Barclays launched the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® to match competition with other banks' flexible bank-point cards such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Capital One Venture. These cards are not co-branded with a specific airline or hotel, instead they earn flexible points that can either be transferred to various travel partners or cashed out for statement credits on any type of travel expenses.
The two biggest things to look at are: your time horizon and how you want to use the points.
The Barclays Arrival Card is great for short notice use and you earn the 40,000 mile bonus immediately after meeting the $3,000 spending requirement (OFFER EXPIRED). I had the 40,000 miles post to my account within a week of receiving the card, so this can be very useful for getting last-minute free travel. You can actually apply the bonus miles as a statement credit for the $3,000 spending on the same statement, leaving you to pay only what ever is leftover.
The Arrival card is also great for covering travel expenses like Airbnb, travel activities, or taxes and fees on award tickets. This makes Arrival miles a great way to fill in the gaps where traditional airline miles and hotel points can't be used.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred 45,000 point bonus is technically more valuable if you know how to use the points (OFFER EXPIRED)--meaning you transfer them to more valuable travel partners like United, Southwest, Hyatt or British Airways. If you can plan on travel farther out (6+ months) and know how to find flights, you can get ~1.5 - 2.0 cents per point. If used right this makes the bonus worth around ~$800+ in value. The welcome bonus normally takes a statement cycle to post so it also takes longer to get the points posted into your account.
A quick bottom line: The Chase Sapphire Preferred card is best for earning airline miles and hotel points for travel planned 6 months out, whereas the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® is best for straight cash back, last-minute travel, and travel flexibility.
Teamed together both cards offer some of the most powerful ways to earn free travel through credit card spending. Now, obviously there is a lot more to breaking it down than that, so let’s take a closer look at each card.
The Barclays Arrival World MasterCard earns 2 points per dollar on ALL purchases whereas the Sapphire Preferred earns 2 points per dollar spent on travel and restaurant purchases, but only 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
Unless you plan to only use the Chase Sapphire Preferred card on travel and restaurants purchases, you won’t be earning the same return that you could by using the Barclays Arrival Card. Since I bet most of your purchases fall into the ‘all other purchases’ category, the Arrival Card might be a better option in terms of everyday spending. Though you also have to consider the redemption value of the points.
On top of that you will earn 10% back on all Arrival miles redeemed for travel. This means that for every dollar spent you are essentially getting 2.2 points after you use them for statement credits on travel expenses. Think about that, 2.2% percent back is hard to beat!
If you’re looking for the highest earning card for everyday spending I would consider the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®. You cannot beat the 2 points per dollar on every purchases.
On the other hand if you are planning international travel and need airline miles to cover the flight, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card is a great way to earn points that can be transferred to airline frequent flyer programs at a 1:1 ratio.
One valuable aspect of the Arrival card is that you earn miles on the travel purchases that you redeem on miles to remove from your statement. This 'double' earning takes the value of Arrival miles from 1.11 to 1.14 cents per mile. This actually makes the card’s earning 2.28%-back on all purchases and the welcome bonus worth $456.
For the example above, after spending $10,000 on the Arrival card you will have earned a total of 60,000 miles from the bonus and spending. To redeem these miles you will have to make a $600 travel purchase, thus earning 1,200 additional miles and increasing what the card earns to 2.28%. This higher earning potential obviously only works if you continue to use the card and the cycle of redeeming miles.
When you use points from the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® to cover direct travel expenses you will get 1 cent per Ultimate Rewards point or Arrival mile. Basically each point can be viewed as straight cash back when redeemed for travel and statement credits.
However, there is a big difference in the potential value you can get from each point. Barclays Arrival miles are set at a value of 1 cent each, but Ultimate Rewards points earned from the Sapphire Preferred can be transferred to airline miles and hotel points with Ultimate Rewards travel partners.
The transfer ratio is 1:1 to all travel partners and you can get MUCH more than 1 cent per point when transferred to airline miles and redeemed for flights. If you transfer to United Airlines and redeem for international travel you can often get close to 2.0 cents per mile. You can also get close to that value with Southwest when you redeem points at the ‘Wanna Get Away’ fare level.
With that said, unless you transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to the more valuable transfer partners such as United and Southwest you’re probably not going to get a ton more value than what you would get from Arrival miles. For instance, if you transfer Chase UR points to any hotels you are likely to get less than 1.0 value per point when you redeem them. For instance, I consider it more valuable to earn Arrival miles than to earn UR points and transfer them to Hilton hotel points.
With the Arrival card you are always going to get 1.0 cent per mile and the flexibility to redeem them for any travel can make them potentially very valuable to you. The bottom line is that it depends on the type of travel you want to get from your rewards as well as the flexibility you need from you rewards points.
I currently have both of these cards and consider both valuable for different reasons. The Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® is one of the best cards on the market for flexible travel rewards and straight cash back for any type of travel expense. If you're looking for flexible travel rewards and want to earn the top return (2.2% back) per dollar spent on all purchases, sign-up for the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® with the current 40,000 mile bonus offer.
On the other hand the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a good option if you want to earn airline miles or hotel points for a specific program and have a valuable use for those points. Ideally I would earn UR points for future travel that I can plan for far in advance and keep the Arrival miles in my account for unexpected travel expenses or costs that cannot be covered by airline miles.
The bottom line is that these two cards paired together make a great team, covering most spending categories and travel rewards uses.
✈ If you enjoyed reading this you can sign-up to receive blog posts via email (max of 1 email per day) or like us on Facebook! And as always feel free to ask questions in the comments below or email me.