The king of cash back cards is the Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard®, which isn’t even a cash back card.

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The card offers 2.15% back on all purchases in the form of free travel. To be clear, the card is not a cash back card since the rewards are in the form of free travel, but since all of us do a lot of travel each year, I consider cash back and rewards for travel to be equivalent.

Beyond that world-beating rebate percentage on all spending, the sign up bonus is worth $430 in free travel, making this card a must have.

There are two reasons to get this card:

  1. 2.15% back on all purchases
  2. a sign up bonus worth $430 in free travel

Let’s talk about them in turn.

2.15% Back on All Purchases

The rewards of the Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard® are simple. You earn two miles per dollar on all purchases. Each mile is worth 1.075 cents net when redeemed for travel.

See why Arrival miles are worth 1.075 cents each.

The way to redeem these miles is to purchase any travel expense with the card, then request a statement credit with your miles.

See how to redeem Arrival miles.

Travel expenses are defined broadly and include:

  • any flight on any airline (no need to search for award space!)
  • taxes and fees on an airline award ticket
  • any hotel expense (including bed & breakfasts, hostels, and non-chain hotels)
  • cruises
  • car rentals
  • taxis
  • ferries
  • passenger trains
  • much more

Example: You have 20,000 miles in your account. You use the credit card to purchase a $150 roundtrip ticket from Los Angeles to Las Vegas on any airline you want. You request to redeem your miles toward the purchase of that ticket in the form of a statement credit.

Barclay’s redeems 15,000 of your miles, and the $150 charge disappears. You got a free $150 flight for your 15,000 miles. In addition, of course, you will earn miles from flying a paid flight since the airline you are flying to Vegas was paid cash for your ticket!

Because of this redemption method, there are no blackout dates or capacity controls. You can redeem the miles for any seat, any time, on any airlines, to anywhere.

What I’ve described so far is only 2% back, but there are two other perks that take the deal up to 2.15%:

1. If you redeem Arrival miles for travel expenses you get 5% of the redeemed miles back instantly as a rebate. Let’s go back to the same example we just looked at.

Example revisited: We redeemed 15,000 miles for a $150 flight. Since the redemption was for travel, we get 5% of the miles back. 750 miles will be redeposited into our account.

2. You earn 2 miles per dollar even on purchases that you redeem miles to redeem from your statement.

Example revisited again: When we purchased the $150 flight, we earned 300 Arrival miles.

That means the net result is we spend 13,950 Arrival miles and get a $150 ticket, or 1.075 cents of value per mile!

How does 2.15% back on all purchases compare to other cards?

It is 7.5% better than any other cash back card I know of. I haven’t seen better than 2% back on all purchases.

It is better than almost all rewards cards. It’s a bit beyond the scope of this post, but the only cards that come close are the Starwood Preferred Guest from American Express and the United Club Card. See more on the best card for non-bonused spending here.

$430 in Free Travel

The card’s sign up bonus is 40,000 miles after spending $3,000 in the first 90 days of card membership.

Those 40,000 miles can be redeemed for $400 in free travel. And doing that will trigger a 5% rebate in points. You can use that 2,000 points for $20 more in free travel. Of course, you’d also get 100 points back, which is $1 more in travel, which means 5 points back…

The 5% rebate is an interesting lock-in feature from Barclaycard. I think they’re betting it will keep you using the card since you will have a hard time zeroing out your balance with the constant miles rebates. Whatever Barclaycard’s reasoning, I just love that the 5% rebate on travel redemptions increases the value of a miles from 1 cent to 1.075 cents.

Who Should Not Get This Card

Do not get this card if you want to collect miles to fly international First Class. Paid international First Class is exorbitantly expensive–think $10,000. A $10,000 ticket would cost 1,000,000 Arrival miles, which is far more than the number of traditional airline miles that paid first class costs.

It’s always sad to tell Award Booking Service clients who have accumulated miles on a card like the Arrival Plus and want to fly up front that they don’t have enough miles.

Who Should Get This Card

This card is ideal for people who fly economy, families, domestic flyers, and points omnivores.

  • Economy Flyers– If you mainly fly economy class, it’s hard to get even 1.5 cents of value per traditional mile. Most miles credit cards earn 1 mile per dollar, meaning they get economy flyers 1.5 cents of travel per dollar spent–if that! The Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard® gets economy flyers (and everyone else) 2.15 cents of travel per dollar spent.
  • Families– Families have two things working against them. It’s tough to book four capacity-controlled award seats on the same flight, and they usually have little date flexibility since they want to travel over school breaks. The “miles” earned on the Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard® don’t require you to find award seats. They can be redeemed toward any travel purchase. A family can book four tickets to Disneyland and use their miles from this card to make that flight–whatever flight they want–for free.
  • Domestic Flyers- You’d have to spend $25,000 on a United, American, or Delta credit card AND find award space on the flights you want to get a domestic roundtrip. You’d have to spend far less on the Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard®, and you can book any flight you want.
  • Points Omnivores- This is my category. I’ll collect any mile or point I can to get more travel. I collect other types to get into international First Class. I’ll collect this type to fly more mundane planes–but not necessarily more mundane places–in economy class. A dollar saved is still a dollar saved.

Other Card Info

Here are the main things to know:

  • Earn 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days — that’s enough to redeem for a $400 travel statement credit
  • Earn 2X miles on all purchases
  • Get 5% miles back to use toward your next redemption, every time you redeem
  • Chip card technology, so paying for your purchases is more secure at chip-card terminals in the U.S. and abroad
  • No foreign transaction fees on anything you buy while in another country
  • 0% introductory APR for 12 months for each Balance Transfer made within 45 days of account opening. After that, a variable APR will apply, currently 16.24% or 20.24%, depending on your creditworthiness.
  • Complimentary online FICO® Credit Score access for Barclaycard Arrival cardmembers

The car has no annual fee the first 12 months, then $89 thereafter.

Application Link: Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard®

Recap

The Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard® is currently offering a sign up bonus worth $430 in free travel, plus the card earns 2.15% back toward travel on all spending!

This card is ideal for economy flyers, domestic flyers, families, and points omnivores. The card is also ideal for anyone who doesn’t like to search for award space. The miles earned from this card can be used on any airline for any flight. (And you’ll even earn miles on that flight!)

Chase Sapphire Preferred

Earn 80,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points after you spend $4,000 spend in 3 months

Just getting started in the world of points and miles? The Chase Sapphire Preferred is the best card for you to start with.

With a bonus of 80,000 points after $4,000 spend in the first 3 months and 2x points earned on dining and travel spend, this card truly cannot be beat for getting started!

Learn More

Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

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