There are travel rewards credit cards that promise lucrative returns if you can, say, figure out the finer points of booking fifth freedom flights over the phone with Singapore Airlines customer service, or learn the rules about when British Airways fuel surcharges apply to partner flight redemptions.
Update: The offers below are no longer available.
Then, there are cash back cards, which offer lower fees and less exciting rewards, but are great for people who value simplicity above all else.
Now, increasingly, we’re seeing cards that occupy a middle area, marketing themselves as travel rewards cards with some of the fringe benefits you’d expect (like no foreign transaction fees and concierge services), but with earning and redemption schemes that mirror the simplicity of traditional cash back cards. Discover it® Miles is a favorite in this space, as was the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, at least before it added airline transfer partners. But if this sort of card sounds right for you, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard is definitely worth your consideration.
Barclays’ Arrival Plus will earn your two miles per dollar on all purchases, and those points are worth $.01 each when redeemed towards travel. Rather than transferring the points to an airline or booking through a portal (complicated!), you just use the points to erase any purchases coded as travel from your statement (simple!).
That includes airfare, hotels, car rentals, taxis, and more. You can also redeem points for statement credits or various gift cards, but at a less favorable redemption rate, setting this apart from most cash back cards which value points at $.01 no matter how you redeem them.
The Barclaycard Arrival Plus carries an $89 annual fee, though it’s waived in the first year.
On the flipside, it’s also currently offering 70,000 mile welcome bonus after you spend $5,000 in your first 90 days. That’s a hefty minimum spend, but 70,000 miles (worth $700) is a very lucrative welcome bonus for a card with such a low annual fee (and remember, it’s waived the first year).
While it’s lighter on perks than high-end travel rewards cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Arrival Plus has a few unique features to set it apart. For example, in addition to no foreign transaction fees and 24/7 access to the Mastercard World Elite Concierge, the card will give you 5% of your miles back any time you redeem them. So if you spent your 70,000 mile welcome offer all at once, you’d get 3,500 (worth $35) added back to your account.
Interestingly, it’s also one of the only American credit cards to support the worldwide chip-and-pin standard. That’s not usually a big deal, as most merchants will just ask for a signature if your card doesn’t have a pin, but I’ve definitely had a few issues with my cards at automated payment terminals in Europe, like train ticket kiosks.
I’d think of the Barclaycard Arrival Plus as a sort of hybrid between a Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and a The Discover it Miles card. Its annual fee and welcome offer are similar to the former, while its simplicity is very much like the latter. If you don’t want to have to think about which categories of merchants earn bonus points, or fret about maximizing your miles with the best transfer partners, you could do a whole lot worse.
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