Home / The Latest / PRPS E04: Etihad/Emirates/Turkish Valuation + Barclays Arrival Premier

PRPS E04: Etihad/Emirates/Turkish Valuation + Barclays Arrival Premier

Newest Valuations

Thus far, we’ve gone through the three-wise-men, Euro and Asian carriers. This week were heading East, all the way to the middle of it. Where, despite having outstanding products, we see low-value award currencies.

We’re skipping over Qatar, simply because their program is so low-value and cumbersome, that we’ve stopped tracking them.

Etihad Guest Value 02.28.18

That means we’re kicking this week off with off with Etihad, a real disappointment when it comes to value. Despite having the most over-the-top product in the sky, The Residence, their miles are only worth .23¢ each, ouch. Our best for the month was only 1.59¢ and the worst was .37¢, plus a whole lot of non-availability. This is what eviscerated the program’s value.

Now the Etihad Guest program may have the largest spread between our average redemption value, and what’s theoretically possible, that we’ve ever seen. Bad news aside for a moment, let’s talk possibilities. Etihad’s Guest program does provide the opportunity to reward the savvy points and miles traveler with some phenomenal value.

Take their first-class apartments for example. The above is likely to be considered one of the top 5 airline seats in the world. Furthermore, we found a single seat, at the end of March, bookable for 136,222 miles + $229.80 in cash. This same seat would cost $15,976.80 if booked with cash. One could then argue that Etihad Guest miles are worth $0.115 cents each! Of course, this argument would discount the fact that we had to search through 90 days of flights to find it, and that availability on the other 89 days didn’t exist or costed >1,000,000 miles.

Emirates Skywards Value 02.27.18

Moving on to Emirates and their Skywards program. Cutting right to the chase, their program’s miles are worth just .43¢ per piece. The best for the month came in at a very healthy 3.88¢ and the worst at just .19¢. The former being for a first-class seat, London to Hong Kong bookable for 141,250 miles and $770 in cash. Availability was better than Etihad’s but still not great. We were only able to find flights on 53.45% of our hypothetical redemption searches.

Emirates is of particular interest to those willing to travel mid-week. As all our departures fall on Fridays, Emirates was perhaps unfairly punished. Search after search, we saw no weekend availability, while Wednesday/Thursday was wide open. All this said, our recommendation would unfortunately be to keep Emirates as a backup option. You’ll likely find better award opportunities booking an Emirates flight via Alaska’s Mileage Plan.

Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles Value 02.28.18

Finally, we’ve got Turkish Airlines. The highest value of the lot, with an ACR value coming in at .98¢ per mile. You know, I really like the Miles and Smiles program. It’s one of the best outside the US. Thanks to their two-tier award system, one is rarely left searching for availability.

Our best for the month was 4.78¢ per mile, that was on a business-class flight from Miami to Istanbul. And our worst was a depressing .12¢. That was for an economy flight from Washington to Beijing. Don’t book that one. In addition to excellent availability, Turkish’s award booking portal is just simply great to use. It’s functional and beautiful. Very often, an airline will have a fantastic UX for their cash customers and a barely functional one for their award-travel ones. Not so when booking with Miles & Smiles. Almost as polished as Delta’s. As of this reckoning, Turkish Airlines’ Miles & Smiles is primarily on the radar of those who hold Citi’s ThankYou points. We consider it a shame that neither Amex nor Chase partner. They would be a valuable addition to either program.

Points Reckoning Weekly’ish News

It’s a relatively light news week. Either that, or the news surrounding the looming trade war is drowning out the travel feeds. I wanted to jump into Southwest’s devaluation, but that will have to wait till next week. Short on time here. For now, just a quick fun story from the wizarding world of points and miles, and a little badassery. This is not useful at all, just plain cool.

Have you ever wondered what exactly an airliner would look or sound like at full-cruise, if you could magically be standing at 35,000 feet as it flew by. You know, without dying. As luck would have it, I’ve found a video that gets pretty darn close. There’s an organization out of New York called Overlook Horizon. They do something with academia, though I’m not really sure what. Anywho, they launch weather balloons. On mission 5, one of their balloons came pretty close to a Delta A319 enroute from Boston to the big D at 38,000 feet.

Now, I think that’s pretty awesome. For anyone who likes to clutch pearls, Overlook Horizon makes sure to point out that all of their flights are FAA registered, proper NOTAMS are filed and carry radar reflectors.

Strategy

We’ve got a new card on the market, sure to disappoint just about everyone, the Barclays Arrival Premier World Elite Mastercard and it’s a real bad deal. We’re assuming this card is marketed towards consumers who do absolutely no research prior to opening a new account.

Barclays Arrival Premier World Elite Mastercard

Let’s run over a few of the basics. We’ve got an annual fee of $150, not waived for the first year, a signup bonus of $0, an annual bonus of up to 25,000 low-value miles, 2x points on all purchase, a Global Entry credit, Lounge Key Membership and no foreign transaction fees. It’s conspicuously missing rental car coverage and purchase protection.

To start, let’s get right into Barclays miles, and why they’re probably not for you. You see, Barclays likes to play a little cloak and dagger. By offering 2x points on all purchases, the naïve will think you’re getting more value than say the Sapphire Reserve or Premier Rewards Gold offers. But the devil as they say, is in the details. While you might earn twice as many of them, they’re worth about half as much.

So, what can you do with Barclays Miles? Well, much like their more valuable counterparts, you can use them for statement credits, gift cards or transfer them to a travel partner. Wait, What? Yeah, the travel partner thing is new for Barclays. And while we’re happy to see a new transferable currency in the mix, we wish their rookie attempt was less pathetic. Their travel partner selection is poor at best and the ratios are simply not competitive.

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

Most transfer at a rate of 1.4 Barclays mile to an airline mile, except JAL which is considerably worse. Other than that, you’re able to receive statement credits at the sad rate of .5¢ cash or 1¢ to reimburse travel purchases. The latter isn’t actually so bad, it matches Amex, but is only 66.666666666% of what Chase would do for travel booked via the Sapphire Reserve.

Benefits are a real stinking pile of garbage. Nevertheless, we’ll start off with the one bright spot. The Global Entry credit. Actually, it’s pretty unusual for a sub-$200 card, really the only one I’m aware of. Past the G.E. credit, things go south quicker than Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign.

Lounge Key

If you open an account, and you shouldn’t, you’ll receive a Lounge Key membership. Sounds great. Airport lounge access on a $150 card? Nope, wrong. What you’re getting is something similar to a Priority Pass Standard membership. Basically, a pay-per-visit scenario. In other words, lipstick on a pig, worthless, unless you like spending $27 to enter what is typically a low-end lounge.

Foreign Transaction fees are waived, as they should be. Just like every other card at this price point, and just like many cheaper ones. Even the fee-free Citi Coscto Visa waives them.

You also get no rental car insurance. Though it’s become a defacto standard on any card in the semi-premium and up categories, the Barclays Arrival Premier conspicuously omits it. That’s just absurd.

Finally, this card almost completely skimps on purchase protection. The only benefit here is a fraud liability waiver. Which pretty much anything that’s made of plastic and not a debit card has. What it doesn’t have is return, theft or trip interruption coverage. Last year, the Sapphire Reserve saved me personally $500 when some hoodlum stole my camera out of a DC bar. At this point, I’d never consider a card that didn’t have something similar.

So, who is this card good for? I don’t know, certainly not anyone who comparison shops. Maybe someone who’s such a liquor fiend that they require a card which starts with bar? If you’re in the market for a card in the $100 price range, the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Amex Premier Rewards Gold or Citi ThankYou Premier all offer much better return on investments.

IHG Cards Devaluation

And since we’re on the sad train tonight, I want to move right into the IHG rewards cards. For years, it’s been one of the best hotel cards on the market. While IHG points aren’t really worth all that much, only .44¢ at latest valuations, the card offered something else, something much more valuable. A free night at any IHG property and instant Platinum Elite Status. Going forward, Chase has released two cards to replace the one that previously carried a $49 fee.

IHG Rewards Club Value 03.06.18

The new duo is priced at $29 for the Traveler card and $89 for the Premier version. Since the latter is much closer to the $49 one it replaced, we’ll take a look at that. Before moving forward, it’s worth noting that I’m not at all surprised by the devaluation. At only $49, the previous card was way OP and was a prime target for nerfing. Sad, but not unforeseeable. What really sucks, is that the new card, despite costing $40 more, is worth less. One still gets status, but instead of a free night at any hotel, they’re limited to ones that cost less than 40,000. Take a look here at the list of specific exclusions. Almost all Intercontinentals, Kimptons, a bunch of Crowne Plazas, some Holiday Inns and a lone Candlewood Suite. The last one really puts me over the edge.

Ultimately, we’re sad to see the old card go, but it’s had a good run. Sorta like the old saying about better to have loved and lost than never loved at all.

Our current recommendation is to stay on the sidelines of the new cards for now, at least until some lucrative signup bonuses present themselves.