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Barclays Arrival Premier® World Elite Mastercard® Review – 2x Miles

At a Glance
barclays arrival premier credit card
4.2 / 5
Rating

Barclays Arrival Premier® World Elite Mastercard®

  • Sign-up Bonus: None
  • Rewards: Unlimited 2 miles per $1 spent on all purchases
  • Benefits: Reduced-price access to more than 850 airport lounges, Global Entry fee credit, mile transfer to airline partners, annual spending bonus up to 75,000 miles with $25,000 in eligible purchases in a calendar year
  • Fees: No foreign transaction fee; greater of $5 or 3% balance transfer fee – see terms and conditions for more information
  • Annual Fee: $150 after the first year
  • Credit Needed: Good to excellent

Advertiser Disclosure: This post includes references to offers from our partners. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. However, the opinions expressed here are ours alone and at no time has the editorial content been provided, reviewed, or approved by any issuer.

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The Barclays Arrival Premier® World Elite Mastercard® is a travel rewards credit card with an $150 annual fee and a generous, straightforward rewards program that rewards you for virtually any type of travel and transportation: airfare, car rentals, taxis, buses, hotel stays, incidentals, bookings made through discount travel sites (such as Expedia) and more. It also has a generous annual spending bonus, reduced-price access to more than 850 airport lounges worldwide, mile transfer arrangements with nearly a dozen airlines, and some additional benefits for frequent travelers.

Barclays Arrival Premier plays in a very crowded travel rewards niche. Its closest competitors are other general purpose cards that allow cardholders to redeem accumulated points or miles on a wide range of travel types, and without regard to specific airline or hotel brands, including the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and the Citi ThankYou Premier Credit Card. Most competing cards have annual fees in the $50 to $200 range.

Key Features

Earning Travel Rewards

This card earns an unlimited 2 miles per $1 spent on all purchases, with no caps or restrictions. As long as your account remains open and in good standing, your miles don’t expire.

Redeeming Travel Rewards

You can redeem your accumulated miles for statement credits against a wide range of  travel purchases: car rentals, hotel stays, airfare, taxi fares, bus fares, incidentals, discount travel site bookings, and more. Purchases must have been made within 4 months (120 days) of the redemption date. When redeemed for travel, miles are always worth $0.01 apiece.

The redemption minimum for statement credit redemptions against travel is $100, or 10,000 miles. The purchase against which the redemption is made must be $100 or greater. It’s worth noting that this minimum is far higher than many competing cards’, and can cause problems for lighter spenders who take many months to build up the requisite number of miles. However, you can make partial redemptions for larger purchases – for example, if you have 10,000 miles ($100 value), you can redeem them to offset half the cost of a $200 flight. Barclays allows redemptions in $25 increments between $100 and $2,000.

You can also make non-travel redemptions, including general statement credits and gift cards, but these redemption methods are a poor value. They generally value miles at $0.005 apiece, or half the value of miles redeemed for travel. Gift card redemptions start at 5,000 miles for a $25 gift card, for instance.

Annual Spending Bonus

When you spend at least $25,000 in purchases in a year, you get 75,000 bonus loyalty miles – a $750 value when redeemed for credits against travel purchases. After that, keep earning unlimited 2 miles per $1 spent on every purchase.

Transfer Miles to Airline Partners

Barclays Arrival Premier has mile-transfer arrangements with multiple international airlines, including Air France, Aeromexico, and Qantas. A full list is available on Barclays’ website. Miles generally transfer at a 1.4-to-1 ratio, but this may vary by partner and is subject to change at any time.

Mastercard Airport Experiences Provided by Lounge Key

Cardholders on ticketed airline travel enjoy reduced-fee airport lounge access at more than 850 lounges worldwide through Mastercard Airport Experiences provided by Lounge Key. Access generally costs $27 per visit, though this may vary by lounge and is subject to change. Entry is granted regardless of airline loyalty status or fare class.

Global Entry Fee Credit

Every 5 years, you’re eligible for a $100 statement credit against your Global Entry application fee.

Barclays Travel Community

You can earn additional bonus miles when you share travel stories in the Barclays Travel Community, a member-driven portal for Barclays cardholders. You’ll earn 150 miles ($1.50 value when redeemed for travel) for each story posted to the community, proved it’s at least 100 words and contains at least 1 unique photo. There’s a limit of 5 stories per member, per location, and 100 stories per member, per month. Certain other story-related actions earn additional bonus points – check with the Barclays Travel Community for complete details.

Important Fees

There is a $150 annual fee, waived in the first year. There is no foreign transaction fee. Balance transfers cost the greater of $5 or 3%, while cash advances cost the greater of $10 or 5%. Late and returned payments cost up to $37. See this card’s terms and conditions for more information.

Additional Benefits

This card’s additional benefits include:

  • Insurance for lost and delayed luggage
  • Trip cancellation and interruption insurance
  • 24/7 emergency traveler assistance
  • Travel accident insurance
  • FICO credit score access at no charge through your account dashboard

Credit Required

This card requires good to excellent credit. Any notable credit dings are likely to disqualify your application.

Advantages

  1. Very Good Point Earning Rate. This card earns miles at an impressive clip: 2 miles per $1 spent on everything, with no caps or restrictions. That’s better than Chase Sapphire Preferred, which only earns 2 points per $1 on travel and dining, and earns just 1 point per $1 on everything else.
  2. Expansive Definition of Travel. Barclays Arrival Premier’s rewards program allows you to redeem your accumulated rewards for virtually any type of travel, including local transportation (such as taxis). By contrast, hotel- and airline-branded rewards cards such as United Mileage Plus Explorer ($95 annual fee) restrict redemptions by requiring cardholders to redeem for stays or flights with specific brand families, or require cardholders to transfer their miles or points (sometimes at highly unfavorable ratios) to partner brands.
  3. Generous Annual Loyalty Bonus for Heavy Spenders. When you spend $25,000 or more in eligible net purchases in a calendar year, you earn 75,000 bonus miles. That’s worth up to $750 when redeemed for travel – enough for 3 round-trip flights between most major U.S. cities, or 6 nights at many 3-star hotels. This is easily among the most generous annual spending bonuses in the premium travel rewards credit card category.
  4. Miles Transfer Arrangements With Multiple International Airlines. You can transfer your earned miles to a variety of international airline partners, including Air France (great for trips to Europe) and Aeromexico (great for spring break trips to Central America). Miles generally transfer at a 1.4-to-1 ratio, which is pretty good relative to some competing hotel and airline cards.
  5. Global Entry Fee Reimbursement. You get $100 every 5 years to offset your Global Entry application fee credit. If you often travel internationally, Global Entry is a lifesaver: it allows you to bypass the line at crowded customs checkpoints, potentially shaving hours off your annual travel routine.
  6. Reduced-fee Airport Lounge Access. With this card’s Mastercard Airport Experiences provided by Lounge Key benefit, you get reduced-fee access to more than 850 airport lounges in more than 400 airports worldwide. Entry generally costs $27 per cardholder, per visit, representing savings of 50% or more off standard price.
  7. No Blackout Dates. This card doesn’t have any blackout dates because it doesn’t require cardholders to book travel during the redemption process. Instead, redemptions come after the fact – so any travel purchase you’ve already made is fair game. This is a big advantage over branded cards that often restrict travel during periods of high demand.

Disadvantages

  1. Has a Hefty Annual Fee. Barclays Arrival Premier has an $150 annual fee after the first year. That’s nearly $50 more than Capital One Venture Rewards, which earns miles at the same rate and which waives the annual fee in the first year. If you don’t spend heavily enough (and thus earn rewards quickly enough) to justify a $150 fee, consider Venture Rewards – or opt for an annual-fee-free travel rewards card.
  2. Miles Always Worth $0.01 When Redeemed for Travel. When redeemed for statement credits against travel, Barclays Arrival Premier’s miles are always worth $0.01 apiece. That’s a big drawback relative to branded travel rewards cards from major airline and hotel brands, such as American Express Gold Delta SkyMiles ($95 annual fee). These cards’ points and miles can be worth far more than $0.01 apiece at redemption, particularly when redeemed at higher-priced hotels or on longer-haul flights.
  3. High Threshold for Travel Redemptions. Barclays Arrival Premier has one of the highest redemption minimums of any general purpose travel rewards card – 10,000 miles, equal to $100 in travel purchases. What’s more, you can’t redeem your miles against purchases of less than $100, and you can’t redeem miles for purchases older than 4 months. For people who don’t spend heavily or travel frequently, this is a high bar to clear, and can lead to wasted or long-unused rewards. Other cards let you redeem much faster and more frequently.
  4. Non-travel Redemptions Have Poor Value. Though you can redeem your accumulated rewards miles for gift cards and general statement credits, these cash equivalent redemptions offer a much poorer value than travel redemptions – usually $0.005 per point, compared with $0.01 per point on travel redemptions. This contrasts unfavorably with Chase Sapphire Preferred, whose non-travel redemptions (including cash) fetch up to $0.01 per point.
  5. No Introductory APR Promotion. This card has no introductory APR promotion. If you’re looking to finance a major purchase at a teaser rate or transfer a high-interest balance from another credit card account, you’ll need to look elsewhere.

Final Word

If you’ve ever had an airline rewards or hotel rewards credit card tied to a specific hospitality or transportation brand, you probably know how complicated branded travel rewards programs can be. Major airlines and hotels, such as United Airlines and Marriott, devote pages of text and detailed charts to explaining and quantifying their programs’ benefits. If you have the time and brainpower to familiarize yourself with these programs, you can use all this explication to your advantage – determining the most effective (and financially savvy) ways to earn and redeem miles for air travel and hotel stays.

If you don’t have the time or mental energy to devote to complex branded rewards programs, a simpler, more generalized travel rewards card such as the Barclays Arrival Premier® World Elite Mastercard® is probably more your speed. With a flat-rate rewards program and a simple, straightforward redemption scheme, this card doesn’t offer the possibility of eye-popping redemption values. But at least it’s easy to understand.

Verdict
barclays arrival premier credit card
4.2 / 5
Rating

Barclays Arrival Premier® World Elite Mastercard®

The Barclays Arrival Premier® World Elite Mastercard® is a great general purpose travel rewards card whose annual fee and high redemption minimum are made bearable by an expansive definition of travel, lack of brand-specific benefits, a brisk mile-earning rate, a generous spending bonus, and some juicy value-added perks. It’s therefore ideal for people who spend heavily enough to offset the annual fee, who aren’t loyal to individual hotel or airline brands, and who don’t necessarily travel often enough to benefit from a card that only earns accelerated rewards on travel purchases (but who still want to reduce their expenses when they do travel).

By the same token, this card is not ideal for lighter spenders who can’t justify the hefty annual fee, nor for travelers who are loyal to particular brands.

Double miles on all purchases, ability to redeem for virtually any type of travel (including discount website bookings), generous annual spending bonus, airport lounge benefit, Global Entry fee credit, miles transfer arrangement, and lack of blackout dates are all nice.

The annual fee after the first year, low maximum mile values ($0.01 apiece), high redemption threshold (which renders the card unsuitable for light spenders) paired with a 4-month window to redeem for travel purchases, poor non-travel redemptions, and lack of introductory APR promotion all hurt.

Overall, this is a very good travel rewards card for heavy-spending travelers not loyal to specific brands.

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Brian Martucci
Brian Martucci writes about frugal living, entrepreneurship, and innovative ideas. When he’s not interviewing small business owners or investigating time- and money-saving strategies for Money Crashers readers, he’s probably out exploring a new trail or sampling a novel cuisine. Find him on Twitter @Brian_Martucci.

Comments Disclosure: The below responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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