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Opinions, analyses, reviews, or recommendations expressed here are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed or endorsed by the issuer. We may be compensated through the issuer’s Affiliate Program. For a full list of our advertisers, including American Express, see our disclosure page.

Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®

96
"The best travel rewards card for general spending. Fantastic rewards rate no matter where you shop with it."

Contents

Over the summer of 2015, Barclaycard restructured the benefits on its flagship credit card – the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard. Despite all the changes, this card still remains, in our opinion, one of the best travel credit cards available. With a 2.1% rewards rate, and one of the broadest “travel” categories of any credit card, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard is a valuable addition to the wallet of any serious traveler.

Pros

  • 2.1% Rewards Rate, still among the highest
  • 40,000 mile signing bonus, worth $400

Cons

  • Minimum rewards redemption of $100 (up from $25)
  • Tourist attractions no longer considered “travel” expenses

Review: Is the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite Still Worth It?

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite continues to be our top choice for a credit card that can be used everyday to earn travel rewards. The 2 points on all spending and the 5% redemption dividend will yield you 2.1% in rewards whenever you use the card. For a card that you can pull out of your wallet everyday, a 2.1% in rewards is significantly higher than other available cards. A card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred can produce rates as high as 2.5%, however that is limited to dining and travel purchases – other day-to-day spending will yield just 1.25%.

Here's how the Arrival Plus stacks up against some strong competitors when it comes to the rewards rate on general and travel spending.

Travel rewards earned with the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite are also among the most flexible, usable as statement credits on any travel expense (airfare, hotels, car rentals & others). Recently Barclaycard excluded “tourist attractions” from the travel category. Even though this made it more limited, it still remains among the most flexible when compared to competitors.

Finally, as with many travel rewards credit cards, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite comes with a very large signing offer. New cardholders are eligible to receive 40,000 bonus miles if they spend $3000 on purchases in the first 90 days of opening the account. With a value of $400 when used for statement credits against travel, this is among the most valuable bonuses available to consumers. The bonus alone compensates for more than 4 years of annual fees.

Bottom Line: While we will miss the better benefits this card used to offer, we still feel it does enough to be well worth its $89 annual fee. All the card’s features make the Barclaycard Arrival Plus one of our ‘editor’s pick’ in categories like Best Rewards Credit Cards, Best Airline Credit Cards and Best Hotel Credit Cards.

Barclaycard Arrival Plus Benefits And Features

We look at the most important details of the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite and examine the updates to the card. Our in depth analysis can help you figure out how the card's benefits might perform for you.

Annual Fee $89 - Waived first year
Purchase APR 16.99%, 20.99% or 23.99% Variable
Card Details
  • Enjoy 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days - that's enough to redeem for a $400 travel statement credit toward an eligible travel purchase
  • Earn 2X miles on all purchases
  • Get 5% miles back to use toward your next redemption, every time you redeem
  • Miles don't expire as long as your account is open, active and in good standing
  • No foreign transaction fees on purchases made while traveling abroad
  • 0% introductory APR for 12 months on Balance Transfers made within 45 days of account opening. After that, a variable APR will apply, 16.99%, 20.99% or 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness.
  • There is a fee for balance transfers.

How Do the Rewards Work?

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus has one of the simpler rewards structures, making it an extremely easy card to understand and to use. With the card you'll earn 2 miles on every dollar spent regardless of what you choose to use the card on. You can then redeem the miles you've earned for statement credits on travel expenses at a rate of 1 cent per point. When you redeem miles this way you'll also receive a 5% dividend, effectively increasing the per point value to 1.05 cents.

Note that the lowest amount of reward you can redeem for is $100 - that is the equivalent of spending $4,761 and accumulating at least 9,524 miles (including the 5% travel dividend). This means you won't get to redeem your miles for smaller ticket items like short taxi rides. Instead, the rewards gathered using the Barclaycard Arrival Plus will be predominantly used on airline/hotel bookings, and things of that nature. This is a minor inconvenience, which will require cardmembers to be a little bit more patient. The good thing is that miles never expire (so long as you remain active and in good standing) which means you can take your time gathering the necessary rewards.

Cardmembers may only apply reward miles toward purchases made within the last 120 days. Therefore, you shouldn’t purchase a vacation thinking that you will eventually gather enough points to pay down the expense. Unless you know for a fact you will gather enough points within 4 months (plus the additional couple of days it will take for rewards to post to your account). 

Calculating the Rewards Rate

Spend $1,000 on any expense = 2,000 miles earned. 2,000 miles = $20 in statement credit on travel expenses + an additional 100 mile dividend worth $1 for $21 in total value. $21 in rewards / $1,000 spending = 2.1% rewards rate. The lowest reward you can redeem for is $100.

What Counts as “Travel” with the Barclaycard Arrival Plus?

What counts and doesn’t count as travel is largely dependent upon two factors: merchant category codes (MCCs) and Barclaycard themselves. To get the most out of this card, we recommend you redeem your rewards miles so that you can earn the 5% miles bonus. In order to do so, you'll be required to exchange your miles for statement credit towards travel purchases. Examples of spending categories that Barclaycard considers to be travel:

Spending Categories Under Travel
Airlines Hotels Motels
Car Rental Agencies Travel Agencies Discount Travel Sites
Taxis Limousines Ferries
Timeshares Trains Cruise Lines
Campgrounds Buses

Each vendor categorizes the products and services they provide under some code (the MCC). Barclaycard then gathers all the codes it believes should fall under the “travel” category and applies the bonus miles accordingly. For example, one MCC may be “auto rental company” and another “airline”. Barclaycard will acknowledge all transactions with merchants who have those MCCs as travel.

What Has Changed with the Card in 2015

As we mentioned before the restructuring of this card changed the way many of its benefits operate. In summary the changes include:

  • Bonus miles down from 10% to 5% (and rewards rate down from 2.2% to 2.1% as a result)
  • Minimum rewards redemption amount up from $25 to $100 (9,524 miles)
  • No more complimentary TripIt Pro membership
  • Tourist attractions no longer considered as “travel spending”

The decrease in rewards rate will affect all new members immediately. If you signed up for the Barlcaycard Arrival Plus while the 10% bonus miles were still being advertised, the changes will not affect you for at least a couple of months. The new bonus will be rolled out as follows:

  • Consumers who signed up for the Barclaycard Arrival Plus before September 30, 2014 will hold on to the 10% bonus until November 2015.
  • If you applied for the card between October 1, 2014 and June 30, 2015, the 10% bonus will apply until August 2016.
  • If you applied after July 1, 2015 (for an offer with the 10% bonus miles advertised), you'll continue to keep it until November 2015.
  • If you applied after July 1, 2015 with the 5% bonus miles, you get the new 5% bonus.

World Elite MasterCard Membership

The card’s World Elite MasterCard designation unlocks access to many premium benefits for Barclaycard Arrival Plus cardholders. The World Elite status is the highest level offered by MasterCard and opens up services that are enticing to high spenders. Very few credit cards are part of this “exclusive club”, which puts the Barclaycard Arrival plus in a unique position. To see the perks of being a World Elite Member take a look here.

The no-annual-fee version of the Barclaycard Arrival Plus does not share this benefit. Instead, it is on the World MasterCard network, which doesn’t come with nearly the same number of benefits.

How the Arrival Plus Compares to Other Cards

If you're interested in how the card compares to other travel cards play with our credit card modeling tool to see how different cards perform when it comes to rewards.

Barclaycard Arrival Plus vs Barclaycard Arrival

Choosing between the Barclaycard Arrival Plus and the Barclaycard Arrival is all a matter of how much you spend and where you spend it. With the plus giving better rewards on the general spending categories in exchange for the annual fee, it's really just a matter of math. If you include bonuses, the number you'll want to focus on is $1,000 a month in spending. Spend more than that and the Barclaycard Arrival Plus will come out to be the better card. Less than that and the Barclay Arrival is the better overall option.

Without bonuses and in all years after year 1, you'll want to spend about $745 dollars a month on categories outside of travel and dining, for the Barclaycard Arrival Plus to be more lucrative. The extra 1% difference in everyday awards will make up for more than the annual fee of the more expensive card at that point. 

Another thing to keep in mind is that the Barclaycard Arrival Plus does have a few more benefits, including the expenses that it categorizes under travel which do not apply to the Arrival. The World Elite MasterCard designation also adds a little bit of access and value, though we think it's minimal at best.

Barclaycard Arrival Plus vs Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Most consumers can expect the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card to offer a lower average rewards rate than the Arrival Plus World. With both cards the points you earn are worth a penny each. For an everyday card however, the Arrival Plus World Elite will generally get you more awards since you get 2 points for every single dollar you spend. While the Sapphire only gives you double miles on dining and travel purchases. If the majority of your spending is going to be outside these categories, the Arrival will net you 2.1% (including the card’s 5% travel dividend) while the Sapphire Preferred rewards rate would generally be around 1.25%.

Where the Sapphire Preferred comes out ahead is for cardholders that have significant travel expenses and are willing to leverage the Ultimate Rewards (UR) program. Combining the card’s double points on travel, and its built in 20% discount when redeeming points for travel via UR, means that you can accrue more than 2.5% in rewards this way.

If you're choosing between the cards, the Arrival is probably a better bet as a general spending card if you have a broad array of expenses, while Sapphire Preferred is a more rewarding card for the travel focused and will leverage Ultimate Rewards to its maximum.

Arrival Plus World Elite Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
  • 2.1% on everyday spending regardless of category
  • Rewards rate is fixed
  • Better as an everyday card
  • Only 1 point per dollar for general spending categories
  • 2X points for travel and dining
  • Higher rewards when used on travel-focused spending

Comparison Tool

The rewards rate you will receive through the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard is a simple 2.1%. Other cards may be harder to figure out. Because of this, we developed the tool below to automatically calculate an estimate of your rewards given your unique spending profile. Simply enter your anticipated monthly budget, and let our tool do the rest.

Edit Monthly Spend: $1,430
General:
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Computing:
Card Annual Fee 2-yr Net Rewards Rate

The Net Rewards Rate is equal to the Rewards Value over two years divided by the total spending. The total spending is equal to the values entered into the tool and multiplied by 24 months. See the Rewards Value note to see details on how it is calculated.

The estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone. They are not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Bonus Value

The bonus field shows our estimate for the value of the card’s sign-up bonus. If the bonus is point or mile based, we multiply the total bonus points/miles by our estimate for their value to arrive at a dollar equivalent. We display $0 if there is no bonus or if the user doesn’t qualify for the bonus based on the current spending entered into the tool.

The estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone. They are not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

2-yr Rewards Value

The Rewards Value is calculated by adding together the rewards earned from charging purchases to the card over two years and any sign-up bonuses (if applicable). They are then multiplied by our estimated point/mile value, with any annual fees (if applicable) subtracted. All values are based on our own estimates for the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using a card.

The estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone. They are not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95 2.86%
$625
50,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
$1,028
Graph Card Read Review More Details
Annual Fee Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95
APR 16.99% - 23.99% Variable

Card Details

  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Estimated Rewards Value Dollars*
Spending Rewards 39,840 x $0.013 = $498
Bonuses
50,000 x $0.013 = $625
Less Annual Fees -$95
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months 1,028
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that 3.03%
$500
Receive 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 within the first 3 months
$1,091
Graph Card Read Review More Details
Annual Fee $0 intro for first year; $95 after that
APR 13.99% - 23.99% (Variable)

Card Details

  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime
  • Travel when you want with no blackout dates
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $95 after that
  • Get a metal Venture Card when you apply today

Note: The information in this box was provided by Capital One® and is not part of our independent analysis.

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Estimated Rewards Value Dollars*
Spending Rewards 68,640 x $0.01 = $686
Bonuses
50,000 x $0.01 = $500
Less Annual Fees -$95
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months 1,091
Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®
$89 - Waived first year 2.92%
$420
Earn 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days - that's enough to redeem for a $400 travel statement credit
$1,052
Graph Card Read Review More Details
Annual Fee $89 - Waived first year
APR 16.99%, 20.99% or 23.99% Variable

Card Details

  • Enjoy 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days - that's enough to redeem for a $400 travel statement credit toward an eligible travel purchase
  • Earn 2X miles on all purchases
  • Get 5% miles back to use toward your next redemption, every time you redeem
  • Miles don't expire as long as your account is open, active and in good standing
  • No foreign transaction fees on purchases made while traveling abroad
  • 0% introductory APR for 12 months on Balance Transfers made within 45 days of account opening. After that, a variable APR will apply, 16.99%, 20.99% or 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness.
  • There is a fee for balance transfers.

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Estimated Rewards Value Dollars*
Spending Rewards 68,640 x $0.011 = $721
Bonuses
40,000 x $0.011 = $420
Less Annual Fees -$89
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months 1,052

Comments and Questions

* See the online credit card application for details about terms and conditions. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information. However all credit card information is presented without warranty. When you click on the "Apply Now" button, you can review the credit card terms and conditions on the issuer's website.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program. 

These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Advertiser Disclosure: Some of the offers that appear on this website are from companies which ValuePenguin receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where offers appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). The site does not review or include all companies or all available products. For more information please see our Advertiser Disclosure.