Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®: Will Buying Hotel Points and Gift Cards Count as Travel?

Disclosure: We get a commission for links on the blog. You don’t have to use our links, but we’re very grateful when you do. American Express, Barclaycard, Chase, and US Bank are Million Mile Secrets advertising partners. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or endorsed by our partners. Here’s our Advertiser Disclosure.

Update:   One or more card offers in this post are no longer available.  Check our Hot Deals for the latest offers. 

One of my favorite things about the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®  is getting ~2.1% cash back when you redeem your miles for travel.  The sign-up bonus of 40,000 miles is worth ~$400 when used as statement credits toward travel purchases.

You get the bonus after meeting the minimum spending requirement.  And I’ve listed 40+ ways to do it!

I experimented to see which airline miles and gift card purchases Barclaycard counts as travel.   Million Mile Secrets readers have asked which hotel purchases are coded as travel, so I used my Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® card to buy hotel points and gift cards.  Some of the results may surprise you!

What Does Barclaycard Consider Travel?

Link:   Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®

Barclaycard defines travel as:

  • Airlines
  • Travel Agencies & Tour Operators
  • Hotels
  • Motels & Resorts
  • Cruise Lines
  • Passenger Railways
  • Car Rental Agencies

As with airlines, some hotel point and gift card purchases aren’t coded as travel because they’re made through a 3rd party (like points.com) which isn’t recognized as a travel expense by Barclaycard.

Some folks may not have immediate travel plans, so they want to buy miles, points, and gift cards and redeem their points before canceling their Barclaycard Arrival card.  If they don’t use their points before canceling the card, they’ll lose them!

Experiment:  Which Miles and Gift Card Purchases From Hotels Count as Travel?

I picked 8 major hotel chains and used my Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® to buy points and gift cards from each of them.

Note:  Don’t try this at home!  I had to call Barclaycard repeatedly when my card started getting denied on each transaction.  I guess we should be happy they have such a vigilant fraud prevention department! :)

Barclays Arrival Experiment Will Buying Hotel Points And Gift Cards Count As Travel

Hotel Purchases, Round 1: Choice, Hilton, Wyndham, and Marriott

After some back-and-forth with the fraud department, I was finally able to make the last bunch of purchases.

Barclays Arrival Experiment Will Buying Hotel Points And Gift Cards Count As Travel

You Earn 2X Miles on ALL Purchases…But You Can Only Use Those Miles to Get Cash Back on SOME of Them

What I Bought

1.   Hilton

I bought 2,000 Hilton points.  Barclaycard DID count this as travel.  So I CAN use my miles to get cash back on this purchase because it was at least $25.

Barclays Arrival Experiment Will Buying Hotel Points And Gift Cards Count As Travel

I Bought 2,000 Hilton Points

And I bought a Hilton gift card for $25, plus a $1.95 delivery fee.  Barclaycard did NOT count this as travel.  So I can NOT use my miles to get cash back on this purchase.

Barclays Arrival Experiment Will Buying Hotel Points And Gift Cards Count As Travel

I Bought a Gift Card on the Hilton Website

2.   Hyatt

I bought 2,000 Hyatt points.  Hyatt processes points purchases through Points.com, so I was not surprised that Barclaycard did NOT count this as travel.  So I can NOT use my miles to get cash back on this purchase.

Barclays Arrival Experiment Will Buying Hotel Points And Gift Cards Count As Travel

You Can Buy Points on Hyatt’s Website

I tried and tried to buy a Hyatt gift card online, and on the phone, but their systems would not recognize my Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®.  I gave up when they suggested I physically go to a Hyatt hotel to buy a gift card!

Barclays Arrival Experiment Will Buying Hotel Points And Gift Cards Count As Travel

I Couldn’t Buy a Gift Card Online With the Barclaycard Arrival

3.   Starwood Preferred Guest

I bought 1,000 Starwood Preferred Guest points.  Starwood also processes points purchases through Points.com, and Barclaycard did NOT count this as travel.  So I can NOT use my miles to get cash back on this purchase.

Barclays Arrival Experiment Will Buying Hotel Points And Gift Cards Count As Travel

Starwood Is Having a Points Sale! But Barclaycard Still Doesn’t Consider This Travel

Starwood no longer sells gift cards online, so that was the end of my Starwood experimenting!

4.   IHG

I bought 2,000 IHG points and got a 2,000 point bonus!  But Barclaycard did NOT count this as travel.  So I can NOT use my miles to get cash back on this purchase.  This was also processed through Points.com.

Barclays Arrival Experiment Will Buying Hotel Points And Gift Cards Count As Travel

IHG Charges Less the More Points You Buy

IHG also does not sell gift cards online.  Foiled again! 🙂

5.   Marriott

I bought 3,000 Marriott points.   It was another Points.com transaction, so Barclaycard did NOT count this as travel.  So I can NOT use my miles to get cash back on this purchase.

Barclays Arrival Experiment Will Buying Hotel Points And Gift Cards Count As Travel

I Bought 3,000 Marriott Points

But…finally success!  I bought a Marriott gift card and Barclaycard DID count this as travel.  So I CAN use my miles to get cash back on this purchase because it was at least $25.

Barclays Arrival Experiment Will Buying Hotel Points And Gift Cards Count As Travel

Finally! Barclaycard Counted This Purchase as Travel

6.   Choice Hotels

I bought 3,000 points from Choice Hotels.  Barclaycard did NOT count this as travel because it was another Points.com transaction.  So I can NOT use my miles to get cash back on this purchase.

Barclays Arrival Experiment Will Buying Hotel Points And Gift Cards Count As Travel

I Bought 3,000 Points From Choice Hotels

And I bought a Choice Hotels gift card for $25, plus $2.95 shipping.  Barclaycard did NOT count this as travel.  So I can NOT use my miles to get cash back on this purchase.

7.   Club Carlson

I bought 4,000 Club Carlson points, and the purchase went through Points.com.  Barclaycard did NOT count this as travel.  So I can NOT use my miles to get cash back on this purchase.

Barclays Arrival Experiment Will Buying Hotel Points And Gift Cards Count As Travel

I Bought 4,000 Club Carlson Gold Points

Club Carlson does not sell gift cards online in the US, so I couldn’t test it out.

8.   Wyndham

I bought 4,000 points from Wyndham.  Barclaycard did NOT count this as travel because it was a Points.com transaction.  So I can NOT use my miles to get cash back on this purchase.

Barclays Arrival Experiment Will Buying Hotel Points And Gift Cards Count As Travel

No Luck With Wyndham Counting Points as Travel – Points.com Should Have Been a Dead Giveaway

Wyndham, like IHG, Starwood, and Club Carlson, does not sell gift cards online.

The Results Are In

I checked my statement to see which purchases Barclaycard counted as travel.  To redeem statement credits for travel, log into your Barclaycard Arrival account and under “Pay Yourself Back For Travel” click “Redeem Now.”

Barclays Arrival Experiment Will Buying Hotel Points And Gift Cards Count As Travel

Travel Expenses Must Be a Minimum of $25 (2,500 Miles) to Redeem Miles

Here are the purchases Barclaycard counted as travel.  (I previously discussed the airlines listed.)

So, the only purchases that counted were:

  • Hilton (points)
  • Marriott (gift cards)

Barclaycard did NOT count the rest of my purchases as travel!  I wasn’t surprised that most of the miles and point purchases didn’t qualify, because they’re generally processed by points.com.  But I thought all of the gift cards would be coded as travel.

Bottom Line

I bought points and gift cards from hotels to see which purchases would be considered travel by Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®.

You get 2.1% cash back with this card but only for travel redemptions.

Of all the hotels I tried, the only purchases considered travel were:

  • Hilton (points)
  • Marriott (gift cards)

The rest of the purchases were not coded as travel.  So if you’re considering buying gift cards or points as a way to use your Barclaycard Arrival points, refer back to this post to make sure they’ll count.

* If you liked this post, why don’t you join the 16,000+ readers who have signed-up to receive free blog posts via email (only 1 email per day!) or in an RSS reader …because then you’ll never miss another update!

* If you liked this post, why don’t you join the 25,000+ readers who have signed-up to receive free blog posts via email (only 1 email per day!) or in an RSS reader …because then you’ll never miss another update!

Editorial Disclaimer: Neither the responses below nor the editorial content on this page are provided or commissioned by the bank advertisers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertisers. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the bank advertisers. It is not the bank advertisers’ responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

21 responses to “Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®: Will Buying Hotel Points and Gift Cards Count as Travel?

  1. Quick Question…

    I know this is an experiment with the Barclay’s Arrival card but based upon the results of your testing, do you believe that the results would apply across other types of cards that let you get statement credits for “Travel” coded purchases?

  2. What I am curious about and will find out later this year is whether a purchase for a vacation condo via homeaway.com’s online payment system will count as a travel expense.

  3. I’m also wondering if using the Barclay’s card for sites like HotelsTonight and Jetsetter count as travel. Anyone have any experience?

  4. One neat little trick when using the Arrival card is charging everything to your room when staying at a hotel or while on a cruise. We stayed at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas in March and in addition to the room I charged all my purchases at the retail stores as well as dining to my room. Our bill came to a little over $1000 and all of it was treated as travel by Barclay. We did the same thing on our cruise recently when we not only charged the cruise itself but everything else onboard. That included the specialty dining restaurants, gratuities, cocktails, cruise excursions, shopping onboard, even six bottles of liquor and every dollar was treated as travel by Barclay with full travel redemption.
    So to summarize charge everything to your room at a hotel and do the same when you are on a cruise to extend what counts towards a travel expense.

  5. Brother, I love your webpage. I check it almost every single day! This post was especially helpful for me! Do you know if buying points/miles or gift cards to any airliners will count as travel for the barclay card?! Thanks for all your information!

  6. Never mind, I found it! Sorry!

    Thank you!

  7. So what do you think is the reason you couldn’t complete a transaction at all in 2 of these experiments? Was it the fraud department, or was it that the website wouldn’t take any credit card, or was it specific to the Barclay card? It’s a Master Card, so I’m not understanding why it wouldn’t work if the site it set up to take credit cards.

    • @BB – Each card codes the transaction differently, but usually points.com transactions don’t count towards the travel category.

      @ James – No worries!

      @Lisa – There were errors and the transaction never got processed.

  8. @Scott – purchases for Home Away payments do not count as travel expense with this card. It’s coded differently, we found this out using our Arrival earlier this year.

  9. Pingback: How to Get 1.53 LifeMiles Per Dollar on All Purchases | milevalue.com

  10. Was the Marriott gift card a physical card or an eCard?

  11. Hey D

    I purchased 6000 Hilton Honor points using Barclays Arrival card and it did not show up as travel expense. FYI for anyone trying to purchase HHonor points in future.

  12. Pingback: Barclays Arrival/Arrival+ Cards (1.1%/2.2% travel credits) - Page 92 - FlyerTalk Forums

  13. Any idea how chase categorizes hyatt gift cards?

  14. This post was exactly what I was looking for…thanks for experimenting with all these options!! You’re a lifesaver! However, the redemption I really want to know about was the if the Hyatt gift card was an eligible travel redemption, as we’re staying at Hyatts during a Hawaii vacation in May, and I have a measly 2500 in Barclay points I’d like to put to good use before I close my account at the end of this month…such a bummer that you couldn’t purchase a Hyatt Card!? But I decided to try my luck with Hyatt anyway…the website let me purchase a gift card with my Barclay card this morning, no problem, so I will update as to whether the purchase counts as a travel redemption or not. If it doesn’t pan out, I can at least redeem my 2500 points for $12.50 statement credit, and then at least we’ll all know once and for all!? Thanks millionmilesecrets….love you guys!!

  15. UPDATE: Good news! The Hyatt Gift card was posted as a travel expense to my Barclay account (Merchant Category was listed as Hyatt Hotels), and I was just able to redeem 2500 points to cover the $25 gift certificate. So, Hyatt Gift Cards is also a redeemable purchase. Awesome!!

  16. I bought a Hotels.com Gift Card and it did NOT qualify as travel. Trying Marriott Gift Cards now thanks to this article.

  17. I can confirm what Tina said, Hyatt egift cards show up as Hyatt Hotels and can be zeroed on your statement with Barclays points.

  18. How about Hyatt check certificates? They’re like gift cards, but can be used internationally.

  19. Carnival Cruise Lines gift cards can also be zeroed on your statement.