I might keep my Barclaycard Arrival

I’ve been using my Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard for everything except for 5% Chase Freedom categories and Amazon.com purchases. I have to admit that it is pretty awesome having essentially only one credit card. (I don’t notice having a separate card for Amazon.com purchases since the card is already linked and I don’t carry it around with me.) As much as I have a tendency to overcomplicate things, it is really nice to keep things simple from time to time.

In some ways, I’m still trying to build my credit history. The average age on my credit cards isn’t quite 24 months because I keep applying for new credit cards and canceling older ones. (I’m trying to cut down on that now, but I picked some early credit cards that didn’t turn out to be very useful…) So my goal for the rest of 2014 is not apply for any more credit cards.

I’m not convinced that the Barclaycard Arrival will keep its program at 2.22% cashback forever, but maybe it will since it has an annual fee of $89. I’ll keep my Fidelity American Express as a backup 2% credit card forever (plus it’s nice at Costco!), just like my 1% cashback credit union visa with no foreign transaction fees. I don’t know about the Chase Freedom, but I’ll probably keep it around for a while since it has no annual fee and it is with the same bank as the Chase Amazon.com visa which I doubt I will ever get rid of since a) it is no hassle and b) I’ve now had it for 3.5 years, which is by a slim margin my second oldest credit card. I’m going to ditch the Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa once I use the ~70k points ($875) to book something (even if it’s after the annual fee hits because using the points to book something will earn me $175 more than redeeming them for cashback directly). But the Barclaycard? I love it as much as you can possibly love a credit card.

I tracked my “everything else” spending (basically everything except for foreign purchases, restaurants, and Amazon.com purchases) for the period of July 2012 – June 2013. I spent $19,384.88 total, with an average cashback earning of 1.75% based on where took American Express and where did not. I would have earned an additional cashback of $91.11 in these categories by using the Barclaycard Arrival for everything, covering the $89 annual fee with $2.11 to spare. I also spent $954.99 on foreign transactions, for which I lost out on 1.22% of cashback or $28.48. Lastly, I spent $3,799.25 at restaurants and drugstores, for which I lost out on 0.22% of cashback or $8.36. So if I had only used the Barclaycard, I would have earned an additional $22 in cashback for the year over the annual fee, making it basically a wash, except that instead of needing to carry three cards (Fidelity Amex, Chase Amazon.com Visa, and credit union visa) to accomplish that, I only need to carry one (the Barclaycard).

What would my ideal single credit card look like? I explained this in a comment on Emily’s post a few weeks ago:

  1. Visa/MasterCard (accepted more widely than American Express)
  2. Chip and PIN (easier when traveling – remember, this is an ideal single credit card)
  3. No foreign transaction fees
  4. 2% cashback on everything (no categories)
  5. Easily redeemable
  6. No annual fee
  7. No maximum on the earnings
  8. Free FICO score
  9. Trip cancellation insurance, baggage delay insurance, and supplementary rental car insurance (I’m super worried about something going wrong while traveling)
  10. Flexible automatic payments (Chase and my credit union both reduce the automatic payment if you make an extra payment.

The Barclaycard Arrival World Elite Mastercard meets all of them except 6) and 10). Points are easily redeemable since I travel often enough. I love not having to worry about whether a merchant is foreign or not.


16 thoughts on “I might keep my Barclaycard Arrival

    • Some international airlines charge your credit card in USD, but you still get hit with the foreign transaction fee. Or buying stuff online sometimes in general.

  1. That must be an odd Barclays quirk. I’ve only been charged forieng fees when it is charged in foreign currency.

    I did not like that Barclay card because you can only redeem the 2% on travel. I called and changed it to the free version of the card, and never use it….

    • Oh I don’t mind the only redeem for travel part at all! I travel often enough in some way or another that redeeming is not a problem.

      It isn’t a Barclay’s quirk – it happened with other credit cards.

  2. You could get the FIdelity Visa and use that at places that don’t take the Amex. You won’t have the annual fee, and the points are the same (can be combined for redeeming).

    • I’ve thought about that a lot. I’m trying to keep fewer credit cards though and the Barclaycard is a great way to do that. The fidelity visa would be an extra credit card and it only pays 1.5%, not 2% or greater.

    • TJ, do your mean that points from Fidelity Amex and Visa can be combined to reach the redemption level sooner?

      • Sort of. You need at least 2500 point to transfer to the other one, so you need to hit the minimum on the higher-usage one, but then you can send it over to the lower usage one and redeem it all at once.

  3. If you are paying an $89 annual fee and charge $20,000 per year, assume that $5000 of that can’t be charged on an Amex (which is probably way more than reality), you are getting a cashback of $375 (2% on 15k and 1.5% on 5k). If you use the barclays with cashback of 2.22% with a $89 fee, you are getting a cashback of $444 – $89 = $355. $355 = 1.78% of $20,000. Not 2% or greater.

    • Actually, my estimates from last year 1.75% overall split between the 2% Amex and a 1% visa, with about $20k total everything else and $5k couldn’t go on the Amex. Total cashback was $362 including foreign (actually was $2,334). The Fidelity visa would have earned $313 if you just used it. I could have gotten it to $363 by using the Fidelity Amex and Visa combined. Using only the Barclaycard would have been $397 after the annual fee, including foreign, restaurants and drugstores, which is $45 more than the current system.

      Your $5k estimate was actually pretty accurate. Insurance $1,500. Parking $300. Gyms $600. Electricity $700. Medical $500. Painting $800. Other $500.

  4. Does not hit all your items but there is a 2% capital one no foreign transaction fee at $59 annually. You might need to get the business one (Spark Cash) in order to redeem against any transaction. I think the non-business one (venture) is only redeemable against travel.

  5. So have another one that I think might be king. BOA/ML you can get 100 free stock trades a month plus a 2.625% back, visa, chip, no foreign transaction fee, no annual fee, redeemable against travel credit card (+ some other perks like waiving fees on various things). Requirement is to maintain 100K between the two but with 100 free stock trades a month few good reasons not to have your stocks/funds there. I got the account and will be applying for the card shortly. You can also get $500 for depositing 100K or $1000 for $200K per account and a $100 sign up bonus ($175 if you time it right) for the credit card.


    • http://thefinancebuff.com/bank-of-america-travel-rewards-visa.html

      The problem with this card I that I need $50,000 to $100,000 in assets that I could transfer to Merrill Lynch to beat my Barclaycard. I don’t have that much. I have my Roth IRA, my taxable Vanguard investments and my savings accounts. I could probably come up with $50,000, but not $100,000. I’m in the process of shuffling around some funds to get a bonus for having $50,000 with my credit union that’s worth about the same amount as this and I was only keeping that much in cash during the job transition.

      • Hopefully it will still be offered when you reach that level (I would think this offer will last a year as it is almost brand new). At 50K it still wins by a bit + has no fee and you will likely reach 100K soon enough, where it becomes significantly better. Another item from a psychology standpoint- I am a bit more willing to keep my emergency fund money invested with instant selling without commissions possible.

        One nice thing for the sign up account bonuses here is transferring stock or funds counts – you do not actually need to liquidate first.

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