In the last 12 months, Barclays has made a move on Chase, Amex, and Citi by raising the sign-up bonuses and increasing the perks on many of their rewards credit cards. We’ve seen this with the Arrival, US Airways, Lufthansa, Frontier, and NFL cards. This has been great for the rewards card lover, because there are now more options and options are good.
However, having a lot of options can make it hard choose. If you’re like me, you already have a hard time deciding what to eat for breakfast in the morning. Something healthy, but delicious.
Anyway, here’s my analysis of the best Barclays card options available today. Enjoy.
The Arrival World Mastercard
Last year, Barclays raised the sign-up bonus on the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® to 40,000 points after spending $3,000 in 90 days. That’s a pretty solid offer. When they announced the increased offer, they weren’t shy about trying to compete with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. See the image below.
The Arrival card is a good card, but I don’t think it’s quite on the Sapphire Preferred’s level just yet. Still, there are a lot of things to like about the Arrival. First, you receive 2x points on EVERY purchase. And you get 10% miles back on all your reward redemptions. That means the sign-up bonus of 40,000 points or $400 in travel is actually worth $440 in travel.
Also, Barclays recently announced that they are including a FREE FICO score with every monthly statement. Very nice. This is a benefit that’s being rolled out to all their products too. I respect that.
The $89 annual fee is waived for the first year on the card. There’s also a no annual fee version of the Arrival that comes with a lesser sign-up bonus of 20,000 miles.
The Arrival does earn “fixed valued” points, so you can’t transfer them out to travel partners. However, fixed value points are great because you can use them for travel expenses that miles and points don’t cover, like trains, car rentals, b&bs, and even baggage fees. It also gives you the flexibility to take advantage of any travel deal that you come across, which is nice.
Overall, the Arrival card is a very good offer, and one that should be at the top of your Barclays wish list. Jordan already has it, and It’s the next Barclays card I’m applying for. I need to apply for it before Barclays transitions my US Airways card to the Arrival. That’s a possibility since they are doing that with the Virgin America card that’s no longer issued by them. I think this wouldn’t happen until next year, though.
The US Airways Mastercard
The US Airways Mastercard is a hot topic since US Airways & American Airlines are merging. It is likely that the Barclays US Airways card will eventually disappear, but that probably won’t happen until 2015.
So, you have time to apply before it goes away, and you can now use your Dividend miles for AAdvantage award flights! Sometime, somewhere, somehow you will be able to combine your Dividend miles with your AAdvantage miles, but no one know exactly when that will happen.
There are currently two US Airways Mastercard offers to choose from. The first one, that’s been around for a while, is for 35,000 Dividend miles on first purchase, a 10,000 miles anniversary bonus, and the $89 annual fee is waived.
The other offer is for 40,000 Dividend miles on first purchase, NO anniversary bonus, up to 10k miles with balance transfers, and the $89 annual fee is waived for the first year.
Applying for the US Airways card is a great way to eventually add to your AA stash and take advantage of an offer before it goes away.
Apply Now: 35,000 US Airways Offer
Apply Now: 40,000 US Airways Offer
I have never flown Frontier airlines, but I have heard bad things….and good things. But like I said, I have never flown them so I don’t have any clue. However, if their destinations and hubs are practical for you, this card could make sense. If not, probably don’t bother.
You will earn 40,000 bonus miles after spending $500 in 90 days. That’s pretty easy to meet. You can get two round-trip tickets on Frontier anywhere in land locked states plus Alaska. That’s right, 20k miles for a r/t domestic ticket. It’s 30,000 miles for a round-trip ticket to Costa Rica, Mexico, and Jamaica. And you can fly one-way award flights for half the cost of round-trip tickets.
There’s an annual fee of $69 that isn’t waived. And another thing – you can’t fly any partner awards with Frontier, so you’re stuck flying Frontier.
I absolutely definitely positively put the US Airways and Arrvial cards above the Frontier. I would only recommend getting the Frontier card to people who already fly them regularly, or have all the other Barclay cards.
Apply Now: The Frontier Airlines World MasterCard®
In 2013, Barclays also raised the sign-up bonus on their Lufthansa credit card to 50,000 miles multiple times. This is a good offer and one worth applying for when it’s available (it’s not currently). You can use Lufthansa Miles & More miles to, well, um… fly Lufthansa. Which is bad ass. Especially since the United deval raised the required miles for premium cabin flights on partners. Just watch out for the fees on Lufthansa award flights. They can be high, but worth it, imho. You can also fly United flights domestically with Miles & More miles, but that wouldn’t be my preference.
Another Barclays card that had a good sign-up bonus last year was the NFL rewards card at $400. Pretty much a standard cash back card, but $400 is $400.
If you don’t currently hold a Barclays card in your wallet and you have a good credit score, you shouldn’t have any issue getting approved. However, if you currently hold a Barclays card and want to apply for another one, it’s a best practice to run some purchases through your current card if it doesn’t have any spending on it. Doing this helped Jordan get the Arrival when she held the US Airways card, and I have heard good results from many others too.
Tip: Barclays has been known to close people’s accounts if they haven’t used their card in 6 months. That’s why I set a remember in Card Watchdog on each of my US Airways cards to remind me to show some activity.
I have two US Airways cards, but I have had them for a couple years. I don’t think you can get multiple cards of the same version anymore, but I could be wrong. I have heard of some people being successful after canceling a previous card and waiting 6 months, but ymmv.
Wrap It Up
One of the perks for most people applying for a Barclays card is that their Transunion credit bureau will be pulled. Chase, Amex, and Citi usually pull Equifax or Experian, so it’s always nice to break from of the them.
I hope Barclays continues to stay aggressive in the rewards card space. You can’t lose with the US Airways or Arrival cards. They are the best two Barclays options, imho. After that, I would put the Lufthansa card (assuming that the offer is 50,000 miles) and then the NFL card (assuming the offer is $400). Then it’s the 40,000 miles Frontier card.
Barclays also has a plethora of cards I didn’t think worth mentioning, like the LL Bean, Travelocity, and Priceline rewards cards to name a few. Anyway, I hope this helps if you’re in the market for a rewards card and you were looking at Barclays.
- Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®
- 35,000 US Airways Offer
- 40,000 US Airways Offer
- The Frontier Airlines World MasterCard®
(Disclaimer: I receive a referral credit for the Arrival & Frontier cards, but not the US Airways offers. Thank you for the support if you ever apply through the blog!)
— Geoff Whitmore