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Earlier this year, Barclaycard announced changes to the Barclaycard Arrival Plus card. From that date, more restrictive redemption rules took effect for new cardholders.
But if you were an existing cardholder, you could still redeem Barclaycard Arrival miles under the old rules for a limited time, depending on when you applied for your card.
Folks who got their Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard prior to September 30, 2014 will switch to the new rules on November 17, 2015.
So there’s not much time left to use your Barclaycard Arrival miles under the old system. Beyond that date, it will be harder to use your miles!
However, check your mail! Because some folks are getting an extension of the previous benefits.
I’ll explain what’s changing and share some strategies to use your Barclaycard Arrival miles before the more stringent rules take effect!
Link: Barclaycard Arrival Plus
If you applied for your Barclaycard Arrival Plus before September 30, 2014, you’ll switch to the new system on November 17, 2015.
Folks who applied after that date have until August 2016 to redeem under the old rules.
Here are the main changes:
- You’ll no longer receive 10% of your miles back when you redeem them for travel purchases. Under the new system, you’ll only get 5% back. This effectively makes the card a 2.1% back card when you redeem miles for travel (previously it was 2.2%).
- The minimum redemption for travel purchases is changing from $25 to $100.
- The minimum redemption for cash back on other purchases is changing from $12.50 to $25.
- Tourist attractions (like museums and theme parks) are NO longer on the travel redemption list
- You’ll no longer receive a free TripIt Pro membership with the card
The worst change for most folks is probably the change to $100 minimum travel redemptions.
This effectively cancels out the usefulness of the card for travel like:
- Commuter train tickets
- Inexpensive hotels, motels, campgrounds
How often do you run up a $100 taxi fare? Or buy a $100+ bus ticket?
If you have a lot of Barclaycard Arrival miles and want to redeem them at the better rate (10% of your miles back and minimum $25+ travel purchases), consider paying for travel expenses now.
Ways to Use Your Barclaycard Arrival Miles Now
1. Smaller Denomination Airline and Hotel Gift Cards
I experimented with buying airline miles and gift cards with the Barclaycard Arrival Plus to see which transactions counted as travel. And I repeated the process with hotel points and gift cards.
In general, most points and miles purchases do NOT count as travel (read my posts above for details). But many gift cards purchased directly from the airline or hotel DO count, including:
- American Airlines
- United Airlines
So if you know you’ll use them in the future, you could buy travel gift cards now ($25+) and redeem your Barclaycard Arrival miles for them (before November 17, 2015). And you’ll receive 10% of your redeemed miles back.
Note: You can’t buy airline and hotel gift cards from 3rd parties or at office supply or grocery stores, because they will NOT count as travel.
2. Commuter Transportation
You’ll have to jump through a few hoops to enable gift credit purchases on your Uber account. See this Wiki for instructions on how to do this!
If you live in an urban area, you may be able to purchase subway or commuter transportation cards and have it count as travel! Then use them when you need them.
Check this FlyerTalk thread for transit system reports on which purchases count as travel. For example, folks report that New York City MTA subway cards qualify.
3. Airbnb Gift Cards
That said, if you’ve bought Airbnb gift cards, it could be worth calling Barclaycard to see if they’ll manually adjust it to a travel purchase.
So Airbnb gift cards should qualify as a travel purchase for redeeming Barclaycard Arrival miles. You can purchase them in $25 increments.
Airbnb gift cards do NOT expire. If you’re new to Airbnb, sign-up with my link to earn $20 off your 1st booking.
4. Tourist Attractions – Memberships and Gift Cards
If there’s a museum, gallery, or other tourist attraction you’ve successfully redeemed Barclaycard Arrival miles for in the past, you may want to see if they sell memberships or gift cards if you’re a frequent visitor.
Some attractions are NOT considered travel, so I’d recommend either making a small ($25) test purchase 1st, or only using attractions you’ve redeemed miles for before.
5. Refundable Airline Reservations
For example, you could book a Southwest Business Select or Anytime fare for future travel (both fully refundable) and redeem Barclaycard Arrival miles for a statement credit.
Later, if your travel dates don’t work out, you can cancel these tickets for a full refund. But your Barclaycard Arrival travel credit won’t be reversed.
Plans change! But I wouldn’t do this repeatedly. 😉
Should You Keep This Card?
The Barclaycard Arrival Plus has an $89 annual fee (waived for the 1st year).
For new cardholders, the 40,000 mile sign-up bonus after completing minimum spending requirements is still a good deal. That’s now worth ~$420 in travel purchases of $100 or more.
But after the 1st year, it’s probably not worth paying the annual fee. You’ll get 2.1% back for travel redemptions, but that’s become harder to use because of the minimum $100 purchase requirement.
That said, some folks report Barclaycard has offered to waive the annual fee for another year when they call to cancel. It doesn’t hurt to try.
Or you could ask Barclaycard to downgrade your card to a no annual fee card. But remember you won’t earn the sign-up bonus if you downgrade.
Instead, you might consider signing-up for cards with no annual fee which offer a similar amount of cash back, like:
Discover it – Earns 1% cash back on all purchases and 5% cash back in rotating quarterly categories, plus new cardholders (or folks who previously registered) will have their cash back doubled at the end of the 1st 12 months (effectively 2% back for the 1st year). And you currently get $50 after your 1st purchase within the 1st 3 months of opening your account.
Discover it Miles – Earns 1.5 miles per $1 you spend (worth 1.5% back), and your miles are doubled after the 1st 12 months (effectively 3% back for the 1st year)
I like no annual fee cards because they’re free to keep, and can improve your credit score over the long term.
As always, do the math and decide what’s best for you!
If you do cancel your Barclaycard Arrival Plus card, you may be able to earn the sign-up bonus again. But wait at least 6 months before applying, and remember Barclaycard typically only approves folks for 1 or 2 credit cards a year.
After that date, you’ll only earn 2.1% back on travel redemptions of $100 or more. Previously, it was 2.2% back and the minimum was $25.
Also, tourist attractions will no longer count as travel.
If this applies to you, you might consider redeeming Barclaycard Arrival miles now for purchases you can use in the future, like:
- Airline and hotel gift cards
- Uber or commuter transportation credits
Airbnb gift cards
- Tourist attraction gift cards or memberships
- Refundable airline reservations
That said, check your mail to see if Barclaycard has granted you an extension into 2016.
If you don’t plan on keeping your Barclaycard Arrival Plus card, you could apply for a no annual fee card that earns a similar amount of cash back, like the American Express Fidelity Rewards, Citi Double Cash, Discover it, or Discover it Miles cards.
If you have other ideas for how to use your Barclaycard Arrival miles before the new rules take effect, please share them in the comments!