Reminder: Barclaycard Arrival Plus Starts Changing November 17, 2015

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Earlier this year, Barclaycard announced changes to the Barclaycard Arrival Plus card.  From that date, more restrictive redemption rules took effect for new cardholders.

But if you were an existing cardholder, you could still redeem Barclaycard Arrival miles under the old rules for a limited time, depending on when you applied for your card.

Folks who got their Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard prior to September 30, 2014 will switch to the new rules on November 17, 2015.

So there’s not much time left to use your Barclaycard Arrival miles under the old system.  Beyond that date, it will be harder to use your miles!

However, check your mail!  Because some folks are getting an extension of the previous benefits.

Reminder Barclays Arrival Plus Starts Changing November 17, 2015
After November 17, 2015, You’ll Be More Restricted in How You Can Redeem Your Barclaycard Arrival Miles

I’ll explain what’s changing and share some strategies to use your Barclaycard Arrival miles before the more stringent rules take effect!

What’s Changing?

Link:   Barclaycard Arrival Plus

Link:   The Barclaycard Arrival Plus Is Back – but It’s NOT as Good a Deal

If you applied for your Barclaycard Arrival Plus before September 30, 2014, you’ll switch to the new system on November 17, 2015.

Folks who applied after that date have until August 2016 to redeem under the old rules.

Here are the main changes:

  • You’ll no longer receive 10% of your miles back when you redeem them for travel purchases.  Under the new system, you’ll only get 5% back.  This effectively makes the card a 2.1% back card when you redeem miles for travel (previously it was 2.2%).
  • The minimum redemption for travel purchases is changing from $25 to $100.
  • The minimum redemption for cash back on other purchases is changing from $12.50 to $25.
Reminder Barclays Arrival Plus Starts Changing November 17, 2015
Tourist Attractions Like Museums Will No Longer Be Eligible for Barclaycard Arrival Miles Redemptions

The worst change for most folks is probably the change to $100 minimum travel redemptions.

This effectively cancels out the usefulness of the card for travel like:

  • Commuter train tickets
  • Taxis
  • Buses
  • Inexpensive hotels, motels, campgrounds

How often do you run up a $100 taxi fare?  Or buy a $100+ bus ticket?

Reminder Barclays Arrival Plus Starts Changing November 17, 2015
You Taxi Ride Must Now Cost $100+ to Qualify as a Travel Redemption

If you have a lot of Barclaycard Arrival miles and want to redeem them at the better rate (10% of your miles back and minimum $25+ travel purchases), consider paying for travel expenses now.

Ways to Use Your Barclaycard Arrival Miles Now

1.   Smaller Denomination Airline and Hotel Gift Cards

I experimented with buying airline miles and gift cards with the Barclaycard Arrival Plus to see which transactions counted as travel.  And I repeated the process with hotel points and gift cards.

In general, most points and miles purchases do NOT count as travel (read my posts above for details).  But many gift cards purchased directly from the airline or hotel DO count, including:

  • American Airlines
  • Delta
  • Marriott
  • Southwest
  • United Airlines
Reminder Barclays Arrival Plus Starts Changing November 17, 2015
You Can Purchase Southwest Gift Cards Online in Any Amount Between $10 and $10,000

So if you know you’ll use them in the future, you could buy travel gift cards now ($25+) and redeem your Barclaycard Arrival miles for them (before November 17, 2015).  And you’ll receive 10% of your redeemed miles back.

Note:   You can’t buy airline and hotel gift cards from 3rd parties or at office supply or grocery stores, because they will NOT count as travel.

2.   Commuter Transportation

If you use Uber, you could use your Barclaycard Arrival Plus to buy Uber gift credits in $25 increments.  Then load them to your account to use later.

Reminder Barclays Arrival Plus Starts Changing November 17, 2015
Buy Uber Credits in $25 Increments to Use Later

You’ll have to jump through a few hoops to enable gift credit purchases on your Uber account.  See this Wiki for instructions on how to do this!

If you live in an urban area, you may be able to purchase subway or commuter transportation cards and have it count as travel!  Then use them when you need them.

Check this FlyerTalk thread for transit system reports on which purchases count as travel.  For example, folks report that New York City MTA subway cards qualify.

3.   Airbnb Gift Cards

Update:   Thanks to Million Mile Secrets reader Erica for letting us know that Airbnb gift cards are NOT issued by “Airbnb Payments” (despite what Airbnb’s gift card terms say).   That said, if you’ve bought Airbnb gift cards, it could be worth calling Barclaycard to see if they’ll manually adjust it to a travel purchase. Airbnb gift cards are issued by “Airbnb Payments,” which is the same charge that appears when you book an actual Airbnb stay (which counts as a travel redemption).

So Airbnb gift cards should qualify as a travel purchase for redeeming Barclaycard Arrival miles.  You can purchase them in $25 increments.

Reminder Barclays Arrival Plus Starts Changing November 17, 2015
Consider Purchasing Airbnb Gift Cards for Use at a Later Date!

Airbnb gift cards do NOT expire.  If you’re new to Airbnb, sign-up with my link to earn $20 off your 1st booking.

4.   Tourist Attractions – Memberships and Gift Cards

If there’s a museum, gallery, or other tourist attraction you’ve successfully redeemed Barclaycard Arrival miles for in the past, you may want to see if they sell memberships or gift cards if you’re a frequent visitor.

Reminder Barclays Arrival Plus Starts Changing November 17, 2015
If Your Favorite Winery Is Considered a Tourist Attraction (Many Are!) With the Barclaycard Arrival Plus (and Sells Gift Cards), You Know What to Do! 😉

Some attractions are NOT considered travel, so I’d recommend either making a small ($25) test purchase 1st, or only using attractions you’ve redeemed miles for before.

5.   Refundable Airline Reservations

Folks report it’s possible to make a refundable airfare booking, redeem Barclaycard Arrival miles for it, then cancel at a later date for a full refund.

For example, you could book a Southwest Business Select or Anytime fare for future travel (both fully refundable) and redeem Barclaycard Arrival miles for a statement credit.

Reminder Barclays Arrival Plus Starts Changing November 17, 2015
If You’re Not Sure of Your Travel Plans, You Could Book a Refundable Southwest Ticket and Redeem Barclaycard Arrival Miles Towards the Flight

Later, if your travel dates don’t work out, you can cancel these tickets for a full refund.  But your Barclaycard Arrival travel credit won’t be reversed.

Plans change!  But I wouldn’t do this repeatedly. 😉

Should You Keep This Card?

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus has an $89 annual fee (waived for the 1st year).

For new cardholders, the 40,000 mile sign-up bonus after completing minimum spending requirements is still a good deal.  That’s now worth ~$420 in travel purchases of $100 or more.

But after the 1st year, it’s probably not worth paying the annual fee.  You’ll get 2.1% back for travel redemptions, but that’s become harder to use because of the minimum $100 purchase requirement.

That said, some folks report Barclaycard has offered to waive the annual fee for another year when they call to cancel.  It doesn’t hurt to try.

Or you could ask Barclaycard to downgrade your card to a no annual fee card.  But remember you won’t earn the sign-up bonus if you downgrade.

Reminder Barclays Arrival Plus Starts Changing November 17, 2015
Is It Worth Paying an $89 Annual Fee to Keep the Barclaycard Arrival Plus?

Instead, you might consider signing-up for cards with no annual fee which offer a similar amount of cash back, like:

American Express Fidelity Rewards – Earns 2% cash back on all purchases when you deposit your rewards into a Fidelity investment account Citi Double Cash Card – Earns 1% cash back when you make a purchase, and another 1% back when you pay it off Discover it® Cash Back – Earns 1% cash back on all purchases and 5% cash back in rotating quarterly categories, plus new cardholders (or folks who previously registered) will have their cash back doubled at the end of the 1st 12 months (effectively 2% back for the 1st year).  And you currently get $50 after your 1st purchase within the 1st 3 months of opening your account.

See my post on how you can earn 22% back (or more) with Discover and Apple Pay!

Discover it® Miles – Earns 1.5 miles per $1 you spend (worth 1.5% back), and your miles are doubled after the 1st 12 months (effectively 3% back for the 1st year)

I like no annual fee cards because they’re free to keep, and can improve your credit score over the long term.

As always, do the math and decide what’s best for you!

If you do cancel your Barclaycard Arrival Plus card, you may be able to earn the sign-up bonus again.  But wait at least 6 months before applying, and remember Barclaycard typically only approves folks for 1 or 2 credit cards a year.

Bottom Line

Folks who signed-up for the Barclaycard Arrival Plus before September 30, 2014 will have their accounts changed to Barclaycard’s new redemption rules on November 17, 2015.

After that date, you’ll only earn 2.1% back on travel redemptions of $100 or more.  Previously, it was 2.2% back and the minimum was $25.

Also, tourist attractions will no longer count as travel.

If this applies to you, you might consider redeeming Barclaycard Arrival miles now for purchases you can use in the future, like:

  • Airline and hotel gift cards
  • Uber or commuter transportation credits
  • Airbnb gift cards
  • Tourist attraction gift cards or memberships
  • Refundable airline reservations

That said, check your mail to see if Barclaycard has granted you an extension into 2016.

If you don’t plan on keeping your Barclaycard Arrival Plus card, you could apply for a no annual fee card that earns a similar amount of cash back, like the American Express Fidelity Rewards, Citi Double Cash, Discover it Cash Back, or Discover it Miles cards.

The information for the Discover it Miles card has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

If you have other ideas for how to use your Barclaycard Arrival miles before the new rules take effect, please share them in the comments!

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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