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Is a Barclays Credit Card Worth It?

by on September 18, 2011

Many of the Barclays credit cards are geared toward travel. With AirTran, Priceline and Best Western credit cards available, Barclays offers a variety of travel rewards programs designed to reward loyal hotel guests and frequent flyers. Unfortunately, none of those programs are very good.

Narrow selections: Iceland or China?

Barclays has a long list of travel credit cards, ranging from China Airlines to Princess Cruises. While many them are tailored for customers with specific needs, you will be better off choosing a more versatile card with better rewards. Take Barclays’ Icelandair credit card for example. Let’s say you’re favorite cousin lives in Iceland, and you visit him several times a year. A credit card specific to Icelandic travel is just what you need, right?  Well, not really.

The Icelandair World Mastercard offers 2 points for every $1 spent on Icelandair travel, and $1 spent anywhere else. It has the paltry rewards program of a no-fee credit card, but comes with a $39 annual fee. The signup bonus is a mere 10,000 points, plus 1 point per dollar of transferred balance, up to 10k points. Compare that to the Capital One Venture. The Venture has a slightly higher annual fee of $59 (waived the first year), but its rewards are astronomically better. You receive 2 points for every $1 spent anywhere at all, including flights to and from Iceland. If you decide you want to get crazy and visit your other cousin in Nova Scotia, youll earn double points there as well. Even at home, every purchase will get you 2 points to the dollar.

The Barclays travel credit cards only give double rewards with a single company, which makes them very limiting. If you want bonus points on Aer Lingus or Best Western or Virgin America purchases, you have to pick one and only one. Why not choose a more flexible credit card that’ll earn you 2x rewards on all purchases, or if you’re not feeling the CapOne Venture, even one that gives 2x rewards on all airfare rather than just one carrier?

A (small) step up: travel site cards

A slightly better Barclays option is the Priceline card. The Priceline Rewards Visa Card will get you rewards on Priceline.com, which means you’re not limited to earning at a particular airline or hotel chain. You’ll get high reward rates on flights, hotels, car rentals, vacation packages and more, as long as you book them through the website. Priceline offers 4 points to the dollar on Priceline Name Your Own Price purchases, 3 points on other eligible Priceline purchases, 2 points on home improvement or groceries (you choose which), and 1 point on everything else. Again, this is an okay rewards program, but only truly worth it if you use Priceline for every single travel decision you ever make.

The better options

Though the Priceline card is the best Barclays has to offer, it still can’t hold a candle to some of the more versatile travel credit cards out there.

Another stellar travel card is the Chase Sapphire Preferred. It gives you 2 points for every $1 spent on dining and general travel (that’s airfare, hotels, rental insurance and so on) and 1 point for everything else. The annual fee is a bit steep at $95, but you do get the first year free and a 50,000-point signup bonus. Like the Venture, the Sapphire is a Visa Signature card, which means you get some pretty astounding additional benefits, including special access and preferred seating at events, shopping discounts, 24-hour roadside assistance, auto rental insurance, and complimentary upgrades at hotels and resorts.

In short, we wouldn’t recommend a Barclays credit card. The rewards are limiting and pretty mediocre. If you qualify for something a little better, pay the higher annual fee. You’ll be glad you did.

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit CardChase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
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on Capital One's
secure website

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Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card
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on Chase's
secure website

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Signing Promo
Enjoy a one-time bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $2,000 on purchases within the first 3 months, equal to $200 in travel.Earn 40,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months.
Intro APR Promo
Purchase:None
Bal Trans:None
Purchase:None
Bal Trans:None
Annual fee
$0 intro for first year; $59 after thatIntroductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95.
Details
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $2,000 on purchases within the first 3 months, equal to $200 in travel
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime
  • Travel when you want—no blackout dates
  • Miles don't expire
  • No limit to the miles you can earn
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No annual fee for the first year; $59 after that
  • Earn 40,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $500 in travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate RewardsSM.
  • Earn 5,000 additional bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases
  • No foreign transaction fees, plus Chip and Signature enabled for international travel.
  • 1:1 point transfer to participating frequent travel programs at full value — that means 1,000 Ultimate Rewards points equal 1,000 partner miles/points.
  • 24/7 direct access to dedicated customer service specialists
  • Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95

Want to save money on travel?
Check out our list of no foreign transaction fee credit cards, and stop paying unnecessary fees!
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  • damncactus

    The info here on the Priceline card is outdated – it doesn’t match up your own page on it. Now with 2% rewards on all purchases, I have to wonder why it’s not listed near the top of your Rewards Cards list. I do not like Barclaycard one bit, but I had to bite on this card.