Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®: Will Buying Hotel Points and Gift Cards Count as Travel?
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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.
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?
Barclaycard defines travel as:
- Travel Agencies & Tour Operators
- 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!
After some back-and-forth with the fraud department, I was finally able to make the last bunch of purchases.
What I Bought
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Starwood no longer sells gift cards online, so that was the end of my Starwood experimenting!
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.
IHG also does not sell gift cards online. Foiled again! 🙂
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.
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.
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.
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.
Club Carlson does not sell gift cards online in the US, so I couldn’t test it out.
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.
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.”
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.
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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