Sapphire Preferred or Arrival Plus, Which Card Makes More Sense for Your Situation?

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Million Mile Secrets reader, Ihor, commented:

Could someone explain to me how the highly praised Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is better than Barclaycard Arrival Plus?

Great question Ihor!

The best card for you depends on your spending habits and travel goals.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is the better card for most folks.  Because it has a more valuable sign-up bonus, you can transfer to airline & hotel partners for Big Travel, and you can use the Chase Travel portal to book nearly any flight at a discount with points with no blackout dates.

That said, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus is a good card for folks who like the flexibility of statement credits for certain $100+ travel purchases.  Although there are other cash back cards you may want to consider instead.

Sapphire Preferred Or Arrival Plus Which Card Makes More Sense For Your Situation

Cash Back Is Nice, but If You’re Interested in Big Travel, You’ll Save More Money With the Chase Sapphire Preferred

I’ll explain why I prefer the Chase Sapphire Preferred card over the Barclaycard Arrival Plus!  And how you can smartly use both cards depending on the travel expense.

What Can You Get With the Barclaycard Arrival Plus Card?

Link:   Barclaycard Arrival Plus

Link:   My Full Review of the Barclaycard Arrival Plus Card

When you sign-up for the Barclaycard Arrival Plus card, you can earn 40,000 Arrival miles (~$400) when you spend $3,000 on purchases within the 1st 90 days of opening your account.

You’ll also get:

  • 2X Arrival miles on ALL purchases
  • 5% miles back when you redeem for $100+ travel purchases

The $89 annual fee is waived the 1st year.

How Much Are Arrival Miles Worth?

Let’s say you earn 50,000 Arrival miles.  You can redeem those miles for $250 in everyday purchases (0.05 cents per Arrival mile) or for $500 in travel expenses of $100 or more (1 cent per Arrival mile).

And when you redeem for $100+ travel purchases, you’ll also get 5% of your Arrival miles back making your 50,000 Arrival miles worth a total of $525 in travel (1.05 cents per Arrival mile).

Barclaycard defines travel as:

Airlines, hotels, motels, timeshares, campgrounds, car rental agencies, cruise lines, travel agencies, discount travel sites, trains, buses, taxis, limousines, and ferries as defined by the merchant category code.  Purchases made at merchants that do not process transactions under these terms or that use incorrect merchant category codes will not qualify.

And Flyertalk has a list of charges that count as travel.  Just keep in mind that Barclaycard removed tourist attractions as a travel category earlier this year, so some of these may no longer work.

Sapphire Preferred Or Arrival Plus Which Card Makes More Sense For Your Situation

Arrival Miles Are an Excellent Way to Save on Travel Expenses Like Eurostar Tickets, Boutique Hotels, and Cruises

However, you have to redeem your Arrival miles for travel purchases of at least $100.  This makes it difficult to get money out of the Arrival miles you earn for smaller expenses such as bus tickets, short taxi rides, or ferries.

So if you’re interested in earning cash back, you may want to consider a card with a lower minimum redemption.

For example, with the Citi Double Cash card you’ll earn 1% cash back on purchases and 1% cash back on payments.  You can redeem your cash back for purchases starting at just $25.  Plus, there’s NO annual fee and you’re not just limited to travel purchases.

Sapphire Preferred Or Arrival Plus Which Card Makes More Sense For Your Situation

$50 Uber Ride From the Airport? You Won’t Be Able to Redeem the Arrival Miles You Earn With the Barclaycard Arrival Plus Card!

That said, the Citi Double Cash has no sign-up bonus, while the Barclaycard Arrival Plus comes with a generous bonus of 40,000 Arrival miles ($400) when you complete the minimum spending.

Keep in mind, although Barclaycard calls them “miles” you can NOT transfer them to airline frequent flyer programs.  That’s a major drawback for folks who are interested in Business and First Class tickets.

What Can You Get with the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card?

Link:   Chase Sapphire Preferred

Link:   My Full Review of the Chase Sapphire Preferred  

With the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, you’ll earn 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points when you spend $4,000 on purchases within the 1st 3 months of opening your account.

Other perks include:

  • 5,000 bonus points when you add an authorized user who makes a purchase within the 1st 3 months
  • 2 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1 you spend on travel and dining
  • Primary car rental insurance – Covers damage or theft to your rental car, when you pay for the rental with your card
  • Trip delay reimbursement – Get up to $500 back per ticket when your trip is delayed more than 12 hours
  • No foreign transaction fees

The $95 annual fee is waived the 1st year.

With the Barclaycard Arrival Plus, you can only redeem for $100+ travel expenses made in the last 120 days.  Or for other expenses of $25+ but at a low rate of 0.5 cents per point.

However, with the Chase Sapphire Preferred you can get redeem for cash back starting at only $20. Chase Ultimate Rewards points never expire as long as you have the card open.  Plus, there are ways to earn more than 1 cent per $1 spent with the Chase Sapphire Preferred card.

For instance, if you earned 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points with your Chase Sapphire Preferred card, you could get $625 in travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal (1.25 cents per Chase Ultimate Rewards point).

But the Barclaycard Arrival Plus is a better option if you’re redeeming for travel expenses not covered by Chase Ultimate Rewards points, such as Airbnb stays, campgrounds, and train tickets.

But the #1 reason I favor the Chase Sapphire Preferred over the Barclaycard Arrival Plus is because you can also transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards points to airline and hotel partners for Big Travel.

 Chase Ultimate Rewards Airline Transfer Partners 
British AirwaysFlying Blue (Air France/KLM)Korean Air
Singapore AirlinesSouthwestUnited Airlines
Virgin Atlantic
 Chase Ultimate Rewards Hotel Transfer Partners 

For example, you could transfer your 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points to United Airlines.  That’s enough for a 1-way First Class flight to Hawaii.

Sapphire Preferred Or Arrival Plus Which Card Makes More Sense For Your Situation

You Could Fly First Class to Hawaii

A 1-way First Class flight to Hawaii could otherwise cost ~$2,000.  So you’d get a value of ~4 cents per Chase Ultimate Reward point for your flight.

Or transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt for a 2-night stay at the all-inclusive Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall in Jamaica.

Sapphire Preferred Or Arrival Plus Which Card Makes More Sense For Your Situation

2 Nights at the Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall in Jamaica Could Cost $2,332!

That gives you ~5 cents per Chase Ultimate Rewards point ($2,332 for 2 night stay / 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points).  That’s a LOT more than the 1.05 cents per Arrival mile you’ll get with the Barclaycard Arrival Plus!

Even if you only earn 1X Chase Ultimate Rewards points on all your Chase Sapphire Preferred purchases, you’ll can still get more travel from your spending than earning 2X Arrival miles on all Barclaycard Arrival Plus purchases.

So the Chase Sapphire Preferred outshines the Barclaycard Arrival Plus on just about all counts.

Who Might Consider Getting Both Cards?

Many folks in this hobby (like me!) have both the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Barcalycard Arrival Plus cards.

Just be sure to get the Chase Sapphire Preferred card 1st, because of Chase’s new rules.

But if I had to choose 1, I definitely favor Chase Sapphire Preferred because of travel partners.  Many of our trips were because of Chase Ultimate Rewards points.

None of our trips were financed with Arrival Plus miles, although I like the sign-up bonus and it’s good for expenses that miles don’t cover like $100+ Airbnb stays, ferries, trains, and more.    

I would probably use Chase Sapphire Preferred for renting cars though, because of the primary rental car insurance.

Also the Chase Sapphire Preferred is better because you can take advantage of 5X categories with the Chase Freedom, Ink Cash, and Ink Plus and add your points to the Chase Sapphire Preferred.  That gives you even more Chase Ultimate Rewards points for Big Travel.

Bottom Line

Trying to decide between the Barclaycard Arrival Plus and the Chase Sapphire Preferred card?

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus card is a good choice for folks looking for ways to redeem points for a wider variety of travel purchases, like $100+ boutique hotels, train tickets, and campgrounds.  But you may want to consider another cash back card that you can redeem for both small and large charges, not limited to travel, like the Citi Double Cash card.

And if you want Big Travel, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card is the way to go.  That’s because you get as much as ~5 cents per Chase Ultimate Reward point when you redeem for otherwise expensive hotels and airfare.

I far prefer the Chase Sapphire Preferred card.  If the Barclaycard Arrival Plus is your favorite, let me know why in the comments!

Or you can get both cards!  It won’t cost you anything because the annual fee on both cards is waived the 1st year.  If you choose this option, make sure you get the Chase Sapphire Preferred 1st because of the Chase’s 5 card rule.

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6 responses to “Sapphire Preferred or Arrival Plus, Which Card Makes More Sense for Your Situation?

  1. One thing to consider is that the Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal very rarely has the best prices on hotels, specifically, which has the result of greatly diminishing the value per mile. This should be considered when comparing these cards. By using the Barclaycard one can use whatever method that works for them to find hotels, flight plans, etc…pay for them with the card, redeem the miles and are not bound to book thru the more limited Chase Portal options.

  2. I have both cards, but tend to use the Arrival Plus everyday since it always gets 2X points – the Sapphire Preferred limits 2X to Travel and dining only.

  3. I liked the Barclay Arrival card before they made all the negative changes. My wife and I each got one and used the signup bonus to fly to Iceland on IcelandAir. Since the changes I’ve been getting a lot more value out of the Sapphire because of all their rewards partners. The comparison works out even better when you can find high priced items for a low point value redemption. I booked a room at the Hyatt in Chicago next May for only 12,000 points per night. The rate is $427 per night, which would cost 42,700 Arrival points. I would have to spend $21,350 to earn that amount that using the Arrival card, but only $6-12,000 to earn that on the Sapphire. I used the Sapphire for dining and travel, where it will earn the same amount as the Arrival, and use other points cards for other expenses. I haven’t even used the Arrival card since they changed it.

  4. The one thing handy for Barclays is that a PIN option is offered. The default is signature, but I had instances where the PIN was needed at automated ticket machines overseas. It’s just plain dumb that the U.S. chose chip and signature.

  5. Another option is Chase Ink for business ( not Chase Ink Cash). This card also accumulates UR points and can be transferred to airline partners.

  6. Michael Belisle

    I just applied and got approved for this.