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One Year(ish) Later: The Barclaycard Arrival. Keep or toss?

So I’m going through it with my credit cards right now. I think I have about 14, which seems like a big number. I’m comfortable having that many (which took a long time – the comfort factor, I mean) but now I find there are one or two that I got for the signup bonus and never used again. Case in point: the American Express Premier Rewards Gold. It’s not worth having unless you can put $30,000 in spend on it within a year. If you don’t, the annual fee is too high to make it a firm keeper. The one year mark for that one rolls around next month, and I’m hoping I can downgrade it to one of the new Amex EverDay cards that are coming out soon. If I can’t do that, I will simply cancel.

What about the Arrivalcard? I’ve had this card for about a year, too, and have had some time to let my thoughts come together.

You're a keeper!

You’re a keeper!

I’m totally willing to pay the $89 annual fee in a month or so. Why?

  • I actually used TripIt Pro. A LOT
  • I redeemed my miles and earned a ton more both by making purchases and
  • THE AWESOME REWARDS PORTAL
  • I can get my FICO credit score on demand (which I like)
  • No forex fees
  • It’s a MasterCard (for places Visa or Amex aren’t accepted globally)
  • The rewards roll in fast, and redemption offers immediate gratification
  • The card actually offers around 2.27% travel cash back – one of the highest cash back cards in the industry
  • I’m just plain curious to see what else Barclays is gonna do with this card

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If you can have only one credit card, which one should it be?

For points and miles addicts like us, posing a question like this is not only highly speculative, but nearly impossible. But let’s give this a shot: if you can have only ONE credit card, which one should it be?

It Depends On Your Goals

This first step to whittling down the huge assortment of cards is to honestly assess your own travel goals. Don’t think about upcoming trips, but the trips you want to take in the future. This will be the foundation for the ONE credit card you should pick.

Do you like long-haul travel in premium cabins? More focused on visiting family and friends domestically? Maybe your company pays for your airfare and you value hotel accommodations more highly than free (or really cheap) flights. Or, maybe you like to take cruises or trains to travel. These are all things to consider. How do you like to travel?

Long-term benefits

Some cards have great signup bonuses, but terrible ongoing benefits. This is another factor to consider in the quest to choose just one card. I’d throw out any card that doesn’t give some kind of ongoing value. The Citi® Platinum Select® / AAdvantage® World MasterCard®, for example, gives a 10% rebate on redeemed miles each year, up to 10,000 miles. 10,000 AAdvantage miles is worth ~$200 – well worth keeping the card for despite its $85 annual fee. The Chase Hyatt card gives cardmembers a free anniversary night in a Category 1-4 hotel. Similarly, the Chase Priority Club Visa offers a free night annually at any IHG hotel. Considering the annual fee is only $49 a year, keeping this card would be a no-brainer. 

Points currencies

There are three basic types of points currencies: some cards generate miles in one program while others offer points that transfer to a variety of programs. Still others feature fixed-value points: you’ll get the exact same redemption rate every time. This can be beneficial because you’ll know what to expect every time. Points or miles that are part of an airline or hotel program can devalue at any time, so storing them isn’t a good long-term strategy. Mileage accounts should be filled up for specific redemptions, then emptied (earn ‘n’ burn) – not treated as a savings account.

You should consider which points currency you’d like to accrue. Are you super loyal to one program? Prefer flexibility? Or maybe you just want to know exactly what you’re getting every single time. This question is right in line with considering travel goals. Which one points or miles currency will fit your travel goals the best?

Break It Down Even More

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MasterCard: World Vs World Elite Benefits

Also see: 

When I received my Barclaycard Arrival approval email today, something in the wording caught my attention. I’d been approved for a “World” MasterCard.

What's

What’s “World”?

Then I flashed back to when I received my new Ink Plus card in the mail. I remembered flipping that beautiful baby over and seeing this:

2013-05-12 12.11.39

What’s “World Elite”?

Google searches didn’t really yield anything concrete. I did, however, end up on the MasterCard page and they lay out the benefits really nicely. Here’s what I’ve surmised:

World benefits are pretty limited. It’s like they’re competing with Visa Signature. I’m literally going to copy & paste:

CONCIERGE SERVICES

  • Enjoy exclusive, personal assistance with dinner reservations, event tickets, 
locating hard-to-find items, buying and delivering gifts, and coordinating business related arrangements. Knowledgeable experts can assist with whatever you need, whenever you need it – 24 x 7 x 365. This takes “Concierge Service” to the next level with robust, personalized features that will save you time and simplify your day.

PRICE PROTECTION

  • Should you find a lower price for a new item using your eligible MasterCard card, you may be reimbursed for the price difference.
For more information about the coverage you may be eligible to receive, 
call 1-800-MC-ASSIST (800-622-7747). To file a claim on-line, go to www.mycardbenefits.com.

MASTERCARD GLOBAL SERVICE

  • Get emergency assistance virtually anytime, anywhere and in any language. MasterCard Global Service helps you with reporting a Lost or Stolen Card, obtaining an Emergency Card Replacement or Cash Advance, finding an ATM location, and answering questions on your account.

MASTERCARD AIRPORT CONCIERGE™

  • Arrange for a personal, dedicated Meet and Greet agent to escort you through the airport on departure, arrival or any connecting flights, 24/7/365 at over 450 destinations worldwide.

WORLD HOTELS & RESORTS PROGRAM

  • Make your next travel experience truly priceless. Access our portfolio of some of the finest hotels and resorts the world has to offer – all presenting you with an exceptional lodging experience. Enjoy complimentary room upgrades, early check-in and late check-out privileges, exclusive World MasterCard amenities, and more.

For comparison, here are the Visa Signature benefits:

  • Cardholder Inquiry Service
  • Emergency Card Replacement and Emergency Cash Disbursement
  • Lost/Stolen Card Reporting
  • No Pre-Set Spending Limit
  • Purchase Security
  • Warranty Manager Service
  • Year-End Summary Statements
  • Zero Liability
  • Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver
  • Lost Luggage Reimbursement
  • Roadside Dispatch
  • Travel Accident Insurance
  • Travel and Emergency Assistance Services

Now on to the good stuff. I was sort of shocked (in a good way) when I saw the full list of World Elite benefits. They blow both World and Visa Signature out da water!

It includes all the benefits listed for “World” above + a TON more and is obviously the winner.

The basics

The basics

The one that immediately caught my attention was Priceless New York.

It grants access to lots of cool things going on in town like concert VIP packages, culinary experiences, shopping deals, and discounts on services.

I signed up for the email list and will be sure to report if I ever end up using it. Cool idea! I’d love to use it, being based in NYC and all.

But then, I started digging a little deeper and found a lot of other info. What caught my attention the most was the “Air” section of the Travel Benefits page, particularly the offerings on a diverse range of carriers like Swiss, Austrian, Etihad, Lufthansa, LAN, and Virgin Atlantic.

Interesting...

Interesting…

Some of the “upgrades” specifically say you need to’ve purchased a full-fare ticket, which can oftentimes be as much, or more than, business class to begin with. But LAN’s, for example, just says you can upgrade “from an eligible coach ticket.” What’s an eligible coach ticket, LAN? I’m assuming they mean a full-fare ticket, but I would definitely be interested in learning more.

Aer Lingus is very clear about their policy

Aer Lingus is very clear about their policy

LAN is super wishy-washy

LAN is super wishy-washy

Other benefits from a World Elite card include:

  • $1000 off a first class ticket on Etihad
  • 50% off a biz class companion ticket on Etihad
  • 20%-30% off biz class tickets on LAN
  • “Special savings” on Virgin Atlantic
  • Upgrades on these carriers: Aer Lingus, Austrian, Etihad, LAN, Lufhansa, SAS, and Swiss

Pretty awesome!

They also have quite an extensive list of tours, cruises, rental cars, private offers from companies like NorthShore Advisory (consultants), and hotels. I arbitrarily picked New Orleans from the hotel list and turned up a few good options:

Screen shot 2013-05-12 at 10.20.23 PM

World Elite benefits in NOLA

All the options include upgrade, late check-out, and daily breakfast for two. Also, a “guaranteed best rate”. Maybe I’ll test their pricing for an upcoming trip…

All-in-all, I was pretty blown away to find out my new Ink Plus gave me all these benefits. I’ve never read about these totally legit, published benefits on any other blog before – sorry if this is old news!

I probably won’t be booking a private jet or chauffeured car any time soon, but for rental cars, air tickets, and hotels, this could turn out to be a real hidden gem.

Yes! Just got the Barclaycard Arrival!

Nothing like waking up on Sunday morning to an approval email. As predicted, Barclay gave me their Arrivalcard…

 

Screen shot 2013-05-12 at 11.29.42 AM

…which is pretty bitchin’. This is my second card from Barclays. The other one I have is an Icelandair card. It’s from 2006/7, long before I started getting interested in points and miles, but I keep it because it has no annual fee and helps with the average age of my credit accounts. I got it after my first trip to Iceland. I had pretty bad credit and didn’t shop around for a better card. In fact, I was surprised when I got it.

Fast forward to today. It’s amazing how far my credit has come in just over a year. It was only in March of 2012 that I got my first premium card, the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Since then, I’ve racked up quite the diverse collection of mileage currencies.

Anyway, very pleased to have this card in my arsenal. I’ve been thinking about taking my annual trip down to New Orleans, and with $440 dollars in free travel credits + a few ecerts I have lying around with Delta, this makes the trip a no-brainer.

By the by, I just redeemed my free TripIt Pro subscription and LOVE it. I like how it adds trips directly to my Google and iCal calendars, but especially how it tracks fares for your specific flights and sends you an email if the fare drops. I usually buy flights when I’m sure they’re at their cheapest, but this is certainly a nice “just in case” feature to have access to.

I also JUST noticed that this card provides access to Barclaycard Rewards Boost, yet another online shopping portal. I’ve never seen anything written about on any of the blogs, so was surprised when I saw the graphic on the Arrivalcard page.

Screen shot 2013-05-12 at 11.49.02 AM

What’s great about this is that you can go ahead and add 10% to all the payout rates since it earns Arrivalcard points. And some of the payouts are much higher than other portals, even the Ultimate Rewards portal.

Soap.com for example, a site that I love since they ship 30-pound bags of dog food right TO YOUR DOOR, pays out 5.5 points/dollar (+10% more when redeemed for travel!). This site isn’t even on the UR portal any more.

Screen shot 2013-05-12 at 11.51.44 AM

It does have some pretty pathetic payout rates on other portals tho:

Screen shot 2013-05-12 at 11.53.28 AM

Pathetic!

 

I’ll definitely compare rates on the RewardsBoost portal when doing online shopping. I was pleasantly surprised that they seem to match or exceed the Ultimate Rewards rates.

So far, I’m thinking this card is a keeper for the TripIt Pro subscription, interesting shopping portal, and ease of redemption. More updates as thoughts solidify…

Just Got Two New Cards 5-3-13

OK. So I had another tequila-driven round of two new credit card applications.

The two cards I’ve been eyeing for a while are the Chase Ink Plus and the Barclay Arrival card.

I drunkenly logged into the Chase website and located the card I wanted. I like the Plus over the Bold because it’s a credit card as opposed to a charge card, which gives me a bit of flexibility just in case. There’s also a pre-defined limit which is good for when the credit line is reported to the credit bureaus. Maybe I’m completely misguided here, but both cards are identical except for the credit vs. charge feature. So it comes down to personal preference anyway.

There it was: my bounty.

Ink-Plus-card

I honestly don’t remember filling out the application. It’s been on my mind for so long, I think I did it on autopilot. I hit submit and waited. Not instantly approved. More info needed. Crikey.

So then I headed over to the Barclays website thinking I’d be approved instantly. I’ve had an Icelandair card with them since 2007 and never missed a payment, so thought that would be a show of good faith on a new card. Same thing. Filled out the application, hit submit, and got a similar message about needing more information. Wah.

barclay-arrival-card

The next day, I called Chase and they asked me a ton of questions about my business. I answered confidently and honestly. The rep placed me on hold for a few minutes, then came back and said I’d been approved with a $5,000 credit line. I was ecstatic. She said I’d receive the welcome packet in a few days.

Then I called Barclays. What a shitshow. The rep sounded like he didn’t have a clue what was going on and just to wait 10 days. Hung up and called again. Same thing, except she gave me a website to visit: myapplicationstatus.com. Thanks. The website says the same thing. I swear the reps at Barclays are all robots.

Robot talk

Robot talk

Even though I don’t have an official confirmation, I’m sure I’ll get the card (pretty sure, anyway). I’m super excited about getting 50,000 more Ultimate Rewards points as well at $400+ dollars to spend on travel. Holla.

Bottom line

This is my last round of apps for a while, maybe a year or so. My next financial goal is to save up a good down payment on a house and to pay down my student loans, so I’m gonna let my credit simmer for a bit while I get it in order and let a few hard inquiries fall off. Plus, I’m a working boy now!

Unless there’s an amazing deal that pops up, I’m done with credit cards for now. I’ll probably eat my words later, but at this moment in time… I’m happy with my current credit card lineup. 🙂 Can’t wait to get the cards next week! Will update when I receive them.