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Are you trying to earn the most valuable travel rewards for every dollar you spend on your credit cards?
If you’re the kind of person who always avoids interest charges by paying your statement balance in full each month, you should be earning the most valuable rewards you can. Barclays (which used to go by Barclaycard), just introduced the Arrival Premier, a credit card that allows you to earn tens of thousands of bonus miles each year and gives you a chance to transfer your rewards to airline miles.
How the new Barclays Arrival Premier card works
The Arrival Premier offers you double miles on all purchases, with no limits. But these are not traditional airline miles. Instead, these miles are worth one cent each as statement credits towards travel reservations. For example, you could charge a flight, hotel stay or rental car to your card, and then redeem the miles you earned from your Arrival Premier card for statement credits, so you don’t have to pay for those travel reservations. And, for the first time, Barclays is allowing cardholders to transfer their credit card miles to actual airline miles, which gives you even more options for using your travel rewards.
While many credit cards offer you a bonus only when you first open an account, the Arrival Premier is designed to give you bonuses each cardmember year. Every calendar year that you use your card to spend $15,000 on new purchases, you’ll receive a 15,000 mile bonus. And if you spend another $10,000 ($25,000 total), you’ll earn an additional 10,000 bonus miles. So if you used your card to spend $25,000 in your account’s first year, then you’ll earn 75,000 miles which is essentially triple miles.
You could then redeem your miles for $750 of travel statement credits or consider converting them to miles with one of these nine airline partners:
- Air France/KLM Flying Blue
- China Eastern
- EVA Air
- Japan Airlines
- Jet Privilege
- Malaysia Airlines
Just note that your Barclays miles transfer to all these airlines at a ratio of 1.4 to 1, except for Japan Airlines which has a 1.7:1 ratio. To put it another way, you can receive 1.42 airline miles per dollar spent (1.18 for Japan Airlines). And the 15,000 mile bonus is worth 10,714 airline miles (or 8,823 Japan Airlines miles).
What other benefits do you get?
These days, travel credit cards are going all out to impress you with valuable benefits, and this new card is no different. First, you receive a $100 credit towards the application fee for the Global Entry program, which includes TSA PreCheck expedited domestic security at the airport and priority service when you return to the United States after visiting a foreign country. You also get a Lounge Key membership, which lets you visit more than 800 airport lounges for the discounted price of $27 each.
When traveling, you’ll be protected by baggage delay and trip cancellation insurance. And when shopping, your purchases will be covered by an extended warranty, return protection and a damage and theft protection policy. As part of the World Elite Mastercard program, it also comes with numerous travel and shopping discounts. Finally, it offers you free two-day shipping at many retailers through the Shop Runner service and a free monthly FICO credit score.
What this card will cost you
When you’re looking for a premium rewards card, you should expect it to come with a premium price. This card has an annual fee of $150, but it has no foreign transaction fees. And like most reward cards, you can expect that the Arrival Premier will have higher interest rates than competitive non-reward cards. So if you’re ever going to carry a balance on your credit card, then you should be looking for a product with the lowest possible interest rate, not a rewards card. In fact, we recommend that you avoid credit cards altogether if you are unable to avoid interest charges or just aren’t able to manage your cards responsibly.
Is this card worth it?
Barclays previously offered a card called the Arrival Plus that gave double miles on all purchases, but didn’t offer the annual point bonuses, a Global Entry application fee credit, or transfers to airline miles. That card had an annual fee of $89 and was considered to be very competitive. The new Arrival Premier will offer you far more value than the additional $61 in annual fees, due to the chance to earn an additional 25,000 bonus miles each year, mileage transfer options and the Global Entry fee credit.
But the option to transfer your rewards to airline miles is an interesting one, which is also offered by cards that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou points and the Starwood Preferred Guest program. With this card, you’ll notice that the current list of options are all for foreign airlines, although each has partners in the United States.
For example, you can redeem Air France/KLM miles with Delta, EVA miles with United, and Japan Airlines miles with American. Hard-core award travel enthusiasts will learn the details of these foreign programs and find ways to redeem their miles for outstanding values. For example, you can currently transfer 46,667 miles from this card to 30,000 Air France/KLM miles, and redeem them for an economy class, round-trip award ticket to Hawaii on Delta. But you can earn these miles by spending just $18,000 on this card. In contrast, it might take two or three times the spending on a competing card to earn enough miles for a similar trip. Even better, I’ve been told that Barclays is working to add even more airline transfer partners in the near future.
The bottom line
If you’ll use your card to spend at least $15,000 a year, and you never pay credit card interest charges, then you should consider this new rewards card. It’s really easy to redeem these miles for travel statement credits, and if you’re a frequent flyer mile geek like me, then I don’t have to tell you about how you can receive substantial value by transferring these miles to airline miles. By offering you both options and continuing to let you earn bonuses each year, Barclays is setting a new standard for how much value you can receive from a travel rewards card.
*Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone (not those of any companies, products or services mentioned) and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.