UPDATE 9/18: The 50k Arrival mile bonus is changing tomorrow morning at some point (posting this update Monday evening, September 18). I just applied myself and after speaking to the reconsideration department at Barclays, learned that I have to send in three forms of ID to verify myself–not surprising as I set a fraud alert on my credit report last week thanks to the Equifax data breach. But as I submitted the application now, before the offer has changed, I should still get the 50k Arrival miles for $3k spend in 90 days (and the same would apply to you if you find yourself in the same situation). If you want this bonus too, apply now!
There’s a reliable rumor going around that the 50k sign up bonus for the Barclaycard Arrival Plus will disappear in the next few days. The current offer is 50,000 bonus Arrival miles for spending $3,000 on the card within 90 days of account opening. The card has an annual fee of $89 but it is waived for the first year of card membership.
I have no idea if the bonus will go away completely or just drop, but one of the two is likely. If you’ve been waiting to apply for this offer now is the time. If you’ve had an Arrival Plus before, you are eligible to earn the bonus again as long as your old one isn’t still open. Most people like to wait six months before applying again to protect themselves from a hard credit inquiry in vain. I’m not quite at the six month mark since closing my old Arrival Plus but am pretty sure I will apply anyways.
The Arrival Plus doesn’t earn miles in the traditional sense, it earns basically 2% back on all purchases in the form of free travel. The bonus plus the points earned from the spending it takes to unlock the bonus is worth $560 in free travel, which is great for covering all things travel related that miles do not (or should not), like cheap economy flights, taxes and fees on award tickets, Airbnbs, train tickets, etc.
NOT a Cash Back Card
To be clear, this card is not a cash back card since the rewards are in the form of free travel, but since all of us do a lot of travel each year, I consider cash back and rewards for travel to be equivalent.
Barclaycard Arrival Plus Quick Facts
- Sign Up Bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days — that’s enough to redeem for a $500 travel statement credit
- Earn 2X miles on all purchases
- Value of Arrival Miles: Redeem for travel or cash back statement credits, gift cards and merchandise. Redemption values vary, best rate is 1 cent each for travel purchases.
- Rebate Benefit: Get 5% miles back to use toward your next redemption, every time you redeem
- Expiration: Miles don’t expire as long as your account is open, active and in good standing
- Annual Fee: No annual fee for the first 12 months, then $89
- Global Acceptance: No foreign transaction fees, chip and pin technology, it’s a Mastercard, which means you will probably pay less in currency conversion fees. These three things make this card IDEAL for overseas travel
- APR: 0% introductory APR for 12 months on Balance Transfers made within 45 days of account opening. After that, a variable APR will apply, 16.49%, 20.49% or 23.49%, based on your creditworthiness.
- Eligibility: You can get the bonus on the Arrival Plus more than once, just make sure your old Arrival Plus card is closed. Best practice is to wait six months between applications.
Credit card links have been removed from posts and added to the menu bar at the top of every page of MileValue under the heading Top Travel Credit Cards – Point Rewards Cards.
There are two main reasons to get this card: 2% back on all purchases and a sign up bonus worth $500 in free travel. Let’s talk about them in turn.
2% Back on All Purchases
The rewards of the Arrival Plus are simple. You earn two miles per dollar on all purchases. Each mile is worth 1 cent when redeemed for travel.
The way to redeem these miles is to purchase any travel expense with the card, then request a statement credit with your miles. You can redeem the miles on to offset any travel expense greater than $100 (one mile = 1 cent when redeeming on travel expenses specifically) inside your Barclaycard account within 120 days of the purchase. Read How to Avoid Orphaned Arrival Miles to learn the ins and outs of efficiently redeeming your Arrival miles so you’re not forced to continue spending on the card to reach $100 worth of credit.
Travel expenses are defined broadly and include:
- any flight on any airline (no need to search for award space!)
- taxes and fees on an airline award ticket
- any hotel expense (including bed & breakfasts, hostels, and non-chain hotels)
- car rentals
- passenger trains
- much more
Example: You have 20,000 miles in your account. You use the credit card to purchase a $150 roundtrip ticket from Los Angeles to Las Vegas on any airline you want. You request to redeem your miles toward the purchase of that ticket in the form of a statement credit.
Barclay’s redeems 15,000 of your miles, and the $150 charge disappears. You got a free $150 flight for your 15,000 miles. In addition, of course, you will earn miles from flying a paid flight since the airline you are flying to Vegas was paid cash for your ticket!
Because of this redemption method, there are no blackout dates or capacity controls. You can redeem the miles for any seat, any time, on any airline, to anywhere.
What I’ve described so far is only 2% back, but you can do better:
- If you redeem Arrival miles for travel expenses you get 5% of the redeemed miles back instantly as a rebate. Let’s go back to the same example we just looked at.
Example revisited: We redeemed 15,000 miles for a $150 flight. Since the redemption was for travel, we get 5% of the miles back. 750 miles will be redeposited into our account.
- You earn 2 miles per dollar even on purchases that you redeem miles to redeem from your statement.
Example revisited again: When we purchased the $150 flight, we earned 300 Arrival miles.
That means the net result is we spend 13,950 Arrival miles and get a $150 ticket, or 1.075 cents of value per mile.
How does 2% back on all purchases compare to other cards?
It is as good or better than most other cash back cards I know of. The only two cash back cards I’m aware of that have better cash back rates long term are the Alliant Visa Signature (3% the first year and 2.5% after that), and the USAA Limitless card (2.5%) which you can only get if you are or were in the military or have USAA insurance. And neither of these cards has a sign up bonus while the Arrival Plus has one worth $500.
$500 in Free Travel
Last year the Arrival Plus increased its sign up bonus to 50,000 miles after spending $3,000 in the first 90 days of card membership. That bonus will probably only be alive a few more days.
Those 50,000 miles can be redeemed for $500 in free travel. And doing that will trigger a 5% rebate in points. You can use that 2,500 points for $25 more in free travel.
The 5% rebate is an interesting lock-in feature from Barclaycard. I think they’re betting it will keep you using the card since you will have a hard time zeroing out your balance with the constant miles rebates.
Who Should Not Get This Card
Do not get this card if you want to collect miles to fly international First Class. Paid international First Class is exorbitantly expensive–think $10,000. A $10,000 ticket would cost 1,000,000 Arrival miles, which is far more than the number of traditional airline miles that you’d need to book First Class.
It’s always sad to tell Award Booking Service clients who have accumulated miles on a card like the Arrival Plus and want to fly up front that they don’t have enough miles.
Who Should Get This Card
This card is ideal for people who fly economy, families, domestic flyers, and points omnivores. The card is also ideal for anyone who doesn’t like to search for award space. The miles earned from this card can be used on any airline for any flight. (And you’ll even earn miles on that flight!)
The Barclaycard Arrival Plus’ current sign up bonus worth $500 in free travel is rumored to be disappearing in the next few days. Act now if you want in.
Hat tip One Mile at a Time