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INSIDER TIP: Don’t use your Barclaycard Arrival Plus miles for typical travel expenses (like airfare, hotels or car rentals). They’re better saved for things you can’t normally redeem miles and points for, such as cruises or Airbnbs).
Almost every airline and hotel chain has their own brand of miles and points that you can use toward free flights or stays. While airfare and lodging expenses make up the bulk of many people’s travel spending, there are still a ton of items — car rentals, excursions, transfers, taxes, fees and booking charges to a name a few – that often can’t be covered with airline or hotel points.
And then some people take entire vacations, like cruises or all-inclusive resort stays, that are difficult or impossible to book with points.
The good news it there are certain credit card points that are perfect for these type of expenses. Barclays Arrival miles you earn from the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® are extremely valuable because they can cover many purchases that traditional airline or hotel points can’t.
In fact, redemptions towards travel expenses that can’t be booked with other types of miles are typically the best way to use Barclays Arrival Plus miles.
Best Ways to Use Barclays Arrival Plus Miles
Read our review of the Barclaycard Arrival Plus
The Barclaycard Arrival Plus currently has a huge welcome bonus of 70,000 Arrival miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first 90 days of account opening. That’s worth $700 toward eligible travel purchases of $100 or more.
According to Barclays, eligible travel purchases include:
Airlines, hotels, motels, timeshares, campgrounds, car rental agencies, cruise lines, purchase and travel agencies, discount travel sites, trains, buses, taxis, limousines, ferries, and the account annual fee as defined by the merchant category code.
Plus, the card earns:
- 2x miles per dollar on ALL purchases
- A 5% rebate when you redeem miles for travel purchases
Barclaycard Arrival Miles are worth 1 cent each when you redeem them for travel purchases of $100 or more (minimum redemption of 10,000 miles) or toward the annual fee. That means you’ll effectively earn 2.1% back on all purchases (2 miles per dollar + 5% points rebate) when you redeem for travel, which is a great deal.
To use Barclays Arrival Plus miles, log into your account and find the “Rewards and Benefits” section. You can then easily select eligible travel purchases of $100 or more made in the past 120 days and use your miles to erase the charge.
For other redemptions, the value is much less. When redeemed for a statement credit, Arrival Miles are worth just 0.5 cents each. That means you earn only 1% back when you redeem your miles for anything other than travel or toward the annual fee.
Any airline purchases made with the Barclaycard Arrival Plus are eligible for redemption at a rate of 1 cent per mile, with a minimum redemption of 10,000 points. So if you book a $149 flight with your Arrival Plus card, you simply log onto your account page and redeem 14,900 miles to cover the cost of the flight.
While Arrival Plus miles can be used towards any flight, you’ll find the best value when redeeming for cheaper tickets, especially on airlines where you can’t transfer flexible points from cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. For example, Spirit Airlines is not a transfer partner for Chase Ultimate Rewards or American Express Membership Rewards, so unless you specifically collect Spirit miles, it can be hard to use rewards for Spirit flights.
But because Arrival Miles can be used for ANY airline purchase, you can book Spirit tickets using the Barclaycard Arrival Plus card and then redeem miles to cover the cost.
Though Arrival Plus miles are very flexible, there are certain flights where you are better off using other types of miles. For example, business-class flights from the the US to Europe can easily cost thousands of dollars. With Arrival Plus miles worth 1 cent each, it would take a ton of miles to pay for such a flight.
Searching for summer flights on United.com, I found business-class flights from Washington, DC to Rome starting at over $5,000. Using Arrival Plus miles for these flights would cost you 500,000 or more miles — definitely not a good deal!
Alternatively, you could redeem just 118,000 United Airlines miles for this same itinerary (cost may vary since United has dynamic pricing on award bookings). You are far better off saving Arrival Plus miles for cheaper flights or for when you don’t have miles to use on your airline of choice.
Hotels and Motels
Hotel and motel stays work the same way: simply charge your stay to the Arrival Plus card and then redeem miles through your online account to offset the charge.
Similar to airlines, the best use of Arrival Plus miles is generally when you can’t use other types of miles or points for your hotel stay. There are many independent and boutique hotels that don’t have their loyalty program, making them a great place to redeem Arrival Plus Miles. The same is true for many locally-owned, small-town motels. You can still use your miles at major hotel chains like Marriott or Hilton, but these hotels have more options for redeeming miles and points for stays.
While flights and hotel stays are probably the most frequent use of miles and points, it’s important to remember that tons of cards offer the ability to redeem points for these types of expenses. Cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or The Platinum Card® from American Express allow you to transfer points to certain airlines and hotels. These cards, plus others like the US Bank FlexPerks® Travel Rewards Visa Signature Card, allow you to book travel through their online travel portals.
When you take that route, your points can be worth up to 1.5 cents each, which is 50% more than Arrival Miles redeemed for travel. So be sure to look at all of your miles and points to see where you can find the best value.
Other Types of Lodging
Barclaycard Arrival Miles really come in handy when you want to book travel that is typically not covered by miles and points. For example, very few cards will allow you to redeem points for campgrounds, timeshares or rental sites like Airbnb. But if your campground or timeshare company will accept a credit card, you’ll be able to redeem your Arrival Miles for the stay.
Major cruise lines such as Carnival and Royal Caribbean have their own branded credit card and loyalty programs. Folks who take cruises regularly may enjoy these cards, but since you can only redeem the points for cruises, they aren’t the best for people who want flexibility in their travel.
Unlike these branded cruise line cards, you can use Arrival Miles toward cruise purchases AND all the other things on this list.
Travel Agencies and Discount Travel Sites
When you make a booking with a travel agency, whether online or at a physical travel agency location, you can redeem Arrival Miles toward your purchase of $100 or more.
There are no shortage of online travel agencies where you can use Arrival Plus miles, including Orbitz, Expedia, Travelocity, Hotwire and Priceline, but almost any site that sells flights or hotel stays should work.
Keep in mind that most travel agencies and discount travel sites sell way more than just flights and hotels. Tours, excursions, vacation activities, rental cars and theme park tickets can all be purchased through various discount travel sites. This is a great option because many of these purchases would not count as travel if you purchased directly from the vendor (attractions do not qualify as travel for the Arrival Plus card).
For example, if you purchase Disney tickets directly from a Disney Park, this would be considered an attraction and would not count as a travel purchase. But if you buy your tickets from a travel agency or discount travel site, it would count as a travel purchase, so you can redeem your miles to erase the charge.
To redeem Arrival Miles this way, pay the travel agency or site with your Barclaycard Arrival Plus card and then redeem Arrival Miles towards your purchase through your online account.
Other Types of Transportation
Car rentals, buses, trains, ferries, taxis, limousines … essentially if you can pay for your method of transportation with a credit card, it should be eligible for Arrival miles redemption.
Local transportation modes such as buses and trains are especially nice, since you can rarely book these with credit card miles. Remember, though, that the minimum redemption for Arrival Plus miles is $100 (10,000 miles). If your transportation expense is less than $100, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus is not the best option. You’d be better off using a card like the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card, which allows you to use Capital One miles for travel expenses with no minimum redemption amount.
Despite the $100 minimum redemption, there are still plenty of instances where you can use Arrival Plus miles for ground transportation. Regional train tickets (such as Amtrak), or international train travel (such as Eurail) will often run you at least $100 for a ticket, which means you can redeem Arrival Plus miles. Similarly, there have been a number of reports of folks using their Barclaycard Arrival Plus card for monthly transit passes, for a bus, train or subway.
As long as the vendor codes the expense as travel, you’ll be able to redeem the miles for your $100+ purchase (you can always check with the vendor if you’re not sure how they will classify the purchase).
Barclays Arrival miles have incredible flexibility because you can used them toward almost any travel expense. Currently, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® is offering a welcome bonus of 70,000 Arrival miles after you meet minimum spending requirements. That’s worth $700 towards nearly any travel expense of $100 or more.
Here are some of the best ways to use Barclays Arrival miles:
- Inexpensive flights, especially when you don’t collect miles from that airline or with low-cost airlines like Spirit
- Independent or boutique hotels without a loyalty program, or locally-owned motels
- Campgrounds or alternative types of lodging like Airbnb
- Online travel agencies and discount travel sites like Orbitz
- Ground transportation including car rentals, Eurail tickets, and limousines
You’ll also get a 5% rebate when you redeem Arrival Miles for travel, so you’ll effectively earn 2.1% back on purchases.
For more about Barclaycard Arrival Plus and Arrival miles, check out these guides:
- Our completge Barclays Arrival miles review
- Read our Barclaycard Arrival Plus review
- What are your miles worth? Barclaycard miles value
- How to use Barclays Arrival Plus miles
- Is the Barclaycard Arrival Plus annual fee worth it?
- Barclaycard Arrival Plus benefits and perks
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