Is the Barclaycard Arrival Plus Worth the Annual Fee?

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Million Mile Secrets Reader, Mike, commented:

Am I missing something, or is the no-fee Chase Freedom Unlimited far superior to the Barclaycard Arrival Plus?  You can get more value with 1.5 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1 when you transfer them.  Even the Citi Double Cash looks superior, earning effectively 2% cash back vs. 2.1%.  And you can use it for anything and there is no annual fee.  Are there any benefits other than the sign-up bonus of the Barclaycard Arrival Plus that would justify the $89 annual fee?

Mike makes some great points!  There are good no annual fee credit card options that earn valuable rewards instead of the $89 annual fee Barclaycard Arrival Plus.

But the Barclaycard Arrival Plus has perks that make the card worth signing-up for, and depending on your situation, even keeping!

Is The Barclaycard Arrival Plus Worth The Annual Fee

My Barclaycard Arrival Plus Came in Handy During My Trip to Iceland!

I’ll show you where this card outshines most no annual fee cards.  And help you decide if it’s right for you!

Is the Barclaycard Arrival Plus Better Than a No Annual Fee Card?

Link:   Barclaycard Arrival Plus

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus is worth signing-up for because of its increased welcome bonus.  Right now, you’ll earn 50,000 Barclaycard Arrival miles after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first 90 days of opening your account.

That’s worth ~$525 toward travel!  But the ongoing rewards earning rate isn’t much better than a no annual fee card.  And the miles it earns come with a few restrictions.

About Barclaycard Arrival Miles

Barclaycard Arrival miles are worth 1 cent each when you redeem toward a $100+ travel purchase.  And, you’ll get 5% of your miles back every time you redeem them.  This effectively makes the card a 2.1% back card when you redeem miles for travel.

Travel purchases include things like:

  • Airlines
  • Campgrounds
  • Car rental agencies
  • Hotels (including Airbnb)

Check out my post on 10 creative ways to redeem your Barclaycard Arrival miles!

How Does It Compare to Other Cards?

The no annual fee Citi Double Cash card earns 1% cash back when you make a purchase, and another 1% cash back when you pay your bill.  Nearly the same earning rate as the Barclaycard Arrival Plus!

And because you’re earning cash back instead of miles, you have the freedom to use your rewards on things other than travel!

Is The Barclaycard Arrival Plus Worth The Annual Fee

Earning Cash Back Instead of Miles Allows You to Redeem Your Rewards for More Than Just Travel, Like Souvenir Shopping!

Note:   You can redeem your Barclaycard Arrival miles for non-travel expenses, but you’ll only get 0.5 cents per mile, which is NOT a good deal.

Another thing that makes redeeming Barclaycard Arrival miles difficult is the minimum redemption for travel purchases.  You have to redeem for travel purchases of at least $100.  That means you can’t use your miles for that $60 Uber ride from Brooklyn to the Bronx, or your $95 Airbnb stay!

So Why Sign-Up for the Card?

The 50,000 mile sign-up bonus of the Barclaycard Arrival Plus is higher than anything you’ll get with a no annual fee card, and reason enough to sign-up for the card!  The $89 annual fee is waived the first year, so you have 12 months to enjoy the sign-up bonus, and evaluate the other card benefits to decide if it’s worth keeping long-term.

1.   No Foreign Transaction Fees

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus has no foreign transaction fees.  This can save you big while traveling abroad!

Is The Barclaycard Arrival Plus Worth The Annual Fee

Don’t Leave the Country Without a Credit Card that Waives Foreign Transaction Fees

Few no annual fee credit cards come with no foreign transaction fees.  If you use the Citi Double Cash or Chase Freedom Unlimited card outside the US, you will be charged a 3% fee.

That means if you spend $3,000+ internationally, you will pay more in foreign transaction fees than for the Barclaycard Arrival Plus annual fee ($3,000 X 3% foreign transaction fee = $90 in fees).

2.   True Chip-and-PIN Capability

Another rare benefit in a credit card is true chip-and-PIN capability.

If you’re traveling to Europe, having a credit card with chip-and-PIN capability could be critical to your trip!  During my trip to Iceland, I needed a chip-and-PIN credit card to pay for gas.  If I didn’t have my Barclaycard Arrival Plus, I’d have been stuck on the side of the road!

Is The Barclaycard Arrival Plus Worth The Annual Fee

I Needed a Chip-and-PIN Card to Buy Gasoline in Iceland!

Most credit cards have only chip-and-signature capabilities, which won’t work with many vending machines, train stations, and gas pumps in Europe.  So it’s a good idea to have at least 1 chip-and-PIN card when you travel overseas!

If you’re a frequent international traveler, these benefits might be worth the annual fee.  But for most folks, it’s probably not worth keeping.

Bottom Line

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus is worth applying for because of its highest-ever 50,000 mile sign-up bonus and ongoing benefits like no foreign transaction fees and chip-and-PIN capability.  But there are other no annual fee credit cards with similar rewards earning rates, like the Chase Freedom Unlimited and Citi Double Cash.

Because of the valuable sign-up bonus and waived annual fee the first year of opening your account, it’s definitely worth signing-up for the Barclaycard Arrival Plus and seeing if it is worth keeping after the first year!

Will you apply for the new Barclaycard Arrival Plus 50,000 mile bonus?

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13 responses to “Is the Barclaycard Arrival Plus Worth the Annual Fee?

  1. I got this card in 2015, when it still had benefits that made the card worth keeping. There was Tripit Pro, which itself was a terrific benefit that justified the fee.. Then the benefits were gutted and the restrictions increased. You have to have 10,000 points (spend of $5,000 at 2X points) even to redeem for the $100. There are there are no fee and fee cards that offer better value and more flexibility say the Chase Freedom/Chase Freedom Unlimited combo or the AMEX Blue Cash Back. At the very least, the Arrival+ it is worth getting for the sign up bonus, but not keeping after that. After year one or even before that say after you get and cash out the bonus, you could do a product change downgrade to the no fee version, which earns 1% and the minimum point redemption is far lower than the fee version and sock drawer it. Another option is downgrade to the no fee version and if you have another Barclays card that you like better transferring that credit line to that card. Next year Barclays is going to offer the American Airlines Aviator card for new apps but only on American Airlines flights and at the airport–a very odd arrangement. At that time, I want to get the Aviator card, downgrade the no fee Arrival, keep $1,000 on it and put the remaining credit line on the Aviator card.

  2. Isn’t “True Chip-and-PIN Capability” also the perk for a non plus Arrival card? Why not to convert Arrival Plus to Arrival card before its first year anniversary date?

  3. I agree fully with the thrust of the article. It’s great for the signup bonus and to use for one year for those wanting cash back. After that very few will benefit from keeping it by paying an annual fee. They need to enhance the package of benefits rather than devaluing it as they did a while back. There’s one plus in a time when other issuers are getting very restrictive: At least for now, if you cancel this card you can reapply later. I canceled mine back in November, then reapplied in August, and my bonus posted the other day.

  4. @John The “Chip and Pin” feature and the no foreign xaction fees are huge perks for me personally, as I travel out of the country quite a bit.

    Also, I think the “Plus” card earns 2 points on EVERY purchase, where the non-Plus card earns 2 points on travel-related purchases, but one point on everything else. I think that’s the only major difference.

  5. Once I redeem the $500 travel statement credit, what good is the 2 points? Is there anything else I can redeem?

  6. If I have applied for the Barclay American Airlines AAdvantage before, am I eligible for the 50K sign-up bonus miles? I closed the card a year ago.

  7. The arrival card is a Mastercard, which works better with Plastiq them Visa cards. Much better card if used properly.

  8. Mike (no relation)

    This is why I’m looking forward to BarclayCard opening signups for their AAviator cards (in flight/lounge only) next year. Presumably they will also be Chip+PIN with 0 FTF, but should carry other benefits to make them more of a keeper for me, living in an AA hub. If you live in New York or Boston, their JetBlue card is also a fantastic option.

    As far as the Arrival+, if the 50k offer sticks around until I burn my 5/24 bridges next year, I’ll likely get it, but it’s definitely not a keeper

  9. You would have to spend $180,000 using the Arrival a second year with the Annual Fee vs. Double Cash to make it worth the Annual Fee, not to mention you can’t use it for much.

    This article is just screaming “The card has a good signup bonus, it sucks, but I just want referral income and need to jumble a few paragraphs together so it’s not obvious”

  10. The detailed terms I just received state that the account must have activity every 7th month or you lose access to the rewards program. Have to remember to take it out of the drawer sometime.

  11. Can one apply for both the Barclay arrival first card for 50k bonus and Barclay hawaian airline miles 50k bonus card on same day to avoid getting 2 different credit report inquiries?

    what is condition of multiple card applications for Barclay brand cards?

  12. @S LOL! So right, this blog is by far the most annoying with credit card referrals, especially now that it’s owned by Bankrate..kinda like a second class TPG blog

  13. @rahul – Only 1 card will be automatically approved. And you will have to call in for the other cards, and it is very difficult (in my experience) to get approved for more than 1 card at a time. And, yes, they will merge credit inquiries if made on the same day.