Million Mile Secrets reader Raymond commented:
I was wondering, for the Arrival Plus card: I need to park my car long term. Would that be considered a travel expense? What suggestions might you have for parking?
Raymond is referring to the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®, which has a sign-up bonus of 40,000 miles (~$440) after you spend $3,000 in the 1st 3 months.
Redeeming Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® Miles for Travel Expenses
The 40,000 mile sign-up bonus is worth $400 if you redeem
for travel expenses.
But you get an extra 5% of your miles back after every travel redemption. So you’ll get another 2,000 points ($20) back after you redeem your 40,000 miles for travel.
You earn 2 miles per $1 for ALL purchases and you can redeem 1 point for 1 cent towards travel expenses. You also get an extra 5% of your miles back for travel redemptions. So you’re actually getting ~2.1 cents per mile, when you redeem for travel expenses.
However, if you use your miles for non-travel expenses, you’ll only get 0.5 cents per mile, which isn’t very good.
Is Parking a Travel Expense?
Barclays defines travel as:
Airlines, Travel Agencies & Tour Operators, Hotels, Motels & Resorts, Cruise Lines, Passenger Railways and Car Rental Agencies as defined by the merchant category code. Purchases made at merchants that do not process transactions under these terms or that use incorrect MasterCard merchant category codes will not qualify.
Parking is NOT on the list.
So if Raymond wants to use his Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® miles towards parking expenses, he’ll only get statement credits equal to 0.5 cents per mile.
Raymond could double the value of the 40,000 mile Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® sign-up bonus if he redeems for travel. But that doesn’t matter if Raymond doesn’t plan on having travel expenses and would rather save money on parking. That said, using long-term parking usually means that you’re traveling, so it would be better to redeem miles from the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® card for travel expenses.
Earning Miles on Parking
Raymond will earn 2 miles per $1 spent on all purchases with the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® card, including parking. He could use those miles later for a statement credit towards travel.
That way he is getting ~2.1 cents towards other travel expenses, per $1 spent on parking.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred card is another good choice for earning extra points on parking expenses.
You get 2 Ultimate Rewards points for every $1 you spend on travel, which includes parking.
So he’s getting ~2 cents if he uses his Ultimate Rewards points towards statement credits. And he’s getting 2.5 cents (2 Ultimate Rewards points X 1.25 cents towards travel redemptions) towards travel booked through the Ultimate Rewards portal.
For example, a flight from Austin to San Francisco on United, booked through the Ultimate Rewards travel portal, is $278 if you pay cash. But only 22,240 Ultimate Rewards points.
And sometimes your points are worth even more if you transfer them to airline and hotel partners.
For example, if you transferred Ultimate Rewards points to IHG Hotels, you could get a PointBreaks room at the Holiday Inn Prague Airport for 5,000 points ($50 if you used those 5,000 points for a statement credit). But if you paid cash, it would cost 93 Euro (~$129).
Raymond could use the miles he’s earned on the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® for parking expenses, but he’ll only get 0.5 cents per mile. This is half of what he’d get if he redeemed for an expense which Barclays considered a “travel” expense (Barclays doesn’t consider parking as a travel expense).
He’s better off using his Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® card to pay for parking. He’ll earn ~2.1 cents per $1 he spends towards future travel.
Or Raymond could use the Chase Sapphire Preferred card to pay for parking and earn 2 Ultimate Rewards points per $1 he spends.
He could use the points for:
- Statement credits (~2 cents per $1 spent)
- Travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal (~2.5 cents per $1 spent) or
- Big Travel with Small Money by transferring to hotels and airlines
Raymond will get ~1 cent per point if he uses either his Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® miles or the Chase Sapphire Preferred for statement credits. You can usually get more out of your points than 1 cent. But it is fine to use your points however YOU want to use them and if they will save you cash and if you won’t be traveling.