[Disclosure: Emily and I get a referral to the 40,000 miles Barclays Arrival Card. You don't have to use our links, but we are grateful to all readers who use our links! Please read The 5 Dangers of Applying for Credit Cards before applying for a credit card.]
Update: Post has been edited to reflect that redeeming for non-travel statement credits is a poor value since you get 0.5 cents per mile.
Barclays Arrival Card 40,000 Miles
Late last year, Barclays was testing a 40,000 miles Barclays Arrival card. This was a targeted offer so not everyone could apply for it.
But the 40,000 miles offer is now available to everyone! I previously had affiliate links to a 20,000 mile offer, but it wasn’t worth writing about.
The $89 annual fee is waived for the 1st year, so this means that you’re getting at least $400 in statement credits after spending $1,000 within 3 months.
Barclays says that you earn “miles” but you’re actually earning cash back with the card since you can’t transfer your Barclays miles to airlines. But you can redeem them for statement credits at 0.5 cents per mile (poor value) or 1.1 cent per mile if you redeem for travel.
You get 10% of your miles back if you redeem for travel, so 40,000 miles gets you $400 towards travel and 4,000 miles back (10% of your miles back). You can then redeem these 4,000 miles which you got back for $40 towards travel. And so on…
You earn 2X miles on all purchases, so you’re effectively getting 2% cash back for each purchase. But since you get 10% of your miles back when you redeem for travel, this is effectively a 2.2% cash back card when miles are redeemed for travel.
This makes the Barclays Arrival card (with 2.2% cash back for travel) better than the Capital One Venture card which offer only 2 miles per $1 or 2% cash back and the best cash back card for travel.
That said, an extra 0.2% is NOT going to really have much of an impact unless you spend a LOT on the card. To put that into perspective, an extra 0.2% on $100,000 is only $200! But the Arrival card does have the best sign-up bonus of any cash back card, which is why I’ll get it.
I’ve written previously about the Barclays NFL card which offers $400 cash back, which requires a higher minimum spending of $2,500 within 3 months. The NFL card also has a 3% foreign transaction fee, but no annual fee.
On the other hand, the 40,000 miles Barclays Arrival card has an $89 annual fee (waived for the 1st year), no foreign transaction fees, and a lower spending requirement to get the sign-up bonus.
You also get a free TripIt Pro subscription worth $49. I’ve never used TripIt Pro so don’t know if this is a real benefit or savvy marketing.
I’d get the card for the sign-up bonus of $440, after spending $1,000 within 3 months, which can be used towards any travel expense – air, rail, car, cruises, hotels, etc.
I don’t think this is as good a card as the Barclays US Air card, but it could be the next best Barclays card. That’s because you can get $440 towards any travel redemption after spending $1,000 within 3 months. And there’s no restriction on flights etc., since you can buy them anywhere and request a statement credit.
And the Arrival card could be replacing the Barclays US Air card, if Barclays is unable to continue issuing the credit card for American Airlines after the merger with US Air is complete.
This would be similar to the US Bank Northwest card transitioning to the FlexPerks card once the Northwest and Delta merger was complete and American Express issued the Delta credit card.
Platinum vs. World Master Card
I’ve written previously that Barclays is notorious for approving you for a lower version of the card and giving you fewer miles.
Well, it looks like things may be improving since the terms don’t indicate that you will get a lower sign-up bonus if you get approved for the World Master card. If you get approved for the Platinum version, you should get the 40,000 miles sign-up bonus, but not the concierge and Preferred Access benefits of the World MasterCard, which are virtually useless in my opinion.
The terms say “If at the time of your application you do not meet the credit criteria previously established for this offer, or the income you report is insufficient based on your obligations, we may not be able to open an account for you or you may receive a Platinum card which has fewer benefits.“
Domestic vs. International Redemption
Even though this is the best cash-back card if you redeem for travel, I wouldn’t use this card for every day spending if your goal is first or business class travel. That’s because you’d have to spend ~$250,000 to earn $5,500 cash back for an international business class ticket (but with no restrictions).
On the other hand, you’d have to spend $80,000 on the American Express Starwood card to earn 80,000 Starwood points which you can convert to 100,000 US Air or American Airlines miles for a business class ticket.
But the Arrival card is a good card for everyday spending if you’d like to buy cheap coach tickets because spending $12,500 gets you $275 in cash back (2.2%) which you can then use for any coach ticket.
However, you still have to spend a LOT, which makes the concept of a “best” everyday spending card irrelevant for most folks. But arguing over the “best” everyday spending card does keep us miles and points bloggers busy!
That said, I prefer to use my spending towards new credit card sign-up bonuses, but not everyone is like me!
Barclays Arrival Card – 20,000 Miles
There is also a no-annual fee version of the card available which earns 20,000 miles after spending $1,000 within 3 months. This is worth $100 in statement credits or ~$220 when redeemed for travel.
Confusingly the card has the same name (Arrival) as the 40,000 miles card which does charge an annual fee.
As expected, the no-annual fee card earns 2X miles only on travel and dining unlike the annual-fee version which earns 2X miles on ALL purchases. However, the no-annual fee card doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees as well.
I’d personally skip the no-annual fee version of the Arrival card and apply for the 40,000 miles version which waives the $89 fee for the 1st year.
The 40,000 miles Barclays Arrival card is a good option for the $440 sign-up bonus when used towards travel. You may even be able to get more than 1 Barclays card (different card types) based on Rapid Travel Chai’s experience.
I personally wouldn’t spend a lot of money on the card after the sign-up bonus, even though it is the best cash-back card for travel with 2.2% cash back when redeemed for travel.
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