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. Earlier this year, Barclays (which used to go by Barclaycard), 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 cardmember 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. This is in addition to the two miles per dollar that you always earn. 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 airline partners:
- Aeroplan (Air Canada)
- 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 and Aeroplan, which have 1.7:1 ratios. To put it another way, you can receive 1.42 airline miles per dollar spent (1.18 for Aeroplan and Japan Airlines). And the 15,000 mile bonus is worth 10,714 airline miles (or 8,823 Aeroplan or 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. Thankfully, the latest offer now waives the annual fee for your account’s first year, giving you a chance to “try before you buy.” 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. For more information, read Clark’s article on his credit card philosophy.
Is this card worth it?
Barclays also has a popular card called the Arrival Plus, which offers double miles on all purchases, but without the annual point bonuses, a Global Entry application fee credit, or the option transfers your rewards to airline miles. The Arrival Plus card has an annual fee of $89 and is considered to be very competitive. In comparison, the Arrival Premier offers 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 and the $100 Global Entry fee credit.
But the option to transfer your rewards to airline miles is the interesting advantage, which is also offered by cards that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou points and the Marriott Rewards program. However, the Arrival Premier’s current list of transfer options are all foreign airlines, although each has partners in the United States.
For example, you can redeem Air France/KLM or Alitalia miles with Delta, Aeroplan or EVA miles with United, and Japan Airlines or Finnair 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.
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.