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How to Get the Most Out of Your Barclaycard Arrival Plus

May 25, 2016
Credit Cards, Travel Credit Cards
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  • Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®

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How much you get out of the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® depends almost entirely on how you redeem your miles.

This versatile travel credit card gives you 2 miles per dollar spent anywhere, plus a 5% rewards bonus when you redeem. That adds up to a rewards rate of 2.1 cents per dollar spent when you use your miles to cover travel purchases you made on your card.

Your rate can be even higher if you earn bonus rewards through Barclaycard’s bonus mall. But you’ll get only about half as much value if you redeem miles for cash back, gift cards or merchandise. Considering the card’s annual fee of $0 for the first year, then $89, that’s not a mistake you can afford to make.

Here’s how you can spend strategically and redeem wisely with the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®.

Earn more rewards

With the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®, earning miles is the easy part: The flat-rate reward structure makes it simple to get plenty of value out of this card no matter where you use it. There are still a couple of tricks for earning more rewards overall, though. You could:

Pair it with a tiered rewards credit card. Flat-rate rewards and tiered rewards work better together. When you have both, and use each at the right time, you raise your overall rewards rate.

You might pair the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® with the Discover it® Cash Back, for example. If you did, you could use the Discover it® Cash Back to take advantage of the 5% quarterly rotating bonuses (up to $1,500 per quarter, activation required), when possible, and put the rest of your spending on the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®.

Redemption bonus aside, your average rewards rate would increase from 2% to 2.75% even if you earned the 5% cash-back rewards on only a quarter of your total purchases. Sure, your rewards would be split between two cards, but that doesn’t matter. The rewards all flow into the same place: your pocket.

Shop the Barclaycard RewardsBoost bonus mall. Next time you’re shopping online, visit the Barclaycard RewardsBoost bonus mall before heading straight to Amazon. Just follow the retailer links on that site — including outlets such as Kohl’s, Bed Bath & Beyond and the Apple Store — and check out as you normally would on the retailer’s site.

Suppose a retailer is offering 3 miles per dollar spent on RewardsBoost. If you followed the link and made the purchase with the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®, you’d earn 5 miles per dollar spent, according to a Barclaycard customer service representative. This makes it easy to double or triple your earnings.

» MORE: Before you shop, drop into your credit card’s bonus mall

Redeem strategically

Earning rewards is important, but it’s only a starting point. If you want to get good value out of your card, redeeming those miles the right way is crucial.

Choose travel statement credit every time

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® comes with plenty of redemption options. You can get:

  • Travel statement credit: 1 cent per mile.
  • Gift cards: 0.5 cents per mile.
  • Cash back, as a general statement credit: 0.5 cents per mile.
  • Merchandise: Varies; 0.3 cents per mile on average.

Among these options, redeeming for travel statement credit — that is, credit that offsets travel purchases you’ve made on the card — is the most valuable by far.

If you really want cash-back rewards instead of travel credit, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® isn’t a good card for you. You’d be much better off with the flat-rate Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer, which has an annual fee of $0 and gets 1% cash back on every dollar spent, and another 1% back on every dollar paid off.

Travel statement credit can be applied to any travel purchases you’ve made in the past 120 days. And Barclaycard’s definition of “travel purchases” is pretty expansive. It includes purchases made from “airlines, hotels, motels, timeshares, campgrounds, car rental agencies, cruise lines, travel agencies, discount travel sites, trains, buses, taxis, limousines and ferries,” according to the issuer’s website.

Save up

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® doesn’t let you redeem for travel statement credit in amounts smaller than 10,000 miles, worth $100 in travel. But for other redemption options, the minimum is just 5,000 miles. So, take your time saving up. If you rush to redeem your miles too soon, you’ll get stuck with lower-value options.

» MORE: Full review of the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®

Redeeming miles with the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®

To redeem your miles, log in to your account online. Click on the “Manage Rewards” tab. Then, under the heading “Travel Statement Credits,” click “Redeem Now.” You’ll see a drop-down list of eligible travel expenses. Select the purchase you want to use your miles on.

After confirming your redemption, you’ll see your new rewards balance on your account home screen. This will include the 5% redemption bonus. Within a few days, a statement credit will post to your account for the miles you cashed in.

Getting your money’s worth

With its annual fee, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® is an expensive card to keep in your wallet. That’s why it’s so important to get as much value out of it as you can by pairing it with other cards for bigger rewards, shopping at the bonus mall, and always redeeming it for travel statement credit.

Redeeming for travel credit can take a while, given the high redemption minimum. But it’s worth the wait.

Claire Tsosie is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: [email protected]. Twitter: @ideclaire7.