Barclays Arrival Premier World Elite Mastercard Review: Up to 3% Back Towards Travel During First Year At $15,000 Annual Spending

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The Barclays Arrival® Premier World Elite Mastercard® is a new hybrid travel/cashback rewards card with miles that can be redeemed for both cash or transferred to select mileage partners. Note that this card is different from the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard. Here are the highlights:


  • 75,000 miles each year if you spend $25,000 on purchases.
  • After that, keep earning unlimited 2X miles on every purchase.
  • Global Entry – $100 automatic statement credit for the cost of one Global Entry application fee every five years.
  • Book the best travel deal, no airline, seat or hotel restrictions, and redeem your miles for travel statement credits.
  • Access to over 800 lounges worldwide with Mastercard® Airport Experience provided by LoungeKey, fees apply.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • International Chip and PIN for use at self-service chip terminals around the world.
  • Redeem your miles for travel statement credits, which allow you to book the best travel deal with no airline blackout dates, seat limits, or hotel restrictions.
  • Transfer your miles to participating travel loyalty programs.
  • Complimentary online FICO® score access.
  • $150 annual fee (waived first year).

Bonus details. Currently, there is no upfront sign-up bonus. Instead, they have spending bonuses – Spend $15,000 on purchases and get 15,000 miles. Spend an additional $10,000 on purchases and get an additional 10,000 miles, for a total of 25,000 miles after $25,000 in purchases.

Up to 3% cash back towards travel analysis. You can redeem 10,000 miles for $100 toward all or a portion of your qualifying travel purchase of $100 or more made within the last 120 days. Basically, you pay for any eligible travel purchase on your card (buy airfare, book a hotel, rent a car, etc) and then you use your “miles” afterward to get a cash credit towards that purchase. Travel purchases eligible for redemptions are defined as “airlines, hotels, motels, timeshares, campgrounds, car rental agencies, cruise lines, travel agencies, discount travel sites, trains, buses, taxis, limousines, ferries and your account annual fee”.

So if you spent $15,000 in a year, you could get the 2x miles (30,000 miles) plus the 15,000 miles bonus for a total of 45,000 miles worth $450 towards travel. That’s effective 3% back towards travel on all purchases. The same thing occurs at $25,000 in annual total spending (50,000 miles + 25,000 bonus = 75,000 miles total). In between, at worst you’d hit 2.6% back towards travel. 2.6% to 3% back towards travel is a very high rate for rewards cards.

During the first year, the $150 annual fee is waived. However, in future years it comes back. So I would take the first year and see how you like it.

Here are the calculations that take into account the annual fee (after the first year). At $15,000 annual spend, you would net $300 towards travel (2% back overall). At $25,000 annual spend, you would net $600 towards travel (2.4% back overall). Therefore, if you spend exactly $25,000 a year (average $2,083 a month), then you could get 2.4% back on travel on all purchases. I’m a geek, so I plugged the numbers into a spreadsheet to get the chart above of effective cash back towards travel vs. annual spending. There are basically three zones.

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  • If you don’t spend at least $15,000 a year on this card, you will net worse than 1% cash back towards travel! This card offers very little rewards to light spenders.
  • If you spend between $15,000 and $25,000 a year on this card, you will net a flat 2% cash back towards travel. Not bad, but there are other cards that earn 2% flat with no annual fee.
  • If you spend exactly $25,000 a year on this card, you will net exactly 2.4% cash back towards travel. As you go above that level, your cash back will start to drop slowly but always remain above 2%.

Miles transfer options. The transfer ratio is 1.4 Arrival “miles” to 1 airline mile for the following partners. You may only transfer miles if you are a primary cardmember, and only to a participating travel loyalty program account belonging to you. Note that you earn 2x miles per dollar spent, so that works out to earning 1.43 airline miles per dollar spent. If you spend $15,000 a year on this card, the bonus results in a total of 2.14 airline miles per dollar spent. These numbers do not include the $150 annual fee.

  • Aeromexico
  • Air France/KLM Flying Blue
  • China Eastern
  • Etihad
  • EVA Air
  • Jet Airways
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Qantas

The transfer ratio is 1.7 Arrival “miles” to 1 airline mile for the following partners. Note that you earn 2x miles per dollar spent, so that works out to earning 1.18 airline miles per dollar spent. If you spend $15,000 a year on this card, the bonus results in a total of 1.76 airline miles per dollar spent. These numbers do not include the $150 annual fee.

  • Japan Airlines
  • Air Canada Aeroplan

If you are knowledgeable about the airline miles game and can use one of the internationally-based airlines listed above (no domestic airlines), these rates can be higher than other cards. You’ll still want to hit the $15,000 or $25,000 annual spending marks.

Bottom line. The new Barclays Arrival® Premier World Elite Mastercard is best suited for higher spenders. During the first year, you can get unlimited 3% back towards travel at $15,000 and $25,000 in annual spending. Other notable perks are the ability to convert to select airline miles, and a $100 Global Entry fee credit.

After the first year, a $150 annual fee will apply. Taking the annual fee into account, if you spend more than $15,000 annually on the card ($1,250/month average), you will always net 2% or higher cash back towards travel. Between $25,000 and $33,000 annual spend, you’ll get between 2.3% to 2.4% net cash back towards travel even after taking into account the annual fee. If you do not spend at least $15,000 a year on this year, there are better travel card alternatives.



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Comments

  1. Weak card, IMO.

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