Review of the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®

Brendan Harkness

Brendan Harkness | Reviews

Nov 14, 2017

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The Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® is a popular travel rewards credit card, featuring some of the best rewards available today.

You’ll get 2 miles per dollar for every purchase you make, rather than just on travel, dining, or some other category like most cards. This is the equivalent of 2% cash back as long as you redeem your rewards for travel expenses. There’s also a sizable signup bonus of 40,000 miles you can earn, and you won’t need to pay a fee when you use the card in other countries. It also has Chip-and-PIN EMV technology, making it useful for all kinds of purchases when traveling abroad.

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

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

Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®
Apply Now

Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®

For People with
Excellent Credit

  • Annual Fee: $89 - Waived first year
  • Interest Rate: 16.99%, 20.99% or 23.99% Variable
Quick Card Facts
  • Earn 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days — that's enough to redeem for a $400 travel statement credit toward an eligible travel purchase.
  • 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. After that, a variable APR will apply, 16.99%, 20.99% or 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness. There is a fee for balance transfers.

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, good for making purchases with any travel service. The annual fee is quite small, and you can completely offset it if you spend at least $5,000 per year and redeem your miles for travel statement credits.

The great thing about this card is that you’ll earn 2 miles per dollar for every purchase, whether it’s related to travel or not. You’ll need to redeem those miles for travel expenses if you want to get the best value from them, but this should be easy because your miles don’t expire as long as your account is active and in good standing, so you can hold onto them until you can use them.

There’s a nice signup bonus of 40,000 bonus miles, which is the equivalent of a $400 travel statement credit. There are also a variety of useful benefits, especially the Mastercard World Elite Luxury Benefits. These include discounts and upgrades at airlines, hotels, and other travel merchants, a variety of complimentary services, and a travel adviser you can call at any time to get help pre, during, or post-trip.

The Arrival Plus World Elite has no foreign transaction fee, so it’s a great choice to bring when traveling abroad, and it also has both Chip-and-PIN and Chip-and-Signature capability. This PIN feature is particularly useful when traveling, because many countries outside the U.S. have terminals that only accept PIN cards. So this card can be used abroad for no extra fee: a win-win compared to many other cards, which don’t have PINs and also charge a fee for foreign transactions.

Overall, a great card to use on general travel spending because you’ll earn miles no matter where you use it and it’s easy to redeem them too. Using this card can be as simple as that, but you can get even more value by digging into the extra perks and benefits and taking advantage of them whenever possible.

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

  • This card provides 2 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.
  • Be sure to redeem your miles for travel statement credits, where you’ll get the best value at 1 cent per mile. As long as you redeem for travel credits you’ll be earning at a rate of 2% cash back on every purchase. These travel statement credits can be used to pay for any eligible travel expenses, and this category is quite broad (see the Redeeming section below). The other options — cash back statement credits, gift cards, and merchandise — will only provide .5 cents per mile at best. But take note that travel statement credits can only be used to pay for travel expenses from the previous 120 days.
  • 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, and redeeming them for a $100 travel statement credit. This will for pay for the annual fee with a profit of $11.
  • There is a signup bonus of 40,000 bonus miles for spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days, and this is the equivalent of a statement credit of $400. 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’ll be able to use that signup bonus to help pay for your trip.
  • This card has some convenient extra perks and benefits that can make your trips cheaper and more enjoyable. These include a variety of travel and shopping protections, but 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. Keep checking back on this benefit, because special deals at certain hotels and resorts are offered constantly.
  • 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, and enrich your travel experience at the same time.
  • The Arrival Plus World Elite is a great card to bring with you outside the country because it 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. When you activate your card, you’ll be prompted to set a PIN. After you change your PIN, you will need to use your card at a Chip-and-Signature terminal and sign for a purchase before your PIN function will be active.
  • This card has no foreign transaction fee, another reason why it’s so good to bring with you outside the country. This means you can spend freely when traveling abroad without worrying about an extra cost, unlike many other credit cards that would charge an extra 3% on those purchases. Remember to always let Barclaycard know before traveling abroad, or they may put a hold on your card for unusual and suspicious use.
  • This is a general-use travel credit card, which means it’s good to use for all kinds of purchases and at any airline, hotel, or travel merchant. If you’re looking for a card to use at a particular airline or hotel chain, check out the Best Hotel Credit Cards or the Best Airline Credit Cards.

The Rewards

This card offers 2 miles per dollar for every purchase and will provide a maximum of 1 cent per mile when redeemed for travel statement credits. That is the equivalent of 2% cash back for every purchase you make, as long as you redeem your miles for the maximum value possible.

Earning

This card provides:

  • 2 miles per dollar on every purchase you make
  • A 40,000 mile sign-up bonus for spending $3,000 in the first 90 days
  • 5% of your miles back every time you redeem them
  • Miles that won’t expire as long as your account is open, active, and in good standing

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 ($3,000) you’ll earn 6,000 miles for those purchases, plus the 40,000 bonus miles. Those 46,000 miles can be cashed in to pay for $460 worth of travel purchases. You’ll also get 5% of those miles back to use for your next redemption, which comes to 2,300 extra miles.

This card has changed a bit recently, and it used to offer slightly better terms. A 10% bonus on redeemed miles, and lower thresholds for travel and cash back redemptions: 5,000 miles and 2,500 miles, respectively. 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. So 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, which 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, which will provide a total of 8,900 miles. Those miles are the equivalent of a travel statement credit for a value of $89, which will offset the annual fee on this card. You’ll also get a 5% bonus on that redemption, which comes to 445 extra miles you can apply to your next redemption.

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. So you’ll need to spend a total of $5,000 to earn those 10,000 miles, which you’ll be able to redeem 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 when redeemed in different ways. 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 your miles 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. 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

Since you’ll earn the most value for your miles with this method, 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, which means you’ll only be earning .5 cents per mile with this method — that’s 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. 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, where 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 receive 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 what benefits you have access to.

Share Stories, Earn Miles

Take part in the Barclaycard Travel Community and 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 discounts and upgrades at airlines and hotels, elite status at participating car rentals, and 24/7 access to a travel advisor.

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 flights, hotel rooms, cruises, vacation packages, rental car agencies, chauffeured cars, and even private jets. As part of this service, at participating resorts you’ll get a complimentary breakfast for two, room upgrades, amenities like food and beverages, and more.

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, like 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. 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. Most attended checkout terminals will use Chip-and-Signature, but self-service terminals, like those at gas pumps and ticket kiosks, take extra security measures and 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 by using your card at a Chip-and-Signature terminal with a cashier, and signing for your purchase. 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 so they don’t 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 to help out in case anything goes wrong while traveling. These include Mastercard Global and Travel Assistance Services, travel accident insurance, baggage delay insurance, and an auto rental collision damage waiver.

Shopping Benefits

There are also benefits to protect the purchases you make with this card, like extended warranties, purchase security in case an item is broken or stolen, and 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 - Waived first year 0% for 12 months (on balance transfers made within 45 days of account opening) 16.99%, 20.99% or 23.99% Variable 16.99%, 20.99% or 23.99% Variable 26.24% Variable
Balance Transfer Fee Cash Advance Fee Foreign Transaction Fee
3%, Minimum $5 5%, Minimum $10 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, which is usually 3% 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 card for people who spend plenty of money and travel regularly, 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% cash back for every purchase you make, no matter what category, and 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 and redeem your miles for travel statement credits in order to 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 that will make your trips much more enjoyable, whether you’re on the road, in the air, or on the sea.

If you don’t already own this card and are 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.

Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®
Apply Now

Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®

For People with
Excellent Credit

  • Annual Fee: $89 - Waived first year
  • Interest Rate: 16.99%, 20.99% or 23.99% Variable
Quick Card Facts
  • Earn 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days — that's enough to redeem for a $400 travel statement credit toward an eligible travel purchase.
  • 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. After that, a variable APR will apply, 16.99%, 20.99% or 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness. There is a fee for balance transfers.

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, with a very similar annual fee to the Arrival Plus at $95, waived the first year.

The Sapphire Preferred provides 2 points per dollar on travel and dining, so it’s not as rewarding and versatile as the Arrival Plus, which offers 2 miles per dollar for every purchase no matter what it is.

The Arrival Plus will provide 5% of your miles back every time you redeem, but the Sapphire Preferred will make your points 25% more valuable whenever you redeem them through Chase Ultimate Rewards. This helps to offset the fact that the Sapphire Preferred only offers 2 points per dollar on certain 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% cash back rate you get with the Arrival Plus.

The signup bonuses are similar, but the Sapphire Preferred offers more with 50,000 bonus points for spending $4,000 in the first 3 months, which can be redeemed for $625 through Chase Ultimate Rewards. The Arrival Plus offers the equivalent of $400 for spending $3,000, so it’s easier to get but you’ll also earn less from it.

The Sapphire Preferred allows you to transfer your points to a variety of frequent traveler programs, including 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, both offering 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, while the Arrival Plus provides access to Mastercard World Elite Luxury Travel benefits.

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, just like the Arrival Plus, and 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.

These are both good travel credit cards, and it’s impossible to say that one is objectively better than the other. 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

Just like the Arrival Plus, the Capital One Venture Rewards Card (Review) provides 2 miles per dollar on every purchase you make, which makes them both very versatile in how you can use them. They both have an effective cash back rate of 2%, as long as you redeem for travel statement credits. The Venture Rewards has a significantly lower annual fee, however, which is $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 the same redemption offer, providing the best value 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 giving the best redemption value (1 cent per mile) when you use them for travel expenses. 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, the Arrival Plus wins thanks to the Mastercard Luxury Travel benefits. You’ll get a somewhat similar service through the Visa Signature program on the Venture Rewards card, but the offers and discounts are likely to be better through Mastercard’s program. Both cards provide a concierge you can call any time to get non-emergency assistance.

The Venture Rewards and Arrival Plus both 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, which 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. 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 with the Discover it Miles. 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.

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, meaning 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: 40,000 miles for spending $3,000 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, along with 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 because 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, offering 2 miles per dollar on every purchase no matter where it is. 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 and will 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 Airways, for example, you might like the AAdvantage® Aviator™ Red Mastercard®, which provides 2 miles for every dollar you spend with American Airways, and when you redeem those miles you can get a cash back equivalent of at least 2%. Other benefits include free checked bags for you and up to 4 companions, Group 1 or 2 boarding privileges, and 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 5 points per dollar at Starwood properties, depending on your status level, which 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, which include 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, and especially the expansive set of discounts and complimentary services you’ll get from being an automatic Starwood Preferred Guest member. 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, and in many cases you’ll have a few options to choose from with different annual fees. If you have a favorite airline or hotel chain, or just find yourself making most of your travel purchases through one, a brand-specific credit card might be perfect for you.

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!

Was this helpful?
  • Tyler Taylor

    needed this info. the way they sent me an email telling me of the upgrade had me thinking i was upgraded to a card that already existed, not true i see. the internet has alot of flaws but, this is one of the many things i do love about it(information source)!

  • Glad you found the review helpful Tyler!

    • Doug

      Let me tell you what happened to my family with a Barclay’s Chip and Pin card. It worked as advertised when I needed a PIN in Europe last summer to buy train tickets and fuel at unattended machines (remember, often train stations are not attended until 9:00 am, even though the trains start at 5:55 am). At other merchants, it defaulted to Chip and signature. HOWEVER
      After several automatic payments for health insurance without a hitch, Barclays decided I could not be in Europe and have automatic payments for my health insurance at the same time in the US, so froze the card. Since their “collect” number on the back of the card didn’t work, even if you can find some way to make a collect call in Europe, I had to wait a few days until I could find internet to call the 800 number using my Google account. I assured Barclay’s that I could charge things in Europe and the United States at the same time. They unfroze the card. I specifically asked if they were going to pay my health insurance back in the States, and they assured me I would. Fast forward a week until the next internet access when I found out that my health insurance had been cancelled . . . and I’m in Europe. Talk about fixing that problem!
      And what they did to my sister. Her card worked great the first time using the PIN and all in Europe and then never worked again, stranding her with no money. Remember, the collect call number doesn’t work. She called their 800 number using my google account and Barclay’s told her they fixed the problem, but that wasn’t true. She never was able to use the card.
      Another problem, when I got home, I received a message that the card had been compromised and I would be getting a new card. I immediately called to see what creditors in Europe Barclays had stiffed in my name. Fortunately, none, but it took a month to get the new card. If you are overseas, that could be troublesome.
      They want me to pay $89 a year for this service, so I cancelled the card today. Hate to lose the miles, but hate losing my health insurance even more.

      • Brendan Harkness

        I’m sorry to hear about all that, Doug, that truly is a credit card horror story. I’ve read similar accounts of people having trouble in foreign countries with Barclaycard, and it seems like their customer service does not always perform as expected.
        I think calling ahead of time and informing the issuer about what you’ll be doing might be the only way to mitigate risks like that, though it can be a hassle and there’s no guarantee that it will work. This is all especially painful for a card with an annual fee.

        I think customer service is one of the most important aspects of a credit card, as they play such a big role in our financial lives. Barclaycard was recently rated below the industry average for customer satisfaction, by the way.

        I’m sure you’ve looked into alternatives, but just so you know, Amex and Discover recently tied for highest customer satisfaction – https://www.creditcardinsider.com/news/american-express-discover-tie-customer-satisfaction/

        Good luck to you, and if you have any credit questions you know where to find us!

        -Brendan Harkness

  • Jane Doe

    Card is no full chip and pin. Chip and signature takes priority. Have not been able to use at unattended terminals.

    • Brendan Harkness

      Thanks for letting us know, Jane. According to Barclaycard, their cards are supposed to work primarily with Chip & PIN terminals, and be available for Chip & Signature at terminals that feature it. I’ve read about other people having trouble using their U.S.-based Chip cards in foreign countries and not being able to use some terminals.
      Maybe you could try contacting the company and asking if they can change the preferences of your card so you can use your PIN at unattended terminals?

    • Brendan Harkness

      Thanks for letting us know, Jane. According to Barclaycard, their cards are supposed to work primarily with Chip & PIN terminals, and be available for Chip & Signature at terminals that feature it. I’ve read about other people having trouble using their U.S.-based Chip cards in foreign countries and not being able to use some terminals.
      Maybe you could try contacting the company and asking if they can change the preferences of your card so you can use your PIN at unattended terminals?

      • Kevin

        My understanding was you need to use it at a chip & pin forst, then you can use at chip & sig later.

        • Brendan Harkness

          Thanks for your comment Kevin. Their customer support told me that the card was enabled for both, but would default to Chip & Pin. Some merchants seem to be using systems that this card is incompatible with. If you’re having trouble or need to know how this card will work for a trip, I would suggest asking their customer service about the specific country or region you’ll be traveling in. You might be able to get some assurance about that region, or a statement by them on what they will do if your card doesn’t work.

    • RGK

      I followed Barclay’s webpage instructions to first use Arrival+ as chip+signature and following this it could be used as chip+pin at unattended kiosks. When I recently attempted to use the card at self-checkout kiosks in the UK, it required a signature and there was no option to choose pin only. I called Barclay and was told that it was up to each individual merchant as to whether pin-only can be used at the unattended kiosks. This makes no sense to me because one will not know in advance whether a particular self-service, unattended kiosk will accept pin or not. It is an embarrassing process when it demands signature as then it requires finding someone who can open the machine with a key and override the signature requirement. This seems to make the chip “with pin capability” useless and false advertising from Barclay. It’s time for a true chip-and-pin card!

      • Brendan Harkness

        Thanks for your comment, RGK. It doesn’t make much sense to me either – Issuers in the U.S. seem reluctant to jump fully into the Chip technology. I know a lot of other people have been reporting this problem, especially with Barclays, and it’s been difficult to get information on this from the company. There seems to be a real disconnect between American issuers and merchants in other countries.

  • rocks911

    So I have an account that opened with Barclay and although my card does not look exactly like the one presented here I do think its the same. I highlighted the exact name from my Barclay account page and searched to end up here. While my card doesnt have the Arrival Plus logo it does have the Arrival logo (no Plus) but to be sure my account lists the card as the Arrival Plus. Thats issue #1, do I even have this card to ask questions about?

    Secondly, the Barclay website states that the card is good for travel including “…redemptions start at 2,500 miles for $25 toward travel purchases within the last 120 days…”

    The last 120 days? I dont remember any qualification like that when I signed up for the card. 2,500 miles for $25…what does that even mean?

    I have no idea how to use this for travel.

    This is part of the process as detailed on their website: First, book your travel anywhere with your Barclaycard Arrival Plus card and earn 2X miles on your purchase. Second, please select the Manage your rewards option within the website and choose the Travel Statement Credits redemption option. Third, choose any travel purchase within the last 120 days and redeem your miles for a travel statement credit toward all or a portion of your travel purchases.

    So I guess I have to book and pay for a trip with this card before I get any credit/discount?

    Am I making more of this than it merits? I’ve never used a travel credit card so am obviously new at this, but jeesh it seems there are a lot of rules, a lot of rules that might allow a company to wiggle out of its responsibilities…But maybe I’m making it more difficult than it needs to be, maybe?

    • Brendan Harkness

      Thanks for your comment, Rocks. Credit card terms are definitely confusing with a lot of rules that don’t always seem to make sense, you’re doing the right thing making sure you get all the facts straight.

      Issue #1 – Figuring out which card you have.
      I can tell you three different ways to distinguish the Arrival Plus card from the regular Arrival card so you can make sure you fully understand your situation.
      The Arrival Plus card has an $89 annual fee, which is waived for the first year. The regular Arrival card has no annual fee.
      The Arrival Plus card gives you 2 miles for every dollar you spend, but the regular Arrival card only gives you 2 miles for travel and dining purchases, and 1 mile for other purchases.
      The Arrival Plus card has interest rates that start right off the bat, while the Arrival card has an introductory interest rate of 0% for 12 months.

      Issue #2/3 – Earning and redeeming miles.
      Say you spend $200 with the Arrival Plus card – you’ll get 400 miles. Once you earn 2,500 miles, you’ll be able to trade those miles in for a $25 statement credit towards travel purchases.
      You’re right – you need to book and pay for travel with this card first. Then, you’ll be able to use your travel statement credit to reduce those travel charges by $25. Only travel-related purchases can be reduced in this way. You’ll only be able to reduce the charges on purchases you made in the last 120 days – purchases farther back than that aren’t eligible.

      Hopefully that clears some things up for you. If you have any more questions, don’t hesitate to ask!

      • rocks911

        Thank you so much for the reply, brief yet informative.

  • Petar Mandich

    So, when I applied for the card in July 2014, it said 0% intro APR for 15 months. Now, my first bill is due, and Barlcays is saying that was never offered. I’m livid. Anyone else have this happen before?

    • Brendan Harkness

      Peter, do you think you might be confusing this card for a different one? Could you have gotten turned around somewhere in the apply process?

      The lesser version of this card, the Arrival, has a 12-month 0% intro APR, for example.

  • aaron1of1

    On paper this card is excellent. However it is nothing but anger and frustration to own it. I have had this card for a little over 6 months and have had to call them no less than 20 times to tell them that my card is not stolen please allow the charges. it is extremely frustrating and very embarrassing depending on the company that you’re in. On top of that my roommate who has the same card is living in Thailand for 6 months. As you can imagine he wanted a credit card that is designed for world travel. Well he lost his card the first week he was over there. He said that Barclay was not only completely unhelpful they refused to send him a new card. He had to send it to my house, his old address, then I had to drive to FedEx and spend $100 to ship it to his apartment in Thailand. Really great customer service for what is supposedly a world travel card.

    • Brendan Harkness

      Thanks for letting us know Aaron. Unfortunately, as you can see from the other comments, this card may have great terms but the customer service is definitely lacking, with a lot of problems cropping up especially for people outside the U.S. I’ve had trouble getting information from them myself.
      I’ve updated the review to include a note about your comments and others.

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