Huge Barclay’s Arrival Plus Changes – Thoughts, Analysis & A Side Note on Retention [Semi-Confirmed]

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barclays arrival changes

No More Arrival Applications

Yesterday news broke that Barclay’s had stopped accepting applications online for both their Arrival and Arrival Plus Mastercards. I learned about the development from Gift Card Nirvana on Twitter and Amol broke the news over at Travel Codex.

If you go to the Barclay’s website, all of the same information as far as features, benefits and bonus shows up, however the “Apply Now” button has been replaced with a “Check back soon to apply” message. Very very interesting.

My Calls & Semi-Confirmed Changes

This morning I called into Barclay’s and spoke to a few different representatives. None of them knew anything of changes coming to the cards. With that said, Amol at Travel Codex was able to get confirmation of several negative changes coming to the cards. These changes were also mentioned by a user on Reddit.

According to Amol, Barclay’s will be dropping the rebate from 10% down to 5%, they are raising the minimum travel redemption to $100 (10,000 points), they are removing TripIt Pro membership and finally they are shaking up which merchants will count as travel expenses.

barclays arrival changes

My Thoughts

Let me break down my thoughts on each of the semi-confirmed changes coming to the card:

5% Rebate

This is insane. Now the card goes from being a 2.2% cashback card to a 2.1% card. Considering you can get a Citi Double Cash or a Fidelity Amex and earn 2% with NO ANNUAL FEE, you would need to spend $89,000 per year on the Arrival Plus to justify the annual fee.

  • 2% on $89,000 = $1,780
  • 2.1% on $89,000 = $1,869
  • Difference = $89
Travel Categories

We don’t really know all of the details, but my guess is that the categories will be much more limited than before. In the past I have been surprised at how widely they defined travel, so this isn’t hugely surprising to me. It does lower the appeal of the card, but there are ways around category limitations when cashing out.

TripIt Pro

TripIt Pro is a useful service and I do like that it scans my emails and builds itineraries for me. I have enjoyed my subscription, but I think Google Now does a decent job of reminding me of things as well. I’ll be sad to lose this subscription, but I don’t think it is a deal breaker.

Minimum Redemption ($100)

So I saved this one for last, because it truly drops the value of the points. If you don’t have 10,000 points, then it sounds like you will have to redeem your points at $.005 each for cash. In other words, Barclay’s is trying to force more breakage. In my opinion, this drives the overall value of the cashback down and therefore I don’t really think this card is worth much more than a standard 2% card.

At some point you will end up with less than $100 worth of points at which point you either have to take half the value for them or spend more on the card. I think Barclay’s is making these changes to get people to stick around and use the card, however I think this will have the opposite effect. This card is DEFINITELY not a long term keeper with these changes unless you are a huge spender and even then it may not be worth it.

barclays arrival changes

When Do These Changes Take Effect

Amol says the changes will be in effect for all new applicants July 1 and after. As for when current cardholders will see a change, it most likely will happen after their annual fee hits going forward. My annual fee was just charged on June 30, so perhaps I just missed these sweeping changes by a day or so.

Side Note on My Retention Experience

On a side note, since I was already on the phone with Barclay’s this morning, I inquired about any retention offers they had for the my Arrival Plus card. As has been the case in the past, Barclay’s still isn’t waiving the annual fee or offering anything to cardholders. This isn’t a surprise at all, but I thought I would provide a data point while I was on the subject.

Conclusion

I have heard rumblings that Barclay’s hasn’t been too thrilled with the long term product retention on this card. In my opinion these changes lower the value of the Arrival Plus significantly long term. If they still offer a $420 sign-up bonus then people will apply, but Barclay’s has just given them much less reason to stick around. I guess we will see how this works out, but either way the Arrival Plus card is much less valuable for most of us.


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27 COMMENTS

  1. I’ve actually had fairly good customer service with Barclays – I complained to them that they are too quick to lock my card for fraud and have changed the number several times (making things like bill pay tough to keep track of) and they gave me 5,000 points as an apology. But these changes make me think I won’t be keeping the card once changes are in effect for my account.

  2. They’re basically asking for just churners to apply. Either that or people who spend a ton of money abroad, because both the Citi Double Cash and the Fidelity Amex charge forex fees.

  3. I thought it was worth it before because this one had a sign up bonus even though there’s an annual fee, but now I’m leaning more towards the Citi double cash card if these changes do take effect. I’m glad I didn’t sign up for this card in June.

  4. Is that $100 minimum per redemption, or per transaction being redeemed for? I often spend $20, $50 or $75 for several nights in cheap hotels in Asia through hotels.com, so would I not be able to redeem points against any of those small transactions?

      • Redemption being? …..erasing several transactions worth $100+, or one transaction must be $100+

        I wonder if this will spread to existing cardholders. I was just approved 2 weeks ago.

          • Hah, so pretty much they’re telling you they hope you screw up and don’t have enough for a redemption. This will screw over all the normal customers and only leave churners and MSers in the game. I can always buy $100 hotels.com or airbnb gift cards vs paying with the card.

  5. Wow just paid the annual fee on this and wasn’t feeling too bad. Now not feeling so good about that. I held off on 2% cash back cards due to Foreign Transaction Fees, and this card had acted like a 2% cash back card with statement credits. Are there any 2% cash back cards with no foreign transaction fees (and cash back bonus)?

    • So my annual fee posted on 6/30. I will likely pay my bill in the next couple weeks. Does this mean I get a full year of the old benefits, or do these changes go into effect in a couple weeks once I make my payment?

      If it’s the latter, then with a quickness I will be on the phone to cancel (hopefully the AF can be refunded)

      • They haven’t formally announced anything, however you should get the full year of benefits going forward. With that said, we should know something formally pretty soon and you have a full 60 days to cancel and get your annual fee back.

  6. my strategy w/ the arrival + is to earn (at least) enough extra points through the rewardsboost mall to cover the annual fee.

  7. I’d like to see a new comparison between this and the Capital One Venture. From what I have been reading lately, the Venture is 1% better when it comes to FTF. This is due to Capital One absorbing the standard currency conversion surcharge while Barclay’s passes it on to the card holder.

  8. Given that BofA Travel Rewards with Platinum Honors soundly defeats the Barclays Arrival+ on all levels (with the exception of needing to park $100K at the bank), I’m a bit surprised they’d make the card even less competitive.

      • You don’t need to park $100k in a bank account. You can park $100k in an investment account at Merrill Edge, and that will count for the $100k requirement to get Platinum Honors.

      • As Fiby noted, you merely need to have $100K in an investment account with them.

        At any rate, I find it interesting when folks make such didactic statements that start with calling someone ‘dumb’ for doing something, but, neither indicate what is ‘dumb’ nor what a ‘non-dumb’ (or in this case ‘getting value’) approach might be?

        Let’s assume the absolute most ‘dumb’ thing was done and $100K was parked in a BofA account. Given that the leading national rates for short term/liquid savings hovers around 1%, what exactly are you chasing with your $100K? Where are you getting your ‘value’ ? And please don’t talk about ‘trading and investing’, that’s a completely different topic, and it’s not an equal comparison, because that introduces risk over that of a MM/Savings account. Also, just in case you didn’t know, BofA has a few affinity products (i.e. NEA account) that give better than the default savings rate as well, and actually match the best national rates out there.

        • Where can you get more than 1%?

          How about places like LMCU, GLCU, Mango, CC, Provident, etc etc….

          But even IF I couldn’t find places to get significantly higher interest, I’d never, ever, put it in such a sleazy bank now known as BoA. FWIW, BoA was a decent bank before it was sold – had an account there for nearly 20 years.

          • Oh, come on, this is not a proper comparison for a $100K deposit…

            LMCU: This is huge. Our Max Checking account pays an eye-popping 3%
            But… * Annual percentage yield. Rate subject to change. Interest not paid on balances over $15,000. Some requirements apply.

            GLCU: Ultimate Checking Features: Reward of 3.00% APY
            But… 1. APY=Annual Percentage Yield. The dividend rate and APY may change at any time. Balances up to $10,000 will earn the stated rate and the portion of the balance over $10,000 will earn the standard savings dividend rate.
            and… ‘standard savings rate’ = 0.20% (at best)

            Mango: Earn up to 6.00% APY with Mango Savings™
            But… † The Annual Percentage Yield (APY) and the APY comparison as advertised are effective as of July 15, 2014. Rates are subject to change at any time and may change after accounts are opened. The APY advertised applies only to the portion of your savings account balance, which is $5,000.00 or less; or 2.00% if you are not on Direct Deposit Service. An APY of 0.10% will be paid on the portion of your savings account balance that exceeds $5,000.00

            At any rate, if BofA being a ‘sleazy bank’ is your reason to not to business with them, so be it, that’s an acceptable reason. I hated TARP and on going bailouts. And Moynihan certainly needs better PR if the best he can come up with is ‘…understand we have a right to make a profit.’ That said, I do not believe you’ve provided evidence as to it being ‘dumb’ and ‘not worried about getting value’ if one parks $100K with them. Teaser rates on multiple low balance accounts is not a compelling alternative.

  9. This is a huge dissapointment and, assuming the sign up bonus remains, serves no purpose other than to churn and burn. No niche whatsoever in the marketplace for this card long term. Too many options out there. Customer service stinks, too many fraud alerts, chip and pin hit or miss overseas, and now this….this went from the barclay arrival to the barclay departed.

  10. Correct me if I’m wrong, but if I’ve never had an AF post to my account, then I’m still under the old rules until my first (ever) AF posts?

    I was never planning on keeping this card beyond the first year. This news only shuts the door completely.

    I have about $550 in points that needs to be redeemed for a VRBO/Homeaway vacation we took in June. I had one manually redeemed a few months ago on my other Arrival + (in wife’s name) so I know it’s possible. I just hope the new rules haven’t gone into effect and hurt my chances of getting this manually redeemed.

  11. I never thought the Arrival Plus was a great card beyond the first year with its 2.2 percent statement credit redemption for travel and $89 annual fee. The Citi Premier at $95 per year in conjunction with the Double Cash card is much better. The Premier card awards you 3 Thank You points per dollar spent on all travel and 2 points for dining and entertainment spend. Each point is worth 1.25 cents for travel purchases. The card also has no FTF. For all other spend the no annual fee Double Cash card awards you a straight 2 percent cash back with redemptions starting at $25.

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