The Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite Mastercard® is arguably the most lucrative travel cash back rewards card, and I’ve written previously about how to maximize earnings and using Barclaycard Arrival miles to subsidize fuel surcharges, but I’ve never really talked about the card in comparison to other bank rewards cards.
- two miles per dollar spent on all purchases
- a 5% refund on miles when you redeem them
- Each mile can redeemed for one cent towards the cost of travel, meaning you’re getting a return of ~2.1 cents per dollar spent
There are lots of points currencies out there that can be redeemed as cash back towards travel, like FlexPerks Points, Capital One Venture Points, ThankYou Points, etc, and many of them have lucrative earnings rates as well. When it comes time to redeem the points though, I think the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ really stands out.
One thing that makes Arrival Miles particularly useful is that you can redeem points for even part of a travel purchase. In other words, you don’t need enough points to rebate the entire travel purchase, but instead can select how many points you want to redeem for that particular purchase.
For example, say you spend $500 at a hotel. You can redeem up to 50,000 Arrival miles to pay for the entire purchase. But you can also redeem enough miles to pay for only part of the purchase. In other words, you can redeem 20,000 miles to take $200 off the purchase (and then get a 2,000 point refund).
Being able to receive credit towards even a partial amount of a purchase is actually pretty unique among bank rewards currencies. Typically the “cash back” style bank rewards programs have at least one of the following restrictions:
- a specific travel portal you have to purchase your tickets through in order to redeem your points
- a requirement that you have enough points in your account to “fully” rebate the cost of a given purchase
- a “tiered” structure where in order you achieve the best possible return you have to redeem at certain threshold amounts
For example, with FlexPerks points you can redeem 20,000 points for a $400 purchase, but if the airline ticket you’re looking at costs $401 then you need to redeem 30,000 points. You can still get good value out of a bank rewards program like this, but it takes more work.
Similarly, with Capital One points, you have to have enough points to pay for 100% of a transaction in order to receive a credit for that purchase. So if you have 30,000 Capital One points you can reimburse yourself for purchasing a $300 airline ticket. But if that ticket was $301, or if you wanted to purchase two tickets in the same transaction, the purchase wouldn’t be eligible.
So I do think it’s worth understanding both how straightforward and practical miles earned using the Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite Mastercard® are to redeem. There aren’t strings attached in the same way as with some other currencies, which I think has a value in and of itself.