“Barclaycard Arrival” Targeted Credit Card Offer — $450 in Free Travel, or Not?

Free money

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Spoiler Alert:  The best rewards credit card offers are not hyped in the blogosphere.

This is the story of how I learned to sit back and wait for the superior targeted credit card offers to roll in.

In a typical week, my husband and I receive a dozen offers in the mail for new credit cards.  The banks even try to induce our kid to apply for credit cards on a regular basis.  My usual habit is to toss out these envelopes without opening them.

That is, until I learned how lucrative sign up bonuses could be.

I am careful with my credit.  I always pay my bills on time.  I  pay off my balance in full each month.

It would be foolish to apply for credit card offers for the miles if you carry a balance on your credit cards — that is just giving money to the banks.

Because I am conservative with my spending and pay my credit card bills in full and on time, I could be an attractive customer for the major banks that issue credit cards.  At least that is the sense I get from all those direct mail offers for new credit cards.

My philosophy had been, the simpler the better.  I had one credit card for personal expenses, and one credit card for my business.

All that changed about six months ago.  I previously told the story of how I learned to stop worrying and start enjoying free travel.  Because I need to travel a lot to visit family, the offers of  frequent flyer miles for opening a new credit card are very enticing.

I began to read the travel blogs to learn the ins and outs of the credit card game.  In about six months time, I managed to accumulate enough miles and points to pay for roughly six domestic round-trip flights.  My focus is on “earning” enough miles and points to make these trips possible.

What I learned during that time was that the credit card offers I received in the mail, the so-called “targeted offers,” generally had more generous terms than the credit cards being hyped on the internet.  The offers you receive in the mail often come with a special code that can only be used by the recipient.  These codes could unlock fantastic opportunities for free travel.

Barclaycard Arrival™ World MasterCard®

In January 2013, I received one such offer from Barclays Bank.  The offer was for a new product — the Barclaycard Arrival™ World MasterCard®.  The offer was for 40,000 “miles” upon spending $500 in the first three months after opening the card.  There was no annual fee — ever.  There were no foreign transaction fees either.  The card earns 2x miles on all travel  and restaurant purchases.  The so-called “miles” were really a points scheme which could be redeemed for any travel expenses, without restrictions on seat availability or blackout dates.

There are many versions of the Barclaycard Arrival™ World MasterCard® and many different offers.  This version of the card would earn two points for all  spending on restaurants and travel.  (A public offer for another version of this card with an $89 annual fee earns two points for all spending.)  Travel includes rail, airplane tickets and ancillary charges, airport charges like parking, hotels, car rentals, even cruises, and all charges made to travel agencies.  Everything else earns one point.  The agent I checked with before applying indicated that Priceline charges would count as travel expenses.  This was key for me because almost all my hotel reservations and most of my car rentals are made through Priceline.  According to the offer, points can be redeemed for statement credit and 10 percent of the points are rebated back if credited toward travel expenses.

This seemed too good to be true — the bank is giving away $400 after spending $500 in three months time and there is no annual fee?  This was way better than the offers I was reading about in the blogs.

I scoured the internet for information about the Barclaycard Arrival™ World MasterCard® and could find almost nothing.  And there were no mentions of an offer seemingly this good.

So, what’s the catch?

I did not learn the full details of the redemption program until my application was approved.

If points are redeemed for statement credit (essentially cash), they are worth half a cent — so the 40,000 miles/points were worth $200.  The points can also be redeemed for various dining, retail, or travel gift cards at the same value.

However, if the points are assigned to specific travel charges of greater than $25 on your statement, you can receive the full $400 value.

If you spent the full $500 initial spend requirement on travel or restaurants, you would have 41,000 miles/points.  Theoretically, these could be applied to repay $400 of travel expenses.  With a 10 percent rebate in points, you would have 4,000 bonus points in the account, plus 1,000 points from the initial spend, for a total of 5000 points.  This would be enough for another $50 statement credit toward travel expenses.  And you would be awarded 500 bonus points back into your account.

Furthermore, the points don’t expire as long as you keep the account open and active — and since there is no annual fee, there is no reason to close the account.  All told, the initial bonus might be valued at as much as $455 in free travel.

There are a few caveats

Travel charges must be for $25 or greater in order to use the points to offset charges.

You must have sufficient reward points in your account to offset the full cost of a travel charge.  For instance, if you have a car rental charge for $75, and you only have 6,000 points in rewards, you cannot use your points to partially offset this charge.  With 7,500 points, you would be good to go, and receive 750 bonus points back, to boot.

You can apply for the Barclaycard Arrival through my link for the no annual fee card, which offers a 20,000 point sign up bonus, or for the card which offers 40,000 miles as a signup bonus, and waives the $89 annual fee for the first year. Thanks if you do!


Priceline and Hotwire Charges Qualify for Travel Rebates

A substantial benefit of this credit card over some other travel reward cards is that charges to discount online travel agencies like Priceline and Hotwire receive two times bonus points.  Additionally, points can be used to offset these Hotwire and Priceline charges on your bill.  It took several calls to customer service at Barclays to verify this, but it was worth the effort, as almost all of my hotel expenses and some of my car rentals are made through Priceline.  Heck, that’s why they call me the “Priceline Queen.”

As with all credit card offers, your miles may vary.

UPDATE – November 20, 2013:  I have noticed that airport parking and Priceline charges are not automatically showing as travel purchases eligible for two times points and rewards redemptions.  This may occur if the merchants do not correctly code the charges.  You may need to call customer service and ask to speak with a supervisor who can manually adjust these credits.

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28 thoughts on ““Barclaycard Arrival” Targeted Credit Card Offer — $450 in Free Travel, or Not?

  1. Should have gone for one of the Barclay airline cards instead. The standard US Airways miles bonus offer seems like a better deal than the card you ended up with. Just my opinion.

    • Thanks for your comment Dan.

      I guess it all depends on how you plan to use the miles. I have a lot of airline miles in the bank but I sure can use a way to subsidize my hotel stays booked on Priceline and my rental cars booked on Hotwire.

  2. Thanks for sharing your experience and specifically what is/is not being categorized as “travel”. I am looking at the 2x on all purchases of the card and appreciate knowing that I should save the points for redemptions on airfare purchased directly with the airline (for example) to max out the rewards. Still debating on it, but your firsthand knowledge is a great help.

  3. This is very helpful and has much good and new information. Do you know if you can combine points from two accounts in the same household (like you can do with the Capital One card)?

  4. Thanks for your info. I am considering this card I have 2 USAirways cards and use them now and then. I applied for the USAirways biz card in February, but Barclays turned me down…….. too many apps recently. My income doubled since then, and I think they might approve me on this ARRIVAL card. My FICO is about 785. Any suggestions?

  5. A phone rep told me you can redeem miles to pay for part of a travel charge (redeem 5,000 points for a $50 credit against a $70 charge). Did the rep get it wrong?

  6. thanks for posting this experience – that you need enough points to cover an ENTIRE travel charge in order to redeem the points. This is exactly what I have been trying to find out. I was going to apply for this card to help offset the cost of a planned vacation package. But with a package cost >$1000, this card is not going to help.

    Maybe if we had a 1 or 2 day hotel charge coming up, this would be a good card. But even with the 10% kick-back on the initial bonus, when was the last time you had a travel charge (hotel, car rental, plane ticket) that was around $25?

  7. I had a similar redemption problem with another credit card. I had a $2200 cruise charge and wanted to redeem $300 on the CC. I simply paid $300 with that CC and then paid the balance with a different CC. I haveused this technique a couple of times to deal with the CC restrictions.

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  9. Please note that Barclays now appears to allow for partial credit toward statement charges. In other words, 5,000 points could be redeemed toward a $50 credit toward a $70 travel charge. (Harry’s example, above).

  10. Very informative content and posts! Especially relevant to me since I’m considering applying for the public offer of the $89/yr fee barclaycard as I need to make ~$2K airtkts purchase nxt wk.

    Is the card# available immediately upon approval for making online purchases? If not, how long did it take for you to get the card in mail? Do they penny-pinch and *not* send card by overnight express?

    How long did it take for that 40K bonus pts to post to the account after making >$1K in purchases? And when did it become available for statement credit?

    And also, when do the 2X pts on purchases post to the account? (Is it only once every statement cycle or immediately upon posting of the purchase).

    @fishing4deals, your mention that statement credit for non-travel charges is quite a concern to me as from what I’ve read 1/2 dozen times thru their fine print is that: “You can use your miles to: (a) pay for travel purchases made within the last 90 days as a statement credit, (b) redeen for cash back as a statement credit, (c) –blah–“. Could you please put me at ease by reading thru your targeted-offer-fine-print that they had explicitly mentioned it for you that non-travel statement credits would be at half-value?


    • There is a public offer for the Barclaycard Arrival that is different, and perhaps better, than the targeted offer I received. The public offer awards 40,000 miles/points after spending $1,000 and 2 times miles points on all purchases. There is an annual fee of $89 which is waived the first year.

      In response to your questions:

      — the card number was not made available to me immediately upon approval. It took about a week to get the card in the mail.

      — the 40,000 points did post quite promptly upon meeting the minimum spend.

      — the 40,000 points became available for statement credits as soon as they posted. However, since points can only be redeemed against charges for travel, you must have incurred travel charges that have been appropriately coded by the merchants as travel charges. That is where I experienced the most difficulty — in having the travel charges made available for statement credits as per the offer.

      — the 2x points on purchases posted to the account once every statement cycle. (In my case, this was 2x points on travel, and 1x points on everything else.)

      — credits for non-travel charges were at half value. In other words, you could only get a statement credit of $200 for the $40,000 points as a cash credit. If you have travel charges to offset, you could get $400 of credits for the $40,000 points. In addition, they would give you 10 percent of your points back after redeeming them for travel — 4,000 points would be deposited into your rewards account — worth $40 of travel, or $20 of cash. I did not find this cash back information anywhere in the fine print and the customer service agent did not have the correct information. However, it became apparent when I established by online account and explored the redemption options. The gift card redemptions were also at half value. In your case though, since you are earning 2x points on everything, I think it would work out to 1 percent cash back. I wish there was a way that you could get this clarified in advance — perhaps customer service is better versed in their offering now that the product has been out for several months.

      Please keep in mind that this is just based on my personal experiences and Your Mileage May Vary.

      In any event, please post back what you learn, so that other readers can benefit. Thank you!

      • I have been considering this card for some time but haven’t jumped on it. I am speaking specifically of the 2x on all purchases not just specific categories. So it seems like in a worst case scenario the valuation of every dollar spent is 1 cent, and potentially up to 2 cents if redeemed on travel. Then it’s like almost any other card. Would you still recommend this as opposed to the chase cards with the UR points that can transfer to many different programs, or at least in addition to the chase cards? Or are expenditures just not worth it on the card, except maybe for the signup bonus.

        • The no annual fee Arrival card has a $1,000 minimum spend requirement, to earn 20K bonus points.

          The annual fee version of the card has a $3,000 minimum spend requirement, to earn 40k bonus points. The fee is waived the first year.

  11. It depends on your spending habits and travel goals. I agree that the signup bonus is the most attractive feature. After the first year, you will have the $89 annual fee so you have to determine if you will use the card enough to justify the fee. I do like the flexibility with Ultimate Rewards — and will be looking more at them in the future as a way to top off my Southwest account and to acquire Amtrak train tickets. These are high value uses of Ultimate Rewards points that will serve my travel plans. The Barclaycard was attractive to me because of the signup bonus and the promise to reimburse for travel expenses like Priceline hotel rooms, rental cars, and airport parking. It seems as though these are considered eligible travel expenses but I had to make numerous calls to customer service to credit my account. At some point it is too much of hassle to deal with.

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    • Purchases from “travel agencies” are travel, but it all depends on the vendor code. I would suggest checking with a customer service (ask to speak to a supervisor), and keeping a note of your conversation with their name and agent number. Even then, they will probably tell you that they have no control over how vendors code their sales.

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