Update 3/14/14: The 50k mile offer is dead. All links in this post go to the following offer:
- Earn 20,000 award miles after your first purchase or balance transfer
- Earn up to 15,000 award miles with balance transfers (1 mile per $1 transferred) within 30 days of account opening
- Earn 2 award miles per $1 on ticket purchases directly from Miles & More integrated airline partners
- Earn 1 mile per $1 on all other purchases
- Annual Complimentary Companion Ticket after first purchase, then annually thereafter
- No foreign transaction fees on purchases made outside the U.S.
- Redeem miles for flight awards and upgrades on Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, SWISS, Star Alliance airlines and other partners
- $79 Annual Fee, waived for SEN and HON Circle Members
Barclay’s currently has four credit cards that I have or want–up from one last year. That’s a big improvement by Barclay’s in the travel rewards card arena.
The Lufthansa Premier Miles & More World MasterCard with 50,000 Miles & More miles after spending $5k in three months.
The Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard with 40,000 miles ($400 toward travel) after spending $1k in three months.
The Frontier Airlines World MasterCard with 40,000 EarlyReturns miles after spending $500 in three months.
The US Airways Premier World MasterCard with 30,000 Dividend Miles after first purchase.
Continue reading about Barclay’s best offers, how you can make the most of them, and how Barclay’s can improve.
For most of the last year, Barclay’s had one card worth getting, in my opinion, the US Airways MasterCard. To that measly offering, Barclay’s has added three offers that have gotten me excited.
The best current Barclay’s offer for people who want to fly to Europe or on premium transcontinental routes is the Lufthansa Premier Miles & More World MasterCard.
Because most people aren’t familiar with the Lufthansa Miles & More program–I wasn’t until recently–I wrote a primer about the program and the six best uses for the sign up bonus.
The sign up bonus is big enough for a roundtrip to Europe or a one way in business class. Lufthansa miles are also the best way to book Swiss and Lufthansa First Class more than two weeks out and the cheapest way to get on United’s transcontinental beds.
- Earn 20,000 award miles after your first purchase
- Earn an additional 30,000 award miles when you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 90 days
- 50,000 bonus miles total
- Cardholders receive a companion ticket annually.
- Enjoy 2 award miles per $1 on Miles & More integrated airline ticket purchases
- Earn 1 award mile per $1 spent everywhere else
- $79 annual fee
The best current Barclay’s offer for people who want to fly domestically or who want a card to defray miscellaneous trip expenses like car rentals and independent hotels is the Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard.
Not only does the Arrival card give you $444 in free travel on any airline, hotel, or car rental any time without the pain (I would say “fun”) of award searching, but the card earns 2.22% back towards travel on all purchases. In my opinion, that is the second best earning rate for non-bonused spending behind the SPG card.
The best uses of this card are domestic economy flights, which are normally a poor value at 25,000 miles roundtrip and other travel expenses that you can’t make disappear with your other miles and points. I could pay my hostel bill with these miles!
- Named ‘Best for Travel Rewards’ MONEY Magazine, October 2013
- 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
- No foreign transaction fees
- Exclusive Carry-on Miles – earn 10% of your miles back when you redeem for travel
- 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!
The most urgent card to get from Barclay’s is the US Airways Premier World MasterCard. US Airways and American Airlines are merging with the US Airways name disappearing. That makes it likely this card is disappearing too. If that happens, I want to make sure I get it again.
Currently the card comes with 30,000 US Airways miles after first purchase. The other big benefit is a 5,000 mile discount on US Airways awards booked on US Airways flights. The current best use for US Airways miles is off peak awards–which I most recently discussed here–to South America or Europe for 30,000 miles roundtrip for US Airways cardholders. One card, one dream vacation.
- Earn up to 40,000 bonus miles on qualifying transactions
- EXCLUSIVE: Redeem flights for 5,000 fewer miles
- Zone 2 boarding on every flight
- Enjoy 2 miles per $1 spent on US Airways purchases
- Earn 1 mile per $1 spent everywhere else
- Annual companion certificate good for round-trip travel for up to 2 companions at $99 each, plus taxes and fees
- First Class check-in
- Please see terms and conditions for complete details
The last Barclay’s card that excites me is the Frontier Airlines World MasterCard. Frontier has an incredibly generous award chart in its narrow footprint–the US, Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. The 35,000 miles after spending $750 in the first three months is enough for a roundtrip anywhere Frontier flies, and availability is the best I’ve seen of any airline.
I discussed the award chart here, and the Frontier EarlyReturns program here.
I think two major things are missing from Barclay’s if it really wants to take the next step in its battle against Chase, American Express, and Citi.
- Better business cards
- Transferable points
Barclay’s has one business card of note, kind of. The US Airways Business MasterCard with 25,000 US Airways miles after first purchase is a possible card to consider. But this one offer doesn’t compare favorably to the multiple better Chase, AMEX, and Citi business cards.
At a minimum I would hope that Barclay’s would create a business version of all its cards, so we small-business owners have more options. I would love the option to earn 2.22% percent toward travel on all my business purchases with a business version of the Arrival card. I would also hope that Barclay’s would offer more competitive sign up bonuses on business cards that match the personal card offers.
The other big improvement that could be made would be to have a transferable points card to compete with Chase Ultimate Rewards and AMEX Membership Rewards. This could be an awesome new card or an added benefit of the Arrival card’s miles.
One problem is that Barclay’s doesn’t have the airline and hotel partners that Chase and AMEX do. Barclay’s hotel and air partners are:
Airlines: Frontier Airlines, US Airways, Virgin America, Aer Lingus, China Airlines, Iceland Air, Lufthansa
Hotels: Best Western, Choice, Wyndham
Usually transferable points are transferable to existing partners like how Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer to Chase’s co-branded partners like Southwest, United, Hyatt, British Airways, and more.
But clearly deals can be made for transferable points to go to entities beyond existing partners. For instance, look at the list of airlines where SPG points can be transferred. Perhaps a better example is that AMEX Membership Rewards can be transferred to Frontier even though the airline is a Barclay’s co-branded partner.
If Barclay’s could get a transferable point with some solid partners, it would really be a big player in the travel rewards space. But for now, we can content ourselves with the improvements in the last year–namely going from one to four good rewards cards.
Link: The Lufthansa Premier Miles & More World MasterCard with 20,000 miles
Link: Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard with 40,000 miles
Link: Frontier Airlines World MasterCard with 45,000 miles
Link: US Airways Premier World MasterCard with 30,000 miles