Cards to Use for Under $100 Travel Purchases After the Changes to Arrival Plus

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The Barclaycard Arrival Plus is increasing the minimum to redeem travel statement credits from $25 to $100.  That’s a big jump!

So folks are thinking about other cards with lower minimums on award redemptions.

Which Cash Back Cards Are Comparable To The Barclaycard Arrival Plus

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus Will Soon Only Allow You to Use Miles to Discount $100+ Travel Purchases.  So Which Cards Might You Consider Using for Parking, Tolls, Trains, etc.?

I’ll explain which cards offer similar opportunities to earn points that you can use for travel purchases.  And if it’s worth making the switch!

Upcoming Changes to the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®

Link:   Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®

Here’s what’s changing:

  • You’ll no longer receive 10% of your miles back when you redeem them for travel.  Instead, you’ll only earn 5% back.
  • In the past, you could use Barclaycard Arrival miles towards statement credits for travel purchases of at least $25.  Now, you’ll have to redeem them for purchases of at least $100 (10,000 Barclaycard Arrival miles).
  • If you choose to redeem miles for cash back, the minimum redemption is increasing to 5,000 Barclay Arrival miles ($25).  Previously, you could redeem for as little as $12.50 (2,500 Barclaycard Arrival miles).
  • The free TripIt Pro subscription is being discontinued :(
  • Tourist attractions (museums, theme parks, Disney, etc) will be removed from the qualifying travel redemption list.
Which Cash Back Cards Are Comparable To The Barclaycard Arrival Plus

You Won’t Be Able to Offset Charges Under $100, Like Taxi Rides.  And You’ll Get Back Fewer Miles!

But when the changes happen to your card depends on when you applied.  According to the Barclaycard representative I spoke with:

  • Changes will go into effect in November for cardholders who opened their card before September 30, 2014.
  • Changes will go into effect in August 2016 for cardholders who opened the card on or after October 1, 2014.

So these changes will happen as early as this fall for some folks!

Because you’ll only receive 5% of your Barclaycard Arrival miles back (instead of 10%), the Barclaycard Arrival Plus is essentially a 2.1% back card.  And it has an $89 annual fee (waived the 1st year).

Other Travel Cards to Consider

Chase Sapphire Preferred

Link:   Chase Sapphire Preferred

The Chase Sapphire Preferred earns 2X Chase Ultimate Rewards points on travel purchases.

Chase says these purchases count as travel:

Airlines, hotels, motels, timeshares, campgrounds, car rental agencies, cruise lines, travel agencies, discount travel sites, operators of passengers trains, buses, taxis, limos, ferrys, tolls, bridges, highways, and parking lots and garages.

So purchases under $100 for travel like taxi rides, tolls, and parking will earn bonus points.

You can redeem Chase Ultimate rewards points for cash back starting at $20.

Or you can redeem for flights in the Chase Travel Portal where they’re worth 1.25 cents each.

Chase Ultimate Rewards Can Get You Big Travel Such as International Flights and Hotel Stays When You Transfer to Travel Partners

But my favorite way to use Chase Ultimate Rewards is to transfer them to hotel and airline partners including United Airlines, British Airways, and Hyatt for Big Travel!

Citi ThankYou Premier

Link:   Citi ThankYou Premier

Link:   My review of the Citi ThankYou Premier card

The Citi ThankYou Premier card earns 3X Citi ThankYou points on travel purchases, including gas.

You can redeem Citi ThankYou points for cash back but this is NOT a good option.  That’s because they are only worth 0.5 cents each for cash back, although there is a trick to double their value for mortgage or student loan payments.

Citi ThankYou points are worth 1.25 cents each when you book travel with the Citi Travel Center.

Which Cash Back Cards Are Comparable To The Barclaycard Arrival Plus

You Can Transfer ThankYou Points to Singapore Airlines and Other Airline or Hotel Partners When You Have the Citi ThankYou Premier or Citi Prestige Cards

But they’re worth even more when you transfer them to your Citi Prestige account and then to hotel or airline partners such as Virgin Atlantic and Hilton for Big Travel.

Cash Back Cards

Other cards offer ~2% cash back with NO annual fee.  So they are good to keep forever to help boost your credit score!

Citi Double Cash

Link:   Citi Double Cash 

The Citi Double Cash card gives you 1% cash back on all purchases.  And another 1% cash back when you make payments on your balance.

You can redeem your cash back starting at $25.

Considering it has NO annual fee, this is a good 1 to consider.

It does NOT have a sign-up bonus.  Also, be aware that it has a 3% foreign transaction fee if you use it overseas.

Discover It and Discover It Miles

Link:   Discover It

Link:   Discover It Miles

The Discover It card has quarterly 5% cash back categories throughout the year, on up to $1,500 in purchases each quarter after you sign-up.  You’ll earn 1% cash back on everything else.

Because cash back is doubled after the 1st 12 billing cycles for new card holders, you can get up to 10% cash back with this card.

You can redeem for a statement credit or direct deposit into your bank account for any amount.

If you’re looking for a card with NO bonus categories to remember, the Discover It Miles card earns 1.5 miles per $1 spent (worth 1.5% back) on all purchases.  And at the end of the 1st 12 billing cycles, your miles are doubled.

Both cards have NO annual fee and NO foreign transaction fees.

Fidelity Visa

Link:   Fidelity Visa

I’ve written about the Fidelity Visa.  And how this card earns 2% cash back on every purchase when you link it to an eligible Fidelity account.  The rewards are easy to redeem for account credits and flights.

But the best way to use this card it to link it to a Fidelity retirement account to save money for the future.  The compound interest you’ll earn over time can add up to much more than 2%!

It’s a good choice if you want a card with no bonus categories to think about.

While it does NOT have an annual fee, this card adds a 1% foreign transaction fee.  So you’ll still get 1% cash back when you use this card overseas.

The minimum to redeem for cash back is $50.

Any Others?

For smaller travel purchases, sometimes cards with rotating bonus categories are helpful.  For instance, through September 30, 2015, Chase Freedom earns 5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points (5% cash back) at gas stations, when you activate.

And until that same date, the Citi Dividend card earns 5% back at Hilton, which includes their budget brands Hampton Inn and Homewood Suites.

With the Chase Freedom card, you’ll currently earn 15,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards ($150) when you spend $500 on purchases within the 1st 3 months of opening your account.

And for Uber rides, the Capital One Quicksilver card or the Capital One QuicksilverOne card earns 20% back through April 30, 2016.  Folks new to Uber can use Emily’s link to get a free ride worth up to $20.

Hot Deals!

Emily and I will always tell you about the best offers on credit cards, even if we won’t earn a commission.

Browse the Hot Deals page.  You might find a card you like more than the Barclaycard Arrival Plus.  For beginners, I suggest the Chase Sapphire Preferred because it allows you to transfer points to great partners such as United Airlines, Hyatt, and British Airways.

Bottom Line

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus is changing its perks.  Soon you’ll only be able to use their miles for $100+ travel purchases.  So some folks are wondering which cards are better for smaller travel expenses like cabs, tolls, and parking.

Travel rewards cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Citi Thank You Premier are good options.

Or you may prefer cash back cards with no annual fee like the Citi Double Cash, Discover It, Discover It Miles, and Fidelity Visa.  They have varying minimum award redemption amounts, but none as high as the Barclaycard Arrival Plus ($100!).

Will you switch cards when the changes to the Barclaycard Arrival Plus kick in?

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10 responses to “Cards to Use for Under $100 Travel Purchases After the Changes to Arrival Plus

  1. Anthony Thomas

    I currently use TripIt free and feel as if it’s an enterprise quality for $0, so that lost benefit isn’t too damaging. Combined with AwardWallet free (or better, the small token donation) you’re set.

  2. Anyone have the bank of america card that gives you 2% cash back on groceries and 3% on gas and 1% on everything else? Do you know if there is a min amount to redeem the cash back?

  3. My strategy would be to pay with one of the travel rewards cards listed and then use the cash back I have from my Fidelity Amex to pay that card.

  4. That’s a bummer, but I will still hold on to my Arrival Plus, because I enjoy getting 2 miles on EVERY category. Still very worth the $89 annual fee to me.

  5. The big difference between using those other cards and the Arrival, the Arrival pays 2% back on everything not just travel. You just have to redeem your points through a travel purchase of $100+ (near future) to get the full 2% back as a statement credit. You can go ahead and switch to those other cards but you will only get back 1% on usual purchases generally depending on the card.

    Yes the card has some negatives now, for sure, but I’ll bet most who have the card are not going to cancel it. There just isn’t any card that pays 2.1% on every single purchase (travel or not) when redeemed for travel. If that’s confusing, read up on the card and how the rebates operate. It’s pretty unique.

  6. @Dan

    You need to spend $89,500 on your Arrival+ to overcome the AF vs a no AF 2% cash back card with the lowered redemption bonus. IMO that’s a bad strategy. You can also take advantage of Small Business Saturday with the Fidelity Amex and social media offers which will raise the break even number even higher.

  7. Definitely one thing I like about the Arrival+ card is the chip and pin feature. It made buying train tickets in Italy last September a breeze. Does the no-fee version of the Arrival have that feature (or is there another card with it)? I would almost keep it just for that convenience if there is no other option. I tried to look up info on the no-fee Arrival, but the Barclays website is still void of all the Arrival card info.

  8. @KentC
    “Yes the card has some negatives now, for sure, but I’ll bet most who have the card are not going to cancel it.”

    I have a feeling many will cancel or downgrade to the no fee version. The $89 AF is quite high for all the downgrades that are coming.

  9. Gregory Miller

    @MilesMethods.com
    Unless I am mistaken, $89,500 in spend would give you like $1,800 back. 2 points for every dollar = $179,000; $.01 cash back = $1,790. I think to make back the AF you would need to spend about $4,500. My match might be wrong though.

    Why does no one ever talk about the BoA card if you have a bank account with them (unless because you need to have a high balance). If you have at least 50K, then you get a 50% bonus on top of the 1.5% back (2.25%), which is better than the arrival card. It also has no annual fee. The signup bonus isn’t as good (10,000) but you pretty quickly surpass the arrival card sign up bonus when you factor in the $89 AF.

  10. @Gregory Miller

    You’re talking about the breakeven point for the AF, not vs a no AF 2% card.

    Arrival+
    $4500 x .02 = $90
    $90 x .05 = $4.50 (redemption bonus)
    $90 + $4.50 = $94.50
    $94.50 – $89 AF = $5.50

    Fidelity Amex
    $4500 x .02 = $90

    Fidelity Amex is ahead by $84.50

    Arrival+
    $89,500 x .02 = $1790
    $1790 x .05 = $89.50 (redemption bonus)
    $1790 + $89.50 = $1879.50
    $1879.50 – $89 AF = $1790.50

    Fidelity Amex
    $89,500 x .02 = $1790

    Arrival+ is ahead by 50 cents.