In this showdown of leading travel rewards credit cards, we pit the Chase Sapphire® Preferred Card against the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®.
In the end their can only be one winner. So let’s get our analysis under way and crown a champion.
Quick Comparison of Arrival Plus® vs Sapphire® Preferred
Just in case you are not familiar with either the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® or the Chase Sapphire® Preferred, let’s take a quick look of the card features and rewards programs. After that, we will see which card provides the most bang for your buck.
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Round 1: Signup Bonus
Both the Chase Sapphire Preferred card and the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® offer generous signup bonus opportunities for new cardmembers.
The Sapphire Preferred signup bonus is worth 50,000 bonus points if you spend at least $4,000 within the first 90 days. And this can be worth up to $625, if you redeem your points through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
Compare that to the Arrival Plus® card, where you only need to spend $3,000 in the first 90 days to earn 40,000 bonus points (worth $500 in travel rewards). Add to that the 5% bonus Barclaycard offers for all rewards redeemed towards travel expenses, and your signup bonus can be worth up to 42,000 points.
In my opinion, the initial advantage of the lower spending threshold of the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® card is overcome because of sheer amount of value you can get from the Sapphire Preferred signup bonus.
On top of that, Chase also offers you the opportunity to earn an additional 5,000 bonus miles just by adding an authorized user to your account within the first 3 months of card ownership. And you get the same 25% bonus for all miles redeemed through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards® program.
Thus, by spending $4,000 in 3 months with the Sapphire Preferred card you can earn a bonus actually worth 50,000 points (the equivalent of $625 through Chase Ultimate Rewards) and a second bonus for an authorized user worth another 6,250 points ($62.50 when redeeming through Chase.)
With the Sapphire Preferred travel rewards card, the initial bonus points can be worth up to the equivalent of $687.50 when redeemed through Chase. In comparison, the initial bonus points from the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® only can be worth the equivalent of $525.
Round 1, and the initial advantage, goes to Chase.
Round 2: Rewards Programs Compared
After the exhilaration of having all those bonus points (or miles) subsides, it is important to have a card that offers rewards for each purchase that you make. Each of these cards does so. But one lets you earn more overall – and provides a greater longer term value.
With the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, you’ll earn two points per dollar spent on travel and dining. All other purchases qualify for one point per dollar spent. Not too shabby. But not very generous for a card with an annual fee.
But, as noted above, your points will be worth 25 percent more when redeeming them for travel through the Ultimate Rewards program. For example, a flight that typically costs $500 will cost $400 when booked in this fashion. So this is where the Chase card really shines.
The downside is that you will need to take advantage of one of Chase’s travel partners to earn this extra bonus.
As of the writing of this article, Chase’s travel partners include several leading airlines and hotel chains, namely: United; Southwest; Virgin Atlantic; British Airways; Hyatt; and Marriott. You can click here to see the complete least of Chase travel partners.
This is a good list of partners, but you may find your choices limited at certain times.
On the other hand, every purchase you make using your Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite MasterCard® will be good for two miles for every dollar you spend.
When we add to that the 5% bonus you get for any rewards redeemed towards travel, each dollar you spend has the potential to be worth 2.1 points.
So, in terms of purchase rewards, most people will do better with Barclaycard’s offer, as they’ll get at least 2.1 points per dollar spent (versus 2.5 points for travel and dining and 1.25 points elsewhere with Chase’s offer). And they will be able to take advantage of a much simpler rewards program and redemption process.
Don’t take our word for … check out the “Travel Rewards Compared” section for a real life example of how you earn more total points with the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® card.
Round 2 goes to the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® card. And we now have a tie on rounds. But because of the continues value provided by the rewards program for the Arrival Plus® card, Barclaycard has a bit of an advantage in my judgment.
Round 3: Annual Fees
Both cards offer introductory annual fees of $0 to get you hooked. But after that, the annual fee for the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite card is $89, versus $95 for the Chase Sapphire Preferred.
The difference in annual fees erases 600 points from the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. Not a big advantage, but still an advantage.
I’m giving Round 3 to the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® card, which extends its small lead.
Round 4: Other Card Benefits
While points or miles are the face of most rewards programs, there are other benefits that can add significant value to a credit card.
With the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, you’ll be able to transfer your points at a 1-to-1 ratio to various frequent flyer programs. Effectively, this card doubles as a miles card for such programs. This is a benefit that is not found on most other cards, so you’ll have this advantage while using this card.
The Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® card offers many of the same benefits that you’ll find on plenty of other cards. These include fraud protection, auto rental insurance, roadside assistance and other common perks. And, of course, the ability to use your travel rewards on other travel expenses, not just airline flights.
You can also take advantage of the introductory 0% APR offer on balance transfers with Arrival Plus®.
In a nutshell, Chase wins out in terms of other benefits because of the ability to transfer your points at a 1-to-1 ratio to frequent flyer programs. Yes, this is technically a points benefit, but it is more of a side-perk that is not offered with most other cards, not a way to earn points.
This round is a slight advantage to Chase’s Sapphire Preferred card. And it ties the two cards on points. But my judgment remains that Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® provides the better long term value because (1) you can earn more points year in and year out, (2) its simpler rewards program, and (3) lower cost of ownership.
Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite MasterCard®
Potential Travel Rewards Compared
Let’s take a closer look comparing how many travel rewards points you can earn with each card.
Suppose that you will spend $50,000 in your first year with either card using the following breakdown:
- $5,000 on travel
- $5,000 on dining
- $40,000 on all other purchases
We will give each point redeemed through the Barclaycard the 5 percent bonus. And we will also give 1.25 points per dollar spent with the Chase Sapphire Preferred card (and double that for travel and dining dollars), as that’s the effective value when booking it through the Ultimate Rewards program.
We know that to take full advantage of this “bonus” from Chase, you need to book with one of their partners (which include United Airlines, Southwest, Hyatt and Marriott hotels). But for the sake of comparison, we are giving every possible advantage to Chase. And, even then, you will see that Arrival Plus® World Elite credit card provides a better value.
Note that the total values below takes the annual fee into consideration for the second year, as you will not incur that fee until then.
Year 1 Card Value Comparison
Signup Bonus Points/Miles
|Chase Sapphire® Preferred Card||68,750 (equivalent)||75,000||143,750||$1,437.50|
|Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®||42,000||105,000||157,500||$1,575.00|
Year 2 Card Value Comparison
Now, let’s see how this would play out during the second year, using the same assumptions, but including the annual fees (which were only waived for the first year).
Total Value (after fee)
|Chase Sapphire® Preferred Card||$95||75,000||75,000||$655|
|Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®||$89||105,000||105,000||$961|
Not only do you earn more rewards with the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite MasterCard® in the first year – with Chase Sapphire Preferred’s massive signup bonus offer – that gap will widen by $365 per year after the first year.
So, given this example, you can expect to earn more rewards benefits from the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite MasterCard® on an on-going basis
- Of course, we assumed you added the authorized user with Chase.
- And we also assumed you would always redeem your rewards through Chase – even though there travel partner selection is limited.
Anyway you slice it, in the battle of Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite card vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred card, the Arrival Plus® card offers significantly more money/miles/points for your troubles.
So, while you’ll be able to use the Chase Sapphire Preferred card as a frequent flyer card in many cases, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite MasterCard® offers more value to the average person. By using it, you’ll likely receive hundreds of dollars in extra rewards that you wouldn’t get with the Sapphire Preferred card.
In a comparison of top travel rewards credit cards, our analysis shows that the Arrival Plus® World Elite MasterCard® from Barclaycard is the winner!