Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®: Will Buying Hotel Points and Gift Cards Count as Travel?

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Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®:  Will Buying Hotel Points and Gift Cards Count as Travel?

Million Mile SecretsBarclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®:  Will Buying Hotel Points and Gift Cards Count as Travel?Million Mile Secrets Team

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One of my favorite things about the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®  is getting ~2.1% cash back when you redeem your miles for travel.  The sign-up bonus of 40,000 miles is worth ~$400 when used as statement credits toward travel purchases.

You get the bonus after meeting the minimum spending requirement.  And I’ve listed 40+ ways to do it!

I experimented to see which airline miles and gift card purchases Barclaycard counts as travel.   Million Mile Secrets readers have asked which hotel purchases are coded as travel, so I used my Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® to buy hotel points and gift cards.  Some of the results may surprise you!

What Does Barclaycard Consider Travel?

Link:   Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®

Barclaycard defines travel as:

  • Airlines
  • Travel Agencies & Tour Operators
  • Hotels
  • Motels & Resorts
  • Cruise Lines
  • Passenger Railways
  • Car Rental Agencies

As with airlines, some hotel point and gift card purchases aren’t coded as travel because they’re made through a 3rd party (like points.com) which isn’t recognized as a travel expense by Barclaycard.

Some folks may not have immediate travel plans, so they want to buy miles, points, and gift cards and redeem their points before canceling their Barclaycard Arrival card.  If they don’t use their points before canceling the card, they’ll lose them!

Experiment:  Which Miles and Gift Card Purchases From Hotels Count as Travel?

I picked 8 major hotel chains and used my Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® to buy points and gift cards from each of them.

Note:  Don’t try this at home!  I had to call Barclaycard repeatedly when my card started getting denied on each transaction.  I guess we should be happy they have such a vigilant fraud prevention department! :)

Barclays Arrival Experiment Will Buying Hotel Points And Gift Cards Count As Travel
Hotel Purchases, Round 1: Choice, Hilton, Wyndham, and Marriott

After some back-and-forth with the fraud department, I was finally able to make the last bunch of purchases.

Barclays Arrival Experiment Will Buying Hotel Points And Gift Cards Count As Travel
You Earn 2X Miles on ALL Purchases…But You Can Only Use Those Miles to Get Cash Back on SOME of Them

What I Bought

1.   Hilton

I bought 2,000 Hilton points.  Barclaycard DID count this as travel.  So I CAN use my miles to get cash back on this purchase because it was at least $25.

Barclays Arrival Experiment Will Buying Hotel Points And Gift Cards Count As Travel
I Bought 2,000 Hilton Points

And I bought a Hilton gift card for $25, plus a $1.95 delivery fee.  Barclaycard did NOT count this as travel.  So I can NOT use my miles to get cash back on this purchase.

Barclays Arrival Experiment Will Buying Hotel Points And Gift Cards Count As Travel
I Bought a Gift Card on the Hilton Website

2.   Hyatt

I bought 2,000 Hyatt points.  Hyatt processes points purchases through Points.com, so I was not surprised that Barclaycard did NOT count this as travel.  So I can NOT use my miles to get cash back on this purchase.

Barclays Arrival Experiment Will Buying Hotel Points And Gift Cards Count As Travel
You Can Buy Points on Hyatt’s Website

I tried and tried to buy a Hyatt gift card online, and on the phone, but their systems would not recognize my Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®.  I gave up when they suggested I physically go to a Hyatt hotel to buy a gift card!

Barclays Arrival Experiment Will Buying Hotel Points And Gift Cards Count As Travel
I Couldn’t Buy a Gift Card Online With the Barclaycard Arrival

3.   Starwood Preferred Guest

I bought 1,000 Starwood Preferred Guest points.  Starwood also processes points purchases through Points.com, and Barclaycard did NOT count this as travel.  So I can NOT use my miles to get cash back on this purchase.

Barclays Arrival Experiment Will Buying Hotel Points And Gift Cards Count As Travel
Starwood Is Having a Points Sale! But Barclaycard Still Doesn’t Consider This Travel

Starwood no longer sells gift cards online, so that was the end of my Starwood experimenting!

4.   IHG

I bought 2,000 IHG points and got a 2,000 point bonus!  But Barclaycard did NOT count this as travel.  So I can NOT use my miles to get cash back on this purchase.  This was also processed through Points.com.

Barclays Arrival Experiment Will Buying Hotel Points And Gift Cards Count As Travel
IHG Charges Less the More Points You Buy

IHG also does not sell gift cards online.  Foiled again! 🙂

5.   Marriott

I bought 3,000 Marriott points.   It was another Points.com transaction, so Barclaycard did NOT count this as travel.  So I can NOT use my miles to get cash back on this purchase.

Barclays Arrival Experiment Will Buying Hotel Points And Gift Cards Count As Travel
I Bought 3,000 Marriott Points

But…finally success!  I bought a Marriott gift card and Barclaycard DID count this as travel.  So I CAN use my miles to get cash back on this purchase because it was at least $25.

Barclays Arrival Experiment Will Buying Hotel Points And Gift Cards Count As Travel
Finally! Barclaycard Counted This Purchase as Travel

6.   Choice Hotels

I bought 3,000 points from Choice Hotels.  Barclaycard did NOT count this as travel because it was another Points.com transaction.  So I can NOT use my miles to get cash back on this purchase.

Barclays Arrival Experiment Will Buying Hotel Points And Gift Cards Count As Travel
I Bought 3,000 Points From Choice Hotels

And I bought a Choice Hotels gift card for $25, plus $2.95 shipping.  Barclaycard did NOT count this as travel.  So I can NOT use my miles to get cash back on this purchase.

7.   Club Carlson

I bought 4,000 Club Carlson points, and the purchase went through Points.com.  Barclaycard did NOT count this as travel.  So I can NOT use my miles to get cash back on this purchase.

Barclays Arrival Experiment Will Buying Hotel Points And Gift Cards Count As Travel
I Bought 4,000 Club Carlson Gold Points

Club Carlson does not sell gift cards online in the US, so I couldn’t test it out.

8.   Wyndham

I bought 4,000 points from Wyndham.  Barclaycard did NOT count this as travel because it was a Points.com transaction.  So I can NOT use my miles to get cash back on this purchase.

Barclays Arrival Experiment Will Buying Hotel Points And Gift Cards Count As Travel
No Luck With Wyndham Counting Points as Travel – Points.com Should Have Been a Dead Giveaway

Wyndham, like IHG, Starwood, and Club Carlson, does not sell gift cards online.

The Results Are In

I checked my statement to see which purchases Barclaycard counted as travel.  To redeem statement credits for travel, log into your Barclaycard Arrival account and under “Pay Yourself Back For Travel” click “Redeem Now.”

Barclays Arrival Experiment Will Buying Hotel Points And Gift Cards Count As Travel
Travel Expenses Must Be a Minimum of $25 (2,500 Miles) to Redeem Miles

Here are the purchases Barclaycard counted as travel.  (I previously discussed the airlines listed.)

So, the only purchases that counted were:

  • Hilton (points)
  • Marriott (gift cards)

Barclaycard did NOT count the rest of my purchases as travel!  I wasn’t surprised that most of the miles and point purchases didn’t qualify, because they’re generally processed by points.com.  But I thought all of the gift cards would be coded as travel.

Bottom Line

I bought points and gift cards from hotels to see which purchases would be considered travel by Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®.

You get 2.1% cash back with this card but only for travel redemptions.

Of all the hotels I tried, the only purchases considered travel were:

  • Hilton (points)
  • Marriott (gift cards)

The rest of the purchases were not coded as travel.  So if you’re considering buying gift cards or points as a way to use your Barclaycard Arrival points, refer back to this post to make sure they’ll count.

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Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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Carnival Cruise Lines gift cards can also be zeroed on your statement.

How about Hyatt check certificates? They’re like gift cards, but can be used internationally.

I can confirm what Tina said, Hyatt egift cards show up as Hyatt Hotels and can be zeroed on your statement with Barclays points.

I bought a Hotels.com Gift Card and it did NOT qualify as travel. Trying Marriott Gift Cards now thanks to this article.

UPDATE: Good news! The Hyatt Gift card was posted as a travel expense to my Barclay account (Merchant Category was listed as Hyatt Hotels), and I was just able to redeem 2500 points to cover the $25 gift certificate. So, Hyatt Gift Cards is also a redeemable purchase. Awesome!!

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