Barclaycard Arrival Plus Review: Closed to Applicants, but Flexible If You Have It

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The Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® is no longer accepting applications. See our best travel credit cards roundup for other options.

It’s a relatively simple travel rewards credit card that’s light on flash, but it delivers value up and down its feature list: high flat-rate rewards, a healthy sign-up bonus, flexible travel redemption rules and a relatively modest annual fee.

Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®: Basics

  • Annual fee: $0 for the first year, then $89.

  • Sign-up bonus: Enjoy 70,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 90 days.

  • Rewards: Unlimited 2 miles per dollar on all purchases. Each mile is worth 1 cent when redeemed for travel or 0.5 cent when redeemed for cash back.

    • When you redeem miles, you get 5% of those miles back toward your next redemption. You can start redeeming for travel with 10,000 miles, or 5,000 miles for cash back.

    • Redeem miles for almost any travel purchase of $100 or more, including airfare, hotels and cruises. Go online within 120 days of booking with your card and apply your miles for a statement credit.

  • Interest rate: 0% on Balance Transfers for 12 billing cycles following each balance transfer that posts to your account within 45 days of account opening, and then the ongoing APR of 18.24%, 22.24% or 25.24% variable based on your creditworthiness.

  • Foreign transaction fees: None.

  • Balance transfer fee: $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.

  • Other features: Chip-and-PIN capability.

Why you might want the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®

  • High ongoing rewards rate. Earning an unlimited 2 miles per dollar spent, at a value of 1 cent per mile, is excellent because it applies to all spending, not just spending in certain categories, such as travel, restaurants or supermarkets, which you find with other cards. So that means a great rewards rate whether you’re shopping online, paying for furnace maintenance or covering a doctor copay. Better yet, the 5% redemption bonus when you cash in miles — good toward a future redemption — boosts the effective rewards rate to 2.1%. This simple-but-lucrative rewards rate for all spending makes the card a candidate for top-of-wallet status.

  • Big sign-up bonus. Hit the spending threshold for the sign-up bonus, and you’re on your way to erasing travel expenses you charged to the card, maybe making a recent airfare or hotel stay free.

  • Flexibility. Barclays has a liberal definition of “travel purchases,” giving you a lot of options for redeeming your miles, including spending with airlines, hotels, timeshares, campgrounds, car rental agencies, cruise lines, trains and buses, among others. And book however you want — directly with an airline or hotel, or through a travel agent or discount travel site. As long as you pay with the card, you can reimburse yourself with miles. That’s more flexible than travel credit cards that force you to book through the issuer’s travel portal to get the best rewards value. And it will appeal to budget travelers who prefer comparing travel deals from a variety of places. There are no blackout dates, restrictions or extra fees, as there can be with redeeming frequent flyer miles, for example.

  • Ease of use abroad: Like any good travel card, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® has no foreign transaction fees. Plus, the card has chip-and-PIN capability. When traveling abroad, you’ll find that many kiosks and other automated payment systems require you to use a PIN to verify your identity, rather than a signature. Chip-and-PIN is standard in much of the world, but it’s rare on cards issued in the U.S.

Potential drawbacks

  • High redemption threshold. The card has a minimum redemption for travel statement credits of 10,000 miles, or $100, which you’d have to spend $5,000 on the card in order to earn. For smaller spenders, it could be a long wait to accumulate enough miles to redeem. The minimum is 5,000 miles for other redemption options and 2,500 if used toward the card’s annual fee.

  • Low-value redemption alternatives: For cashing in miles, this is mostly a one-trick pony. You get a penny per mile for statement credit that offsets travel purchases, or for paying the card’s annual fee. You get half as much value — or less — if you redeem miles for cash back, gift cards or merchandise.

  • Fewer travel freebies and perks. The card’s simplicity is also a potential drawback. It doesn’t offer the perks that some travel cards do, such as airport lounge access or reimbursement for TSA Precheck or Global Entry applications. And while you can use miles to pay for checked-bag fees on airlines, airline co-branded cards often give you checked bags for free, along with early boarding. Similarly, you can use miles from this card on hotel stays, but you won’t get the automatic free nights that some co-branded hotel credit cards offer.

Alternatives

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® is an outstanding product, but it isn’t perfect for everyone. You can compare it with other high performers on our roundup of best travel credit cards. Here are a couple alternatives for specific types of consumers:

If you want don’t want a redemption minumum

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® has a doppelganger card: the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. It also earns an unlimited 2 miles per dollar on all purchases, and it also allows you to redeem your miles for a statement credit against travel purchases. The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card doesn’t offer the 5% redemption bonus, but it also doesn’t have a minimum redemption requirement. So if you want to redeem miles for an $8 cab ride, you can.

The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card has an annual fee of $95. It also has a nice sign-up bonus: Enjoy a one-time bonus of 60,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening. It doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee, but it also doesn’t offer chip-and-PIN.

If don’t want to pay an annual fee

One of the best $0-annual-fee travel cards around is the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card. It earns 1.5 points per dollar spent on everything. It comes with a neat offer for new cardholders: 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening – that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases.

It doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee, but as with the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®, it also doesn’t offer premium travel perks like airport lounge access or travel transfer partners.

If You want points that transfer

If you’re an expert at taking out extra value from airline and hotel loyalty programs, you may be better off going with a card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. It earns bonus rewards in a variety of popular spending categories, including dining and travel. Points are worth 1.25 cents apiece when used to book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Otherwise, points are worth a penny each.

You can transfer your points to several major frequent travel programs at a 1:1 ratio. Transfer partners include United, Southwest, British Airways, Marriott and Hyatt. If you’re skilled at stretching rewards, you could squeeze as much as 5 cents’ value out of each point. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offers a comparable sign-up bonus: Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $1,250 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. But it does have a slightly higher annual fee: $95.

Is the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® right for you?

If you’re looking for no annual fee or a luxury credit card replete with travel perks, look elsewhere. But if you want a card to help you get to the next destination for less cash outlay, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® is an excellent choice. Its simple-but-valuable rewards program — for both earning and redeeming — make it a card you can use daily for the long term.

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