American Express Platinum vs. Barclaycard Arrival Plus

While both offer plenty of perks for those who travel often, there's definitely a clear winner. Learn more to decide which of these two cards will help satisfy your wanderlust.

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus has been discontinued as of April 2018.

You may find its successor in Barclays' newest offering, the Arrival Premier World Elite Mastercard.

The Winner

The Platinum card from American Express - because of its world-class travel perks

When it comes to travel benefits, the Platinum card from American Express simply can't be beaten.

Here are just a few of the benefits that make cardholders so happy:

Big sign-up bonus (*with a twist). You'll get 75,000 points by spending $5,000 in the first three months of opening your account.

*Now here's some interesting news: The sign-up bonus had previously been 60,000 points, but upon returning to the site in December 2017, we noticed it was bumped up to 75,000.

The website warns, though, that this is a fleeting opportunity: "This offer may not be available if you leave this web page and return later."

Major travel perks. Enjoy a $200 airline credit and $15 per month (with a $20 bonus in December) for Uber rides.

Use them all to the max, and you've got yourself $400 in savings. Not just the first year—every year.

World-class customer service. Whether you call and talk to a friendly someone at Amex or log-on to the online chat feature, you're bound to have your questions answered ASAP.

Why You Should Consider Each Card

Benefits that pay back their annual fees—and then some

In the travel credit card world, offerings range from minimal rewards with no annual fee to maximum awards with rather hefty fees.

Most Popular Travel Reward Incentives

At $550 per year, the Platinum card from Amex is one of the priciest available, but the payoff is great.

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard also has strong rewards.

However, with a much lower annual fee of $89, you can expect the rewards to pale in comparison to the Platinum card.

Don't be swayed by the annual fee.

When choosing between these two cards, consider your spending habits.

The Amex Platinum is ideal if you travel often and have a good credit score

To find out if the Amex Platinum is a worthy addition to your wallet, answer the following questions:

  • Do you like to travel and earn luxury perks and upgrades?
  • Do you prefer to pay off your balance every month?
  • Do you have a credit score in the "good" or "excellent" range?

If you answered yes, then the Platinum card might be a good travel companion.

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus is ideal if you want to score more points on everyday spending

To find out if the Barclaycard Arrival Plus is a better choice for your spending habits, answer the following questions:

  • Do you prefer to earn more points on everyday spending?
  • Do you need a credit card that offers a 0% interest balance transfer?
  • Do you have a credit score in the "good" to "excellent" range?

If you answered yes to these questions, then the Barclaycard Arrival Plus might be the right credit card for you.

The takeaway

It's tough to choose a credit card with an annual fee when there are so many no-fee cards out there.

However, these two travel rewards cards are proof that the bigger the annual fee, the greater the rewards.

That's why we've chosen the Amex Platinum as our winner.

The big-time annual fee is worth it for all the rewards and benefits you get with this mighty little card.

The Amex Platinum's Strengths

Better travel benefits

Nobody puts their Platinum card in a corner. This card was meant to travel the world.

And with all of the points you'll rack up, you'll be seeing a lot more of the world.

Earn major points

The Amex Platinum card gives you one point per dollar on ordinary purchases.

But the way the membership rewards program is set up, purchases are very rarely ordinary.

In fact, it's hard not to tally up major points with your Platinum card.

That's because you'll get 5x the points on travel (booked directly with airlines or through the Amex site) and plenty of bonus opportunities that can help you rack up thousands—yes, thousands!—of extra points just by shopping.

Watch out for the annual fee

Membership has its privileges, but it also comes with a very high annual fee—$550, to be exact.

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus is just $89 per year—a fee that's waived your first year as a cardholder.

We don't blame you if the Amex annual fee gives you pause, but keep reading to find why we think it's worth it.

The takeaway

The Amex Platinum card is meant for travel.

U.S. Family Travel Spending in 2016

If you max out the travel bonuses (remember, you get $400 combined in airline and Uber credits alone), as well as even a handful of the benefits offered through the Membership Rewards program, you'll make back far more than the $550 annual fee.

The Counter Argument

Arrival Plus offers a full year of no interest & balance transfers

Yes, you read that correctly.

There's a couple of things the Barclaycard Arrival Plus offers that is simply not available with the Amex Platinum card.

Shop interest-free for an entire year. That's right—you can carry a balance without paying interest for the first 12 months of having the card.

After that, you'll get charged a variable APR of 16.99–23.99% based on your credit score.

Skip the interest on balance transfers, too. Got a high-interest balance on another card? Switch it to this Barclaycard and pay it down much faster.

There is a fee for balance transfers, and interest will apply (same as above APR) if you don't pay off the balance within the 12-month grace period.

Double points on everyday purchases

If you don't like to keep track of bonus categories or special offers, then you'll like the ease of using the Barclaycard: Just swipe your card and automatically get double the points for every dollar you spend.

Watch out for the high minimums on redemption

You can't spend your Barclaycard points as you get 'em—you've got to wait until you've accumulated $100 in bonus points before you can use them.

This rankles some cardholders who enjoy using their points to pay off smaller incidental travel fees, like taxi fare and checked baggage.

There is one redeeming factor about your Barclaycard points, though.

When you spend them, you get an extra 5% bonus—that's $5 back for every $100 you redeem.

The takeaway

The Barclaycard does offer a pretty sweet deal, which looks even sweeter when compared to the $550-a-year Amex. But you have to consider the whole picture—including the value of keeping the card well past the initial sign-up bonus period.

A Side-by-Side Comparison

Amex Platinum Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard
How high of credit score do you need? Average 716 Average 736
Average APR? Amex is a charge card, so you pay the balance off in full. You can opt for the Pay Over Time feature for qualifying purchases, but a high-interest rate applies. 16.99%, 20.99% or 23.99%, depending on creditworthiness
Annual fee? $550 $89
How big of sign-up bonus do you get? 60,000 points 40,000 points
How much do you need to spend to get the bonus? $5,000 within 3 months $4,000 within 3 months
How many points do you get for every dollar? 1 point 2 points
Any restrictions? None None
If you spent $100 on the card, then how much would the points be worth in dollars? $1 $2
How much would you need to spend on the card to make up for the fees (excluding APR/rates)? $45,000 $22,500

Rewards and Bonuses

Amex offers a much higher sign-up bonus

Earn 60,000–75,000 bonus points when you open an Amex Platinum.

It's hard to ignore such a great sign-up bonus. And now it looks like Amex is offering even more to those new customers who are ready to apply today.

If you act quickly, you will get $75,000 when you spend $5000 in the first three months.

The Barclaycard only offers 40,000 points upon signing up

The spend is less for the Barclaycard's sign-up bonus—only $3,000 in the first three months—but you're getting close to half the points.

The takeaway

Based on the sign-up bonus alone, the Platinum card blows Barclaycard out of the water.

Sure, there's a lower spend threshold with Barclaycard, but Amex more than makes up for it with the extra 20,000 points (35,000 if you act now!) when you become a member.

Benefits

Both Amex and Barclaycard offer excellent travel benefits

Either of these cards makes a good travel companion for your next trip, but we think the Platinum card by Amex really shines.

The Amex Platinum offers major travel perks

Ride free with Uber. You'll get $15 in Uber credits per month—$35 in December—for a total of $200 each year. You'll get credited right through the Uber app, so this is a no-brainer.

Largest Uber Cities by Monthly Revenue (2017)

Go ahead—check those bags! You'll get a $200 airline credit that can be used for en-route purchases, like checked baggage and in-flight food and entertainment (you'll have to choose a single airline and enroll for this perk).

Get Gold with your Platinum card. Your Amex card automatically upgrades you to Gold status with both Hilton and Starwood.

Enjoy airport lounges around the world. Waive the admission fee when you wave your card at hundreds of airport lounges throughout the world.

Barclaycard offers double points and bonus points on redemptions

Earn double points on everyday spending. You'll get 2x the points for every dollar you spend. Redeem your points with a bonus.

When it's time to redeem your points (minimum is $100), you'll get a 5% bonus.

The takeaway

The incredible offers that come with the Amex Platinum are proof that the sticker shock you get with the annual fee will quickly fade away.

Costs and Fees

Consider whether either card is worth the annual fee

Of course, you do have to actually use the perks each card is offering in order to cancel out the annual fees. And it's really not that hard to recoup the costs.

Membership has its privileges—and high fees

Although you'll skip the APR each month because you'll pay off your bill each month, there are other fees to pay.

Pay a high annual fee. It will cost $550 per year to keep this card in your wallet.

Don't be late. Late payments can get pricey—and a bit complicated.

You are required to pay your Platinum card's entire balance by the due date.

Miss the deadline and it's a $27 fee.

Miss your payment again within six months and it will be $38.

If you miss those two payments in a row, you'll be charged $38 or 2.99% of the past due amount, whichever is higher.

Find another card for a balance transfer. While you can initiate balance transfers with other Amex cards, you can't do it with this one.

There is one fee you can skip out on though.

Be free of foreign transaction fees. Shop without extra charges anywhere in the world.

Pay fewer fees with Barclaycard

Barclaycard causes a little less sticker shock with its fees.

Pay a lower annual fee. It costs $89 per year to keep Barclaycard in your wallet—and the fee is waived the first year.

Transfer balances and skip the interest. Nix those high-interest balances when you transfer them to your new Barclaycard and get 0% interest for 12 months.

(Note that a 3% fee will apply.)

Go interest-free on purchases for a year. There's no catch here—you can carry a balance without interest for 12 months.

After the grace period is over, you'll have an APR of 16.99–23.99%, depending on your creditworthiness.

Shop abroad without fees. Take this card with you outside of the country and you won't be charged extra when you swipe.

Frequent Flyers Love Shopping At Airports

Now for the bad news.

Don't miss a payment. Credit cards appreciate it when you pay on time.

Otherwise, you'll get charged up to $37 for a missed payment.

Think twice before getting cash. You can use this card at the ATM, but it's not a great idea.

You'll get charged a 5% fee to get the cash, then a 26.4% APR on the balance.

The takeaway

On paper, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus looks like the better card when it comes to the annual fee.

But at the risk of sounding like a broken record, the Amex Platinum still wins with the sheer amount of rewards that card members get. (Just don't miss a payment. Ever.)

Customer Service

Get better customer service with American Express

With so many benefits, it's no wonder that cardholders need help, from time to time, making sense of it all. Luckily, Amex is known for its excellent customer service.

Platinum members get the royal treatment

Got a question about a card benefit?

Fast track an answer by logging-on to the chat feature on the website and type your question or concern. You'll get a response from an agent in no time.

If you'd rather talk to a human instead, you can always call the customer service number on the back of your card, but there may be a bit of a wait depending on when you call.

Barclaycard's customer service might have you on hold for a bit

While you can send a secure email to Barclaycard, there is no online chat option.

If you want to talk with a person, you'll have to call the customer service number on the back of your card and hope that the wait isn't too long.

The takeaway

When it comes to quick and knowledgeable customer service, American Express wins.

Key Digital Services

Amex and Barclaycard offer easy digital access to accounts and point redemption

If you've stopped getting paper statements ages ago, then you'll likely appreciate the digital services that both Amex and Barclaycard offer cardholders.

Whether you log-on to the website or download the apps to stay connected on the go, you'll have 24/7 access to check account activity, make monthly payments, redeem points, and more.

Treat yourself with Amex Membership Rewards

There are a variety of online options to redeem your Amex points thanks to the credit card company's sophisticated website.

Book reward travel. You can use your points to book hotels, flights, and more.

Where Do Most Travelers Stay?

Transfer points. Go on vacation sooner by transferring Amex rewards points to other frequent traveler programs.

Pay your bill. You can apply points toward statement credit.

Shop 'til you drop. You can shop online for luxury items and experiences.

Pay with points. You can even use your points to pay when you check out at certain retailers.

Redeem Barclaycard points easily

Barclaycard customers also have a smooth experience with redeeming points, whether on the web or through the app.

Redeem for travel or cash back. Pick your rewards preference and redeem at least $100 in points at a time.

Go shopping. You can also use your points for gift cards and merchandise.

Get a bonus on top of rewards. Don't forget that you'll get a 5% bonus upon redemption. So instead of $100, you'll get $105.

Want more points? Here's a cool feature with your Barclaycard:

Earn more points by posting travel pictures. When you become a member of the Barclaycard Travel Community, a growing social media community (162,000 members and counting!), you can post photos of your travels and earn additional points for your next adventure.

Keep your credit score in check

Both cards give you online access to your FICO score, so you're never in the dark about your creditworthiness.

The takeaway

When it comes to accessing your account and redeeming points, you can't go wrong with either credit card.

Still, our vote is for Amex because the points you can easily redeem online can get you so much.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of keeping the card after the bonus period?

The Amex Platinum allows you to keep racking up 5x the points when you book travel through its site.

On a hiatus from travel?

You can still accumulate major points through its Membership Rewards Program.

With the Barclaycard Arrival Plus, you'll earn double the points every time you swipe your card.

Are there balance transfer options?

Only with Barclaycard. Enjoy 0% on balance transfers and purchases for 12 months.

What credit score do I need?

You'll need a score in the "good" to "excellent" range for either card.

The average score for the Amex Platinum is 716, and the average score for the Barclaycard Arrival Plus is 736.

Do I have to remain loyal to an airline or hotel to get travel rewards?

No. Unlike co-branded credit cards that relegate rewards to a single airline or hotel, both American Express and Barclaycard allow cardholders to apply travel rewards however they like.

Is there a foreign transaction fee?

There is no foreign transaction fee for either card.

How do I apply for each card?

To apply for the Amex Platinum card, go to the Amex site.

To apply for the Barclaycard Arrival Plus, go to theBarclaycard site.

How do I cancel each card?

Call the customer service number on the back of either card.

You'll likely have to pay off the balance before you can close your account—and be certain that you can access all of your accumulated points before you do so!

Feel like a VIP when you travel with the Amex Platinum card

Having the Amex Platinum card in your wallet takes your spending power to another level.

The Platinum card is a great fit for frequent travelers with good credit scores.

From airline credits to hotel upgrades to airport lounge access, it's hard not to feel like a big-shot traveler with Amex.

Yes, you pay $550 a year for the privilege, but if you travel 3–4 times a year, you'll recoup it easily.

Travel more than that, and you'll find you've got a long-time travel companion in the Amex Platinum.

For best-in-class rewards and customer service, choose the Amex Platinum

Yep, you heard it here: If your credit score is worthy of Amex Platinum, we say fork over that $550 annual fee with a smile.

To recap:

  • The big-time annual fee is completely worth it for all the rewards and benefits you get with this mighty little card.
  • If you max out the travel bonuses, you'll make back far more than the $550 annual fee. Plus, the Platinum card was meant for travel.
  • The Barclaycard has its perks, but we think the Amex is more valuable in the long run.
  • Based on the sign-up bonus alone, the Platinum card blows Barclaycard out of the water.
  • At first, Barclaycard looks like the better card when it comes to fees. But Amex still wins with the sheer amount of rewards that card members get. (Just don't miss a payment. Ever.)
  • When it comes to quick and knowledgeable customer service, American Express wins.
  • You've got easy access via digital services with either card, including point redemption, but our vote is still for Amex —the points you redeem can get you so much.

Do you have either the Amex Platinum or Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard?

How has it worked out for you?

Any great tips (or nightmares) to pass along?

Let us know in the comments below.


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