Barclaycard is quickly making itself a brand to pay notice to with its new travel reward credit card offers–not to mention the new Barclay Center in New York. Recently, we took note of Barclaycards’ 50,000 sign up bonus with The Premier Miles & More World MasterCard® because it’s been years since Barclaycard had offered anything near that bonus. Barclays has also been expanding its available programs for travel rewards that range from cruise lines, domestic (US) and international airlines and hotel accommodations with lucrative airline partnership opportunities.

Current Barclaycard Partnerships:

Aer Lingus, China Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Iceland Air, Lufthansa, US Airways, Virgin America

Since most of these airlines are part of the Star Alliance, your miles can take you farther in terms of airline choice and destination.

Best Western Rewards, Choice Privilege, Wyndham Rewards

Carnival Cruises, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises

Currently the three most popular Barclays cards in the travel rewards realm are the Miles & More® Premier World MasterCard®, Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® and The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard®. In addition to the three, Barclays offers other airline specific co-branded cards, however these three seem to be the most lucrative in sign up bonus potential and point redemption.

Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® has a current sign up bonus of 40,000 ($440 in free travel) miles after spending $3,000 in the first 90 days. You will earn 2x points per dollar spent. One of the biggest benefits of using the Barclaycard Arrival Plus for travel booking is the 10% refund on mileage redemption so you are given the opportunity to recycle a portion of the miles you used. With the 10% mileage refund you will get $440 worth of free travel. There is a $89 annual fee, but it is waived the first year. There is also a version of the card without an annual fee, but you will only receive 20,000 miles after spending $1,000 and 2x miles on just travel and dining. Since the annual fee version has the annual fee waived for the first year it is a better deal to get the 40,000 point bonus and earn 2x on all purchases then decide to keep the card for a second year.

The Miles & More® Premier World MasterCard®

Update 6/30/2014: The current sign-up bonus has been reduced to 35,000 miles.

The Lufthansa Miles & More® Premier World MasterCard® is currently offering 50,000 bonus miles–20k points after making your first purchase and 30k after spending $5,000 within 90 days. In addition to the bonus miles, another perk is the annual companion pass received every anniversary year the cardholder has the card. The $79 annual fee is NOT waived in the first year, but $79 for 2 domestic coach trips seems worth it to me. Miles expire 36 months of no award redemptions, however Elite members are excluded from the expiration and miles never expire as long as your account reflects monthly activity.

Hotel Partners: Accor, Best Western, Fairmont, Global Hotel Alliance, Hyatt, Gran Melia, Hilton, InterContinental Group Hotels, Ibis Hotel, Jumeirah, Kempinski, Le Meridien, Marriott, Omni, Orbis, Carlson Hotels, Starwood, Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces, The Leading Hotels of the World, Wyndham

The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard®

The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® is offering 40,000 bonus miles after the first purchase. This is a great deal with no spending requirement and it’s not a bad idea to collect the miles since the card may disappear soon. We already know about the American Airlines merger with US Airways so reaping the benefits from the card to use for American Airline flights could be a wise move. More than likely your US Airways miles will be combined with your AAdvantage account after the merger. After the first purchase, you will earn 30,000 miles followed by 10,000 more miles after transferring a balance within 90 days–although this is usually not a good deal. Additionally, you will receive 10,000 bonus miles every anniversary year for being a loyal customer. Perks of the card that I am interested in are the 5,000 mile discount on award tickets and the companion ticket for $99.

How can Barclaycard compete with major US credit card companies?

With Barclaycard’s new travel credit card offers it is clear that they are getting serious about competing with the other larger and more dominant credit card companies. Although the new card offers are a huge step towards becoming a heavy hitter, there are several things that would greatly improve its competitiveness and attractiveness towards consumers in the US.

These include things like creating a transferable points programs similar to Amex Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest Points. These are the most valuable types of travel points because of the flexibility to transfer points or miles to a number travel partners.

Before Barclaycard can truly compete with the big boys they will also have to introduce more co-branded airline and hotel cards for US customers. If Barclaycard can keep The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® and have a new co-branded card after the merger with American Airlines it will play a huge role keeping Barclays as a top contender.

The last thing that Barclaycard needs to do is have better non-travel redemption rates. The Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® with the annual fee of $89 (waived the first year) is one of the best fixed-value points credit cards when redeeming for travel because it earns 2x miles per $1 spent on all purchases. After redeeming those at 1 cent per mile and getting the 10% refund from your redeemed miles, you end up getting a 2.2% return on your spending. The problem is that when you redeem for other rewards, such as cashback statement credits or gift cards, that return on spending drops to 1% with the annual fee card and 0.5% on the no fee card.

Nonetheless, the recent offers by Barclaycard is a good thing–although not ground shaking they are still great offers. At the very least, if Barcalycard continues to introduce better offers it will help create more competition between credit card offers available and hopefully we will see more offers stay above the old 25,000 point levels. Hopefully they will decide to make the cards more focused on US customer and create more valuable programs and card offers for us on the over side of the pond.

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2 Comments

  • Regarding what you said:

    “Current Barclaycard Partnerships:

    Aer Lingus, China Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Iceland Air, Lufthansa, US Airways, Virgin America

    Since most of these airlines are part of the Star Alliance, your miles can take you farther in terms of airline choice and destination.”

    — Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I found that Lufthansa and US Airways are the only two Star Alliance members (and is US Airways soon to be leaving?). I would like to apply for the Barclays Arrival Master Card (no annual fee) but do you know if I can get airlines miles for United Airlines (a Star Alliance member). I’ve been searching online to see if Barclays and United are partners in any way, but I can’t seem to find any information about it. My other option is the Chase Sapphire card, but it has foreign transaction fees, which I don’t want to have. And the United Mileage Plus Explorer has a $95 annual fee.

    My credit card requirements go in this order: 1) no annual fee, 2) no foreign transaction fees, 3) can somehow get/convert to United Airlines miles to be used with Star Alliance, 4) has bonus/rewards.

    What do you recommend?

    Thanks for your help!

    • The Sapphire card would be the card that will allow you to transfer the points to United miles. As far as Barclay’s Arrival card, you cannot transfer those miles to airline programs, e.i. United. The miles earned on the Arrival card can be used to redeem paid for travel on your credit card statement, so say you purchase a $300 airline ticket, you can redeem 30,000 miles to get reimbursed the full price of the ticket. The amount will be credited to you statement. Both are great cards, but only the Sapphire will let you transfer to points to United miles. Hope this helps!