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How to Make the Most of the No-Fee Barclaycard Arrival

May 3, 2016
Credit Cards, Travel Credit Cards
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  • Barclaycard Arrival™ World MasterCard®

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As of 2017, Barclaycard is not taking new applications for the no-fee Barclaycard Arrival™ World MasterCard®. This story is out of date.

The $0-annual-fee Barclaycard Arrival™ World MasterCard® isn’t an easy card to “maximize,” at least not in the usual sense.

This flexible travel card’s rewards program is pretty straightforward, if somewhat underwhelming. You earn 2 miles per $1 spent on travel and dining, and 1 mile per $1 spent elsewhere, plus a 5% rewards bonus when you redeem. Miles are worth 1 cent each when used for credit against travel purchases.

Unlike with some other cards, there’s no way to bump up the value you get by making a few clever redemptions, but you can still increase your earnings with a little strategizing. Here’s how.

Lock down that sign-up bonus

The Barclaycard Arrival™ World MasterCard®’s most valuable feature, by far, is its sign-up bonus: Earn 20,000 bonus miles when you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days — that's enough to redeem for a $200 travel statement credit. Compared with bonuses on competing no-annual-fee cards, it stands out as one of the more generous and easier-to-qualify-for offers.

Make sure you meet the minimum spending requirement by putting all your purchases on your Barclaycard Arrival™ World MasterCard® in the first three months or by trying these strategies.

Charge all your travel and dining purchases

On the Barclaycard Arrival™ World MasterCard®, you earn twice as many miles when you charge travel or dining purchases to your card. Taking advantage of these higher rewards rates whenever possible could lift the card’s otherwise mediocre earnings considerably. Don’t pay for travel or dining with cash, a debit card or a credit card that offers less than 2% rewards — reach for the Barclaycard Arrival™ World MasterCard® instead.

Pair it with a no-fee flat-rate rewards card

If you want to get more combined value out of all your credit cards — not just one — try pairing the Barclaycard Arrival™ World MasterCard® with a no-fee card that offers a flat 1.5% rewards rate or better on all purchases. The Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card could be a good choice. When you can earn tiered and flat-rate rewards, you get the best of both worlds: more than 1% back on everyday items, and a little extra on travel and dining purchases.

Shop the RewardsBoost bonus mall

You can earn extra miles just by following Barclaycard’s links to online retailers on the Barclaycard RewardsBoost bonus mall. To do this, log on to your account, click the “RewardsBoost” button on the right-hand side of your account home page, and click the link to you to your store of choice. You can choose from several merchants, including big-name outlets such as Home Depot, Lowe’s, Walgreens, Walmart and the Apple Store.

Suppose you clicked on a warehouse outlet that’s offering 3 miles per $1 spent on the bonus mall, for example, and you paid with your card. Excluding taxes, fees and shipping costs, you’d get 4 miles per dollar spent, a Barclaycard customer service representative confirms: 1 mile as usual, plus 3 bonus miles. According to Barclaycard’s terms and conditions, rewards earned through the bonus mall are posted to your account within eight weeks.

» MORE: How credit card bonus malls work

Always redeem for travel statement credit

The Barclaycard Arrival™ World MasterCard® comes with plenty of redemption options, but none is nearly as valuable as redeeming for travel statement credit — that is, using your miles to cover travel purchases you’ve put on your card. Here’s how much you’ll get with each redemption option:

  • 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.

Choosing a redemption option other than travel statement credit could cut effectively cut the value of your rewards in half, or worse. If you want to get the most out of your card, redeeming for travel statement credit every single time should be a priority.

How to redeem Barclaycard Arrival™ World MasterCard® miles

To redeem your Barclaycard Arrival™ World MasterCard® miles, log on to your Barclaycard account, and follow these steps:

  • Click the “Manage rewards” tab on the upper-right-hand corner of your account home page. This will take you to the rewards page.
  • Under the heading “Travel statement credits,” click “Redeem now.” That will send you to a list of travel purchases you’ve made in the past 120 days. Each purchase will have its own “Redeem now” button.
  • Click the “redeem now” button by the purchase you want to pay for with miles. You’ll have the option to pay for each purchase entirely or partially in miles. You have to spend a minimum of 2,500 miles, or $25, at a time.

After you finalize your transaction, you’ll see a 5% redemption bonus pop up on your rewards balance. For example, if you redeem 30,000 miles for a $300 flight, you’ll earn 1,500 toward your next redemption.

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