2017 Barclaycard Arrival Plus Review – WalletHub Editors
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The Verdict: Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® is the best travel rewards credit card on the market, largely because cardholders accrue maximum earnings on all purchases and have the freedom to redeem miles for any travel-related expense. It’s everything a 21st Century traveler needs in a credit card: straightforward, unmatched earnings with a no-strings-attached redemption policy that actually adds flexibility. So you should make sure to check it out if you haven’t already started packing your bags.
Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® offers more value per dollar than any other travel rewards card on the market (excluding co-branded offers, which lack flexibility yet may provide greater earning potential for certain brand-loyal consumers). Highly profitable, relatively unrestrictive travel rewards are thus the Arrival Plus Card’s bread and butter. And while it does ostensibly have some financing value, there are a few potentially costly qualifications to consider in this regard (explained in the next section).
Competitive Sign-Up Bonus: Things start with a boon, as cardholders who spend at least $3,000 during the first 90 days their accounts are open rake in 50,000 bonus miles redeemable for a $500 statement credit to cover the cost of any travel-related expense. This includes airfare, hotel reservations, rental cars and all the other biggies.
Ultimately, this feature does not alone distinguish Arrival Plus in the competitive market for applicants who have excellent credit. A number of other cards offer at least as much sign-up value. It’s certainly not a deal-breaker, though, serving as an important piece of the card’s overall rewards package.
Unparalleled Ongoing Travel Rewards: The value isn’t all front-loaded, either, as users earn the miles-equivalent of 2%+ cash back across all purchases – accruing two miles per dollar spent and receiving a 5% rewards discount when miles are redeemed toward travel costs.
That’s an unbeatable combination for people who travel at least twice per year, prefer to book airfare and hotel accommodations on comparison sites, and/or don’t want to sacrifice ongoing value in order to take advantage of the historically valuable sign-up bonuses currently offered by many credit cards for people with excellent credit.
- Generously Defined "Travel-Related Expenses": Miles can be used to pay for purchases made through the following types of companies once they post to a user’s card account. For people who travel regularly and thus have ample redemption opportunities, this is effectively the same thing as cash back.
- Discount Travel Sites
- Car Rental Agencies
- Cruise Lines
- Travel Agencies
- No First-Year Annual Fee: Not only does this effectively reduce the overall cost for users who plan to keep their accounts open for the foreseeable future, but it also enables travel-hungry consumers to maximize up-front earnings free of charge if they wish to move on to another offer before the first account anniversary.
No Foreign Transaction Fee: The Arrival Plus Card doesn’t assess a foreign transaction fee, which means international charges won’t be inflated by 2% to 4%, as would be the case with the vast majority of other credit cards. The fact that it’s a MasterCard also means that cardholders will be able to get the lowest exchange rates on currency conversion.
This was one area that could have really tripped up the Arrival Card relative to the Capital One Venture (none of Capital One’s credit cards charges foreign transaction fees), but Barclaycard clearly recognized that consumers hate this type of nickel-and-dime pricing.
No credit card is perfect, so despite having obvious appeal, it’s fair to expect Arrival Plus to have its share of flaws. Here are the biggest issues:
Relatively High Fixed Costs: The Arrival Plus Card’s fee structure is simultaneously accommodating and confusing. While cardholders don’t have to worry about paying an annual fee during the first year – an $89 value that’s particularly beneficial to those hunting for initial bonuses – the mere presence of such a steep fixed cost in the following years is often enough to scare off cost-conscious applicants.
To help you put this fee into perspective, one only needs to spend $4,450 per year in order to earn $89 in travel rewards and thus break even based on standard miles alone (i.e. not factoring in the initial bonus). The average person — who charges roughly $28,500 to his or her credit card each year and would obviously qualify for the $500 initial bonus — comes out roughly $1,550 ahead after two years. In other words, the more you spend each year, the more worthwhile this card will be – provided you pay your bill in full every month and make approved travel-related expenses frequently enough to benefit from regular statement credits.
- Despite 0% Intro Rate, Balance Transfers Don’t Measure Up: With so many consumers laden in debt and many unwilling to sacrifice luxuries like travel and travel rewards, this particular account feature could prove quite costly to those who don’t read the terms and conditions closely enough. In return for 0% financing on transferred balances for 12 months, cardholders must pay a fee equal to 3% of the amount being transferred. That would equate to $210 for the average indebted credit card user, based on their roughly $7,000 balance, and significantly alter the card’s value proposition.
- Potential For High Regular APR Fuels Finance Charges: Your ongoing interest rate could be anywhere from 16.99% - 23.99% (V), with the lowest levels being reserved for people with the best credit. Considering that the average credit card for people with excellent credit has a 13.16% regular rate, this particular account term can’t be considered among Arrival’s advantages.
- Redemption Restrictions Add Hassle: Cardholders must have at least 5,000 miles to redeem for cash back and 10,000 miles to redeem for a travel statement credit. That means you’ll need to strategically decide when and how to redeem in order to avoid leaving miles unused or keeping your account open longer than you want to.
Before you completely make up your mind about the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®, there are a few other, less obvious factors that warrant consideration:
Embedded Security Chip: The futuristic-looking silver computer chip embedded over the left-hand side of your card number might seem impressive, but such a feature is becoming increasingly commonplace as the credit card industry transitions to EMV technology. What’s more, chip cards won’t be dependably more effective at preventing fraud until all of the card readers are updated as well.
Until then, most so-called “smartcards” won’t get you much relative to a regular magnetic stripe credit card, either domestically or abroad. As a result, the presence of an embedded security chip should not be a deciding factor in your search for a credit card.
- Cash Back Redemption: It’s best to avoid redeeming Arrival Plus miles for cash back or gift cards, as miles are much less valuable when used in this manner – $0.005 per mile, compared to more than one cent per mile when redeeming for a travel statement credit.
Compared To The Competition
Significant competition exists among credit cards for excellent credit, as issuers trip over themselves to turn the wealthiest, most dependable consumers into long-term customers. To help prospective applicants ensure they are making the right choice, we compared the Arrival Plus Card to other popular offers that provide points or miles redeemable for travel with any airline or hotel chain:
Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
Discover it® Miles
|Annual Fee||None 1st yr, $89 after||$0 for 1st yr, $59 after||$0|
|Rewards Bonus||50,000 miles||40,000 miles||N/A|
|Rewards Rate||2 miles / $1||2 miles / $1||1.5 - 3 miles / $1|
|Purchase Intro APR||Not Offered||Not Offered||0% for 14 months|
|Transfer Intro APR||0% for 12 months|
Transfer Fee: 3% (min $5)
|Not Offered||10.99% for 14 months|
Transfer Fee: 3%
|Regular APR||16.99% - 23.99% (V)||13.99% - 23.99% (V)||11.99% - 23.99% (V)|
|Editors’ Rating||5.0 / 5||5.0 / 5||4.2 / 5|
|Details, Rates & Fees||Learn More||Learn More||Learn More|
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