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- Barclays has launched a new travel rewards credit card, the Barclays Arrival Premier World Elite Mastercard.
- The card offers double miles on all purchases, and has a few different ways to redeem miles for travel or cash back, including transferring them to airline frequent flyer partners — albeit at a lower rate than you get with Chase or Amex points.
- While the card doesn’t offer a sign-up bonus, it’s a great option for people who want a simple, easy-to-use rewards card.
Barclays has had a busy April — and it’s only the fifth day.
First, the bank rebranded its US consumer operations from “Barclaycard” to simply “Barclays,” putting it in line with its operations through the rest of the world.
Yesterday, Barclays announced its newest credit card, which comes with features and benefits that are more common with popular credit cards like the Platinum Card from American Express and the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
The new card, called the Barclays Arrival Premier, features the ability to transfer rewards points to several airline frequent flyer programs — a feature that has long defined the potential value of loyalty programs like Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi Thank You, and American Express Membership Rewards. Generally, transferable points are the most valuable type of reward.
The card earns 2x miles on every dollar spent on purchases — a fantastic across-the-board earning rate for any rewards card with transferable points. It also offers “loyalty bonus miles” for when you spend a certain amount each card membership year: 15,000 bonus miles after spending $15,000, and an additional 10,000 miles after spending an additional $10,000. That means that if you spend $25,000 in a year, you’ll effectively earn 3x miles on every purchase for a total of 75,000 miles.
Miles can be transferred to nine airline frequent flyer programs: Aeromexico, Air France/KLM Flying Blue, China Eastern, Etihad, EVA Air, Japan Airlines, Jet Privilege, Malaysia Airlines, and Qantas, with more to be added soon, according to Barclays. The lender also issues a co-branded American Airlines card, which has led to rumors that American Airlines may be added as a transfer partner at some point.
When you transfer miles, you can use them to book flights on any of these airlines, or their partners. Notably, several of these airlines also partner with other programs, meaning you can effectively combine points — for instance, Japan Airlines is also a transfer partner of Starwood Preferred Guest, and Air France/KLM Flying Blue is a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards. Unfortunately, unlike with Chase or Amex, most airlines don’t offer a 1:1 transfer ratio — instead, you’ll need 1.4-1.7 Barclays miles for every airline mile.
However, Barclays suggests that the Arrival Premier is aimed at people looking for a simpler way to earn, redeem, and use miles.
In a press e-mail, a representative for the issuer described the card as being “geared toward the global traveler who values simplicity.” While cardholders who are willing to put in more time and effort have the option to transfer points to the airline partners, users looking for a simpler way to get value from their rewards have several simpler redemption options.
Miles can be redeemed as statement credits against travel purchases, or simply as standalone credits for “cash” back, as well as for gift cards or merchandise. Travel statement credits provide the highest redemption value (potentially aside from transferring the points), at 1¢ each.
The card also offers a credit to cover the cost of enrollment (and re-enrollment) in Global Entry every five years, has no foreign transaction fees, features “Chip and PIN” capability for use at automated kiosks when traveling abroad, and several other benefits, such as baggage delay insurance, purchase protections, auto rental coverage, and more.
The major downside to the card — along with the lack of a 1:1 transfer ratio — is that it doesn’t offer a sign-up bonus to entice new users. Sign-up bonuses are typically the fastest way to earn enough points for outsized redemptions, like flights to Europe or trips in first class. However, if you spend enough each year, you can still get a lot of value from the Arrival Premier.
The card carries a $150 annual fee, which is not waived the first year. While the card does offer access to a number of airport lounges through the LoungeKey program, entry costs $27 per person — if you value lounge access, you’re better off with an Amex Platinum or Chase Sapphire Reserve.
This is an exciting new option in the credit card rewards space, since competition definitely benefits consumers. Although the card doesn’t offer a sign-up bonus, it could be worthwhile to anyone who is looking for a simple rewards credit card — especially if they expect to spend $25,000 a year. I’m likely going to keep spending on mostly Chase and Amex cards, but I’ll admit that Barclays is offering an interesting product.
Also, keep in mind that we’re focusing on rewards, not things like interest rates. That’s because interest and late fees far outweigh the value of any rewards you earn. When you’re working to earn credit card rewards, it’s important to practice financial discipline when targeting credit card rewards — paying your balances off in full each month, making payments on time, and not spending more than you can afford to pay is the best course of action. Basically, treat your credit card like a debit card.