Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard Are Worth 1.14 Cents Each Because of This One Quirk

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Update 2/21/14: The minimum spending requirement is now $3,000 in the first 90 days to unlock the 40,000 bonus miles. Full offer details:

  • Earn 40,000 bonus miles if you make $3,000 or more in purchases in the first 90 days from account opening. 40,000 bonus miles equates to $400 off your next trip!
  • Earn 2X miles on all purchases
  • No mileage caps or foreign transaction fees
  • Get 10% miles back when you redeem for travel (i.e. redeem 25,000 miles for travel and get 2,500 miles back)
  • Use miles for a statement credit toward any airline purchase to any destination with no seat restrictions and no blackout dates
  • Easily redeem your miles for statement credits toward flights, cruises, car rentals, hotels and more
  • Complimentary subscription to TripIt Pro mobile travel organizer – a $49 annual value!
  • Complimentary FICO® Scores as a benefit to active cardmembers. Opt-in to have instant and convenient access to FICO® Scores from your Barclaycard online account.

Application Link: Barclaycard Arrival(TM) World MasterCard® – Earn 2x on All Purchases

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Everyone knows that the Barclaycard Arrival(TM) World MasterCard® – Earn 2x on All Purchases comes with a sign up bonus worth $444 in free travel after spending $1,000 in the first three months, and that the card earns 2.22% back toward travel on all purchases. Scott’s first post about the card was even called “Barclaycard Arrvial World MasterCard: 2.22% Cash Back Card with $444 Sign Up Bonus.”

Except that those numbers are wrong! The card’s sign up bonus is actually worth $456 and the card actually earns 2.28% back on all purchases.

Until we both got the card, we didn’t realize that you actually earn miles on the purchase that you redeem miles to remove from your statement. This quirk takes the value of Arrival miles from 1.11 to 1.14 cents.

The Arrival card’s unique earning and redemption methods make it even more valuable than it appears at first glance for people who are trying to earn elite status with an airline while minimizing out-of-pocket costs.

With the Arrival card:

  1. Pay for your flight with the Arrival World MasterCard and earn 2 Arrival miles per dollar for the purchase.
  2. Once the flight purchase posts to your account, use your Arrival miles to remove the flight charge. After the 10% rebate on redeemed Arrival miles, you redeem only 90 miles per dollar of the flight’s cost. Since you earned 2 miles per dollar and spent 90 miles per dollar, you are only out 88 miles per dollar total.
  3. Fly your itinerary and earn airline miles and elite qualifying miles (EQM, or MQM if flying Delta).

Scott already wrote a comprehensive post Why I Got the BarclayCard World Arrival MasterCard, but there is actually more value to those chasing the perks of airline elite status. And you can do even better than the 1 and 1.11 cent values normally assigned to Arrival miles.

How can you maximize the value of your Arrival miles? What’s the best way to earn elite status with the Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard?

To show how valuable Barclaycard Arrival miles are towards gaining airline elite status, let’s use an example.

Hypothetically, let’s say you are aiming for US Airways elite status and found a mileage-run-worthy roundtrip fare from Washington-Reagan to Portland. I found the below itinerary using the handy ITA matrix which is great for uncovering such fares.

US+AA DCA-PDX

The flight above costs $242.00.

If you wanted the flight to be free instead of $242, you could redeem Arrival miles for the flight.

Getting a free trip is a two-step process:

  1. Purchase the ticket with your Arrival card and earn 484 Arrival miles (2 miles per dollar).
  2. Redeem 24,200 Arrival miles to fully eliminate the charge from your credit card statement. Instantly receive a 10% rebate when using your Arrival miles towards travel purchases. The actual cost is only 21,780 Arrival miles (24200 – 2420) factoring in the 10% rebate. For more info on the simple redemption process, check out my post, How to Redeem BarclayCard Arrival Miles.

Since you spend 21,780 Arrival miles and earned 484 on the ticket’s purchase, your account balance is 21,296 Arrival miles below where it started, and the ticket is free.

That means we have gotten 1.14 cents per mile (24200/21296) of value from our Arrival miles.

If Arrival miles deliver 1.14 cents of value, then the 40k mile sign up bonus on the Arrival card is worth $456. And the 2 miles per dollar on every purchase are like getting 2.28% back toward travel on any purchase.

That’s great news for BarclayCard MasterCard holders, but we’re still not factoring in the airline miles you earn for flying the itinerary!

DCA-PDX GC Map

Segment Path

The flights above earn 5,615 US Airways miles (even more factoring in a lucrative bonus promotion US Airways is currently running with American Airlines). Per the Mile Value Leaderboard, those US Airways Dividend miles are worth approximately $109 (1.95 cents each), adding even more value to your redemption.

Caveats

This exercise doesn’t factor in your value of time/loss of productivity while in the air nor only incidentals like gas, parking, and meals that you would normally not spend unless flying. It’s a critical concept we’ve expanded upon in the past.

The Citi ThankYou® Premier Rewards Card gives 1.25 cents per point on airfare redemptions and earns the same frequent flyer/elite qualifying miles that an Arrival award ticket would. Keep in mind you might not find the best fares on Citi’s proprietary site (as Frequent Miler notes), so 1.25 cents in value for ThankYou points isn’t always a given. Also keep in mind that the Arrival card earns 2 miles per dollar on all purchases, while the ThankYou card earns 1, 2, or 3 points per dollar depending on category.

Recap

The Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard is touted as one of the best travel credit cards (especially for big spenders), and rightly so. You earn 2x miles on all purchases, and you receive a 10% rebate when your miles are redeemed for travel expenses.

One more benefit that folks sometimes miss is that you earn Arrival miles on all purchases, including travel purchases that you remove from your statement by redeeming Arrival miles.

After factoring in these rebates and earnings, it only costs a net of 88 Arrival miles dollar to book a free flight, meaning Arrival miles are worth 1.14 cents per mile on travel redemptions.

Don’t forget that airlines treat Arrival awards as normal cash tickets, so you are receiving standard frequent flyer miles and elite qualifying miles for the flight. That makes the Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard a mileage runner’s dream. You earn lots of miles towards airline elite status for minimal out of pocket costs.

Offer Details:

  • Earn 40,000 bonus miles if you make $1,000 or more in purchases in the first 90 days from account opening. 40,000 bonus miles equates to $400 off your next trip!
  • 0% introductory APR on purchases for the first 12 months after account opening. After that, variable APR, currently 14.99% or 18.99%, based upon your creditworthiness.
  • Earn 2X miles on all purchases
  • No mileage caps or foreign transaction fees
  • Get 10% miles back when you redeem for travel (i.e. redeem 25,000 miles for travel and get 2,500 miles back)
  • Use miles for a statement credit toward any airline purchase to any destination with no seat restrictions and no blackout dates
  • Easily redeem your miles for statement credits toward flights, cruises, car rentals, hotels and more
  • Complimentary FICO® Scores as a benefit to active cardmembers. Opt-in to have instant and convenient access to FICO® Scores from your Barclaycard online account.

Application Link: Barclaycard Arrival(TM) World MasterCard® – Earn 2x on All Purchases

 

20 Responses to Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard Are Worth 1.14 Cents Each Because of This One Quirk

  1. Thanks for the great post! I have a quick question about the Arrival miles. Can I use different credit cards other than Barclay Arrival, lets say a Chase credit card, to earn extra Arrival miles using RewardsBoost portal?

    • I don’t know. Some portals you can use other cards and some not. I would do a small experiment with another card and see if your Arrival miles post before making larger purchases.

  2. My only issue is that since I do not have status with any airline so when I buy tickets for AA, I use AA credit card and then for UA, I use UA card to get free checked bag, priority boarding and priority check in. I wish there was a way to get all these perks while using barclay arrival card.

    • Those are important considerations. Since I basically never travel with checked luggage, those aren’t worth much to me.

      Don’t forget you can also use the Arrival miles for any other travel expense like the taxes/fees on an award ticket, non-chain hotels, and other travel expenses.

  3. I’m very sold on the signup bonus and to use for 12 months where I can’t get category or enrollment bonuses elsewhere. Not so much on renewing, since I don’t have enough such spend to justify the annual fee for this one. For big spenders with plenty of no-bonus expenses it’s a keeper.

    • Yes, I agree that for big spenders this card is huge. Just recommended it to a high school buddy who is expecting $500k a year in charges. That would be over $11k in free travel.

  4. Can I use this to book my upcoming flight. I signed up for Alaska Airlines card just to get the Companion Fare [$118 after tax] If I use this card to purchase the tickets [my ticket will still cost $1k so about $1118 for both] I’d save an additional $400 off the flight by redeeming my points. Is this correct? Thank you.

    • Correct, you would be able to apply the Companion Fare discount code and then use the Barclaycard to purchase the tickets. Redeeming Arrival miles would knock $400 off the total cost, though you’ll do a bit better with the 10% rebate.

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  6. Don’t forget that the best way to use the Citi Premier card is to redeem Thank You points earned with the Citi Forward card. It ends up making the Citi Forward card earn 6.25% back on Amazon, Restaurants, and iTunes purchases when the points are redeemed for flights.

  7. I don’t think the newly earned miles from redeeming miles should be added back to the original and then use their sum to calculate the final cash back rate. From the moment you choose to redeem Barclay miles, you forgo the opportunity to use other credit cards to pay and earn cash back. The redeeming activity should be considered a new and separate transaction. Therefore, it does not make sense to add the cash back earned from a new transaction to the old cash back earned before from a different transaction.

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