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With frequent flyer programs becoming more restrictive lately, the biggest trend over the past two years has been general travel rewards cards that aren't affiliated with a specific carrier.
The Capital One Venture is one of the best-known examples of this, but Barclays joined the pack last year. And this year saw them change the card's name to the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite MasterCard®. The name change comes with many upgrades to the program, many of which were asked for by the online travel community over the last year.
New changes to the Arrival Plus® card include a chip and signature card with PIN capability for improved acceptance abroad and a sleeker card plastic. And travel redemption options are expanded to include not only using miles for hotels, airfare and cruises but also taxis, limousines buses, timeshares and campgrounds.
So how does it stack up and should it replace the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Venture card as your go-to travel card?
The Basics of the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® Card
Here's a quick look at the highlights of the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® card:
I know you are asking: How does the 5% miles back bonus program work?
Well, it's this simple:
- First, find and choose the best travel deal-airfare, hotels, cruises and more.
- Pay for it with your Barclaycard Arrival Plus® card, earning 2X miles on your purchase.
- Redeem your miles/points for a travel statement credit toward all or a portion of your travel purchase (minimum of $100) within 120 days.
- And you will get 5% of your miles back to use toward your next redemption. And this work every time you redeem for travel statement credits.
With this extra perk, a 40,000-mile redemption toward your dream trip will give you 2,000 miles to use toward your next trip!
With this program, you can earn 2.1 miles for each $1 you spend, all without any need for strategic planning!
How it Compares to the Chase Sapphire
The regular version of the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite MasterCard® is almost identical to the Chase Sapphire Preferred in terms of rewards. But it comes with no annual fee. For smaller spenders who want a great travel rewards card, this no fee version is a fantastic option.
The Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite MasterCard®, however, has significant advantages over Sapphire Preferred:
- You only need to spend $3,000 in the first 90 days to earn the 40,000 miles signup bonus.
- You get 2x miles on all of your spending.
The bottom line is that the Arrival Plus® card gives you more opportunities to earn double rewards, and your spending will end up being more valuable to you. Unlimited 2x rewards and the ability to earn 5% back on your travel statement credits are hard to beat.
Comparing Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® with Visa Signature
The other consideration is the difference between the World Mastercard® program with the Barclaycard Arrival and the Visa Signature program with the Sapphire Preferred and Capital One Venture card.
These two programs are almost identical, and both provide the same types of services like concierge, purchase protection, extended warranties, travel assistance and price protection. Still, the do have different rules and restrictions, and Visa Signature benefits often have fewer exclusions.
The Bottom Line
If you aren't specifically after frequent flyer miles, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® definitely wins with a flat 2.1% earned when you redeem your points for travel. Plus, they're still offering the 40,000 points sign-up bonus now, which is worth $500 and has a lower spending requirement than the same bonus from the Sapphire Preferred.
We also like that the rewards program comes with no stipulations or restrictions on your points.
If you spend at least $15,000 a year and you're not after frequent flyer miles, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® is great to have in your wallet to reward you for all of those travel purchases.