Barclay Arrival World MasterCard 20,000 points or 40,000 points card?

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Barclay Arrival World MasterCard offers two sign-up bonuses for two versions of the card.  Earlier, I received approval for the Elite Card with 40,000 (equivalent to $440 travel credit) sign-up bonus points after $3000 spend in 3 months.  First year membership fee $85 is waived.  I like the card so recommend Isa to apply for one and keep it.  The non-elite version has no annual fee and 20,000 sign-up bonus points after only $1000 spend in 3 months.  That sounds perfect for Isa.

The non-elite version sign-up bonus is $200 with only $1k spend requirement
I like to use question and answer format to try to guess top questions you may be thinking ...

Q1.  Why would we apply for Barclay Arrival MasterCard? 
  • Mainly it is to start and keep a good relationship with Barclay bank who seems to be become aggressive in credit card offering and who has a reputation of offering targeting bonus to active Barclay card customers only.
  • The Barclay miles can be redeemed to pay for any travel expenses including car rental, particularly those not covered by frequent flyer program or hotel reward points.
  • Chip and PIN technology and no foreign transaction fee, available for the Elite MasterCard only, can be handy when we need to make purchases outside of US.

Q2.  Why would one apply for the free version one (non-elite) if sign-up bonus is half lower?
  • If you simply want to build a good relationship with Barclay without the need to call them to downgrade the card one year from one, the non-elite card is a nice addition.  By willing to receiving $200 credit less, Isa will not need to make any calls in the future to avoid annual card fee because the card has NO annual fee.  She also needs to spend only $1000 instead of $3000 to earn $220 travel credit.  When time is up, I will ask to downgrade my Barclay Arrival elite card to the free version one.  I have not done that before with Barclay; they may nor may not offer downgrade to free version non-elite card.  
  • If you need a card that has no foreign transaction fee and none of your existing cards offer that feature, then Barclay Arrival Elite MasterCard would be a good fit.  Otherwise, the non-elite card is a better fit.
  • Note the elite card version offers 2x for all purchases, whereas the non-elite version offers 2x for travel and dining purchases only.  Unless you plan to spend over $10,000 per year using this card for non-travel or non-dining purchases, otherwise the extra 1x for "all other purchases" by elite card does not cover the $85 annual card fee.

Q3.  Is it easy to redeem credit for travel?
  • The redemption is easy and straightforward.  We can redeem up to travel-qualifying transactions which are not more than 120 days old.  For non-travel redemption, 20,000 miles would be equivalent to only $100 statement credit at a 2:1 ratio.

Q4.  Are there any catch that you may want to know about this Barclay Arrival MasterCard?
  1. Because of the 2:1 redemption ration for non-travel expenses, do not apply this card if you do not plan to travel
  2. If you are a frequent traveler outside of US, the elite card may be a better fit since it offers no foreign transaction fee.  Otherwise, the non-elite card would be sufficient.
  3. Each Barclay card application requires a hard-pull in your credit profile.  A hard pull does not sound good, but even a couple hard pulls would not damage a credit score much. 

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