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Reviewed: Barclay Arrival Plus Elite MasterCard

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Untethered and versatile with travel rewards

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard carries its weight in the travel reward credit card world.

That's because it's not branded by one particular airline or hotel chain, leaving you to roam freely throughout the world as you redeem your travel purchase points.

According to personal finance blogger Eric Rosenberg, the card is "perfect for a new or aspiring travel hacker."

Customer Review 1

While more experienced travelers—or those looking for good deals on luxury offerings—might be more willing to comb through the fine print of award travel options, you don't have to with this card.

All you have to do is remember to use it when you make a purchase—any purchase—and watch those miles pile up.

That's right—there are no restrictive categories to keep track of, no "Is this the card I should use for gas and groceries this month?" dilemmas.

Plus, when it comes time to redeem those miles, you get a 5% bonus.

So for your redemption of 10,000 miles (the minimum required), that's another 500 miles right back at you.

However, there is one thing to keep in mind:

You'll need a credit score of 700 or more to get this card, so skip it if you're just starting to establish your credit history.

Strength: Redeem miles for a wide variety of travel-related expenses

You can redeem miles for a wide variety of travel-related expenses

You're probably wondering, "What do travel-related expenses include?"

Good question!

You can use your miles to pay off travel purchase charges including travel agencies and websites, airlines, hotels, car rentals and ground transportation, trains, cruises and ferries, timeshares, and campgrounds.

So whether you are looking for a budget weekend getaway or a longer, luxurious stay, this card will come in handy.

Finance writer John S. Kiernan writes:

"Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard offers more value per dollar than any other travel reward credit card on the market (excluding co-branded offers, which lack flexibility yet may provide greater earning potential for certain brand-loyal consumers)."

Weakness: The "miles" you earn aren't really miles

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard's is weak because the miles

The Barclaycard earns you "miles" which confusingly end up working as points.

Basically, you don't transfer the rewards to miles with any particular airline program like you can do with other cards.

Instead, you book your flight or hotel with your Barclaycard, then apply accumulated points for a statement credit.

Even though you're free to book at any hotel or airline, the method of redeeming miles is a common grievance among cardholders.

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Jeremy, a commenter on the Award Wallet blog, offers this feedback for the travel reward card: "[The] [d]ownside is miles aren't transferable to airline programs.

This transfer benefit gives Chase and Amex added value for sweet spots in award purchases with some airlines where the cash price for a ticket is much higher than the "miles price."

Good if: you like to find travel deals

Unlike branded credit cards that force the user to remain loyal to an airline or a hotel chain, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard allows you to rack up travel points (or miles) that can then be used to offset any purchases made on travel.

Sure, you can stay loyal to a hotel chain or an airline, but with this card, you don't have to feel bad (or pass up a deal) if another carrier or resort has a better price.

Is the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard is right for you? It might be if you answer yes to two or more of these questions:

  • Do you travel at least once a year?
  • Do you look for the best travel deals, regardless of airline or hotel loyalty?
  • Are you up for spending at least $3,000 in 90 days to get the sign-on bonus of 50,000 miles?
  • Are you willing to earn additional miles by posting photos of your travels to the cardholder network?

Is the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard right for you?

If you are loyal to a hotel chain or airline, a branded credit card like the Starwood Preferred Guest card might be better.

And if you don't travel much, then a cash-back card like Citi Double Cash could work.

Overview of the Card

We know you've got limited space in that wallet—and lots of travel itineraries on your wish list—so your next bonus mile card needs to work hard. Here's all you need to know in order to make an educated decision about whether the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard is right for you.

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History

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard embarked on its journey in May of 2014.

It was an upgrade from the Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard, which was discontinued (though current cardholders have been grandfathered in).

The credit issuer of the Barclaycard is Barclays, a bank that actually dates back to two London goldsmith bankers, John Freame and Thomas Gould, in 1690.

The Barclays name came nearly half a century later when the son-in-law of Freame, James Barclay, became a partner in the banksmith business.

London goldsmith bankers, John Freame and Thomas Gould

Where it works best

Although the credit issuer has British roots, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard will work at any virtual or actual merchant accepting MasterCard.

And with chip technology, you can feel safe taking the card with you wherever you go in the world.

Plus, you can shop now and travel later—your miles don't expire as long as you keep your account open and in good standing.

Main competition: Chase Sapphire Preferred

The Barclaycard wins the points game against the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred card's annual fee, which is also waived for the first year, is $6 more than the Barclaycard. The sign-up bonus is similar, too.

But here's the big difference:

The Chase Sapphire Preferred card gives two points for every dollar spent only on travel and restaurant purchases—and just one point per dollar for all other spending.

The card doesn't discriminate among your purchases—and you get two points for every dollar you spend.

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This points difference is enough to make some consumers flock to Barclaycard, particularly those who don't care to keep track of what they're swiping their card for.

How it works, and how people feel about it

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard makes it very easy for you to rack up travel miles without having to worry about your purchases falling into certain categories.

Make purchases and get these perks

Fee-free foreign transactions. Shop—and roam—freely throughout the world without a foreign transaction fee on any of your purchases.

0% introductory APR for 12 months on balance transfers. Consolidate high-interest bills with this option within the first 45 days you open your account and skip the interest for a year.

Just know that a 3% balance transfer fee—common for this type of benefit—is tacked on.

Fraud liability protection. Rest assured that if your card is compromised, you are not held responsible for any unauthorized spending.

Free FICO score. Log onto your Barclaycard online account to view your credit score—a perk also offered by other cards.

You can get an email alert when there's a change in score, so that's helpful, too.

24/7 luxury and travel concierge. Feel like a rock star and call on your personal concierge for help with booking travel. (The card's not called World Elite for nothin'!)

Travel accident and trip cancellation insurance. If your trip is canceled or interrupted for an approved reason, the tickets you bought with your Barclaycard are refundable.

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Best of all, you can earn miles without having to spend a dime.

That's right—you can let your credit card cool its jets from time to time and still earn valuable miles by posting photos from your travels in the Barclaycard Travel Community.

In fact, you can earn 500 miles just by filling out your travel profile, then 150 points for each travel "story" you post.

In fact, this perk is what keeps this credit card in blogger Christine Krzyszton's wallet

"While this participation may seem time-consuming for some, it generates statement credit for me with minimal investment of time and effort."

Spend anywhere and get rewarded with double points

Two points for every dollar regardless of category. Even if it's not related to travel, this Barclaycard awards you with two points for every dollar you spend on the card.

Not even the Chase Sapphire card can match it.

Pay it off or carry a balance—your choice

Monthly interest depends on your credit worthiness. Barclaycard charges 16.99%, 20.99%, or 23.99% variable APR on monthly balances, depending on your credit score.

If that sounds high to you, you're right. This is not a card that you should keep a balance on for long periods of time.

Understand the fine print, and you'll be fine

Determine if the annual fee is worth the card's benefits. The annual fee, which is waived for the first year, is $89. Most cards with annual fees do this.

You'll have one full year to decide whether the fee is offset by the card's perks.

Avoid late payments. While you don't have to pay off the balance every month (see above about those interest rates, though), you should pay at least the minimum on time, every time.

Miss a payment, and you'll get socked with up to $37 in late charges—not to mention a nice ding on your credit report.

Transfer balances for 0% for a year. This is a great way to consolidate credit, but remember that you'll get charged $5 or 3% of the balance transfer, whichever is greater.

If you don't pay off that balance within 12 months, your APR will go back up into double digits—ouch!

Get cash advances. While you can get cash advances, we strongly advise you to think twice before using this card as a debit card.

Why?

Not only are you charged $10 or 5% of the cash request (whichever is greater), but also the APR slapped on that advance is a dizzying 26.4%.

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Travel and shop abroad without fees. Now here's some good news—There are no foreign transaction fees when you use your Barclaycard outside of the U.S.

People love this card because whenever you redeem miles, you get a 5% bonus

That means when you redeem 10,000 miles (the minimum you can redeem—more on that later), you get an additional 500 miles.

That's right—your miles are going the extra mile for you!

If that's not enough incentive to keep redeeming—and spending—we don't know what is!

Happy cardholder had this to say about the Barclaycard on the Compare Cards website:

"Love this card...not sure why it does not rank higher. If you utilize this card for all purchases you can build up miles/points quickly and because of the way the card is set up, you just pay for your travel then redeem your miles/points to wipe it off your bill. Couldn't be easier."

Customer Review 2

Biggest complaint: The point redemption process

It's not that the statement credit process is hard—simply redeem points to pay off any travel-related expenses.

But you do have a hefty minimum: You need to redeem at least 10,000 miles, or $100.

Matt, a commenter on The Points Guy blog, shared his gripe about the card:

"This card is basically a glorified cash back card. It's worse than a regular cash back card though because you are limited to travel redemptions. Minimum $100 redemptions? And a ridiculous annual fee? Seriously, you have to spend A LOT on this card to make it worthwhile. If you like this style of rewards, get the Citi Double Cash instead."

Customer Review 3

The app makes it easy to keep on top of your card activity

It makes sense for a travel card to give you access to your account details on the go.

If you manage your finances by laptop or desktop, then you can go online to the Barclaycard site to view recent activity and pay your bill.

If you prefer to check your accounts on the go, then download the app for Android from the Google Play store, or head over to the Apple store and add it to your iPhone, iPad, and even Apple watch.

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There are several recent rave reviews that gave shout-outs to the recent updates of the app.

"They listened!" gushed a reviewer named JV123654, who went on to write:

"The login is vastly improved. The app is great to quickly check balances, make payments, etc. I use it daily and have had no issues since the last couple updates."

Customer Review 4

iOS users of the app seem to be happy, but Scott Haynes posted his disappointment in the Android version on the Google Play store page: "App is a pain, has to call or email every single time logging in, don't need to do that from the website."

Customer Review 5

How to Apply or Cancel

Go to the Barclaycard website to apply and get a decision in seconds if you want the card

There's no learning curve with this card, so just start swiping to rack up those miles.

Remember, you don't have any restricted spending categories with this card, so you might want to put everything on this card for the next three months to get that signup bonus.

Go to the website to get started and apply.

Barclay Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard bonus miles offer

The easiest way to close your account for the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard is to call the customer service number on the back of your card

Call 1-866-928-8598 for customer service.

Remember, though, that your credit score will dip with the lowered credit limit.

If you've got other outstanding debt, consider keeping this card open for a while until you pay the rest of your bills.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What airlines and hotels can I redeem points for flights and stays?

    All of them. The way the card works is that you charge your travel, then pay off your statement with "miles," or points.

  • What happened to the no-fee version of this card?

    The fee-free version of this card is no longer available to new cardholders, but current cardholders have been grandfathered in and can still use it (as of now).

  • How can I cancel my card?

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

  • What can I use my Barclay credit card for?

    Anything! Insert that chip wherever you see the MasterCard logo.

  • Is there an app?

    Yes, downloadable from both Google Play and the Apple store You can log in on your Android device, iPad, iPhone, or Apple watch.

  • Can I do a 0% balance transfer?

    Yes, but only within the first 45 days of opening the card. Know that you'll get charged 3% of the total balance you are transferring.

  • What kind of credit score do I need?

    While creditworthiness varies by the individual consumer, a 700 or higher score will likely do the trick.

  • Can I get a cash advance with this card?

    Yes, but you'll get charged with a hefty 26.24% variable APR.

  • Do miles expire?

    Your bonus miles will not expire as long as you keep your account open and in good standing.

Barclaycard Travel Community.

Apply for the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard and get your suitcase ready!

Whether you've only recently been bitten by the travel bug, or if you're a seasoned traveler with a stamped-up passport to prove it, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard will help you get out of town more often.

Adventurous types like yourself usually don't like being held to one airline or hotel chain, so you'll love that this card allows you to dabble with different carriers and resorts.

All you have to do is use your card and apply the miles to your statement.

If you become a cardholder, don't forget that you're now part of the Barclaycard Travel Community — post a few pics of your latest vacation to share with other cardholders and you'll be rewarded with miles for your next trip.

Do you use the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard?

How has the card worked out for you?

Any great tips (or nightmares) to share with the rest of us?

Let us know in the comments below.


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