Barclaycard Arrival Plus: 2% Back Card with $500 Sign Up Bonus

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The king of cash back cards is the Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard®, which offers 2% back on all purchases in the form of free travel. To be clear, the 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.

Beyond that world-beating rebate percentage on all spending, the sign up bonus is worth $500 in free travel, making this card a must have. Arrival miles can be redeemed for any travel expense of $100 or more made within the last 120 days, like literally any flight, taxes and fees on award tickets, hotels, Airbnbs, car rentals, cruises, and more. You also get a 5% miles rebate on all redemptions and earn miles on any flight redemption.

After meeting the minimum spending requirement on the card, you’ll have at least 56,000 Arrival miles, which you could redeem to offset a $560 charge.  And when you redeem the miles, you get the 5% rebate back instantly, so redeeming 56,000 would offer 2,800 miles back, worth another $28. The card is great for travel as it has no foreign transaction fees and is a Mastercard, which means you will probably pay less in currency conversion fees.

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.

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.

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.

See how to redeem Arrival miles.

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)
  • cruises
  • car rentals
  • taxis
  • ferries
  • passenger trains
  • campgrounds
  • 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

PC: Sarah Page Maxwell. Airbnb property in Florianopolis, Brazil that Sarah Page redeemed her Arrival miles for.
An Airbnb property in Florianopolis, Brazil that Sarah Page redeemed Arrival Miles for.

$500 in Free Travel

For a limited time, the Arrival Plus has increased its sign up bonus to 50,000 miles after spending $3,000 in the first 90 days of card membership.

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. Whatever Barclaycard’s reasoning, I just love that the 5% rebate on travel redemptions increases the value of a miles from 1 cent to 1.075 cents.

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.

Quick Facts

Here are the main things to know:

  • No annual fee for the first 12 months, then $89
  • 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
  • Redeem for travel or cash back statement credits, gift cards and merchandise. Redemption values vary
  • Get 5% miles back to use toward your next redemption, every time you redeem
  • Miles don’t expire as long as your account is open, active and in good standing
  • No foreign transaction fees on anything you buy while in another country. Also has a chip.
  • 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.
  • There is a fee for balance transfers.

Bottom Line

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus is currently offering a sign up bonus worth $500 in free travel, plus the card earns 2% back toward travel on all spending!

This card is ideal for economy flyers, domestic flyers, families, 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!)

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.


Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

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98 COMMENTS

    • The redemption mechanism is the same, but that card has no sign up bonus, and no 10% rebate. That makes this card a lot more valuable in my mind.

  1. Are the redemptions good for different types of travel? For instance, if both my wife and I get it – can we redeem towards our upcoming seaplane booking for the Conad Maldives? It wouldn’t cover it all the way, but would certainly help. Lastly, how long do you think this will last as it’s not quite time for our next churn?

    • I’ll investigate when this ends. As with most credit card “categories,” it comes down to how the purchase codes on the statement (ie whether it is coded as travel.) If the sea plane is operated by a company that lists itself as a travel company (very likely IMO), then yes you can redeem for the sea plane and get a 10% miles rebate.

      It was hard to make clear in the post, but you can redeem miles for a 1 cent statement credit at any time. That means miles can be redeemed for anything, not just travel. The incentive to redeem for travel is the 10% miles rebate.

    • The seaplane booking is taken care of directly by the hotel without any option to bill it any other way or pay the airline directly. As a result, I believe you should be good to get it refunded as it will show up like a hotel charge.

      I’m sure the hotel does this so they can mark it up, but what can you do?

  2. My next round of applications is a couple of months off, so I’ll have time to consider it. To me the drawback of using cashback cards in general is simply that so much of the time I’m clearing a signup bonus or spending on bonused categories, that my amount of everyday nonbonused spend is not very high, so I don’t use a cashback card much, and thus rewards accumulate too slowly to justify an annual fee.

    Just as an example. In my email yesterday was an offer from my Citi American Airlines card to pay out 3x miles on my first $1,250 of spend in the next three months. So now that card will get used for any spending that doesn’t get bonused on any of my other cards (and even for some that does if necessary to get to the $1,250 total). The cashback cards just rarely seem to get to the top of my wallet.

    I understand the fee is waived the first year, so I may or may not do it for the initial bonus – realizing it’s really only enough for one domestic round-trip – depending on what else is out there when I’m ready.

    • This is a nuanced analysis. I think you’ve zeroed in on all the correct factors to consider, and at this point to decide whether it’s a good deal for you is just a math problem. I hope others see this comment to see the right way to go about a cost/benefit analysis of a card.

  3. If we already have(less than 12 months ago) the standard US Airways Barclays Mastercard(40,000 miles, 2 $99 companion passes etc…) might that preclude us also getting this Barclays card as well?

    • No. You can hold several Barclaycards at once, just like you can hold several cards from all the major banks at once. You should be able to get this on your next application without issue.

  4. I got the Barclays USAir card in February. Do you see any issues with going for this and the USAir business card in May and then the standard USAir card in August? I’ve heard Barclays can be funny about the number of cards they approve, and I want to rack up as many USAir miles as possible from Barclays before the cards switch to Citi. If it will hurt my chances of getting approved for those cards, I’d rather hold off on this one until November or next year.

    • Is that your first Barclaycard? If so, there might be an issue that I am investigating for a post next Thursday.

      • It is my first. I’ll be anxiously watching for the post as I’m almost exactly a month out from my next churn.

  5. I see they also have a no AF version of this card with only a 20k bonus. I think Barclays is one of those banks that does the bait and switch and you may not get the card you applied for. I just got the shaft from US Bank with the lesser Club Carlson Visa, so I’m a bit wary of those.

    • Yes, and that is a worse card because it only earns 2x on dining and travel purchases, which are two categories I would use the Sapphire Preferred for instead of this card.

  6. There IS one card that’s better, at least for one year. That’s Thank You Preferred that gives 5x points at grocery stores and drug stores for the first year. For some of us who get very hungry to the tune of $10k-15k per month, it’s a better deal.

  7. I was hoping to get this card, and use the points to redeem for statement credits against gas purchases on a long trip this summer, but the T&C sound like that’s not in their definition of “travel.” It also seemed like statement credits were ONLY for travel-related things. Is that your take on it, too, or was I reading in to it too much?

    • My read of the T&C is that you can redeem for anything at 1 cent per mile, but that you only get 10% back if it is travel, so redeeming for travel ups the value to 1.11 cents. I agree that gas is not travel. Will you be paying for any lodging on the trip? Or will you have any flights at all in the future. This should be perfect for that.

    • Interesting. Thanks for sharing. You didn’t get this version, but the lesser no-annual-fee version, which doesn’t earn 2x on everything. So the earning side seems to be part of the problem. Thanks for the data point.

    • This is not explicitly covered by the T&C, but I am almost certain the answer is yes. Those will code as being from an airline, so you should be able to redeem and get 10% back.

  8. I think it’s a bit misleading to refer to what you earn with this thing as “miles”. They’re not “miles” in the same sense that the term is used elsewhere. They’re actually “points”.

    I’m not a complete miles omnivore (though I do play in more than a few different programs). I think I have better cards to apply for from Barclays, and see little real value in this card (I don’t purchase tickets for my flights, I use miles and points earned through FF programs), so I think I’ll pass on this one.

  9. already have the UsAir card, what would be a good “pairing” to apply for this and which other Barclays card for this round of apps?

  10. It seems that simply using this card for the sign up bonus alone is a no-brainer.
    Husband and wife both get card, each spend$1000 each(2 VR’s each), recieve 40,000 “points”, buy $400(or less) airline tickets each, boom receive equivalent statement credit(and 10% points back) all with no fee.
    No out of pocket cost at except for VR $3.95.
    What’s not to like? Am I reading this correctly?

  11. Do you receive a referral credit for this credit card? It would be nice if in the interest of full disclosure you say which credit cards you receive a referral credit for and which you do not. Most other bloggers do this and it helps us make the most informed decision.

  12. @aks – Did you apply for the USAir personal AND biz at the same time? Instant approval for each? I’m trying to figure out if they consider personal and biz cards as “separate enough” to approve both at the same time. If not, how long was your interval between the personal and biz applications? Thanks!

  13. I know others have asked how long you think this will be available and that you said you are looking into that information. I hope you will find it that the offer is sticking around for a while.

    I think from my understanding, that hotels would count as travel. What if booked the hotel through Expedia or another booking cite rather than the hotel directly?

    Thanks!

      • Thanks for clearing that up!

        I have another question. I can’t open this card for a while because I’m not to my 91 days between applications yet, but mom could open it up now. I know the terms say “Cruise Lines” count as “pay for travel”. My family is taking an Alaskan cruise soon. We have already paid for the cruise cost, but we know we will have on board charges (excursions, upgraded dinners, facials, etc). Do you think those charges would count as “Cruise Lines”?

        Thanks again!

  14. Fishing4Deals, that’s not the same card. That some folks believe $400 in cash bonus–even if nothing else–ain’t worth a CC sign up, just shows how incredibly jaded we have become in the recent years :).

    I also hope when you talk about your habit of tossing out “these envelopes without opening them” you don’t literally mean it. Otherwise, it’s just a matter of time before you make a few identity thieves very happy.

  15. I think this is a better offer because you earn 2x points on all spend.

    MilesValue, do you know if someone can apply for this card if they already have another version of the Arrival card?

    Andy, lately, I have been holding on to those envelopes because I hope to do a post on reward credit card offers that aren’t discussed in the blogosphere.

  16. Wait, so if I were to get this card and buy a ticket for, say, 1000 dollars to Europe (and I had the requisite points of…100,000), I would get 10000 points back?

    On top of that, I would gain the miles rewarded from the airline? Or no…?

    I’m still very new to this, and not sure if I’ll take the plunge.

    • Yes and yes. The 100,000 miles on the Arrival World MasterCard would cause the $1,000 ticket to disappear from your credit card statement. You would get 10,000 of those miles back as a rebate for future use, worth $100 more in flights.

      AND when you fly the $1,000 ticket, you will earn miles with the airline you fly since they were paid cash for the ticket.

  17. hi Scott, Just applied for the Arrival card and got a message saying the application was being reviewed. What is the common wisdom for Barclays? Wait for the decision or call the reconsideration line right away? Thanks for your interesting posts!

  18. […] Everyone knows that the Barclaycard Arrival(TM) World MasterCard® – Earn 2x on All Purchases comes with a sign up bonus worth $444 in free travel after spending $1,000 in the first three months, and that the card earns 2.22% back toward travel on all purchases. Scott’s first post about the card was even called “Barclaycard Arrvial World MasterCard: 2.22% Cash Back Card with $444 Sign Up Bonus.” […]

  19. […] As little as 15,900 Arrival miles. Arrival miles are a fixed-value point earned on the Barclaycard Arrival(TM) World MasterCard® – Earn 2x on All Purchases. If you find a $159 flight (check Allegiant Airlines for the cheapest fares), that would be 15,900 miles. (Actually far fewer after you factor in the points you’d earn, the airline miles you could earn, and the 10% rebate on all Arrival mile redemptions for travel.) For more information, see my Arrival Miles Primer. […]

  20. My question is this, i just booked a hotel in New Orleans for Sept.
    Hotel will not charge my card until September, I’d like to use my 40K from Barclay for that purchase.
    But I also got in on the $49 Southwest flights, $200 for both of us.
    The Southwest is already on my card.
    Should I use my 40K for flight or wait until Sept and pray its still usable for the Hotel?

    • You should always pay for any charges already on the card. You get the same rate for your miles on all travel purchases, so might as well remove the Southwest one now and put $200 back in your pocket. Enjoy the trip!

  21. I just cancelled this card along with the Barkley US airlines card, are there any restrictions on re applying
    for the arrival card if you had previously had one?

  22. […] The Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® is the best of the three if you want to fly economy class somewhere that Frontier doesn’t fly. Arrival miles can be used on any airline on any flight with no blackouts. This card also has the best earnings structure of the three cards, earning 2.22% back toward travel on all purchases. […]

  23. […] As little as 15,900 Arrival miles. Arrival miles are a fixed-value point earned on the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®. If you find a $159 flight (check Allegiant Airlines for the cheapest fares), that would be 15,900 miles. (Actually far fewer after you factor in the points you’d earn, the airline miles you could earn, and the 10% rebate on all Arrival mile redemptions for travel.) For more information, see my Arrival Miles Primer. […]

  24. Works good followed Scott’s advise just got $625 back in 2 days so I didn’t have to pay the card. Next Citi card need that 4th night free or it’s just Cheap hotels for me !!!!!!!!!!!!!

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