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Barclays Arrival Premier World Elite Mastercard

Not Worth It – Barclays Arrival Premier World Elite Mastercard

Straight from the seething depths of mediocrity, Barclays has unleashed a new card. It’s not good. The Barclays Arrival Premier World Elite Mastercard was released to the US market, presumably under the assumption that consumers don’t patronize competitors. That said, lets jump right into why we think this card is not long for this world.

Barclays Arrival Premier World Elite Mastercard Basics
Annual Fee $150
Signup Bonus none
Annual Bonuses 25,000 tiered miles(after $15K $10K spend)
Earn Rate 2x miles – every purchase
Misc. Benefits Global Entry credit, Lounge Key membership, No Foreign Transaction Fees

Annual Fee and Signup Bonus

To begin, the $150.00 annual fee on this card is ridiculous. One is just not getting that much for one’s investment. Furthermore, that fee is not even waived the first year. This is standard practice among almost all competitors in this class of card. The so called “semi-premiums”.

Adding a bit of insult to injury the Barclays Arrival Premier does not offer a new card member a signup bonus. This alone is likely to dissuade almost any points and miles enthusiast. Honestly though, that might be the point. It’s easily inferred that most issues do not like churners, or earners and burners. People that open cards just to snag the bonus, then close them out. A company’s distaste for this type of consumer isn’t unreasonable. That said, the lack of signup bonus is likely to give pause to a more traditional user as well. Why settler here, when Chase/American Express or Citi are all offering lucrative welcome treats exceeding $500 in value. Unfortunately, at least for Barclays, the fact remains, that whether you’re a churner, burner or everyday spender, rivals make a superior financial case.

Annual Spend Bonus

In lieu of a signup bonus, the Barclays Arrival Premier Mastercard is offering an annual spend bonus. Presumably, this is designed to attract a long-term user. One will earn 15,000 points on the first $15,000 spent and an additional 10,000 points on the next $10,000. A nice touch, but one that sadly falls short. Considering both Chase and American Express offer more points for less spend, we simply can’t see the value. If Barclays really wanted to attract the “one card in the wallet guy”, who’s not going to bounce after getting paid, why not make the bonus goal-worthy? 50-100,000 points, for the same amount of spend, would be much more compelling.

Earn Rate & Redemptions

The Barclays Arrival Premier card earns 2x points on all purchases. On the surface, a very nice earn rate. By comparison, everyday spend on the Chase Sapphire duo or Amex Premier Rewards Gold is only 1 point per dollar. So is the Barclays Arrival Premier the winner is this category? No, as we’ll see in a moment, the devil is in the details. Notwithstanding the fact that competitors have bonus categories(dining/travel/etc.), Barclays Miles are simply worth less than Chase Ultimate Rewards or Amex Membership Rewards. Though we have not performed a full reckoning, we have a taken a cursory look below. The results, not pretty.

Barclay Miles vs. The Competition
Barclay Chase Amex Citi
Statement Credit – Cash(per mile/point) 0.5¢ 1.0¢ 0.6¢ 0.5¢
Statement Credit – Travel(per mile/point) 1.0¢ 1.25-1.5¢ 1.0¢ 1.25¢
Purchase Gift Cards 0.5¢ 1.0¢ 0.8¢ 1.0¢
Barclays Transfer Partners(mile)
Transfer Ratio(airline miles/Barclays miles)
Aeromexico – 0.31¢/pp .714 n/a 1.6 n/a
Air France/KLM Flying Blue – 1.04¢/pp .714 1 1.0 1.0
China Eastern – not tracked .714 n/a n/a n/a
Etihad – 0.23¢/pp .714 n/a 1.0 1.0
EVA Air – 1.56¢/pp .714 n/a n/a 1.0
Japan Airlines – not tracked .588 n/a n/a n/a
Jet Airways – 0.91¢/pp .714 n/a n/a 1.0
Malaysia Airlines – 0.15¢/pp .714 n/a n/a 1.0
Qantas – 0.1¢/pp .714 n/a n/a 1.0

As we can see above, there really is no competition. Barclays Miles are a 3rd tier award currency. They really shouldn’t be considered peers of Chase, Amex or Citi. At least as it pertains to their credit card awards program. The only category where we’re even close is when miles are redeemed for statement credits and gift cards. Sadly, that’s almost always considered a waste of points.

The Barclays Arrival Premier and it’s associated miles get absolutely obliterated when comparing transfer options. We’re happy to see another company enter the world of transferable award currencies, we just wish the entrance wasn’t so disappointing. Most airlines, which are in the unenviable position of being called a Barclay’s partner, transfer at a rate of just .714. Japan Airlines is even worse, doing so for just .588 JAL miles per Barclays mile. Conversely, all Ultimate Rewards and most Citi/Amex Points transfer at a rate of 1:1. Finally, the selection of partners leaves much to be desired, with no domestic partner in sight.

By advertising 2x points on all purchases, Barclays is playing a little game of cloak and dagger. They’re hoping, and probably expecting, that consumers view points as more or less equal. Sadly, this expectation is frequently correct. To the naive, 2 points are better than one point, no matter the type.

Miscellaneous Benefits

Global Entry credit – A Nice Touch

Thus far, I haven’t had a whole lot of good things to say about this card. However, the inclusion of a Global Entry credit is nice. Especially considering the price-point of the card. This benefit is typically seen on premium cards, among the like of the Sapphire Reserve, Amex Platinum or Citi Prestige. To my knowledge, this is the only sub-$200 card proving this option. If Global Entry is something that is on your radar, this might(partially) offset the fact that this card does not come fee-free in year one. That said, Global Entry is overkill for many, and having the option to redeem for it, or TSA Precheck instead, would have been a nice touch.

Lounge Key membership – Worthless

Wow! This card provides airport lounge access? No, not really. The website for the Barclays Arrival Premier World Elite Mastercard proudly touts the inclusion of a Lounge Key membership. However, they’re (likely intentionally) vague on details.

Not sure what a Lounge Key membership is? Neither am I. However, after a bit of research, I found the ugly truth. It’s barely worth the plastic it’s printed on. Lounge Key membership provides one the “opportunity” to visit a network of 850 lounges across the world…for a fee. In this regard, it’s very similar to a Priority Pass Standard membership that costs $99 + $27 per visit. This might lead one to believe the benefit is worth $99. It’s not. I’ve never heard of anyone purchasing a Priority Pass Standard membership. This is because there are almost no lounges worth $27. The fact they charge $99, or advertise it’s inclusion as a “benefit”, is almost insulting.

I think it’s worth mentioning, that Lounge Key’s network appears to overlap almost completely with Priority Pass’. In fact, I’m almost tempted to say that Lounge Key is a white label re-brand of it. Considering their websites look nearly identical, and their images all point to the same server.

No Foreign Transaction Fees

Nice to have, but certainly not exclusive whatsoever. Every single competitor in this class offers the same. Even the fee-free Citi Costco Visa offers this benefit.

Conspicuously Missing

 

Who’s The Barclays Arrival Premier Actually For?

I honestly cannot think of who would be served well by this card. If I really thought about it, maybe someone who is such a liquor fiend they require a card that starts with the word “bar”? For now, this card is best left alone, with the hope it’s quickly relegated to the pages of history or vastly improved. One would be in a far better position if they were to obtain a Chase Sapphire Preferred, Amex Premier Rewards Gold or Citi ThankYou Premier. All offer 1st year fee waivers, nice signup bonuses and superior benefits.