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Barclays has several changes to their Arrival suite of branded cards. All of the changes are positive. There’s a bigger signup bonus, a lower first year cost, and new points transfer partnners coming to their premium card.
60,000 Point Bonus Offer for the Arrival Plus
As I wrote several weeks ago to expect Barclays has brought back applications for their Arrival Plus card and they’ve done so with the largest bonus they’ve ever offered: 60,000 points after $5000 spend within 3 months.
The card’s $89 annual fee is not waived the first year. It gets you an effective 2.1% rebate towards travel since you receive a 5% rebate on your travel redemptions in addition to the 2 cents per point value. (Here are the card’s rates and fees.)
No Annual Fee the First Year for Arrival Premier
The Barclays Arrival Premier World Elite Mastercard launched three months ago and largely because they’re offering bonuses for ongoing spend on the card rather than an initial signup bonus, and because they offer fast points earning but points transfers to airlines at less than one-to-one, the card has been underappreciated.
Any card that earns a 2% rebate to spend on travel is a ‘good’ card. They provide additional rewards for continued spend: $15,000 spend in a year earns 15,000 bonus miles, $25,000 (i.e. an additional $10,000 spend) spend earns an additional 10,000 bonus miles.
If you spend exactly $15,000 or $25,000 you’ve earned 3 miles per dollar. Those miles are worth a penny apiece towards travel, or can be transferred to airline frequent flyer programs at a ratio of 1.4 to 1 with most programs and 1.7 to 1 with JAL. Here are the terms and conditions for the card.
Arrival Premier has a $150 annual fee. It comes with a statement credit for applying for Global Entry once every five years and a Lounge Key card (equivalent to Priority Pass) but without complimentary visits.
Barclays has removed the first year annual fee on the Arrival Premier product. This isn’t being billed as a limited-time offer, so for the foreseeable future they’re going to offer a ‘try before you buy’ approach to the card. Considering there’s airport lounge access (for a fee) and Global Entry reimbursement on a no annual fee the first year card that’s something to consider.
Rachana Bhatt, managing director for the Barclays US Branded Card Business, tells me that existing Arrival cardmembers can be approved for an Arrival Premier card so it’s possible to carry both. So while the cards were designed with different customers in mind, and they haven’t really been expecting the same people to use both cards, there’s no prohibition against it at the bank. Points don’t transfer between Arrival products, however.
I asked her about the possibility of an initial bonus offer for the card in the future and she told me they’re not planning one at this time although they would consider it in the future. That said, the point of this product seems to be to go after only customers interested in long term value. They don’t just want to eliminate card churners from their portfolio. They want people who are going to keep the card for a long time.
It’s a real challenge to get consumer attention without a big initial bonus or other limited-time offer, because even when a card is a good fit convincing a consumer that applying is one of the top items on a to do list rather than just something to think about ‘later’ is tough. The need to act now, or fear of loss, is a big motivator.
Without a first year annual fee I’m interested to see if more folks will try the card. It’s a fast earning card (minimum 2% rebate towards travel, but up to 3% if you spend $15,000 or $25,000 on the product in a year) and points transfer to airline miles albeit not one-to-one (with most partners you’re earning 1.4 points per dollar, more if you meet those spend thresholds).
It’ll also be interesting to see what retention rates look like in a year, no doubt they’re hoping that the annual spend bonuses help keep customers who are using the product.
New Arrival Premier Points Transfer Partners
Before the card launched Barclays shared with me that they would be adding points transfer partners. Star Alliance program Aeroplan was added to the initial in June. Here are the current points transfer partners and their ratios:
|Program Name||Conversion Ratio
(Premier Points : Points)
|Air Canada Aeroplan||1.7 : 1|
|Air France and KLM Flying Blue||1.4 : 1|
|Aeromexico Club Premier||1.4 : 1|
|China Eastern Airlines Eastern Miles||1.4 : 1|
|Etihad Guest||1.4 : 1|
|EVA Air Infinity MileageLands||1.4 : 1|
|JAL Mileage Bank||1.7 : 1|
|Jet Airways JetPrivilege||1.4 : 1|
|Malaysia Airlines Enrich||1.4 : 1|
|Qantas Frequent Flyer||1.4 : 1|
Barclays tells me that they will be adding two addition transfer partners by the end of July: Finnair (oneworld) and Alitalia (SkyTeam). While these don’t materially change how much I value their points for airline transfers, I’m told that one partner that’s in the works might, and that they’re working on adding additional partners this year.