Is The New Barclays Arrival Premier Card Worth It?

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Update: This offer for Barclays Arrival® Premier World Elite Mastercard® has expired. Learn more about the current offers here.

Yesterday the new Barclays Arrival® Premier World Elite Mastercard® (see terms) was introduced, which is Barclays’ entry into the premium card market. This is a card that was highly anticipated, especially since there were rumors that Barclays would be introducing a new transferrable points currency with the card. More transferable points currencies is always a good thing!

Unfortunately the card hasn’t been very well received. Let’s take a closer look at why, and whether the card is really as bad as some people are making it to out to be.

The very basics of the Barclays Arrival Premier Card

On the most basic level, the new Barclays Arrival Premier has a annual fee , and offers 2x miles per dollar spent with no caps, in addition to spend bonuses:

  • Spend $15,000 on purchases in a cardmember year, earn 15,000 bonus miles
  • Spend an additional $10,000 on purchases in a cardmember year, earn 10,000 bonus miles

In other words, if you spend exactly $25,000 you’d receive 75,000 miles. Each “mile” is worth one penny towards a travel purchase statement credit, or alternatively points can be converted into airline miles, though not at a 1:1 ratio. The transfer ratios are as follows:

Arrival Premier Transfer PartnerTransfer Ratio
(Premier Points : Partner Points)
Air Canada Aeroplan1.7 : 1
Air France / KLM Flying Blue1.4 : 1
Aeromexico Club Premier 1.4 : 1
China Eastern Airlines Eastern Miles1.4 : 1
Etihad Guest1.4 : 1
EVA Air Infinity MileageLands1.4 : 1
JAL Mileage Bank1.7 : 1
Jet Airways JetPrivilege1.4 : 1
Malaysia Airlines Enrich1.4 : 1
Qantas Frequent Flyer1.4 : 1

Did I hope for more from this card? Yes, absolutely. Do I still think there’s potential with this card? Yes, absolutely. Frankly I’m a bit surprised by the response from some regarding this card. Like I said, I hoped for better, but I’m not offended by this card in the same way others are. This card has the potential to be valuable, and I’ll actually go so far as to say that I think this card could make sense in the future.

What I like about the new Barclays Arrival Premier Card

Let’s start with the very basics here. If you use this card to spend exactly $25,000 per year then you’d receive 75,000 miles, which is worth a $750 travel statement credit. If you subtract the card’s annual fee, you’re looking at $600 worth of rewards on $25,000 of spend, which is the equivalent of a 2.4% return.

There aren’t any travel cash back cards I know of that offer that kind of a return without a significant investment required. For someone who spends that much in non-bonused categories, that’s actually not bad. Of course this return is based on spending exactly $25,000, and it will be lower if you spend more or less.

At that point you’ve also amortized the annual fee, and then have the equivalent of a 2% cash back travel card with no foreign transaction fees and international Chip & PIN technology. On top of that, you have a cash back currency that’s extremely flexible, as those miles can also be converted into airline miles.

While specific thresholds are required, there’s not a card I know of that has this compelling of a cash back travel rewards structure, even after you account for the annual fee.

What I don’t like about the new Barclays Arrival Premier Card

I think Barclays went about the introduction of this card wrong:

  • They’re not offering any sort of a welcome bonus, which is in stark contrast to other credit cards we’ve seen introduced, that often have mega sign-up bonuses at first; you’d think they’d want to create a splash at first, rather than test the waters like this
  • While I appreciate that they intend to add more airline transfer partners, I think the card would be more lucrative if they had a few unique airline partners upfront, rather than duplicating what most other currencies have; Japan Airlines is a unique transfer partner that is potentially valuable, but it also has the worst transfer ratio, at 1.7:1
  • The card could have really been differentiated if it added one other perk that makes it unique; instead the card only offers a Global Entry fee credit (which so many cards offer nowadays), and a LoungeKey membership (which comes with no free visits)

Long story short, I could see myself applying for this card if it had a compelling sign-up bonus and/or more airline transfer partners. Unlike some others, I actually see quite a bit of value in terms of the return the card offers for non-bonused spend, at least for the first $25,000 each year. However, it’s going to take more to get me to “buy in” here than what they’re offering right now.

Bottom line

I’m happy to see the introduction of a new transferrable points currency, but like others, I was disappointed by the Barclays Arrival® Premier World Elite Mastercard® not having any sort of a welcome bonus, the lack of unique airline partners, and the limited perks. The return on spend itself is solid:

  • You earn $750 worth of travel rewards (in the form of 75,000 miles) after spending $25,000, which comes out to $600 in rewards after subtracting the annual fee
  • At that point you get a card that offers the equivalent of 2% in travel rewards with no foreign transaction fees and Chip & PIN technology, which is fairly solid as well

If Barclays introduced a welcome bonus and added more airline transfer partners (with the 1.4:1 ratio at most), I’d pick up this card in a heartbeat.

What would it take for you to apply for the new Barclays Arrival Premier Card?

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  1. Is there a minimum redemption like on the Arrival+? I’ve found that to be a pretty onerous restriction in practice, and I’d rather just have 2% cash back than 2.4% that can only be used on travel purchases over $100.

  2. What would it take for you to apply for the new Barclays Arrival Premier Card?

    I would only apply for the card if it had a signup bonus (largely due to this contributing to 5/24).

    I would product change to this card from my current no-AF Arrival card if the transfer partners were 1.3:1 or better AND they had a wider range of transfer partners (i.e. Singapore, ANA).

  3. When Lucky and other bloggers keep posting about a VERY underwhelming card such as this it leads me to doubt their credibility and what their intentions are.

  4. For me it would take a 100k signup bonus, given the transfer rate, to signup and put 25k on it. I’d put more then 25k on it if there were further bonus levels.

  5. @ benny — Did you read what I wrote? If so, I’m curious what part you disagree with. Regardless of how good or bad the card is, I think it’s worth covering…

  6. Hi, Ben! “If Barclays introduced a sign-up bonus and added more airline transfer partners…”; that is one BIG “if”! Of course, they didn’t. And in order to maximize the benefit, there is the opportunity cost of putting more than $2,000/month in spend on this card as opposed to the CSR which one can argue has the same out-of-pocket cost but FAR superior transfer partners. This card is a “no go” for me.

  7. Would you say the same thing if the post didn’t contain a referral link? You probably wouldn’t even post about it.

  8. I’d do it if they had a sign up bonus and better airline trading partners. Since Barclay is one of AA’s co-branded cards, it would be great if you could transfer these miles to AA.

  9. Why are there more guys on your blog than women? I think you are falling far short on your diversity goals.

    I suggest you post a few articles about lingerie with a lot of photos to increase female readership. We want equality.

    Don’t forget the photos!

  10. A signup bonus would make me consider it. A transfer partner I would actually use would also work. Having neither and with those awful transfer ratios means we’re back to an Arrival+ where the travel credits only work against a very limited set of things and the redemption limit of $100+ is a killer. No thanks.

  11. I’m a big spender and I’d just assume pad the Starpoints rather than deal with this convoluted mess of a reward scheme. The 1.4 and 1.7 transfer nonsense and no sign up bonus signals to me that these folks are playing nickel and dime games and not to be trusted with my loyalty.

  12. I couldn’t care less about the lack of bonus. I am a big spender and generally only apply for cards I’ll keep long term. But this card just doesn’t cut it. At exactly $25k of spend it may be slightly superior to some other options but not enough for me to apply and use up a 5/24 slot (I am under 5/24). Under and above $25k it is arguably worse than a number of other cards from Chase and Amex. Essentially you have a pretty narrow sweet spot.

    I would apply when some combination of the following is true: reduced AF, some usable benefit offsetting AF, better transfer partners and/or better transfer ratios to partners, or bonus for even higher levels of spend. I am glad to see a new transferable currency so I hope Barclays finds away to succeed with this program but no way I’ll apply for the card in its current state.

  13. Luck my man, if I do spend 25000 a year or more and don’t care about bonus categories (or have the time to be concerned about it) what card you recommend?

  14. Here’s my concern with this card. Assuming you had 25k unbonused spend (a big assumption for lots of folks, but not everyone I grant you), and you earn the 75,000 miles, the only place this makes sense is if you only want travel cash back (a pretty niche redemption). If you want miles, putting aside the quality of transfer partners, you are AT BEST getting 53k miles (44k for JAL). If you compare that to the Amex Business Plus, you get 50k MR points for the same spend that can transfer into 50k miles in some very useful programs like Delta, ANA, BA, SQ, etc…

    But as I said earlier, lets put aside the quality of the transfer partners. Let’s say you were most interested in Flying Blue miles (partners with both), then with the new Barclays card you are paying $150 for 3k extra miles as compared to the no AF Business Plus card. Lucky, you talk about opportunity cost a lot on this blog, and that sure sounds like a BIG opportunity cost to me.

    So, to conclude, I do think there is a case where it makes sense to get this card:
    -Spend >25k unbonused
    -Want to redeem it only in travel cash back that can only be redeemed in increments of 100

    That’s a pretty small use case. So sure, it *could* have value, but for the VAST majority of us, the lack of signup bonus, lack of benefits, crappy transfer rates, underwhelming partners, and lack of flexibility make this DOA.

  15. To me the big weakness of this card is its annual fee is effectively the same as a Sapphire Reserve + Freedom Unlimited combination which, neglecting the sign up bonuses for both, would get you 2.25¢/$ on travel if you just paid with UR points at 1.5¢ each, and that’s a baseline. The real number is probably closer to 3-4¢/$ spent depending on the bonused spend. And it’s unlimited. And if you come up short of 25k you’re still getting that return.

    It’s worth covering a new entrant in the market, but it’s just not an interesting one to sign up for.

  16. As a cash-back card it makes very little sense to me. If you spend at least $25K, yes you net $600 after the annual fee, so you get an extra $100 compared to say Citi Double Cash, with the added benefit of no foreign transaction fees. I can’t see that being worth applying for it.

    It makes sense for people who a) have a lot of unbonused spend and b) really want JAL miles. My guess is that’s a fairly narrow category of people.

  17. Look at that Aeromexico transfer ratio – 1.4 : 1 . American Express offer 1 : 1.6 and HSBC offer 1:1.

    It would be interesting to see how much redemption activity Barclays sees for that particular program.

  18. Alternatively, you could sign up for the Bank of America Premium Rewards card, and get $545 for $3000 in spend. Plus BofA is an easier approval than Barclays. How is this even worth discussing? For the people who have $25,000 in unbonused spend that they have no idea what to do with?

  19. Barclays has at times had major problems with awards. You can check the Cruise Critic message boards for their problems with Princess and Holland America. It took months and lots of communication for them to get it right.

  20. Would never spend $150 for this card with no sign up bonus and horrible transfer ratios. I’m actually surprised Barclay is even offering it. Learn so much from your blog, looking forward to articles on Bhutan etc.!

  21. Have you guys ever heard of Discover It miles card with 3% cash back 1st year ? or else have you heard of Alliant visa signature cards 3% first year and 2.5 % following year ?

  22. No.. Just no. Not worth it. To be honest, this limp effort from Barclay doesn’t even deserve a participation trophy. The ONLY thing this card has going for it is Chip+PIN and even then it’s signature first, PIN secondary.

    Everything else about this card sucks.
    1) It’s Barclays, known for poor customer service
    2) CSR has a net annual fee of $150/year, same as this card, but offers so much more with PriorityPass, travel insurance, etc.
    3) No signup bonus
    4) Transfer rates are horrible & partners are limited
    5) Even the no annual fee Citi DoubleCash is a better deal.

  23. But this comes with an annual bonus of 25K on a $ 25K spend. Thats is 75K points on a 25K spend , which is a 3 X multiple.
    It’s a straight win at the $15K or $25K thresholds.

  24. simply the worst premium card on the market, if we can call it “premium”. Only idiots want to get it. period.

  25. @bostonwalker hey, thats not nice. everyone has different goals in mind. For me, its got EVA Air transfers which is valuable to me. Currently, the only card that earns EVA miles is only a Citi TYP.

    at an earning rate of 1.5 miles per $1 spent, it sounds like a pretty good idea. no sign up bonus but if i spend $15,000 i get an earning bonus.

    Card also probably great to MS too.

  26. I really don’t get what Barclays was going for here? The only real value proposition here is as a cash back rewards card, and they themselves have said that airline transfer partners are a secondary feature that they don’t want customers to focus on…. in other worlds they WANT people to use this as a cashback rewards card. Yet they label their own currency “Miles” and market it as a card for frequent travelers….

    While I don’t HATE the card like some seem to I really cannot imagine what the intent was here? What are they going for from a marketing perspective? This is a confused effort, especially for a company like Barclays that is in the process of rebranding in the US and clearly wants to raise their profile in the US consumer market (their consumer banking/credit card services in the U.K. are already widespread and pretty good). Why bother?

  27. Another competitor is always good. They’re a signup bonus and a fee waiver away being great. Will wait and see if peeps are getting some fees waivers before making the jump. The transfer options are the real decider for me. Japan airlines, flying blue and qantas are definitely relevant for me. If they bring on some more interesting programs, we could have some real tough choices to make.

  28. I am so confused by all this negative feedback. I have tried to use all these rewards cards with a big signup bonus. I was so excited to spend my bonus on all these elite cards. Then, I try to use these valuable points and things get real sour. I tried to use my StarWood points to get a suite, not happening. I try to use my Alaska Airline miles to book my flight but all the premier times are not even available. Plus the prices Delta, AA and UA charge for an airline ticket is the only reason you get great value on your points. With Arrival or Venture card, you can book with Southwest or another value airline, get the flight you want ( 2 hours to Denver, not 7 to 12 hours flights using your points) pay half the cost, and use the rest of your Arrival / Venture points to get that suite you wanted that the other guys points won’t let you reserve. You get to book directly with the hotel and airline. Ever try to get a hotel to fix an error while using Credit card travel service? It’s not fun. Arrival/Venture cards allow you the freedom to book the trip you deserved. The way you want it. No sacrifice, no headaches, just a fun time.

  29. There is another niche sweet spot: expatriate use. Few cards earn over 1 mile/dollar with no FX fees on unbonused spend when living abroad. SPG was king, but that’s a goner. A few others do earn more than 1, but they either are locked into a single program (Virgin Atlantic/Asia Miles cards, for example) or have high fees with few perks (United Club card, for example). Others like Amex Biz Plat only do 1.5/$ for a purchase over $5K (costly card though). There’s the Amex Plat Ameriprise with it’s 5K milestone bonuses, but you have to spend $20K to get there and the card is costly if you don’t utilize all the perks.

    So this card does serve a purpose for those of us abroad for everyday spend (also chip+pin is useful and being a Mastercard = superior FX conversions).

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