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Barclaycard Arrival Plus Review: Loads of Value, Light on Flash

It's not flush with perks, but it delivers where it counts: high ongoing rewards, flexible travel redemption, reasonable fee.
Nov. 14, 2018
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Sometimes a solid card with fewer frills is a superior one. That’s the case with the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®.

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.

» MORE: NerdWallet’s best travel credit cards

Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®

Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®

Apply Now on Barclays's secure site
  • Recommended Credit Score
  • 690
    850
    Good - Excellent
  • Card Details
  • Pros

    • High rewards rate on all purchases, not just bonus categories
    • Sign-up bonus
    • No foreign transaction fee

    Cons

    • Has annual fee
    • Minimum redemption required for travel

    Annual Fees

    $89 (waived first year)

    APR

    • APR: 17.99%, 21.99% or 24.99% variable based on your creditworthiness
    • Cash Advance APR: 27.24%, Variable

    Bonus Offers

    Enjoy 60,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 90 days

    Intro APR

    • 0% intro APR for the first 12 billing cycles following each balance transfer that posts to your account within 45 days of account opening
  • Additional Information
    • Enjoy 60,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 90 days
    • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase
    • Book travel your way—no airline, seat or hotel restrictions—and redeem your miles for travel statement credits
    • Get 5% miles back to use toward your next redemption, every time you redeem
    • No foreign transaction fees
    • International Chip and PIN for use at self-service chip terminals around the world
    • Miles don’t expire as long as your account is open, active and in good standing
    • View Rates and Fees

Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®: Basics and benefits

Annual fee: $89 (waived first year).

Sign-up bonus: Enjoy 60,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 90 days.

Rewards: Earn an 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.

APR: 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 17.99%, 21.99% or 24.99% variable based on your creditworthiness.

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

Foreign transaction fees: None.

Other features: Chip-and-PIN capability.

If you’re not sure whether paying an annual fee makes sense for you, try our calculator for the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®.

Highlights of 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 restaurants or supermarkets, which you might find with other cards. So that means reaping 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.

» MORE: Making the most of the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®

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: If you plan to use miles from the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® against travel purchases you make with the card, you have options.

Barclay’s definition of “travel purchases” is liberal, 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 vendors. 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. 

» MORE: Barclaycard credit cards mobile app review

Potential drawbacks

High redemption threshold: The Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® 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 to pay the card’s annual fee.

Fewer travel freebies and perks: The card’s simplicity is also a potential drawback. It doesn’t offer travel perks as 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.

No outsized redemption possibilities: The most value you’ll get for miles is a penny each. Some cards offer higher redemption options or allow you to transfer points to other travel programs, such as frequent flyer programs or hotel points programs, where you might strategically squeeze more value from a mile.

Lousy variety of redemption choices: For cashing in miles, this is mostly a one-trick pony. The only good redemption of miles is for a statement credit that offsets travel purchases you’ve made on the card. That’s at a rate of a penny per mile: a $400 flight would cost you 40,000 miles. One other good redemption: using miles to pay the card’s annual fee at a rate of a penny per mile. You get half as much value — or less — if you redeem miles for cash back, gift cards or merchandise. 

Top competitors

If you’re seeking a credit card to use for travel rewards, compare this against our roundup of best travel credit cards. Here are a couple of alternate suggestions if:

You want don’t want a redemption threshold

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 minimum redemption requirements. 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 $0 for the first year, then $95. It also has a nice sign-up bonus: Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel. The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee, but it also doesn’t offer chip-and-PIN.

» MORE: Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® vs. Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

You don’t want to pay an annual fee

One of the best $0-annual-fee travel cards on the market is the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card. It earns triple points on a wide variety of bonus categories, including dining out or ordering in; flights, hotels, homestays and car rentals; gas stations, rideshares and transit; and eligible streaming services. All other non-bonus-category spending earns 1 point back. Terms apply.

The Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card also comes with a generous welcome offer: New! Earn 30K bonus points when you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months that's a $300 cash redemption value. Terms apply.

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.

» MORE: Best travel credit cards with no annual fee

You want points that transfer

If you’re an expert at eking 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 offers 2 points per dollar spent on dining and travel and 1 point per dollar on everything else. 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 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. But it does have a slightly higher annual fee: $0 for the first year, then $95.

» MORE: Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® vs Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

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.