Barclaycard Arrival: The Definitive One Year Review

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2/20/2014 Update:  The terms of this offer were changed today.  In order to earn the 40,000 bonus points, you must spend $3,000 within the first 3 months of opening the card.

Is Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® the Best Travel Rewards Credit Card for General Spending?  

Over the last couple of months, my family has had a number of major expenses pop up some of which may resonate with you:

  • the check engine light came on in my 2003 Honda Civic Hybrid:  $5000 repair bill
  • ditto for my husbands 2003 Volkswagen Passat:  $3800
  • my daughter got braces:  $4650
  • the heat pump finally gave out:  $6995

Granted it is unusual to have so many large, chargeable expenses totaling $20,000 in a two month period.  But it it is easy to anticipate similar health, home maintenance, and auto repair expenses over the course of a year.

In our case, the car mechanics, the orthodontist, and the HVAC installer all accepted credit cards for payment, but only MasterCard or Visa, not American Express.  That mirrors my experience with other small business vendors where we have regular large expenditures, such as the dog kennel or the vet.  

None of these household expenses are considered “bonus” categories with any credit card product that I am aware of.  Except the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®, that is.

(There is a Fidelity credit card that pays 2 times points, but it is an American Express card, which is not accepted everywhere.  There is a Capital One Venture card that pays 2 times points; the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® effectively pays out 10 percent more than that — 2.2 percent.)

Earn 2.2 Points on All Charges, if Redeemed for Travel Expenses

BarclayCard ArrivalIt’s a bit redundant, but the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® — pays 2 times points on everything.  There is no limit on the amount of points you can earn.

In my case outlined here, with $20,000 in expenses we could earn 4o,000 points.  40,000 points can be redeemed for $400 worth of travel expenses (the points are worth half that if redeemed for cash).  You earn a ten percent bonus on redeemed points, so 4,000 points are redeposited in your account, worth another $40 toward travel expenses, for a total of $440.  The ten percent bonus provides an incentive to keep using the card in order to redeem all your points.

How Much Travel Can You Buy for $440?

Exactly $440 dollars worth!  Depending on your bargain hunting skill and preferences, you can use this money for budget hotels, rental cars, train tickets and airfare.

You can travel when you want, and where you want, without worrying about limited award availability or blackout dates.

What’s more, you will earn frequent flyer miles and loyalty program points on your purchases!

I was an early adopter of the Barclaycard Arrival — I received a targeted offer and opened the card a year ago.  I have written about it on and off, but I wanted to share my experience with the card one year out.

By comparison, with a miles earning credit card, my recent charges would earn 20,000 miles  — perhaps enough for a one-way ticket on Southwest Airlines or two roundtrip tickets on Amtrak, but hard to redeem for much else.

Get a Sign-Up Bonus Worth $440 Towards Travel

Some credit cards are good for everyday spend, others provide generous sign-up bonuses.

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® does both!

Beyond the 2.2 percent payout rate for general expenses, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® offers an excellent signup bonus.

If you spend $3,000 within three months of opening the card, you get a bonus of 40,000 points, which can be redeemed for $400 worth of travel.  Furthermore, you earn 10 percent back on all redemptions for travel expenses, meaning another 4,000 points are awarded, making the initial bonus worth more than $440.

Other Benefits of the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®

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Planning a Trip to Vermont on Points and Miles

Vermont Academy, Saxton's River, Vermont
Vermont Academy, Saxton’s River, VT
Image by M. McCardle

We are headed up to southern Vermont this weekend for a family get together.

The leaves should be at their peak, and we are looking forward to visiting rural New England.

This is an costly trip for us, so we will try to use points and miles to mitigate the expense.

We are using a Southwest Visa credit card for most of our expenses because we are participating in a holiday promotion to earn bonus points.

The major elements of the trip are:  

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Four Small Hacks to Save Big on Car Rentals

UnknownExperienced travelers know that there can be a big variation in car rental rates from company to company.

It is all a function of supply and demand, and it pays to shop around.

I usually start by checking Priceline first, to determine which rental company is offering the lowest rates for my chosen dates.  Then I go to that company’s website to see more details.

Sometimes I use a rental code from an airline website, and sometimes I go through a cash back shopping portal like FatWallet.

On a recent trip, I discovered several other random factors that can make a big difference in car rental costs.

  1. Return Location
  2. Date of Booking
  3. Pick-up Location
  4. Pick-up Time

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Win a 2014 Mustang Convertible and Hit the Road!

I’m not big on travel sweepstakes … but with summer vacation coming up, this one was too good to pass up!  Enter the Ultimate Road Trip Sweepstakes sponsored by Hilton HHonors, Alamo, Enterprise, and National Car Rental by July 31, 2013 for a chance to win the ultimate road trip!

2014 Ford Mustang V6 Convertible
2014 Ford Mustang V6 Convertible

One Grand Prize winner receives:

  • 2014 Ford Mustang V6 Convertible
  • Certificate for five nights at any hotel or resort in the Hilton HHonors portfolio
  • $500 Hilton HHonors Gift Card

Five First Prize winners receive:

  • Certificate for two nights at any hotel or resort in the Hilton HHonors portfolio
  • $200 car rental gift coupon
  • $100 Hilton HHonors Gift Card

Are you tempted to take a chance?

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Are you Fishing 4 Deals?

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FatWallet is the most reliable cash back portal that I have come across.  They are very good at tracking your purchases, and rewards post quickly.

What I like most about it is the ability to use any credit card I choose for my purchases, without having to worry about whether rewards will post.

Since I opened my account  I have earned over $100 in cash back rewards.

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New Trick to Stump “The Negotiator” on Car Rentals

Priceline typically allows several free rebids when bidding for rental cars — that enable you to increase your initial bid without waiting the usual 24 hours.  These rebids are accomplished by changing the preferred  car size.

William Shatner -- the Priceline Negotiator Photo by Keith McDuffee, Flickr
William Shatner — the Priceline Negotiator
Photo by Keith McDuffee, Flickr

Portland Travel Tips provides a step-by-step walk through showing how to bid for car rentals on Priceline.  One tip he mentions, that I have not seen elsewhere, is to enter an initial bid of $1 daily rate.  A pop-up window from Priceline will advise that your bid has a low chance of acceptance and will suggest an alternate rate, providing an additional data point to inform you bidding.  Never bid the suggested rate, as you always will be able to do better.

Gadling now reports that Priceline is now allowing fewer alternate car sizes as free rebids.  However, he suggests a workaround:  click on the link to “Update Itinerary” in the upper righthand corner of the  screen, and adjust your pick up or drop off time by 30 minutes.  The car rental companies will not hold you to an exact time so this technique potentially allows you to make at least two additional free rebids for your desired category of car.

If you have tried bidding for rental cars on Priceline, please consider sharing your experience with our readers.

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Hotwire’s Survey of February Price Drops: Hotels, Cars, and Airfare

If you are trolling for travel savings this month, have a look at this analysis from Hotwire.com. The analysis shows the destinations that have the largest price drops compared to February of last year in three categories:  hotels, car rentals, and airfares.  The so-called “Hotwire Travel Savings Indicator” reports results during the second week of each month.

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Angling for Last Minute Rental Cars on Priceline

In January, I found myself stranded in the Salt Lake City (SLC) airport.  My flight was massively delayed, and I had free time on a snowy day.    I wanted to get up to the mountains, so a four wheel drive rental car was in order.

I have often snagged great last-minute hotel deals bidding on Priceline, but had never tried for a car at the last minute.  With “name your own price” hotel rooms, you can bid up until 11:59 pm on the night you want to stay.  I have literally placed late night bids from the parking lot of a hotel and even from the business center in the lobby.

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