(Updated September 2018. The sign-up bonus is still 60,000 points (worth $600 towards travel), but now the $89 annual fee is also waived for the first year. This is the highest total incentive ever offered to try out this card. Looks like Barclaycard is back to trying hard to get your attention. Details below.)
- Enjoy 60,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 90 days and paying the annual fee
- Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase
- Book travel your way—no airline, seat or hotel restrictions—and redeem your miles for travel statement credits
- Get 5% miles back to use toward your next redemption, every time you redeem
- No foreign transaction fees
- International Chip and PIN for use at self-service chip terminals around the world
- Miles don’t expire as long as your account is open, active and in good standing
- $89 annual fee (waived first year)
Rewards program details. With this card, you earn 2 miles per $1 spent on all purchases. There are no special categories. These miles (easier to think of them as points, really) are then redeemable towards travel booked from any merchant or retailer classified as Airlines, Travel Agencies & Tour Operators, Hotels, Motels & Resorts, Cruise Lines, Passenger Railways and Car Rental Agencies. You can redeem towards any airline on any date.
To redeem, visit any booking site (Delta.com, Expedia.com, Hilton.com, Hotels.com, etc) and buy a ticket with this credit card. You don’t need to use any specific portal. Let’s say you buy an airplane ticket for $250. Then, you visit your Barclaycard account website and you’ll offset your purchase. You’ll redeem 25,000 “miles” and see a $250 statement credit on your statement. I’ve done this multiple times, and it always went smoothly with no issues.
Travel statement credit redemptions start at 10,000 miles for $100 toward a qualifying travel purchase of $100 or more made within the last 120 days. For example, you could use 10,000 points for a $100 credit towards a $200 plane ticket, if you wished.
On top of that, the card gives you a 5% miles rebate when you redeem for any travel. So if you redeemed 50,000 miles, you would get 2,500 back in your account after about a week. Although this is more complicated than just spending less points, you can calculate that getting $500 of value out of 47,500 miles at 2X miles/$ spent works out to 2.11% cash back towards any travel. Everything else (gift cards, merchandise) offers a worse redemption ratio, so I wouldn’t bother.
Comparison with alternatives. 2X miles is nice and the rebate adds a bit extra. The competition offers multiple cards earning 2% cash back with no annual fee. A few examples:
During the first year, the $89 annual fee is waived. However, in future years it comes back. So I would take the first year and see how you like it. You would have to put over $80,000 in purchases on this card annually in order to get the 0.11% advantage to offset the $89 annual fee (after the 1st-year waiver). That’s a big number. Now, you could also use 8,900 miles out of the 60,000 point bonus to offset the $89 annual fee. You can also ask them to downgrade your card into the “plain” Arrival card with no annual fee (and no 2X miles).
Bottom line. The
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