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Is a Barclays Credit Card Worth It?

by on September 18, 2011

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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.

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, but you get a great sign-up bonus: Earn 40,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months. 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.

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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.