The next type of card I want to discuss are a new breed of card that allows the card holder to redeem by getting credits based on the dollar amount of travel taken off their statements. This is a new twist that is being offered by The Barclay Arrival Plus card.
Here is how the Arrival Plus “statement credit system” of redemption works. First, after you find the travel item you want you buy the item with your Barclay Arrival Plus card. Second, after you make the purchase you go to your online Arrival Plus card statement and your purchase will be identified as a travel expense (flights, hotel, car rentals, cruises etc.). Once you have identified the expense on your statement you are allowed to apply your Barclay Arrival Plus reward points at a rate of point per penny to your travel expense and your travel expense is removed from your Barclay Arrival Plus credit card bill.
The “statement credit system” of redemption offers some great advantages for me. I can purchase discount travel from obscure travel providers that are often much less expensive then mainstream providers. An example of this advantage is I can use my Barclay Arrival Plus travel rewards points to reimburse me for seats on discounts carriers like Allegiant Air and Ryan Air you will see mentions of these discount carriers in many of my other blogs.
Most of the credit card types don’t offer the option of using these discount carriers when you redeem your points so as customers we are restricted to only flying the larger, often more expensive, carriers. The system the Barclay Arrival Plus card uses to redeem their points allows their customers the option of getting the cheapest possible price for their flight and using the least air mile assets to get from point “A” to point “B”.
Another advantage I get from the “statement credit system” is that you actually pay for the travel so you get air miles and frequent traveler benefits you would not get with a standard air miles reward program. This advantage allows you to build miles more quickly and also build your loyalty status like any other cash customer.
Barclay defines travel as airlines, motels, hotels, time shares, campgrounds, car rental agencies, cruise lines, travel agencies, discount travel sites, trains, buses, taxies, limousines and ferries. In other words you have a lot of flexibility on how you use your Barclay points. In order to be able to take your travel purchase off your statement it must be $100 or more so that $10 taxi ride won’t work.
If you sign up for the Barclay Advantage Plus card you get a 50,000 point bonus after you spend $3000 dollars in three months using your new card. The Bonus was nice but I keep and use my Barclay Arrival Plus card because it’s rewards are so flexible they are an excellent free travel tool.
The “statement credit system” has three primary disadvantages. The first, is I only have 120 days to go into my statement and apply my credits to my travel bills or I loose my benefit for that travel cost. With other rewards programs your rewards pay directly for the travel benefit and the reward transaction is done. I’m willing to take this additional step when using my Barclay Arrival Plus card but if your prone to forget to check your statements this card my not be the best fit for you.
The second disadvantage is that in order to take a travel item off your card you have to buy the travel with your card. My Chase Saphire Reserve card gives me three times points for travel and 1.5 cents per point or a 4.5% return on my dollar where the Barclay only gives me two times points for everything including travel at 1 cent per point of a 2% return on my money. This being said I only use my Barclay card to pay for travel I know I can’t get by using my Chase Saphire Rewards cards web site.
The last disadvantage is truly heart breaking, you have to spend a hundred dollars on the travel item for it to qualify to be taken off your statement. Give me a break I find a $60 dollar flight from Miami to New York on a discount carrier and they won’t let me use my rewards to pay for it, because I got too good a deal! Give me a break.
The “dollar purchase power” of the Barclay Arrival Plus card is 2 cents. The Barclay Arrival Plus card has an additional benefit in that 5% of your redemptions are returned to your rewards bank. If you spend 10,000 points to pay for a $100 travel cost Barclay will put 500 points back in your account. This is just one of the many ways you can stretch the travel power of Barclay Arrival plus rewards.
In the final analysis having a card in your wallet that has the flexibility of a “statement credit” card like the Barclay Arrival Plus will have it’s benefits and those benefits will probably far out way the $89 fee you will pay after the first year you have the card. I’m curious to see if other credit card companies embrace the “statement credit” scheme to redeem miles, only time will tell.
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