LINK: BARCLAY ARRIVAL CARD
Since everyone is talking about the last day of the SPG deal, I thought I’d use the opportunity to say that if you are, in fact, applying for the last day of the SPG that you may want to also consider the Barclay Arrival Card if you have not already gotten it.
(My 2 seconds on the SPG: It’s a solid card, and the extra 5,000 points is great and all, but I wouldn’t apply outside of my normal churn schedule to get it. If you are considering it within your churn schedule, yes – you can get both the personal and business; and yes you can get the bonus if you’ve had the cards before as long as it’s been 12 months since you canceled; and yes you should log out of your Amex account before clicking through the application. My links are over on the right-hand part of the page if you’d like to support the OTR. The links are on every bloggers page if you’d like to support someone (or no one) else.)
Back to the Barclay Arrival card. You may remember the headlines: $440 in free travel after $3,000 spend in 3 months, with the first year free – you’ll get 40,000 points, which are redeemable for $400 in travel (and only for travel), plus when you redeem you get 10% points back, which is why everyone says it’s $440 in free travel.
I know none of this is new, but I recently got the card and the more I’ve thought about it, the more I think it’s a great choice for an everyday card for lots of people. A little Q&A to help:
Q: What’s the main benefit of this card?
A: Aside from the signup bonus, you are essentially getting 2.2% cash back on every purchase, though you’re only really earning that if you redeem it for travel. Though most people DO spend some money on travel each year, so I think most people benefit from it.
Q: But it has an annual fee, right? Doesn’t that affect the math?
A: Yes – there’s an $89 annual fee after the first year. I’ve long pushed the value of the Amex Fidelity card because it earns 2% cash back with no annual fee. If you spend $40,000 or more each year, you’re better off getting this card rather than the Amex Fidelity card.
Q: $40,000 is a lot of money – I’ll never hit that.
A: Yes, it’s a significant amount of money. However, you can actually print money with this card.
Q: What do you mean print money?
A: I mean you can print money. If you put $5,000 worth of Vanilla Reloads on this card each month (that’s the max you can transfer into Bluebird) that will cost you $39.50 each month. You will also earn $110.86 in cash back. Do that each month and you will net $856 each year.
A: Yes. If you max out on VRs (assuming you live somewhere where you can buy them on your credit card) you will pay yourself $856 before you put any real spend on it.
Q: That’s pretty cool.
A: Yes, though you should also consider yourself lucky if you live near a CVS where you can buy that many VRs each month (though plenty of people can).
Q: But I like earning points instead of cash back.
A: Here’s something to consider: If you typically use your points for international premium class travel, then earning points is a good idea. If you have chosen to earn Starwood points either for international premium class travel or for certain hotel redemptions, that can be a good idea. But for everyone else you are probably better off taking the cash.
A: Yes, really. Let’s use round numbers: If you spend $50,000 a year, you’ll earn $1100 cash back or 50,000 points. There are very few 50,000 point airline redemptions worth $1100. There are some, certainly. But in most cases you are better off with the cash. Plus, the cash can be used for car rentals (ie, there’s a lot more flexibility in how you spend that money on travel).
Q: Am I going to get approved? I’ve had a bunch of apps this year.
A: You generally should wait 6 months between Barclays apps, though I recently got approved for 2 Barclays cards 3 months apart. Absolutely call if you are denied to get them to reconsider. Also, put spend on your other Barclays card – they do seem to look at whether you’re actually using the other Barclays card to determine whether they’ll give you a card.