Review of the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®

Brendan Harkness

Brendan Harkness | Reviews

Nov 14, 2017 | Updated Aug 29, 2018

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The Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® is a popular travel rewards credit card. With it you’ll find some of the best card rewards available today.

You’ll get 2X miles per dollar for every purchase you make. You won’t be limited to bonus categories like travel, dining, or gas, like most cards. This is the equivalent of 2.1% cash back as long as you redeem for travel expenses, after getting a 5% redemption bonus.

There’s a sizable signup bonus of 60,000 miles you can earn, for paying the annual fee and spending $5,000 in the first 90 days. Those miles are worth $600, giving you a 12% return on your spending.

You won’t need to pay a fee when you use the card in other countries. And it also has Chip-and-PIN EMV technology, making it useful for all kinds of purchases when traveling abroad.

The Barclays Arrival Plus has an annual fee of $89, but it’s waived for the first year. If you spend $5,000 with the card per year, you’ll be able to offset that annual fee and make some profit on top of that. At least $100 of that must be for travel expenses.

Read on to learn if this travel rewards card is the right choice to help you save some money on the road and in the air.

Barclays Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®
Apply Now

Barclays Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®

For People with
Excellent Credit

  • Annual Fee: $89
  • Interest Rate: 17.99%, 21.99% or 24.99% Variable
Quick Card Facts
  • Signup bonus: 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases and pay the annual fee in the first 90 days
  • Earn 2X miles on all purchases
  • Get 5% miles back to use toward your next redemption, every time you redeem
  • Miles don't expire as long as your account is open, active and in good standing
  • No foreign transaction fees on purchases made while traveling abroad
  • 0% introductory APR for 12 months on balance transfers made within 45 days of account opening
  • Regular purchase and balance transfer APR of 17.74%, 21.74% or 24.74% Variable

Our Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

We give this card 5 out of 5 Stars because it’s one of the best all-around travel credit cards, offering the same reward for every purchase you make

Why we like this card

  • 2X miles per dollar, no matter where you shop or what you buy
  • 60,000 bonus miles for spending $5,000 in the first 90 days
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, including some luxury travel perks
  • Chip-and-PIN EMV functionality for better acceptance outside the U.S.
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Annual fee is waived the first year

Why this card could be better

  • Must redeem for travel expenses to get the best value of 1 cent per mile
  • No transfer partners
  • $89 annual fee

The Barclays Arrival Plus is not bad for travel, but there might be a card that fits your lifestyle better. Check out some alternatives to this card below.

Insider Advice: Using This Card as Part of Your Credit Card Strategy

  • Use it for every purchase: This card provides 2X miles for every purchase you make, rather than being limited to one particular airline, hotel, or travel merchant. So don’t be afraid to use it on non-travel purchases as well to rack up those miles faster.
  • Redeem for travel expenses: Be sure to redeem your miles for travel statement credits, where you’ll get the best value of 1 cent per mile. As long as you redeem for travel credits you’ll be earning at a rate of 2.1% cash back on every purchase. Travel statement credits can only be used to pay for travel expenses from the previous 120 days.
  • Offset the annual fee: The Arrival Plus World Elite has an annual fee of $89, waived the first year. So you should offset that fee every year by earning enough miles to equal it out. The cheapest way to do this is by spending $5,000 on purchases every year to earn 10,000 miles. Then redeem the miles for a $100 travel statement credit. This will pay for the annual fee with a profit of $11.
  • Get the signup bonus: There’s a signup bonus of 60,000 bonus miles ($600) for spending $5,000, a nice deal. So plan ahead to be sure you can accomplish this. A good strategy would be to get this card for an upcoming vacation. You’ll be able to approach or fulfill the signup bonus requirement. And then you can use that bonus to help pay for your trip.
  • Take advantage of the benefits: This card has some convenient extra perks and benefits that can make your trips cheaper and more enjoyable. The most interesting will probably be the Mastercard World Elite Luxury Benefits. Explore this feature, because you’ll find special discounts and upgrades at hotels, complimentary breakfasts and amenities, and access to a travel agent who can help guide you from start to finish.
  • Share your experiences: You can earn more miles and join an exclusive community by sharing your stories with the Barclaycard Travel Community. Get extra miles by describing your trips and providing some pictures. You’ll earn miles and enrich your travel experience at the same time.
  • Pay without being charged extra: The Arrival Plus World Elite is a great card to bring with you outside the country, especially to Europe. It has no foreign transaction fees, so you won’t be charged extra. And it also has both Chip-and-Signature and Chip-and-PIN EMV technology. This will allow it to be used in more terminals abroad, some of which only accept cards with PINs. Remember to always let Barclaycard know before traveling abroad. If you don’t they may put a hold on your card for unusual and suspicious use.
  • Good for general travel spending: If you’re looking for a card to use at a particular airline or hotel chain instead, check out the Best Hotel Credit Cards or the Best Airline Credit Cards.

The Rewards

This card offers 2X miles per dollar for every purchase. You can get a maximum of 1 cent per mile when redeemed for travel statement credits, along with a 5% bonus when you redeem. That comes to the equivalent of 2.1% cash back for every purchase you make, as long as you redeem your miles for the maximum value possible.

Earning

Spending Rewards
  • 2X miles per dollar for every purchase
Signup Bonus Offer
  • 60,000 bonus miles for paying the annual fee and spending $5,000 in the first 90 months after account opening
    • value: $600
    • return on spend: 12%
Redemption Bonus Offer
  • 5% of your miles back every time you redeem them

This card provides 2 miles for every dollar you spend, but these are more like points than miles. They don’t have anything to do with miles traveled, how far they will take you, or frequent flyer miles. Just think of them as points.

So, if you spend the minimum amount to get the sign-up bonus ($5,000) you’ll earn 10,000 miles for those purchases directly. Plus the 60,000 bonus miles. Those 70,000 miles can be cashed in to pay for $700 worth of travel purchases. You’ll also get 5% of those miles back to use for your next redemption, which comes to 3,500 extra miles.

This card has changed a bit, and it used to offer slightly better terms, like a 10% bonus on redeemed miles. The redemption bonus only used to apply to travel expenses, however, and it’s been expanded to now include the other categories. So that’s a positive change to help offset the other differences.

How to Offset the Annual Fee

This card has an annual fee of $89, waived the first year. So you’ll want to earn enough miles to offset that fee and then make some profit on top of that. How much would you need to spend every year to earn enough miles to cover it?

For this example we’ll assume that you’ll redeem your miles in the form of travel statement credits. This will give you the highest monetary value per mile: 1 cent per mile.

At that rate you need to spend $4,450, earning 2 miles per dollar. This will provide a total of 8,900 miles. Those miles are the equivalent of a travel statement credit for a value of $89.

However, travel statement redemptions start at 10,000 miles. So you’ll need to earn at least that many before you can access those funds. You’ll need to spend a total of $5,000 to earn those 10,000 miles. You can then redeem them for a $100 travel statement credit. That will pay for the annual fee with $11 extra. And you’ll get 500 miles to use on your next redemption thanks to the 5% bonus.

Redeeming

Miles can be redeemed in several ways, and they will have different values with different methods. The options are:

  • Travel statement credits (1 cent per mile)
  • Cash back statement credits (.5 cents per mile)
  • Gift cards (.5 cents per mile maximum)
  • Merchandise (value of miles will vary)

Travel Statement Credits

Travel statement credits are definitely the best way to redeem because you’ll earn 1 cent per mile with this method. This comes out to the equivalent of 2% cash back on all of your purchases when you redeem in this way — 2.1% cash back after the 5% bonus. There are some limitations to be aware of, however.

You can only use this credit to pay for qualifying travel purchases from the last 120 days. Travel credit redemptions start at 10,000 miles, which will provide $100 toward an eligible travel purchase.

Purchases made in any of the following categories are eligible for this credit:

Airlines Hotels Motels Buses Taxies
Car Rental Agencies Travel Agencies Discount Travel Sites Trains Cruise Lines
Limousines Campgrounds Ferries Timeshares

You’ll earn the most value for your miles with this method. So we recommend that you always redeem your miles for travel statement credits.

Cash Back Statement Credits

Cash back statement credits start at 5,000 miles for $25. This means you’ll only be earning .5 cents per mile with this method. That’s only half as much as for travel statement credits.

These credits will simply reduce your account balance, you don’t need to use them to pay for specific purchases. So in this respect they are more flexible than the travel statement credits above. But since you’ll get so much more when you redeem for travel credits, we advise that you avoid redeeming for cash back statement credits.

Gift Cards

Redemptions for gift cards start at 5,000 miles for $25. So you’ll only be earning .5 cents per mile, just like for cash back statement credits. Some particular gift card deals may offer an even lesser value.

Again, we recommend that you avoid this method and always plan to redeem your miles as travel statement credits.

Merchandise

You can redeem your miles to pay for the purchase of particular items. But the value you get per mile will vary and is usually very low with this method.

Stick with the travel credit redemption method. You can be sure that you’ll always get 1 cent per mile, which is the maximum possible with this card.

The Benefits

This card is available at the highly-rewarding World Elite Mastercard level, but the level of service you get will depend on your creditworthiness. You may be offered a lower level of service, like World Mastercard. Check the Guide to Benefits that arrives with your card to learn which benefits you have access to.

Share Stories, Earn Miles

Take part in the Barclaycard Travel Community to enhance your travel experiences. You’ll earn more miles by posting your original travel stories, or getting “kudos” from other registered members.

There are a variety of ways to earn points in this way. You can:

  • Earn 500 miles by completing your member profile
  • Earn 150 miles for posting a travel story of at least 100 words accompanied by a photo
  • Earn 10 miles per detail for adding details to the stories
  • Earn 10 miles every time your story is “kudoed” by another member

This can be a fun way to earn some extra miles. But you’ll have to decide if it’s worth it to post your vacation stories for $1.50 in travel credits each.

Mastercard World Elite Luxury Travel Benefits

You’ll have access to a wide variety of convenient and money-saving services through the World Elite Luxury Travel benefit. These include:

  • 24/7 access to a travel advisor
  • discounts and upgrades at airlines and hotels
  • elite status at participating car rentals
  • at participating resorts:
    • complimentary breakfast for two
    • room upgrades
    • amenities like food and beverages

The Mastercard Luxury Hotels & Resorts portfolio is quite large and gives cardholders access to exclusive deals on travel. And you’ll frequently find high-end hotel rooms marked down. You can use Mastercard’s travel service to search for practically any form of travel you might want:

flights hotel rooms cruises rental car agencies chauffeured cars vacation packages private jets

There are also a variety of special offers that come and go throughout the year which can be very valuable. Some examples include:

  • Get up to a 15% discount at over 100 participating off-site airport parking facilities
  • Stay 3 nights at a participating hotel chain and get your 4th night free
  • Stay 2 nights at a participating hotel chain and get a $50 spa credit and a welcome drink for two
  • Stay at a particular hotel chain to get a guaranteed room upgrade, a bottle of wine, and a cheese plate
  • Get a complimentary room upgrade, a 30-minute Swan paddle boat rental, and other Disney benefits (at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort)
  • Get an upgrade and a 5% discount at a participating car rental agency

Search through Mastercard’s World Elite Luxury Travel Benefits yourself. Or use Mastercard’s travel booking service to plan your next trip.

World Elite Mastercard® Concierge Service

Call 24/7 for all sorts of non-emergency assistance. Includes pre-trip planning, getting reservations at premier restaurants, finding hard-to-find items, and much more. This personal assistant is always available by calling the number on the back of the card.

Free Access to One of Your FICO® Credit Scores

Easily keep track of one version of your FICO credit score online, and get alerts if it changes. We’re pretty sure that Barclaycard will use the FICO Score 8 from your TransUnion credit report. If you can confirm this, let us know in the comments.

Many issuers today will offer free access to one of your FICO credit scores. But if you don’t have another way to check your TransUnion score this card is a good option for that.

Chip-and-Signature and Chip-and-Pin Technology

This card has Chip EMV technology for added security when making purchases. That’s unlike many cards issued in the U.S., which only have Chip-and-Signature. The PIN function of this card makes it usable at terminals around the world that only accept PINs and not signatures.

Most countries around the world now use this EMV technology. Many attended checkout terminals will use Chip-and-Signature. But self-service terminals, like those at gas pumps and ticket kiosks, often take extra security measures. They will sometimes require a Chip-and-PIN card.

You will be prompted to set a 4-digit PIN when you activate your card, either online or by phone. You should choose something you will easily remember.

Take note that after you set your PIN you will need to activate it. Use your card at a Chip-and-Signature terminal with a cashier. Then sign for your purchase to activate it. This will enable the PIN function, and it will not work until you activate it in this way. If you ever change your PIN later on, you will need to activate it again like this.

If you forget your PIN you can reset it online, or you can call the number on your card and request to have it mailed to you.

Your PIN can also be used to take out cash advances at ATMs. But we do not recommend this because you’ll immediately start accruing interest at the very high cash advance APR. If you absolutely have to take out a cash advance, try to pay it back as soon as possible.

Remember to always let Barclaycard know before traveling abroad. Otherwise they could put a hold on your card for unusual and suspicious use. Read more about EMV technology to learn why this Chip-and-PIN function might be important for you.

Travel Benefits

The Arrival Plus World Elite comes with a nice variety of travel benefits and protections. They’re available to help out in case anything goes wrong while traveling. These include:

  • Mastercard Global and Travel Assistance Services
  • Travel Accident Insurance
  • Baggage Delay Insurance
  • Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver

Shopping Benefits

There are also benefits to protect the purchases you make with this card. Included are:

  • Extended Warranties
  • Purchase Security in case an item is broken or stolen
  • Price Protection in case you find an item you bought being advertised for a lesser price (you can be reimbursed for the difference)

Other Benefits

This card includes a few other minor benefits not mentioned here. So if you want to learn more you can read through a full description of the benefits of the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard.

The Costs & Fees

Annual Fee Intro APR for Balance Transfers Regular Purchase APR Regular Balance Transfer APR Cash Advance APR
$89 0% for 12 months (on balance transfers made within 45 days of account opening) 17.99%, 21.99% or 24.99% Variable 17.99%, 21.99% or 24.99% Variable 27.24% Variable
Balance Transfer Fee Cash Advance Fee Foreign Transaction Fee
3%, $5 minimum 5%, $10 minimum 0%
Penalty APR Late Fee Returned Payment Fee
See Terms Up to $37 Up to $37

This card provides an introductory 0% APR offer for 12 months, but only for balance transfers. Any purchases you make will begin accruing interest in the following billing period. However, we recommend that you completely avoid interest by paying off your balance in full every month.

Take note that there is no foreign transaction fee here, which is a great feature to have on a travel credit card. This means you can bring it with you on trips outside the country without having to worry about an extra cost. That’s usually 3% extra on most cards. The lack of a foreign transaction fee is especially useful in combination with this card’s Chip-and-PIN feature, which lets this card be used at more terminals outside the U.S.

The Bottom Line

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® is a travel rewards card for people who spend plenty of money and travel regularly. You’ll have to be sure to travel enough to make the annual fee and benefits worthwhile.

2 miles for every purchase is quite rewarding compared to most cards. And there are many extra benefits for cardholders who travel frequently. That comes to 2.1% cash back for every purchase you make, no matter what category, after the 5% redemption bonus. That’s a pretty high value relative to many other reward credit cards.

Remember that you’ll need to spend at least $5,000 with the card each year. That will let you offset the annual fee.

Be sure to always redeem your miles for travel statement credits, rather than anything else. That’s the only way you’ll earn 1 cent per mile, which will give you the most bang for your buck. Pay close attention to your benefits, especially the World Elite Mastercard Luxury Travel benefits. These include all sorts of complimentary services and amenities. They can make your trips much more enjoyable, whether you’re on the road, in the air, or on the sea.

If you’re planning a vacation, a good strategy is to get this card to pay for your upcoming travel expenses. The spending you do on the vacation will help you get close to or reach the 40,000-mile sign-up bonus. And you won’t need to worry about an extra fee on purchases if you’re outside the U.S. You can then use those miles to get a nice discount on your vacation.

How to Apply for the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard

Want to apply for this card or learn more? Just click the name or Apply button below.

You’ll be taken to apply through Barclaycard, who will usually pull your TransUnion credit report. Take note that this card requires excellent credit. So you’ll need to have a relatively good credit history and financial situation.

Qualifications and Requirements

  • Must be 18 to apply
  • Personal identifying information, including SSN, email address, and phone number
  • Total annual income, and source of income
  • Monthly mortgage/rent payment
Barclays Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®
Apply Now

Barclays Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®

For People with
Excellent Credit

  • Annual Fee: $89
  • Interest Rate: 17.99%, 21.99% or 24.99% Variable
Quick Card Facts
  • Signup bonus: 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases and pay the annual fee in the first 90 days
  • Earn 2X miles on all purchases
  • Get 5% miles back to use toward your next redemption, every time you redeem
  • Miles don't expire as long as your account is open, active and in good standing
  • No foreign transaction fees on purchases made while traveling abroad
  • 0% introductory APR for 12 months on balance transfers made within 45 days of account opening
  • Regular purchase and balance transfer APR of 17.74%, 21.74% or 24.74% Variable

Alternatives to the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard

Chase Sapphire Preferred

The Chase Sapphire Preferred (Review) is one of the more popular travel credit cards. It has a very similar annual fee to the Arrival Plus at $95, waived the first year.

The Sapphire Preferred provides:

  • 2X points per dollar on travel and dining
  • 1X point per dollar on all other purchases
  • Signup bonus: 50,000 points for spending $4,000 in purchases in the first 3 months
  • 25% point bonus when redeeming for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards

So the rewards program is not as valuable and versatile as the Arrival Plus. That card offers 2 miles per dollar for every purchase no matter what it is, with a 5% bonus every time you redeem. But the Sapphire Preferred makes your points 25% more valuable when you redeem them through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

This helps to offset the fact that the Sapphire Preferred only offers 2 points per dollar on some purchases. And it means that you effectively earn 2.5% cash back when you earn points at the 2X rate and redeem them through Chase Ultimate Rewards. This beats out the effective 2.1% cash back rate you get with the Arrival Plus.

The signup bonuses are similar. But the Sapphire Preferred offers a bit more with 50,000 bonus points. Those can be redeemed for $625 through Chase Ultimate Rewards. The Arrival Plus offers the equivalent of $600 for spending $5,000. So it’s harder to get and you’ll also earn slightly less from it.

The Sapphire Preferred allows you to transfer your points to a variety of frequent traveler programs. That includes both airlines and hotels. But the Arrival Plus does not. These transfers can in some cases let you get much more value for your points. But you should explore these options before assuming they will work for you.

The extra benefits between the two cards are pretty similar. They both offer a basic set of travel and shopping protections, along with special offers and discounts on travel. The Sapphire Preferred has the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, a way to find travel services and deals. The Arrival Plus provides access to Mastercard World Elite Luxury Travel benefits, which are similar.

The Sapphire Preferred has no introductory 0% APR offers. But you will get a 0% APR for 12 months for balance transfers with the Arrival Plus. So if you want to transfer a balance to pay off at no interest, the Arrival Plus would be the right move as far as these two cards go.

The Sapphire Preferred card is a good choice to bring with you outside the country because it has no foreign transaction fees. It also has a higher potential effective cash back rate of 2.5%. However, the Sapphire Preferred only comes with Chip-and-Signature EMV technology, and not Chip-and-PIN. This will limit its usefulness in other countries, where some unattended terminals only accept PIN-enabled cards. The Arrival Plus has the advantage in this arena.

These are both good travel credit cards. And it’s impossible to say that one is objectively better than the other for everybody. For a more thorough comparison of these cards, read The Chase Sapphire Preferred vs The Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Card.

Capital One Venture Rewards Card

The Capital One Venture Rewards Card (Review) has a similar reward structure to the Arrival Plus.

In total, it offers:

  • 2X miles per dollar on every purchase
  • Signup bonus: 50,000 points for spending $3,000 in the first 3 months after account opening

These cards provide the same reward for every purchase. This makes them both very versatile in how you can use them. They both have an effective cash back rate of about 2%, as long as you redeem for travel statement credits. The Venture Rewards has a significantly lower annual fee, however. It’s only $59 and waived the first year — $30 less than the Arrival Plus.

You’ll get a 12-month 0% introductory interest rate for balance transfers with the Arrival Plus. But the Venture Rewards card offers no introductory rates, either for balance transfers or purchases.

Both cards have basically the same redemption offer. They provide the best value (1 cent per mile) when you redeem your miles for travel statement credits. So in this case they are exactly the same, allowing you to earn 2 miles per dollar on any and all purchases. But the Arrival Plus will give back 5% of every redemption you make, while the Venture card has no such deal.

When it comes to the extra benefits, these cards are also similar. The Venture Rewards card offers the Visa Signature program. That comes with various travel benefits and discounts. And the Arrival Plus has Mastercard Luxury Travel benefits. You’ll find many of the same perks with both cards.

The Venture Rewards and Arrival Plus have no foreign transaction fees, so you can use them outside the country without being charged extra. However, only the Arrival Plus comes with both Chip-and-Signature and Chip-and-PIN EMV technology. This makes it more useful when traveling abroad, where some kiosks and terminals require a PIN-enabled card.

For the most part these cards are more alike than different, with the same reward and redemption structure. If all you care about is the miles, the Venture card might be right for you because it has the lower annual fee. But if you can make good use of the extra perks and benefits, or need a Chip-and-PIN card, the Arrival Plus will be better for you. You’ll need to examine your spending habits to see which card fits in better.

Read more about the similarities and differences between these cards in The Capital One Venture Rewards Card vs The Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite.

Discover it Miles

The Discover it Miles (Review) is a bit simpler than the Arrival Plus, but it is still very rewarding.

Cardholders will get:

  • 1.5 miles per dollar for every purchase
  • Cashback Match: get double the total miles earned in your first year

So it only provides 1.5 miles per dollar, but it makes up for it by having no annual fee at all. This means any rewards you earn are pure profit, as long as you avoid interest and late fees.

You’ll get a 14-month 0% introductory APR for both purchases and balance transfers. Compare this to the Arrival Plus, which offers a 12-month 0% APR for balance transfers only.

You can redeem your miles with the Discover it to pay for travel expenses, just like the Arrival Plus, where you’ll get 1 cent per dollar. This means you’ll be earning at an effective cash back rate of 1.5%, as long as you redeem your miles for travel statement credits. The Arrival Plus will give back 5% of your miles every time you redeem, but the Discover card has no offer like that.

However, you can also redeem your Discover miles for statement credits for the full value of 1 cent per mile. This is a great feature because it means you don’t have to wait until you have travel expenses to redeem your miles. The Discover card is very flexible when it comes to redemptions, compared to other travel credit cards.

Both of these cards offer a nice signup bonus, but you could argue that the Discover it Miles has the better one.

With the it Miles card, Discover will double the total amount of miles you earn after your first year. That means you will effectively have earned 3 miles per dollar all year. That’s the equivalent of 3% cash back on every purchase you make, which is a great deal.

So if you racked up 40,000 miles after that first year, suddenly you’ll find yourself with another 40,000 miles to make use of. This is a very valuable benefit because it will scale up to match your spending for the entire year.

The Arrival Plus has a good, but more traditional, signup bonus: 60,000 miles for spending $5,000 in the first 90 days. This will provide the bonus more quickly than the Discover card. But the Discover card has the potential to provide a much larger bonus if you spend a lot over the course of the year. So if you plan to spend a whole lot in your first year, the Discover it Miles would end up being very rewarding.

For the extra perks and benefits, you’ll get more value from the Arrival Plus (this is expected because the Discover card has no annual fee to pay). The Discover it Miles has a decent set of basic travel and purchase protections. It also has some nice features like no penalty APR and no fee for your first late payment. But the Arrival Plus has benefits that can consistently make your trips cheaper and more comfortable. Especially the discounts and offers you’ll find in the Mastercard Luxury Travel benefit.

Overall, if you aren’t sure if you’ll travel much throughout the year, the Discover it Miles would be the wiser pick. You won’t have to worry about paying the annual fee when you’re not using the card. But if you plan to travel quite a bit and spend thousands of dollars per year on it, you’ll earn more with the Arrival Plus. And you’ll also be able to take advantage of all the extra benefits to make your trips more enjoyable.

Airline or Hotel-Branded Credit Cards

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite is a general-purpose travel credit card. This means it’s good to use with any travel service, airline, hotel chain, car rental agency, cruise line, etc.

There are other cards, however, that are brand-specific. They’ll provide their best rewards only when you’re making purchases from that specific brand. They will also offer exclusive offers, discounts, and complimentary services that you often can’t get anywhere else. And this can make some of these cards very valuable. Airline cards will have airline-related benefits, hotel cards will have hotel-related benefits, etc.

If you often fly with American Airlines, for example, you might like the AAdvantage® Aviator™ Red Mastercard®, which provides:

  • 2X miles for every dollar you spend with American Airlines (equivalent to 2% cash back)
  • 1X mile per dollar for every other purchase (equivalent to 1% cash back)
  • Signup bonus: 60,000 miles for paying the annual fee and making a purchase in the first 90 days
  • 3,000 Elite Qualifying Dollars every year that you spend $25,000 on purchases
  • 10% of your redeemed miles back, up to 10,000 miles back per year

Other benefits include:

  • free checked bags for you and up to 4 companions
  • Group 1 or 2 boarding privileges,
  • a 25% discount on in-flight amenities.

You’ll find benefits like free checked bags and express boarding privileges on many airline cards.

For a hotel credit card example, take the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express (Review), which is one of the most rewarding credit cards available.

This card provides:

  • Up to 5X Starpoints per dollar at participating Starwood Preferred Guest locations (depending on SPG status)
  • 2X Starpoints per dollar at participating Marriott Rewards hotels
  • 1X Starpoint per dollar for all other purchases
  • Signup bonus: 25,000 points for spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months

This card will let you earn free night stays and other rewards for a surprisingly low cost. We’ve calculated that you can potentially earn at least 13% cash back with this card if you earn and redeem points in the right ways. And this doesn’t even include the highest status levels.

You’ll also get a variety of great benefits, like:

  • free in-room WiFi
  • access to exclusive experiences through the VIP moments program
  • the ability to transfer your points to other programs at a great rate
  • Starwood Preferred Guest member status, which comes with an expansive set of discounts and complimentary services

This is one of the better hotel credit cards, to be sure, but other brands have some good offers as well.

Most of the large airlines and hotel chains are associated with credit cards. In many cases you’ll have a few options to choose from with different annual fees and benefits. A brand-specific credit card might be perfect if you have a favorite airline or hotel chain. Or even if you just find yourself making most of your travel purchases with one brand.

Check out our picks for the Best Airline Credit Cards, or look through the Best Hotel Credit Cards.

Looking for other travel credit cards? Check out our picks for the Best Travel Credit Cards.

How do you like your Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®? Does it save you money and make your trips more pleasant? Leave your own review for other visitors, we’d love to hear from you!

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What Are the World’s Most Exclusive Luxury Credit Cards? Here Are 8
Susan Shain | Oct 15, 2018

Want to see how the other half lives? Here are the world's most exclusive credit cards — one even has diamonds on it! We also share 3 you can apply for.

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Kat Tretina
Review of the Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students
Kat Tretina | Oct 11, 2018

The Citi ThankYou Preferred Card for College Students is made for limited credit and offers 2X points on dining and entertainment, plus other benefits.

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Susan Shain
Can You Make a Mortgage Payment By Credit Card? Everything You Need to Know
Susan Shain | Oct 05, 2018

Ready to make a mortgage payment by credit card? Here's how to do so with minimal fees — plus the seven best credit cards to pay your mortgage with.

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