The Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® is currently offering a sign-up bonus of 40,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 within the first 90 days. You can use Arrival miles earned with the card to cover travel purchases, and after hitting the minimum spend on the card you will have $440 worth of free travel from the 40,000 bonus miles.
One of the best uses for the Arrival miles is to cover cheap or last minute airfare that is normally hard to book or very expensive using traditional airline miles. I had redeemed only a small portion of the 40,000 miles in my account from the sign up bonus, so I decided to redeem the remainder to cover cheap airfare across Southeast Asia.
Cheap Flights Within Asia
Generally you can fly short domestic or international flights within Asia at low costs and there are a handful of budget carriers you can fly with. Across Asia as a whole there are too many to list, but within Southeast Asia the budget airline options include:
Many of these airlines also have select international routes, so depending on where you are flying to/from you can use them to fly to another country as well. Even more so you may find cheap fares with the major airlines that fly throughout Asia, so it is always a good idea to do a flight search through SkyScanner (searches budget carriers in Asia) or Kayak when comparing fares.
Over the last month I have traveled overland from Bangkok, Thailand to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The first leg of my trip involved taking a train from Bangkok to the border with Cambodia, then the rest was on bus through Cambodia and onward into Vietnam.
After more than 28 hours spent traveling overland I decided to purchase a few flights to cover the next portion of my journey north up the coast of Vietnam.
Using Arrival Miles to Cover Cheap Flights
The 40,000 miles from the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® can go a long way when covering the expenses of low-cost airfare within Southeast Asia. For example, I have already booked two one-way flights that each cost around $60. At this price (or close to it) you will have enough miles to get seven free one-way flights within Southeast Asia. Remember that when you redeem Arrival miles for travel you get a 10% mile rebate.
So far I have booked two last minute flights. The first was from Ho Chi Minh City to Da Nang for around ~$60 one-way including taxes and fees.
And the second one-way flight I booked was from Da Nang to Hanoi for around the same price of $60. On many budget carriers it is extra for checked bags, and on Jet Star I paid $8.00 for a bag weighing up to 20kg.
After charging both of these flights to my Barclaycard Arrival Plus and redeeming miles for a statement credit, I will have more than enough to cover a few more cheap flights within Asia. The same can be easily done in on many of the budget airlines within Europe or even the US on Southwest Airlines.
At these prices it wouldn’t even be worth using United, American Airlines, or British Airways miles if you could find a partner airline to book the award on. If there was a partner airline that flew the routes it would likely still be a better value purchasing the flight and using Arrival miles to pay yourself back for the flight.
That said, Arrival miles can be incredibly valuable to cover your travel and flights when you 1) cannot use other airline miles 2) you cannot find award availability 3) it is cheaper to purchase a flight than use airline miles.
The Bottom Line
Using my Arrival miles to cover the cost of cheap airfare within Southeast Asia has been a great way to keep travel free. So far I have booked two short flights with Vietnam and will be booking another flight or two within Thailand over the next few weeks.
The 40,000 mile bonus on the Barclaycard Arrival Plus card can be incredibly valuable and useful for covering last minute and cheap airfare. Apart from the lucrative sign-up bonus and the 2X miles earned with every purchase the Arrival card is the perfect match to cover flights that can’t be booked or are not a good value using traditional airline miles.