Scenic train ride

Barclaycard Arrival Plus is my favorite fixed-value travel credit card. Not only does it have a great sign-up bonus, but the miles are easy to redeem for anything travel-related. However, the card has its downsides. You’ll likely want to redeem miles for travel statement credits since that is where you will get the most value. Points are worth 1 cent apiece when making a travel redemption versus 0.5 cents for regular statement credits.

The problem with travel statement credits is two-fold. First, you need to have the exact number of miles for your redemption or else you can only do a partial redemption. It can be frustrating since partial redemptions are only possible in 2,500 point increments (more on this below).

Second, you can’t redeem miles for a travel statement credit unless the purchase is $100 or more. The card also has a 5% rebate on miles so you generally will end up with a balance that is unusable for travel since its under this $100 (10,000 mile) threshold. The last thing you want to do is leave free money on the table, but how can you make use of these miles without spending more on the card? I’m going to walk through a redemption example that illustrates this problem and then share my strategy for using a majority of my Barclaycard Arrival Plus miles.

The Problem

I like using Barclaycard Arrival Plus miles for things I can’t use my other points and miles for. I generally end up spending them on tours or alternative modes of travel like trains. I recently posted about how to redeem Barclaycard Arrival Plus miles. In the example below, I wanted to make a redemption for train tickets I bought for Italy but I didn’t have quite enough miles.

As you can see here, if you don’t have enough miles, the best you can do is redeem in increments of 2,500 (worth $25). My only option was to redeem 17,500 points and get back $175 on my purchase of $208.

This would leave me with 1,565 miles plus 875 from the 5% rebate for a total of 2,440. I wouldn’t be able to make another travel statement credit redemption since I don’t have 10,000 miles. It doesn’t seem like much but why should I miss out on this extra $24? I also didn’t like the fact that I would only get a partial redemption for my train tickets. What can I say, I like free travel, not discounted travel!

The Solution

In order to do a full redemption, I was going to need to earn 1,735 miles to get a total of 20,800.  Since each dollar spent earns two miles, my first option was to spend $868. I wasn’t about to do that when I had spending requirements to meet on other cards. That leads me to my second option. I could earn the miles with the Barclaycard Travel Community. I wrote about how to use this website here. The short of it is, you can earn miles by posting short travel stories on the Barclaycard Travel Community. Each 100-word story earns a minimum of 150 miles (you get an extra 10 miles for each map detail you add to your post). You can even get 500 miles just for signing up!

Instead of spending money to get the extra miles I needed, I spent about an hour posting 9 stories worth 200 miles each. The participation miles from the Barclaycard Travel Community posted with the close of my next statement, giving me enough miles to complete my redemption.

After redeeming 20,800 miles, I only had 195 left. At this point, that’s so few miles that I’d cut my losses and close the card in hopes of churning it again in the future. But let’s not forget about that 5% rebate! It’s a blessing and a curse…

The Problem (Part 2)

After the rebate, I actually had 1,235 miles left, worth about $12. Once again, you’re in a situation where you can’t redeem for a travel statement credit since you need a minimum of 10,000 miles. I probably would consider this close enough to ditch the miles and close the card.

The Solution (Part 2)

If you have some time on your hands, you can use the Barclaycard Travel Community method to work your way up to a redeemable amount. However, it could take a while to get to 10,000 for a travel statement credit. Instead, you could get a $25 cash back statement credit once you have 5,000 miles. In this example, you’d need to earn an additional 3,765 miles (about 19 Travel Community stories at 200 points apiece) to actually complete a redemption.

Barclaycard redemption

It’s not the best use of miles, but it will allow you to squeeze a little more out of the card before closing it. Because of the rebate, it’s a vicious cycle of trying to earn enough miles to hit a redemption threshold. At some point, you’ve got to throw in the towel and close the card before the annual fee hits.

Final Thoughts

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus is both the card that keeps on giving and the card that makes it impossible to use all of your miles. At a certain point, you have to be okay will leaving some miles on the table when you close the card. My main strategy for redeeming Barclaycard Arrival Plus miles is to always do a full redemption for travel credit, using the Travel Community if extra miles are needed. If you have a decent number of extra miles after the 5% rebate, you can use the Travel Community to earn enough miles for a final cash back statement credit before closing (and churning!) the card.

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