Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard Are Worth 1.075 Cents Each Because of This One Quirk

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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®


Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are 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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39 COMMENTS

  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.

    • for AA, as long as you have the AA card associated with your frequent flier account and you use your frequent flier number when redeeming, you get those perks no matter which card you use to pay. AA does not require you to use the card for the purchase, so long as you have the card. I believe it’s the same with Delta.

      For UA, you DO have to use the UA credit card to get the free checked bag, so it would make a difference there.

  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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. This is just not correct.

    Do the math again with a refundable ticket used for the redemption. You’ll see. Refund after redemption.

    That later travel purchase has no effect, if you compare this to a true cash back card, which is what you are effectively arguing.

    I like the theory, but it doesn’t play itself out.

    • This was correct. Now that the rebate is being dropped to 5%, Arrival miles are worth 1.075 cents. The math is that you use 100 to save $1. But on that purchase, you earn 2 points, and you get 5 points back, so you net out using only 93 miles to save a dollar.

      • You’re missing my point. If you refund the ticket, the points for its purchase (but not the redeemed points) are reversed.

        This is the only program requiring another purchase to get your rewards out that I know of. So it’s not fair to compare it to traditional programs without that restriction and say that you get points for the next purchase also. That’s true of every other program out there – but those future purchases just aren’t linked to the redemption.

  8. […] Arrival miles can be redeemed for any travel expense like any flight (no blackouts), taxes and fees on award tickets, hotels, airbnb, car rentals, cruises, and more. After the 10% rebate on all travel redemptions and the fact that you earn 2 miles per dollar on the purchase before you remove it from your account with a redemption, this card offer 2.28% back toward travel on all purchases. […]

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