Barclays is entering the U.S. luxury travel credit card market with an offering that rewards long-term loyalty and high spending, while attempting to keep things simple.
The new Barclays Arrival® Premier World Elite Mastercard® offers double miles on all spending and up to 25,000 loyalty bonus miles, worth $250, at the end of each card membership year. That’s different from most competing cards that offer an upfront, one-time bonus with a lower spending requirement.
The annual fee is $150, more than a basic travel rewards card but less than the sticker shock of $450 or $550 seen on other premium travel cards.
Barclays officials say the goal is to appeal to travelers who aren’t interested in regularly switching credit cards but want to be rewarded repeatedly for their long-term loyalty, not just once with a sign-up bonus. And, they say, their consumer research showed that people don’t want to have to learn a complicated rewards system and will pay an annual fee for a card that hits those marks.
The rewards rate on the Barclays Arrival® Premier World Elite Mastercard® is a flat 2 miles for every $1 spent, which is competitive as well as easier to remember than different reward rates for different categories of spending, such as restaurants or travel. Rewards are uncapped.
While the rewards rate is straightforward, the card’s bonus structure is less so. Earning the annual bonus is tiered:
- Spend $15,000 on the card, get 15,000 bonus miles (worth $150)
- Spend an additional $10,000 for an additional 10,000 miles (worth $100)
Those who spend at least $25,000 per year on the card (around $2,083 per month) will hit both loyalty bonuses, totaling 25,000 miles. That’s on top of the double miles earned for spending that $25,000 (50,000 miles). So the total miles earned for spending $25,000 in a year would be 75,000 miles, worth $750.
A bonus worth $250 in the first year is relatively low for premium travel credit cards. However, this bonus comes every year, not just once. That potentially makes it more valuable over the long term for bigger spenders who earn the loyalty bonuses.
Looked at another way, the loyalty bonus essentially makes it a triple-miles card on the first $25,000 in spending, assuming you hit that spending threshold, and a double-miles card for additional spending.
Miles can be redeemed for travel or cash-back statement credits, gift cards and merchandise. Redeeming miles for travel statement credits offers the best value, according to Barclays. The minimum redemption is $100 worth of miles (10,000 miles).
Cardholders can transfer Barclays Arrival® Premier World Elite Mastercard® miles to participating frequent travel programs with Barclays’ travel partners. Partners may change over time, but initially include foreign airlines that will accept miles at less than a 1:1 ratio.
A Barclays spokeswoman said transfers are not a core benefit of the card and might be most attractive to use as a “top-off” when close to achieving a redemption, like an award flight. Travel statement credits will be best for the target audience for the card, those who want to keep things simple, she said.
The Barclays Arrival® Premier World Elite Mastercard® isn’t quite as loaded with travel-related extras as some luxury cards. For example, it doesn’t come with a credit to be applied to travel spending. It does come with:
- Global Entry application reimbursement. Cardholders receive a $100 statement credit to cover the cost of one Global Entry application fee every five years. Global Entry is a U.S. federal government trusted-traveler program that allows expedited customs processing and quicker airport security screening.
- Lounge access. The benefit allows you access to participating LoungeKey airport lounges for $27 per person per visit. The benefit is similar to Priority Pass membership, which often comes free with other luxury cards and covers many of the same airport lounges.
- No foreign transaction fee. An expected benefit on a travel card.
The card also comes with international chip-and-PIN capability, concierge service, baggage delay insurance, travel accident insurance, trip cancellation insurance and rental car insurance.
If the card name sounds familiar, it’s because the bank formerly offered the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®. It offered the same double miles on spending with an upfront bonus for an annual fee of $0 for the first year, then $89. It had a minor redemption bonus of 5% but did not come with a hefty annual loyalty bonus or some of the above travel extras, such as Global Entry application reimbursement or affiliation with an airport lounge network. While Barclays isn’t currently accepting new applications for the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®, the newest card is not replacing it, a spokeswoman said.
Barclays also formerly offered the Barclaycard Arrival™ World MasterCard®. It featured double miles on just travel and dining and had an annual fee of $0. The card is closed to new applications.