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I’ve used the rewards from my Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard® to get $450 worth of free flights, award booking fees, and motels in the last few weeks.

You can do even better. You can get $500 in free flights, accommodations, car rentals, and other travel expenses in three easy steps:

  1. Get the Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard®.
  2. Spend $3,000 on the card in the first 90 days. Make sure at least $500 of this is made up of travel expenses that you want to be free!
  3. Redeem your Arrival miles online in a few minutes. You’ll see $500 worth of travel expenses you put on the card disappear as soon as the next day.

1. Get the Arrival Plus

The first step is to apply for the Arrival Plus.

I got the card last month for the sign up bonus worth $456 in free travel, the double miles on all purchases, the free subscription to TripIt Pro, and the ability to redeem miles for any flight on any airline without searching for award space.

For more information on my thinking, see Why I Got the Arrival Plus.

I was instantly approved with a credit line of $5,000, and my card came in the mail in just a few days.

What are steps two and three?

2. Spend $3,000 in the First 90 Days, at Least $500 of which is on Travel

The next step is to use the card for your daily purchases until you hit at least $3,000 in the first 90 days, which will unlock the card’s 40,000 mile bonus.

Since the card earns double miles on all purchases, after spending $3,000, you will have 46,000 Arrival miles in your account.

Make sure that at least $500 of the money you put on the card is spent on travel expenses. Travel expenses include:

  • Airlines
  • Travel Agencies & Tour Operators
  • Hotels
  • Motels
  • Resorts
  • Cruise Lines
  • Passenger Railways
  • Car Rental Agencies

Some of the travel expenses that I’ve used the card for include:

  • a motel stay on which I could not have used points
  • a car rental
  • flights on US Airways and Southwest that would have been poor value redemptions with other miles
  • a change fee on a United award

Arrival miles are worth 1.14 cents each when redeemed for travel expenses and far less when redeemed for other purchases, so it’s imperative to use the card for at least $500 worth of travel expenses in order to use our 46,000 Arrival miles to remove the $500 worth of travel expenses.

3. Redeem the Arrival Miles for $500 Worth of Free Travel

Redeeming Arrival miles is incredibly simple. All the travel purchases we made in the course of meeting our minimum spending requirement are put together in one place in our online Barclaycard account, and we can use miles to remove those charges from our bill any time in the 90 days after making the purchases.

Upon making a travel redemption, 10% of the miles used for the redemption are automatically rebated to your account.

I just got $448 of free travel with a few clicks. (You can get $500 in free travel because you’ll have more miles than I did at the time of my redemptions.)

After signing into my Barclaycard account, I clicked on Manage Rewards where my Arrival miles balance was shown. If you’ve completed steps one and two, your balance should be 46,000+ Arrival miles.

Screen Shot 2014-03-24 at 2.00.04 AM

On the page dedicated to rewards, choose to “Pay yourself back for travel” because as I mentioned, that is the highest value redemption of Arrival miles.

Screen Shot 2014-03-24 at 2.00.15 AM

On the next screen, a list of all travel purchases for the last 90 days will appear.

Screen Shot 2014-03-24 at 2.05.55 AM

Mine (above) included two Southwest flights, a motel booking through, and a $100 change fee on a United award that I paid to switch an award to Lufthansa First Class.

If you click “Redeem now” next to any charge, you are given redemption options to remove the charge in its entirety or to remove $25 increments.

Screen Shot 2014-03-24 at 2.06.18 AM

The best value is always the largest $25 increment available. (Tell us why in the comments; Bill told us why here.) You can do one redemption at a time or bunch several together at once.

You are taken to a final confirmation screen where your current balance, the miles needed for your redemption, and your new balance are shown.

Here’s me about to do three redemptions at once to get $398 in free travel:

Screen Shot 2014-03-24 at 2.07.20 AM

Immediately after clicking “Place your order”, you are given an instant 10% rebate of the miles you just redeemed. In the above example I redeemed 39,800 miles for free travel and got back 3,980 immediately.

Screen Shot 2014-03-24 at 2.07.38 AM

With your new balance, make more redemptions. My 10% rebate put me over the 5,000 mile threshold needed to make another $50 redemption.

Screen Shot 2014-03-24 at 2.08.27 AM

My $398 redemption and $50 redemption combined for $448 in free travel.

For every redemption, you will get an email like this:

Screen Shot 2014-03-24 at 1.50.19 PM

The email explains that your statement credits will appear in 5-7 business days. Mine actually appeared the next day in my account.

Screen Shot 2014-03-24 at 11.55.36 PM

My redemptions were reflected in my current balance being less than my statement balance even though I hadn’t yet made a payment.

Screen Shot 2014-03-24 at 11.55.16 PM

The Math of $500 in Free Travel

You spend $3,000 on the card at 2 miles per dollar for 6,000 miles from spending. That spending unlocks a 40,000 miles bonus for 46,000 total Arrival miles.

You redeem 45,000 Arrival miles for $450 off one or more travel expenses, and you have 5,500 Arrival miles left in your account.

46k balance – 45k redemption = 1k, 1k + 4.5k [instant 10% rebate] = 5,500

You can redeem 5,000 of those miles for $50 off another travel expense.

A $450 redemption plus a $50 redemption is $500 in free travel!

And you’ll still have 1,000 Arrival miles left.

5.5k balance – 5k redemption = 500, 500 + 500 [instant 10% rebate] = 1,000

It’s that easy to put $500 back in your pocket in three easy steps.

Complementary Card

Traditional miles and hotel points are better than the Arrival Plus for some redemptions, and Arrival miles are better for some redemptions. For that reason, I always say that the Arrival Plus is extremely complementary to other rewards cards you have:

  • You can use Arrival miles to pay taxes/fees on traditional airline awards.
  • You can use Arrival miles to pay for positioning flights or low cost carriers when traditional miles are not an option.
  • You can use Arrival miles to pay for lodging when hotel points are not a viable option or when you prefer not to stay in a chain hotel.

How have you spent your $500 in free travel for the Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard®. Do you use the Arrival card instead of cards that earn traditional miles or to complement those cards?

Full Offer

Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard® with 40,000 bonus miles after spending $3k in the first 90 days

  • 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 PlusTM World Elite MasterCard®


Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

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 75,000 points after $4,000 spend in the first 3 months, 5x points on travel booked through the Chase Travel Portal and 3x points on restaurants, streaming services, and online groceries (excluding Target, Walmart, and wholesale clubs), this card truly cannot be beat for getting started!

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