Several Changes to the Barclays Arrival Suite of Cards

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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 (Update 9/24/18: annual fee is now 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. (Offer expired)

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.

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.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. The card has potential but I’ll continue using my Blue Business. Straightforward redemption ratios and double points from the first $ spent. I also prefer MR to Barclays current transfer partners.

  2. Any idea if those who once held the Arrival Plus but since downgraded to the no fee plain Arrival card and are still holding that will be eligible to reapply for the Arrival Plus and get the sign up bonus?

  3. Why don’t you ask her when existing arrival and arrival Plus Card members can convert to arrival premiere? They keep talking about loyalty but clearly there’s none for existing accounts. And no I’m not interested in opening up a brand new account without a sign up bonus.

  4. @WilliamC – totally agreed. I’m surprised they didn’t add another partner called “MilesTrash”, just so they can bolster the total number of transferable partners.

  5. @Nick you cannot product change to arrival premier

    “It is not possible to convert or product change from Arrival Plus to Premier. If consumers are interested in both cards, they must apply and go through the approval process for both. “

  6. @Gary thanks, that response is nonsense. We know it’s not possible but why? No reason why you can’t PC into Arrival Premier. Barclays is clearly happy having a seven-figure cardholder base and isn’t serious about competing in the industry. You can PC from Arrival to Arrival Plus and back to Arrival however Arrival Premier isn’t eligible? I can’t think of a single issuer that doesn’t allow you to PC within the same family and some like Citi and Capital One permit PCs to any product.

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