The Intriguing Rumored Barclays Arrival Premier Card

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For a while there have been rumors of Barclays introducing a new card in the US. One of their most popular cards up until now has been the Arrival Plus, which offers 2x miles per dollar spent, and each mile can be redeemed for one cent towards a travel purchase (so they’re not really traditional miles, but that’s how they’ve marketed them). This is essentially a 2% cash back travel card. However, Barclays recently stopped accepting applications for this card, so it seems like it’s being discontinued, at least for new cardmembers.

At the same time there have been rumors of Barclays introducing a new card this month, and Doctor Of Credit has been on top of the details. Specifically, rumor has it that the Barclays Arrival® Premier World Elite Mastercard® (see terms) will be introduced in April. In this post I wanted to look at what the rumored benefits of this card are.

Barclays Arrival Premier annual fee (rumored)

When introduced, the Barclays Arrival Premier is rumored to have a  annual fee,.

Barclays Arrival Premier sign-up bonus & eligibility (rumored)

The card won’t have any sign-up bonus, won’t be available to existing Arrival cardmembers, and won’t allow conversions from existing Arrival accounts. It’s fair enough if they want to try not offering a sign-up bonus, though I’m surprised they’re making existing cardmembers of other products ineligible, and not allowing product changes. I guess they’re trying to see if they can go after a completely new market witht his card.

Barclays Arrival Premier return on spend (rumored)

The card will offer 2x miles on all purchases with no caps, much like the Arrival Plus has. On top of that, it will offer some 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, spending $25,000 on the card in a year will earn 25,000 bonus miles, for a total of 75,000 miles, or 3x miles per dollar spent.

Barclays Arrival Premier perks (rumored)

The only significant non-miles perk that this card will offer is a Global Entry fee credit every five years. That’s better than nothing, though not huge. Personally I have so many cards with those credits that it’s not something I value.

The HUGE benefit of this card (rumored)

With the Arrival Plus, you can only redeem miles for one cent each towards the cost of a travel purchase. The Barclays Arrival® Premier World Elite Mastercard® will allow you to “transfer your miles to participating travel loyalty programs.” This means that for the first time, they may be introducing a true transferable points currency.

As of now we don’t yet know how many partners they’ll have. Barclays currently has co-brand travel cards with American, Frontier, Hawaiian, JetBlue, Lufthansa, Choice, and Wyndham. That’s not necessarily to say that all of those companies would be onboard with joining a Barclays transferable points currency. For example, American also has co-brand credit cards issued with Citi, and I know in the past they failed to reach a deal with Citi for allowing points to be transferred from ThankYou to AAdvantage.

On one hand I’m skeptical of AAdvantage partnering with Barclays for this, though at the same time American isn’t reaching their credit card goals solely with their co-brand cards, so it seems like maybe they’re desperate enough to do it at this point?

This of course is the big question with this card. Will the transfer partners just be Frontier, Hawaiian, and Choice (or something), or will we see them add some great partners?

Beyond cards that they have co-brand cards with, there are also some currencies that seem to be happy to partner with just about anyone. For example, Air France-KLM Flying Blue and Singapore KrisFlyer are transfer partners with all four major transferable points currencies, and I’m sure they’d be up for a fifth.

Crunching the numbers on this card

Let me once again emphasize that the above is all rumored, though let’s do some basic number crunching based on this. Personally I won’t place a value on the Global Entry fee credit, since I have so many of those already.

What this boils down to is a annual fee card that earns:

  • Up to 3x miles on the first $25,000 spent per cardmember year
  • 2x miles on any remaining spend

Currently miles can be redeemed for a penny each, so assuming we maintain that value, you’d be earning a return of 3% on the first $25,000 of spend, and 2% on any remaining spend. But then there’s a annual fee, which would be the equivalent of “paying” 15,000 points per year. If you spend at least $25,000 per year and want to distribute that cost over the first $25,000 of spend then it’s like earning 3x points on $10,000 of spend, and 2x points on any remaining spend. Meh, that’s only marginally worth it.

But what if they add airline partners? Of course it would depend what partners they manage to add. Assuming they were able to get American AAdvantage onboard, I value those miles at ~1.3 cents each, so that’s like a return of ~3.9% on the first $25,000 spent, and ~2.6% on any remaining spend.

If you want to subtract the annual fee, I value ~11,000 American miles at ~$150, so that’s like earning 3x miles on $16,000 of spend, and 2x miles on all other spend. I’d say that’s pretty compelling, and if they can add even more partners that are useful, all the better.

Bottom line

As of now, all we can do is speculate about the Barclays Arrival Premier. It seems like it’s coming soon. While the above is subject to change, the biggest question I have is what travel partners they’ll have. If they’re able to get some interesting programs onboard, this might just be a new era of transferable points currencies, where you can earn 2-3x points on everyday spend, without a bonus category.

I don’t think that’s unrealistic or unsustainable, especially if they’re not spending big money on a sign-up bonus upfront.

What would it take for you to sign-up for the Barclays Arrival Premier? What transfer partners would you want to see?

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  1. If your assumptions are correct, there is nothing for me to see here. No sign-up bonus, $15,000 in purchases for 15,000 miles, $150 annual fee, not interested in transferring any points to American. Pretty bad on all fronts for me. I will wait to see. Perhaps they will be forced to offer a sign-up bonus down the line to get anyone interested. I’ll stick to monthly spending for sign-up bonuses for as long as a can.

  2. hard to see this being compelling over something like the CSR which has (essentially) the same annual fee and chances for lots of bonus points if you shop via their portal online

  3. Hold off application if you’re not quite intrigued. It will have to offer sign-up bonuses to lure new accounts. Example, Uber card

  4. Frequent Miler speculates that points will not transfer 1:1 — it will be something like 2 Barclays points : 1 mile or 1.5:1. He bases that on Barclays’ other products, and parsing some language in the (leaked) terms & conditions.

    What do you think?

  5. @ S Nack — If it actually offers 2-3x miles per dollar spent, and they’re transferable 1:1 to airline partners, I’d say that has the potential to be quite compelling!

  6. @ raksiam — Agreed, but the two aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive. Could be value in having one card for 2-3x points on everyday spend, and then the CSR for 3x points on dining and travel, and other perks.

  7. I agree with you on most of your posts but this one…ouch! You’re reaching hard for this one Lucky. AA? Really!? That’s (potentially) the best thing you can offer? Transfer my points to frontier? <—do people really do that!?! Nothing in this post made me say…”you know, I can’t wait for this card to hit the market.”

  8. @ Ben — That’s a great question. I guess it could go either way. It seems silly to introduce a card that offers double miles but then have something like a 2:1 transfer ratio. That would be a non-starter, in my opinion, though it’s possible that’s what they’re going for, in which case this is a snooze. However, if they really wanted to gain market share here, I could see it being sustainable for them to do a 1:1 transfer ratio. When you think of how much money companies offer spend upfront on sign-up bonuses, they’re instead transferring some of that value to offering rewards for spend. Furthermore, most people won’t hit exactly the thresholds, meaning they’d earn an average of 2x miles per dollar spent. They’d make money on a vast majority of consumers that way (due to the annual fee), especially since many people will likely still redeem as cash towards travel.

    So I guess I could see it going either way. If they actually want to be disruptive, I think they could swing 2-3x points. If they do a worse transfer ratio, I see this being pretty lame.

  9. @ AJ — At this point there’s a lot we don’t know. We could also see transfers to Air France/KLM or Singapore, as I pointed out in the past. To me any of those would be interesting. I don’t value American miles as much as some other mileage currencies, but if I’m earning 2x miles per dollar spent, I’d take it.

  10. I feel like this card seems underwhelming based on these initial rumors. It’s disappointing to see a card that only gives you spend bonuses up to $25k. But I feel like the amount of work and the reward doesnt seem worth the actual cost of another annual fee.

    I find that i really like the convenience of the bank pts like Citi Thank You and Chase UR. It’s nice to just buy a convenient ticket and not have to worry about finding available award space, not have to worry about tons of connections.

  11. If it’s as presented here, I see no reason to be interested if you’re not a big spender. They’ll have to put out a nice enrollment bonus before I look at it.

  12. How’s your math if LH is a transfer partner? I value LH miles for the ability to book F in advance….. albeit with YQ…

  13. If LH is a transfer partner and the transfer ratio is 1:1; I would get the card and shift $50 – $80 K of monthly business spending from Freedom unlimited to this card. This would be awesome. I currently use Plastiq for payroll (invitation only) with the Freedom Unlimited, but it would be great to have another card with a flexible points currency and an earnings rate greater than 1.

  14. Bloggers blast AA constantly. Theory is if hugely-deflated AA miles are at some point in time absolutely necessary then just use Avios instead, transferred thru URs. I’ve personally had zero luck with that strategy. And not much better with Alaska. Something about AA being the largest airline in the world leads me right back needing AAdvantage miles I can’t get thru MRs or TUs, either.

    AA’s Barclays & Citi cards are it for earning AA miles at basically 1 point/$ (save AA purchases). If the rumor comes to fruition, the ability to increase that three-fold on ALL SPEND is compelling enough for me…now, where do I sign.

  15. I had given up on Barclays and still have the Arrival card which I downgraded from the Plus version. They gutted the benefits. If they could have a 1:1 transfer to multiple airlines like say SPG, then it could be an option. COULD be a goo everyday spend card. Not holding my breath. If you do that for long enough, you die.

  16. To be honest, I wouldn’t be shocked if they were trying to do a leisure traveler bit here. LIke, here me out:

    1. Good return on everyday spend – don’t need to worry about bonuses, just getting something in return
    2. Transfer partners to companies Iike Hawaiian, Frontier, and Choice – showcases the “potential” for a big return at low/mid-tier partners
    3. Free Global Entry makes the $150 annual fee is “only” $50 for those leisure travelers who would not already have global entry – and I know

    In short, I think Barclays is recognizing they cant beat American Express and Chase at the premium game (which lets all just agree we are Amex and Chase’s target market) so they are going after a different market. Honestly, they might just be on to something here for a piece of the market we just dont see in our narrow view as points maximizers.

  17. As someone who flies AA a lot and manages to burn a ton of mile with them, I’d love to transfer points to AA. Only can do it through SPG now and sometimes I need a few miles to top off my account. So Im definitely intrigued by that possibility, but the card would have to be compelling.

  18. Why not throw in a Clear application, instead of Global Entry? Besides Global Entry is not Global, but US based. You get the same long lines in Europe I think.

  19. @lucky
    In the text: “Barclays Arrival Premier sign-up bonus & eligibility (rumored)“
    At line “completely new market witht his card”
    I think “witht” is wrong ,U ment “with”

  20. For $150 annual fee, you are so much better off going with the CSR (effective $150 fee). I’m not sure who this card would cater to when there are other cards with equal or lower annual fees that offer nearly the same product.

  21. I have no use for any more AA miles, but if the points were transferable to Lufthansa I’d be aboard in a heartbeat. Assuming they could get SQ and AF as well, that would make for a pretty compelling proposition.

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