*This post may contain affiliate links, please see my disclosure
Free Travel has obviously become a passion of mine over the last 18 months. I went from rockin’ a cash-only budget, to booking a Free Trip To Hawaii in less than 2 years, and it just gets better and better. But this did take a little bit of work.
I did a few months of research and analysis before jumping into the credit card rewards game, and had figured out the fun tricks to get us free flights and hotels. I signed up for all the best bonus cards, redeemed for 3+ trips last year, and reaped about $10,000 in travel rewards in 2013 alone! But deep down, I really wished that all the rewards shenanigans would stop being so complicated. Why can’t a mile be a mile be a mile, and everyone just get along?!
It seems the folks at Barclaycard felt the same frustration I did when trying to book travel on rewards. You had to use the right airline partners, and know which points work where, and how much they were worth, and it was annoying like finding a fly in your soup. And though I have cut through the crap and help break down how to make the most of your rewards, having a simple rewards redemption would be awesome. And it is!
When you sign up for the card, you receive 40,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in 3 months on the card. And here’s the best part: 40,000 miles = $400 in travel rewards. Period. You just log into your online account and give yourself up to a $400 statement credit for any travel booked using your card. BOOM!
And there are no booking restrictions. No blackout dates. No “you don’t qualify for this deal” crap. Nothing. Just find the best price possible when booking, use the card, and redeem your rewards. Simple.
And in case you are a one-card kind of person, check it out. 2x bonus miles on every purchase. THAT MEANS ALL. Not just eating out or travel. On everything. So you’re $3,000 spend on the card just netted you another 6,000 miles, which means you now have 46,000 miles, or $460 worth of rewards travel to use as you see fit.
In case that isn’t sweet enough, they want you to keep coming back for more, so they incentivized using your rewards points. What does that mean? It means you get 10% miles back on your card for using your miles for rewards travel. So take your 46,000 miles, book a cruise, and get 4,600 miles back on your card, which is a $46 bonus value.
So now your simple $400 rewards card is really a $506 rewards card with your 6,000 spending miles and 4,600 bonus miles. How cool is that?
And remember, Barclaycard defines travel rewards as “Airlines, Travel Agencies & Tour Operators, Hotels, Motels & Resorts, Cruise Lines, Passenger Railways, and Car Rental Agencies”. So it’s not just flights and hotels, but rental cars, cruises, Disney tickets*, etc.
Even More Benefits
Here are some other side benefits to the card, in case $500 in free travel doesn’t really matter because you’re so rich 😉
- Free FICO® Score: All active cardmembers get access to their free FICO® score. This is great because you’ll want to know if you’re around 730+ to keep signing up for the best reward card offers.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees: Many cards have this feature, and it is really convenient when traveling abroad. My wife actually just used her card up in Canada, no issues.
- $200,000 Accident Insurance And Trip Cancellation/Reimbursement: Stuff happens. You need some insurance, and this card has you covered.
How We Use It
We just booked 7 tickets to Maui for $30 (see, travel hacking is fun!). And we wanted to get as much of our trip “free” as possible. So my wife and I both signed up for these cards to earn rewards toward booking our rental cars. We’ve already hit the bonus on each, and are accumulating a few extra points in case any other travel comes up.
Well, other travel DID come up, and this card did the trick. My mother-in-law just had a 50th birthday, and my wife took her to Canada for a night using our Barclaycard. They hopped on a quick cruise, and stayed in a fun hotel for some mommy-daughter time with the grandbabies. Since we had a few extra points, I told her “hey, use the grey card” (yes, I tell my wife what color card to use. Hazards for racking up a ton of credit card bonus points, lol). So she did.
After the transaction cleared, I hopped online, clicked “Manage Rewards” and selected “Redeem Now”. It automatically found the travel booking, and showed me a few different options for how much I wanted to redeem. I redeemed the rewards quickly, and voila, vacation paid for! A few days later my 10% bonus miles showed up like a pat on the back from an old friend saying “here’s to you!”
We still have enough points to book our rental cars in Hawaii, and are now looking at what else we can do with these cards. Heck, we even just found out buying *Disney Tickets through “Undercover Tourist” classifies as travel, and this card could help BUY DISNEY TICKETS! We’ll see.
But I’d like to hear from you as well, what would you do with $500+ in free travel rewards? Where would you go, what would you do? And for you couples out there, join forces and get yourself over $1,000 in free travel this year!
So do this:
- Sign up for the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard (or two of them for you couples out there)
- Pick out your dream vacation
- Post in the comments and let us know where you’d going!
p.s. I fully expect someone to now say “I’m going to Disneyland!”
p.p.s. The $89 annual fee is waived the first year. Make sure to read this post on what to do before your annual fee is due. Happy travels!
photo credit: Andy Beal Photography via photopin cc
42 thoughts on “$500 In Free Travel: Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard Review”
I just caved in and got this card. I’m not sure I’m totally ready for a card with a fee, but I have a year to decide if it’ll be worth it and the rewards look incredible! It’s absolutely being used to knock down some of the costs of going to FinCon!
FinCon! Another great reason for this card. I’ll probably be using this for Hotel costs as well, because I could use points, but the group discount rate is so good, I’d rather pay and use points from this card to redeem and save my hotel points for something more valuable.
The nice thing is that this card is simple. Use the rewards, and then call in before the fee is up to see if they can downgrade to the ‘no-fee’ version, or just cancel if you don’t want the card anymore. 🙂
Yup. Because light rail and buses generally count as travel, this basically becomes a 2.2% everywhere card… which is why it’s my primary spend.
Nice, didn’t know that. Great move for you out there in NY, that’s for sure.
W00t! Nice work. Free Hawaii is pretty awesome. I’m hoping to get $800+ in cash rewards to offset food costs, and just pay for extras 🙂
I’m digging this far so far, too! I’ve earned about $500 in travel spending so far (not counting the 10% bonus) since January. I’m planning a trip to Iceland this summer, so I’ll need all the help with expenses that I can get!
I would pair this card with an airlines/hotel card so it can catch all the travel expenses that are NOT covered by the airline/hotel card. Like car rental 🙂
My wife recently got the Barclay card that is one step down from this, which does not have an annual fee but doesn’t have as large of rewards. Our biggest hurdle toward getting the one mentioned here is we don’t have $1,000 per month in credit card-eligible expenses (or $2,000 per month if we both got one) to break the $3,000 in the first 3 months (or $6,000 if we both got one). Our biggest monthly expenses (rent, student loans) can’t be paid with credit card. Did you guys plan the acquisition of these cards around certain big purchases or an expense paid once per year to help get to the spending threshold needed for the 40,000 point reward?
We got lucky and signed up a while ago, which only required $1,000 in 3 months. They just upped the minimum requirement. But the nice thing is that you get 2x points, so the extra $4,000 = 8,000 extra miles to use 🙂
We both signed up for this card last year in order to take advantage of this deal. Great review, Jacob.
Thanks Holly. It’s been a great card so far, that’s for sure!
Cha ching! Great review. We’re planning a trip to Italy this summer and this will come in handy.
BOOM! Italy should be fun. Will you be podcasting form there?
This is my top card to get next month (hopefully the deal will still be there). From all the reviews I’ve been hearing, this is totally worth it!
It’s a great, simple rewards card with a sweet sign-up bonus. Definitely a great choice 🙂
w00t! Sounds like our trip! Isn’t it a fun game to play?
Yup! That’s correct. And again, I like that this card is simple to redeem miles. No tricks. No gimmicks.
Just put it on your phone calendar to cancel the card 1 month before the fee. You can always call and have them downgrade it to the no-fee card too.
let me know if you have any questions! have fun 🙂
Any idea how quickly the 40,000 bonus points hit your account once the $3,000 in purchases are made (I might be able to make this happen within the first 60 days)? I’m looking to save even more by prepaying for my hotel ($50 savings), but I want to make sure I time things out so that the advance purchase is within the 90 day redemption window.
It’s pretty darn quick. Ours was like same day!
I just picked this guy up in my last app-o-rama along with the AAdvantage 100k bonus offer and an Ink Plus 50k offer. I have enough American/US Air miles for two round-trips to Europe next year for my 30th birthday, business class!
Baller status! Nice work on the business class overseas. Only way to go!
I couldn’t swing the 10k minimum on the AA card, and I don’t do any MS right now. But Ink Plus is definitely on my radar, though I already have the Ink Bold….
This looks like a good one. I wish I could get it but just got 2 Southwest cards to try to get the companion pass thingy.
Wow. I am so getting this card. Free travel, here I come.
Thanks for the great review. You mention canceling or downgrading before getting hit with the annual fee, but do you think this card is worth the $89 fee if we didn’t cancel/downgrade? I think, based on your review, it would be worth it. Lmk what you think? And do you recommend pairing this card with a hotel card? I’ve heard SPG is the way to go on that route. Do you think it’s even necessary, as the Barclaycard seems to have it all.
If you want to rack up points by spending, then this card is my top choice, as it’s 2x points on EVERYTHING! Though, I’m all about the sign up bonus.
As for hotel cards, I have gotten 3 SPG cards over the last year, so ABSOLUTELY, it’s my fav. hotel card. You can check out how I use it on my Free Travel page and search cards to compare there as well.
Just got this card and I’m loving it so far. Just one question though. While we are trying to reach the $3000 threshold for the 40,000 bonus miles, we are going to be paying off our card as well go along to avoid interest. If we already have a qualifying purchase on the card but we pay it off, can we still use the bonus miles once we get them towards that purchase? I really don’t want to carry a balance just to use the miles later on. Any help would be appreciated!! This is our first time using a rewards card so this is all new territory for us!
Yes. Here is the terms from Barclays: “Travel statement credit redemptions start at 2,500 miles for $25, toward travel purchases made in the last 120 days.” So you have 120 days to earn the points and then use them for that purchase. 🙂
Thanks for your help! I guess I was just afraid that if I paid off the card then there wouldn’t be anywhere for the miles to link up to. Now I realize that its just a credit that is applied to your account and will be there even if there is no balance on the card. Once again, thanks!
To be clear, it’s a statement credit, so when you redeem the miles, make sure these is at least as large of a balance as the amount you want to redeem.
For example: If you redeem the entire 40,000 mile bonus, make sure there is a $400 balance on the card that you can pay off with the miles.
Good advice! I’ll have to keep that in mind!
I think a lot of people are forgetting about how great the 0%APR for the first year is!!!
I encourage people to never spend money unless they have the cash in their bank to back it up. So the 0% wouldn’t matter too much.
But the other reason I didn’t highlight it here is because it is no longer offered by this credit card.
We have a Marriott visa which we enjoy and have for years. I would love to use this to help pay for a Disney Cruise which could be booked through a travel agent and should work, correct?
Looks like you can use Marriott points to book a cruise HERE, but the redemption values don’t look very good. For example, for a $500 certificate off your cruise, it’s 125,000 Marriott points, and can only be booked through that site.
I recommend the Barclaycard Arrival Plus or the Capital One Venture Card instead.
Thanks – I was thinking Barclay might be the best option. If I book by 12/31/15 I do get 3 times the credit card points and 3 times the reward points so around 15,000 each for a $5000+ cruise. I wondered also if the Chase Ultimate Rewards offered discounts on Disney cruises like they do with other travel. They are just so expensive and there are very few ways to save!! It may be worth saving the points and booking another separate vacation to maximize trips and points 🙂
I didn’t see anything in the Chase UR portal, sorry :(. I would say getting an Arrival Plus and Venture card would net you $900 in rewards, and you could also use UR’s for statement credits as well. Essentially, cruises will need to be redeemed just like any cash-back card outside of the Venture and Arrival Plus cards.
Good luck, and have fun 🙂