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Million Mile Secrets reader, Ihor, commented:
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.
What Can You Get With the Barclaycard Arrival Plus Card?
Link: Barclaycard Arrival Plus
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.
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.
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
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 Airways||Flying Blue (Air France/KLM)||Korean Air|
|Singapore Airlines||Southwest||United Airlines|
|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.
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.
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.
Who Might Consider Getting Both 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.
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.
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.
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.