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Backed by Barclays, the Carnival® World Mastercard® is tailor-made for families looking to save money on travel. Though it’s not currently included on our list of the best travel rewards credit cards, it’s worth a closer look if you’re planning to take a cruise in the near future.
Carnival World Mastercard favors spending on purchases with Carnival Cruise Lines. That includes cruise packages, add-ons, and onboard purchases. All Carnival purchases earn 2 FunPoints per $1 spent, with no caps or restrictions on how much you can earn. All other purchases earn 1 FunPoint per $1 spent.
There’s also a solid sign-up bonus worth up to $100 when redeemed for Carnival purchases, and a foreign transaction fee waiver that reduces the cost of travel to exotic destinations. Best of all, there’s no annual fee, so this card costs nothing to keep in your wallet between trips.
If you’re looking for a mobile alternative to popular hotel rewards credit cards like the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card, or a break from general-purpose travel cards, such as Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, Carnival World Mastercard could be just the ticket. Here’s what you need to know about its features, advantages, disadvantages, and overall suitability.
When you open your account and make your first purchase, you get 10,000 bonus FunPoints. That’s worth up to $100 when redeemed for a travel credit with Carnival Cruise Lines and other participating cruise line partners, including Princess Cruises, Holland America Line, Costa Cruises, and The Yachts of Seabourn (collectively, “The World’s Leading Cruise Lines”).
Earning and Redeeming FunPoints
Carnival World Mastercard earns unlimited 2 FunPoints per $1 spent on all Carnival Cruise Lines purchases, including onboard purchases (Sign & Sail accounts) and travel purchases made through Carnival and Carnival Vacation Club. All other purchases earn unlimited 1 FunPoint per $1 spent. There are no caps or restrictions on the number of points you can earn. As long as your account remains open and in good standing, accumulated FunPoints never expire.
You can redeem your accumulated FunPoints for a wide range of items. The most common and cost-effective option is for statement credits against cruise purchases with the following lines: Carnival Cruise Lines, Costa Cruises, Cunard Line, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, The Yachts of Seabourn, P&O Cruises, P&O Cruises Australia, Ibero, and Aida.
You can also redeem for statement credits against airfare and hotel purchases more than $50 made within six months of your redemption date. Points are generally worth $0.01 apiece when redeemed in this fashion, but cruise line statement credits more than $1,500 value points at $0.015 apiece (meaning a $1,500 cruise purchase requires 100,000 FunPoints to offset).
Hotel and airfare statement credits value points at $0.009 apiece (meaning a $100 airfare redemption requires approximately 11,111 FunPoints). For cruise, airfare, and hotel statement credits, the minimum redemption threshold is 5,000 FunPoints.
You can also redeem for direct travel purchases (airfare, hotels, rental cars, and more) made through Barclaycard’s travel portal, as well as for gift cards, general merchandise, and other items. Direct travel purchases generally require at least 10,000 FunPoints. Other redemption methods have variable minimums. Point values vary depending on the redemption option and other factors, but generally come in at $0.01 apiece or less.
Shore Excursion Discount
When you book an eligible Carnival shore excursion prior to your cruise, you get a 10% discount. Appropriately, this is known as a ReFUNd.
This card has a lengthy 0% APR introductory promotion for balance transfers. Transfers made within 45 days of account opening accrue no interest for 15 billing cycles, after which the regular balance transfer rate applies. There’s no comparable promotion for purchases.
Concierge Service for Travelers
As a cardholder, you’re entitled to complimentary concierge service while you’re on the road (or boat). According to Barclaycard, this phone-based service includes “recommendations and reservations for dining, travel, hotels, entertainment and more.” You can call at any time.
Carnival World Mastercard has no annual fee or foreign transaction fee. Balance transfers cost the greater of $5 or 3%. Cash advances cost the greater of $10 or 5%. Late and returned payments cost up to $37.
Carnival World Mastercard requires good to excellent credit. Any significant credit blemishes will likely adversely impact your application.
- No Annual Fee. Carnival World Mastercard has no annual fee. That’s great news for frugal cardholders who wouldn’t normally spend enough to justify a recurring levy, and for cardholders who want to keep this card on ice for use only on Carnival Cruise Lines purchases.
- Lots of Redemption Options. Though you can only earn 2x FunPoints on cruise purchases, you can redeem your points for a slew of non-cruise items: statement credits against hotel and airfare purchases, direct travel purchases, gift cards, general merchandise, and more – all at reasonable point values. This compares favorably with some other branded travel cards, which have more restrictive redemption schemes that heavily favor or mandate brand-loyal redemptions.
- Long 0% APR Introductory Promotion for Balance Transfers. For a travel credit card, Carnival World Mastercard has an unusually long 0% APR introductory promotion for balance transfers: 15 billing cycles. That’s as long as some low APR credit cards, such as Chase Slate, that exist exclusively to cut new cardholders a break on interest.
- Easily Attainable Sign-Up Bonus. This card’s sign-up bonus is worth up to $100 when redeemed against Carnival purchases. It’s also super easy to attain – all you have to do is make a single purchase after opening your account. No need to worry about time-limited spending minimums or other hoops.
- ReFUNd Bonus for Shore Excursions. When you book a Carnival shore excursion prior to your cruise and pay with your card, you’re entitled to a 10% discount. That’s a nice break on the cost of these adventures, which can be pricey.
- No Foreign Transaction Fee. This card has no foreign transaction fee. That’s great news for cardholders traveling abroad, including those on cruise ships that make calls at international ports.
- No Penalty Interest Charges. This card doesn’t charge penalty interest. If you occasionally miss statement due dates because of unpredictable cash flow or unexpected expenses, this can save you hundreds of dollars per year on carried balances.
- Limited 2x Categories. Carnival World Mastercard’s 2x categories are pretty limited. Basically, you get 2 FunPoints per $1 spent on all Carnival Cruise Lines purchases, but that’s it. If you’re looking for a travel card that rewards a broader range of purchases, check out Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard. It offers unlimited 2x points – a 2% return on spending – on all purchases.
- No Loyalty Status or Perks for Cardholders. This card doesn’t confer any loyalty status or special perks. That’s a major disadvantage compared with popular hotel and airline cards, such as Hilton Honors Surpass Card from American Express and the IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card, both of which offer elevated status – and some tangible benefits to go along with it, such as complimentary room upgrades and faster point earnings on hotel stays.
- Limited Fringe Benefits. This card’s fringe benefits are basically nonexistent. Even standard-issue perks that typically cost consumers nothing, such as purchase protection and rental car coverage, are missing.
- No Point Transfers to Other Loyalty Programs. Though you can redeem your FunPoints for a wide range of non-cruise travel purchases, including airfare and hotel stays with most major carriers and hospitality companies, you can’t directly transfer your FunPoints to loyalty accounts with other travel merchants. This is a major perk of general-purpose travel cards, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, and some branded cards, such as Gold Delta SkyMiles from American Express. Some cards, including Sapphire Preferred, allow 1-to-1 transfers, which can greatly magnify point values.
- Low Baseline Rewards Rate. This card’s baseline rewards rate is just 1 FunPoint per $1 spent – a return on spending of 1% or less, in most cases. That’s lower than most standard-issue travel and cash back credit cards, including no-annual-fee stalwarts like Chase Freedom Unlimited and the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card – both of which offer unlimited 1.5% back.
The Carnival® World Mastercard® is a niche product for consumers (and families) who enjoy spending time at sea. Not everyone is in the same boat – pun intended.
If you’re the type of traveler who prefers to rough it on long-distance hikes, get your fill of fresh air at popular (or out-of-the-way) outdoor adventure destinations, or live in the lap of luxury at all-inclusive honeymoon resorts, you might be better served by a general-purpose travel rewards card that offers better earning potential on a wider range of purchases.
Then again, you might be gung ho for that next cruise. In which case, Carnival World Mastercard is your ticket to an unforgettable adventure at sea.