In the points and miles world, there is a strategy for just about everything. A strategy for credit card applications, a strategy for point/mile redemptions, and even a strategy for earning/retaining elite hotel and airline status!

So, in an effort to avoid navigating the overwhelming world of point strategizing, you may have opted for a simple point system – like the one offered by the Barclaycard Arrival Plus!

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I recently applied for this card myself and was initially drawn to the card because of the simple point earning and redemption structure. The sign-up bonus is a straight forward 50,000 after $3,000 in spending, which is worth $500 in travel related purchases. The points earning rate doesn’t mess around with rotating categories and other nonsense, but rather is a simple 2x per $1 spent. And when it comes time to redeem, there are no complicated award charts or travel partners to mess with – just a standard redemption rate of $0.01 per point and a 5% bonus on points redeemed!

No strategy needed… right? Well, it seems that is not necessarily true – here comes another strategy!

I know, I know, another strategy! You thought the Barclaycard Arrival Plus would simplify things and that’s what I thought too! Even a fixed point value system like that of the Barclaycard Arrival Plus has a strategy, but don’t worry yourself too hard, it is just some simple math!

You know – like advanced algebra and calculus and simple math stuff like that – just kidding!

You’re smart! You can add, subtract, multiply, and sometime you can even divide (if it is by two) – you got this!

The Miles (aka Points) Redemption Process

So you have the Barclaycard Arrival Plus, you have met the $3,000 minimum spending, and you have your Miles in your account – Congrats! Now for the fun part! But, before we talk strategy, let’s walk through the redemption process.

As you can see, as soon as I log in my online account I can see my Miles – screaming “REDEEM ME!”

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REDEEM ME, DEREK! – exclaimed my Barclay Arrival Miles

I oblige to that loud and rewarding request and click Rewards and Benefits Center.

The Rewards and Benefits Center asks if I want to use my miles and I respond DUH, OF COURSE and click away…

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Once you start, the fun don’t stop!

At this point, Barclaycard offers me Mile redemption options. Remember – Travel Statement Credits are your focus since they provide the best value! All of these options are ridiculously unrewarding – like 5,000 Miles for a $25 gift card – half the value of what travel credits provide! I DO NOT advise you to even entertain the possibility of redeeming Miles for something as silly as a Starbucks gift card. I do not care how much you love your Triple, Venti, Half Sweet, Non-Fat, Caramel Macchiato – resist the urge to Macchiato!

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Go for the Travel Statement Credits for MAX value!

Now that we are settled on Travel Statement Credits – Barclaycard will provide you a listing of qualifying charges. In order to qualify, charges have to be related to travel expenses AND be a minimum of $100 in value…

And here is – The Barclaycard Redemption Strategy

I have just one qualifying charge (over $100) available for redemption – a $584.84 charge to British Airways for a round-trip flight across the pond! I have 56,358 points and Barclaycard will allow me to redeem my Miles in the following ways:

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My choices are 50k for $500, 52.5k for $525 and 55k for $550!

The Choice

Simple,  right? If I redeem more points, I get more credit, so I should redeem the most Miles possible?

Wrong! We have to consider the 5% rebate on redemption and that darn $100 charge minimum… Which is why I went with the 50,000 ($500) redemption option with a 2,500 Mile rebate!

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Build your redemption strategy with the 5% rebate in mind!

The Reason –Math & Timing!

We are looking for the maximum amount of credit with the minimum amount of spending. Check out how the different redemption options stack up when factoring in the 5% rebate:

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Since we need to have at least 10,000 Miles to redeem, you can see how the $500 redemption option leaves me with 6,358 Miles in the tank, with an addition 2,500 coming through rebate – totaling 8,858 – just shy of another  10,000 ($100) redemption!

The real difference here is just the timing of when rewards occur. I would rather achieve $600 ($500+$100) in value with just $3,750 in spending, rather than continuing to spend an additional $1,200  on this particular card!

While I love the Barclaycard Arrival Plus for the initial sign-up, it is not high on my list as an everyday use card. I can earn more valuable points per dollar spent on my Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase Freedom, or SPG American Express!

My blue beauty - the Chase Sapphire Reserve!

My blue beauty – the Chase Sapphire Reserve!

If the Barclaycard Arrival Plus is your card of choice for everyday spending, you might not be worried about this strategy. Though you should be worried about applying for a more rewarding credit card!

Final Thought

Barclaycard Arrival Plus cardholders should think through redemption options with the 5% rebate and   $100 redemption minimum in mind. With this strategy you could find yourself redeeming for more value, more often, rather than leaving Miles stranded.

While it can be tough to keep all of these strategies straight, in the end, the more preparation and thought that you apply to the points game, the more value you shall reap!

Nobody said traveling for free/cheap on points and miles was easy! If you invest the time and think through things (including a bit of math here and there) you will maximize your rewards and come out smelling like roses! Such a weird expression…

Do you have the Barclaycard Arrival Plus? How do you feel about the redemption process and do you employ a strategy?

Happy Travels!

DW

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