Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite MasterCard® Review: A No-Hassle Travel Credit Card for Busy Travelers
Jordan Wathen is a personal finance expert with a deep professional and personal expertise on credit cards. His articles have appeared on sites such as MSN, CNBC, and Yahoo.
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Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite MasterCard® sits near the top of the pack for offering a high sign-up bonus and impressive rewards yield of 2 miles per $1 spent. Best of all, this actually rewards you for using your rewards in the most lucrative way, giving you a 5% bonus every time you redeem your miles for travel.
In the Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite MasterCard® review below, I’ll explain the features and benefits that make this card a favorite among travelers, and help you decide if this is the next card you should put in your wallet.
Great for: Travel card sign-up bonus Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite MasterCard®
Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor.
This card offers one of the largest sign-up bonuses you'll find among competing travel cards with a modest annual fee, plus it offers unlimited miles at a high rate.
Credit Rating Requirement:
$89 (waived first year)
Balance Transfers: 0%, 12 months (on balance transfers made within 45 days of account opening)
18.24%, 22.24% or 25.24%, variable
- Enjoy 70,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 90 days
- Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase
- NEW - Control Your Card - Instantly secure your accounts by locking your cards with Barclays SecurHold™, plus set transaction limits and block certain purchase categories for you or your authorized users. Available only on the Barclays mobile app.
- 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
What I like about the card
One thing you should know about travel cards is that they all have some distinguishing features or differences that set them apart from one another. When I think about Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite MasterCard® and its value proposition, there are six major features that stick out to me as being especially attractive.
$700 new cardholder bonus -- It won’t take long for you to start reaping rewards. This card offers 70,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 90 days after account opening and paying its annual fee. The miles convert to travel at a rate of $0.01 each, valuing the bonus at $700 in travel.
2 miles per $1 -- As far as rewards go, Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite MasterCard®’s plan is both simple and rewarding. The card dishes out unlimited 2 miles per $1 spent, and each mile is redeemable for $0.01 of travel value. A high rewards rate on all kinds of spend makes this card ideal if you don’t want to juggle several cards just to get every single mile possible on every single purchase.
Bonus for redeeming -- Credit card companies may prefer that you don’t use your miles, but this card actually gives you a 5% bonus for redeeming them for travel. For example, if you redeem 10,000 miles, 500 miles would be credited back to your account. I think of this card as essentially offering 2.1 miles per $1 of spend because of the 5% redemption bonus when miles are redeemed for travel.
Statement credit redemptions -- You don’t have to worry about booking flights with a certain airline, or getting blacked out on certain travel dates. Because Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite MasterCard® uses statement credit redemptions, you can use the card to book travel how you want to and then redeem your miles to erase the purchase from your statement up to 120 days after the purchase.
No foreign transaction fees -- You can confidently use Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite MasterCard® overseas, since it waives foreign transaction fees that are common with other cards. Compared to the typical foreign transaction fee of 3%, this card could save you as much as $60 on $2,000 of international spend.
Airbnb redemptions -- You and I might consider Airbnb a travel purchase (what else would it be?!), but some cards do not. If you prefer the cozy appeal of Airbnb to corporate hotel chains, this travel card should make your short list of cards to consider more carefully. Miles can be redeemed against Airbnb charges at a rate of $0.01 per mile, subject to the $100 minimum redemption.
In all, I think the biggest advantage with this card is that it uses statement credit redemptions, which allows you to be pickier when deciding how to redeem your miles. Because it isn’t locked into any particular redemption portal, you can shop around for bargains, getting more value per mile than you could with an airline or hotel-specific card.
For example, if you’re a member of AAA or AARP, you may receive a 10% discount for staying with a particular hotel chain. A statement credit card allows you to benefit from that discount, whereas airline or hotel-specific cards do not.
Why you can trust me
If you name a rewards credit card, there’s a good chance I have it, or have used it in the past. Because I use travel cards for all of my regular spending, I can’t remember the last time I paid out of pocket for a flight or hotel stay. Below, I’ll share my thoughts on Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite MasterCard® from the perspective of someone who has used just about every travel card you can think of.
What could be improved
No credit card is perfect. Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite MasterCard® offers a lot of value from its easy-to-understand rewards program, but there are a few things I would change about the card, if I could.
Minimum redemption threshold -- Redeeming miles you earn with Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite MasterCard® may be a challenge if you don’t travel much. Travel statement credit redemptions start at 10,000 miles for $100 of travel value, thus requiring $5,000 of spending to accumulate enough miles for redemption. More importantly, the minimum means you can’t redeem miles for small travel expenses, like taxi fares, Uber rides, parking fees, or incidental airline expenses, all of which are rarely expensive enough to meet the $100 minimum. For this reason, I think of Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite MasterCard® as a card for expensive travel (hotels, airfare, and rental cars), not all travel purchases.
Cash redemption penalty -- As a rule of thumb, travel cards aren’t a good choice if you want cash back, and Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite MasterCard® is no exception. You can redeem your miles for cash statement credits starting at 5,000 miles for a $25 credit. Cash redemptions value each point at $0.005 each, half the $0.01 value of each mile when you redeem for travel. Also, the 5% redemption bonus does not apply if you redeem miles for cash. Though it is great for travel, this card is a bad pick for cash back.
0% intro APRs -- This card offers a 0% intro APR for 12 months on balance transfers made within 45 days of account opening. I would prefer a 0% intro APR for balance transfers and purchases made over a full 12 month period.
Truthfully, my proposed improvements ask a lot of this card, since I’ve never seen all of these features on one card. But I think the point is clear: Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite MasterCard® is a great travel rewards card, but it might not be the best choice if you want a 0% intro APR or cash back instead of travel, for example.
What to look for in travel cards
Used wisely, a travel card can help you go on your next vacation without paying anything out of pocket. When selecting the best travel card, there are a few features that you should prioritize above and beyond any other.
- A big sign-up bonus -- Large sign-up bonuses were once rare, even in the premium travel card segment. Today, though, you should expect that just about any travel card -- annual fee or not -- offers a big sign-up bonus. Valued at $700, Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite MasterCard®’s sign-up bonus is easily in the top three travel cards for up-front value relative to the annual fee.
- Easy redemptions -- If there is one thing I’ve learned about travel cards, it’s that rewards aren’t worth anything unless you can redeem them. Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite MasterCard® is a statement credit travel card, which gives you an incredible amount of flexibility in deciding how to redeem your miles. That said, the $100 minimum redemption for travel may make it unfit for infrequent travelers or light spenders.
- Reasonable annual fees -- It’s my view that it only makes sense to pay an annual fee if it gives you a higher rewards yield to compensate for it. I think of the Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite MasterCard® as offering a rewards yield of 2.1% (2% plus a 5% bonus at redemption), which is higher than the 1.5% yield of the average no-annual-fee travel card. So, the card’s higher rewards rate pays for the $89 annual fee when you spend more than $14,833 per year. If you spend less than that, a no-annual-fee travel card with a 1.5% rewards yield offers more value. (The breakeven math is as follows: $89 annual fee ÷ 0.006 increase in rewards yield = $14,833.)
Suggested credit score
Like many high-end travel cards, Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite MasterCard® is best for applicants who have a FICO® Score of 750 or better. Households with above-average incomes are also more likely to get approved. The sign-up bonus requires $5,000 of spending within 90 days, which is a good indication of the kind of spending this card is designed for.
Other travel cards to consider
Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite MasterCard® is a solid travel card no doubt. But there are other top travel cards on the market to consider that may be a better fit for your needs.
This card is right for you if...
Premium travel cards aren’t for everyone. While there is a lot to like about Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite MasterCard®, it’s my view that it’s a good fit only if all of the following statements apply to you.
- You spend a lot. Given the $89 annual fee, you would need to spend more than $14,833 per year in order for this card’s high rewards rate to pay for the annual fee. Spending five-figures on a card each year isn’t always easy to do, since most major household expenses (mortgages, car payments, day care, utilities, etc.) cannot be paid for with a credit card, or impose a convenience fee for doing so.
- You qualify for the sign-up bonus. A main selling point of Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite MasterCard® is the sign-up bonus of 70,000 points, which can be redeemed for $700 of travel value. One way to think of it is that the sign-up bonus pays for nearly eight years of annual fees. If you can’t reach the minimum spending requirement of $5,000 in 90 days, you may want to consider other sign-up bonus cards with lower thresholds.
- You have regular travel expenses. Miles you earn with Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite MasterCard® are worth half as much when redeemed for cash rather than travel. When miles are redeemed for cash, this card is effectively a 1% cash-back credit card with an $89 annual fee. There are many no-annual-fee cards that offer more than 1% cash back.
- You won’t carry a balance. It never makes sense to spend heavily and carry a balance just to earn a token amount of travel rewards. At a standard APR of 18% per year, carrying a balance for just two months will cost you more in interest than you earn in rewards. If you plan to carry a balance, a 0% APR credit card would be a better value.