While I’ve only played the points and miles game for about three years, one thing I’ve learned for sure is that things change – and usually NOT in the favor of those of us who try to maximize the value we get for our points and miles.
Several weeks ago it was noticed that the Barclay’s Arrival Plus card had disappeared from the Barclaycard website. Speculation ran rampant as to what that meant. Some thought maybe the product was being discontinued while others thought perhaps the benefits were being changed. As it turns out, those in the second group are correct. As reported in several blogs, including by Amol on Travel Codex, the product is being devalued.
Current card benefits:
- Earn 2 points for every $1 spent
- Each point is worth $1 for travel-related expenses
- Redeem a minimum of 2500 points, which will cover expenses of $25 or more
- When you redeem, you get a 10% rebate on points. So after redeeming 2500 points, you’d get 250 restored to your account
- A TripIt Pro subscription
Future card benefits:
- Still 2 points for every $1 spent
- Each point is still worth $1 for travel-related expenses
- Now you must redeem a minimum of 10,000 points, which only covers expenses of $100 or more
- The rebate is reduced from 10% to 5%
- TripIt Pro is no longer included
According to a letter received by a Travel Codex reader and shown in Amol’s post, these changes will become effective November 3, 2015. Even though I have the card I have not yet received notification from Barclay’s and the card is not currently available on the Barclaycard website.
Raising the minimum redemption to $100 really hurts. On my ski trips I check two pieces of luggage. The first piece is free thanks to holding an airline co-branded credit card but I always have to pay for the second piece (unless flying first class, of course) and that was a perfect opportunity to use my Arrival Plus card. Now I’ll either use the co-branded card or my Chase Sapphire Preferred, both of which will earn double points for the transaction.
I also hate the loss of TripIt Pro. I loved the free version of TripIt for a couple of years before gaining TripIt Pro. I now use it to track all my points across a multitude of airline, hotel and credit card programs. TripIt Pro also proactively notifies me of flight and gate changes. I’ve read anecdotal evidence of people being notified by TripIt Pro before being notified by their airline!
I’ve only had my card since December 2014, so hopefully the subscription is good at least a year. At that point I’ll have a decision to make whether or not to pay for it.
In the next couple of years I’m hoping to take a couple of group trips where I won’t be able to use the usual types of points to pay and I’d planned on using Arrival Plus points to help reduce the expenses but not I’m not sure that’s the way to go.
Buying $10,000 of gift cards at my local mall for a $79 fee earns me 20,158 points, which can cover $201.58 in travel expenses and then I’d get a 2015 point rebate (or 1007 after the changes). That’s a 39% discount – though there is that $95 annual fee.
By contrast the Capital One Venture card is free the first year and $59 thereafter. It also earns 2 points per $1 spent and allows a redemption rate of 100 points per $1. While I wouldn’t use the Venture card (or the Arrival Plus, for that matter) for premium cabin airline tickets, for cruises and tours they Capital One card may be the way to go.