Update: The offer mentioned below is now expired.
There’s a rumor going around that the signup bonus on the Barclays Arrival Plus® World Elite MasterCard® is about to decrease — although the exact timing is unknown, it could be any day. The card currently offers 50,000 miles after spending $3,000 in the first 90 days.
Via Ben at One Mile at a Time, who cites an “understanding,” the signup bonus on the card will soon decrease back to the 40,000 miles previously offered. If you’re interested in signing up for the card, now’s the time.
The Barclays Arrival Plus® World Elite MasterCard® offers a flexible rewards currency, where each “mile” can be redeemed for one cent towards a travel purchase of $100 or more. All rewards are in the form of a statement credit and must be claimed within 120 days of the original transaction.
The card is useful for every day “non-bonus” spend, earning 2x miles for every dollar spent. The annual fee is $89 but is waived the first year.
With the card, you also get 5% of your redeemed miles back. Factoring in the rebate, the signup bonus is worth $525, going down to around $420.
The card has a handful of other benefits aside from spending rewards. It has no foreign transaction fees, and unlike many American cards offers Chip + PIN technology, which can be useful when traveling in other countries and making purchases at ticket or vending machines.
Miles don’t expire as long as your account is open and in good standing, and there’s a 0% APR for 12 months on balance transfers made in the first 45 days.
Something that makes the Barclays Arrival Plus® World Elite MasterCard stand out is that it effectively earns 2.1% back on all purchases.
This is because the card earns 2x miles per dollar spent, but also offers a 5% rebate on all miles redeemed. That means that if you redeem the entire 50,000 mile signup bonus on a travel purchase, you’ll get 2,500 miles back.
In effect, that means the signup bonus is worth $525, though remember that you’ll have to use the refunded points on a later redemption. Additionally, Barclays sets a minimum redemption of $100, or 10,000 miles. So to get the full value, you’ll want to keep spending on the card to earn enough miles for the next redemption.
Redemptions can include just about any travel purchase, but one understated redemption is baggage fees on flights. Although the minimum redemption is $100 (10,000 miles), which might be hard for an individual traveler to rack up, you can easily hit this if you’re on a longer trip with family.
The fact that the Barclays Arrival Plus® World Elite MasterCard® offers Chip + PIN transactions can be incredibly helpful when traveling abroad. For example, I remember having a ton of trouble at a ticket kiosk in Copenhagen because my credit card required a signature. I ended up needing to find a station agent to help, which took much longer than I’d have liked to spend.
Beyond that, because the card is issued by MasterCard, it likely has a slight edge on currency conversion compared to cards issued by Visa. If you’ll be abroad for more than just a couple of days a year, the savings can definitely add up.