, correct? I would just choose my flight based on listed cost, but “pay” for it with my Arrival points, and then get the ‘refund’ posted back to my Arrival account?

    1. Trav says:

      @Kit- Right, peak and off peak don’t matter. The airline you fly on doesn’t matter. All that matters is how much the ticket is, because that determines how many Arrival points it is. And yes, you pay for it with your points, and then get the refund posted back.

      Great questions, and let me know how else I can help!

  20. Lynn says:

    Everyone is talking mainly of redeeming for air travel, but I’ve enjoyed redeeming my points for hotel costs in Hawaii. I had enough points to pay for the airfare, but I didn’t have enough points to pay for lodging. So I booked the best deal I could then applied the $400+ travel credit to my hotel charge. You could also use it for a rental car, I believe. This is handy to cover other travel charges that my airline miles don’t help with.

    1. Trav says:

      @Lynn- Couldn’t agree more. Great point! Another reason why I love these points: super flexible!

  21. Mike says:

    Just got mine today. Kind of excited.

    1. Trav says:

      @Mike- Nicely done! What are your plans for using it?

  22. Robert H says:

    I love the card. I just used it for room service charges, and (2) very expensive Tickets to Michael Jackson One show in Vegas! All were coded travel category….

    1. Trav says:

      @Robert H- Awesome…great to hear of other good uses! It really is an amazingly versatile card.

  23. Michael says:

    I plan to get this card, and while I don’t plan to use it for everyday expenses like gas and groceries, I do plan to use it for the large amount of spending which I would only otherwise get 1x points on. For this spending, this card gives very compelling returns.

    1. Trav says:

      @Michael- Completely agree. I will toggle between this and my Chase Sapphire Preferred, depending on what I’m buying and what my end goal is at the moment. 2x on everything is nothing to sneeze at.

  24. Kendall says:

    Does the Barclays card have an option for chip and pin technology? CSP has the chip & signature, but Barclays has neither to my knowledge. Can you advise? OR – any thoughts on how valuable the chip technology is when traveling abroad (particularly Mexico, Central & South America)?


    1. Trav says:

      @Kendall- As far as I know they don’t have the option. Traveling to Mexico and Central or South America, I’m not sure the pin and chip is that valuable. It’s most likely to be most valuable in Europe, where that technology is commonplace.

  25. Shawn says:

    I would stay away from this card. Waiting 10 business days for a replacement card is ridiculous. Customer service provided no assistance other than to keep waiting.

    1. Trav says:

      @Shawn- Wow, that is pretty brutal, for sure. Could they not expedite the card? And while that does stink, I still highly recommend the card.

  26. zac says:

    i have a barclays arrival mastercard and a Citi® Platinum Select® / AAdvantage® World Mastercard®. my plan is to get as many american airline miles and arrival miles as I can to fly to London from Miami. my question is for anyone. Can I purchase my flight with my barclays card and use my american airlines miles when I purchase? then use my arrival miles to offset any added cost? would you have any other suggestions to do this a better way?

    1. Trav says:

      @zac- You could mix and match, but honestly, it won’t give you good value. The reason is because you’ll have to buy the extra AA miles you need if you don’t have enough, and they charge a fortune. Much better to get enough AA miles for the flight (60k econ peak r/t, 40k econ off-peak r/t) and then use your Arrival card to offset the taxes and fees.

  27. For those with this card already, you can also earn bonus miles by participating in the Barclays Travel community (http://barclaycardtravel.com/), I’ve earned over 2,500 miles already and only spent maybe 10 minutes on it.

    1. Trav says:

      @doctorofcredit- Wow, that’s pretty cool. Thanks for the heads up on that, gotta try it out!

      1. They just made some changes to it though, only 150 miles per travel story now.

        1. Trav says:

          @William Charles- 150 miles per travel story? Not sure I follow.

  28. Cait says:

    I am interested in opening this card–my question is whether I can use the sign-up bonus before the 90 days? I saw one post that noted miles are accrued as you spend rather than once a month. My question is whether the bonus miles will be usable as soon as you spend the required amount or will you have to wait the 90 days? Thanks for all the helpful info!

    1. Trav says:

      @Cait- You can use them as soon as you get them in your account. Typically, if you meet the spending requirement and pay off the balance, they will show up in your account 2-3 weeks after that. Could be sooner, but not normally. So if you hit the spend quickly, yes, you could use them sooner. Again, sometimes it takes as little as 2 weeks to show up.

  29. stitch says:

    I have another Barkley card that I use to buy business merchandise for resale the rules say that it must be used for personal use but I have not been denied. Now I am thinking of switching to the arrival and that states that you can not use it for business purchase’s .
    Does anyone have any experience with this or had trouble with Barclay when purchasing
    merchandise for resale???

    1. Trav says:

      @Stitch- You should be fine using it for business. I’ve mixed business and personal for years with cards. They don’t care at all, nor would they have a way of knowing.

  30. Kirsten Whatley says:

    Hi Travis – Thanks for all your helpful info … I use a Capital One Spark Visa Signature Card for business, and was thinking of opening another for personal. It seems to operate the same as the Barclays Arrival card – 2x miles for all purchases, choice of all airlines, no blackout dates, no foreign fees … Except for the 5% kickback, they seem similar, though I didn’t see the Capital One card in your lineup … What are your thoughts? Thanks, Kirsten

    1. Trav says:

      @Kirsten- The Cap 1 Venture is definitely a good personal card, if that’s the one you are referencing. I do love that card, and should update my best offers.

      So I would highly recommend it for personal use.

  31. Gina says:

    I have a Barclay Rewards can it be changed to this one? I would rather earn miles

    1. Trav says:

      @gina – No, you’d have to apply for the Barclays Arrival card separately. You can’t switch it over.

  32. Michael Monaghan says:

    You have to make travel purchases over $100.00 for each individual purchase to be eligible to use the points.
    I was traveling cross country and had numerous $50.00 hotel charges. I couldn’t use points for any of them because they weren’t over $100.00 individually.
    What a freeekin joke.
    They are a pain in the ass rewards card.

    1. Trav says:

      @Michael Monaghan – Ugh, really? I thought it was $25 minimum. That is super frustrating. I personally prefer Chase points nowadays.

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