Everyone knows that the Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard® comes with a sign up bonus worth $400 in free travel after spending $3,000 in the first three months, and that the card earns 2% back toward travel on all purchases.

Except that those numbers are wrong! The card’s sign up bonus is actually worth $430 and the card actually earns 2.15% 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 to 1.075 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 5% rebate on redeemed Arrival miles, you redeem only 95 miles per dollar of the flight’s cost. Since you earned 2 miles per dollar and spent 95 miles per dollar, you are only out 93 miles per dollar total.
  3. Fly your itinerary and earn airline miles and elite qualifying miles.

Scott already wrote a comprehensive post Why I Got the Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM, but there is actually more value to those chasing the perks of airline elite status. And you can do even better than the 1 cent value 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 5% rebate when using your Arrival miles towards travel purchases. The actual cost is only 22,990 Arrival miles (24200 – 1210) 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 22,990 Arrival miles and earned 484 on the ticket’s purchase, your account balance is 22,506 Arrival miles below where it started, and the ticket is free.

That means we have gotten 1.075 cents per mile (24200/22506) of value from our Arrival miles.

If Arrival miles deliver 1.075 cents of value, then the 40k mile sign up bonus on the Arrival card is worth $430. And the 2 miles per dollar on every purchase are like getting 2.15% 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 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 Plus™ World Elite 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 5% 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 93 Arrival miles dollar to book a free flight, meaning Arrival miles are worth 1.075 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.

Application Link: Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard®

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