The 4 Best Rewards Cards From Barclays

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Now that Barclays has pulled new applications for the Arrival Plus card from the market, as they re-evaluation their branded card (and lending) strategy, what are the best Barclays credit card options?

Barclays has a significant portfolio of partner cards, especially in travel, although many of them are fairly niche products. Barclays has Priceline, Wyndham, RCI and Diamond Resorts (timeshares), Lufthansa, JetBlue, Hawaiian, Frontier, Choice hotels, and a bunch of cruises (Carnival, Princess, Holland America) plus they split the American Airlines co-brand with Citi. Among their bigger partners are the NFL and Uber.

There are some gems in the portfolio, and in fact the one card I feel like I missed out on is a Barclays product. Jason Steele has mocked me mercilessly for not having gotten the Wyndham card back when it offered 2 points per dollar spent. Shortly after the product was revamped Wyndham introduced their timeshare and homesharing redemption option at 15,000 points per night per bedroom. Legacy customers got to keep the old earning proposition.

Here are what I believe to be the best cards from Barclays:

  • AAdvantage Aviator Silver isn’t a product you can apply for directly, this is the Barclays premium card that’s offered as an upgrade to Aviator Red customers.

    The card comes with $50 in statement credits each cardmember year for inflight Wi-Fi purchases on American Airlines operated flights and $25 in statement credits for inflight food and beverage purchases each day that you fly American Airlines operated flights.

    There are several bonuses at various spending thresholds of interest to American elite customers especially,

    • Companion certificate valid for up to 2 companions at $99 plus tax each after $20,000 spend in a year
    • 3000 elite qualifying dollars after $50,000 spend in a year
    • 5000 elite qualifying miles after $20,000 spend in a year
    • 5000 elite qualifying miles after $40,000 spend in a year

    As a Mastercard, by the way, you can use it to make mortgage payments at Plastiq.com.

  • Frontier Airlines World Mastercard earns 1 elite qualifying mile per dollar spent. No one has ever done it like this before in the U.S.

    Spend $100,000 on the card or fly 100,000 (or a combination) and receive ‘the WORKS’ bundle including up to 8 travel companions on the same reservation.

    • Free carry on bag
    • Free checked bag
    • Free seat selection including extra legroom seats
    • Free refunds and flight changes

    If you spend $100,000 a year on the card all of your tickets become refundable. No one matches that. They’re big in my home town of Austin. I think if they offered inflight wifi I’d consider flying them because of this card and put significant spend on it, even if the miles I’m earning wouldn’t tier up well to my aspirational redemption goals.


    Copyright: zhukovsky / 123RF Stock Photo

  • Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite Mastercard® has a limited time offer to earn 60,000 bonus miles after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 90 days. And the card’s $99 annual fee is $0 the first year – something I don’t see often for this card. [Offer expired]

    You receive a one-time 50% off companion discount for roundtrip coach travel between Hawaii and North America on Hawaiian Airlines, and an annual $100 companion discount for roundtrip travel between Hawaii and North America on Hawaiian Airlines after each account anniversary.

    Hawaiian Airlines credit card customers can share miles for free, without the usual $25 service fee, $0.01 per mile transfer fee, and 2000 mile minimum. Here are the card’s rates and fees.

  • Uber Visa is a strong no annual fee cash back card — 4% at restaurants and UberEATS; 3% on airfare, hotels, travel agencies, and Airbnb; 2% back for online purchases and Uber — with cell phone protection and a statement credit for streaming services is you spend $5000 a year.

    Despite Uber rolling out its new loyalty program, though, the card really isn’t integrated with benefits for using Uber. It doesn’t get you status or help you earn status or provide better treatment. Presumably that has to be in the works, but it would have been nice to see those things launch together, since today it really is just a strong cash back card with the Uber name on it.

Ultimately American Express Membership Rewards cards are better places to spend if you want HawaiianMiles, and Chase Ultimate Rewards better if you want JetBlue points (Capital One points transfer to JetBlue, too), than the Barclays co-brand products. The Barclays cards offers some nice benefits for those who fly the airlines, but that’s a reason to get the cards not a reason to put spend on them.

I’ll offer this plug for the NFL cards, though. Cardmembers really can spend, save their points, and redeem for VIP Superbowl packages. Those are far more accessible than most customers likely realize, and so the number of people who actually try for those seems to be small relative to the experiential value they offer.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Editorial note: any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. Comments made in response to this post are not provided or commissioned nor have they been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any bank. It is not the responsibility of advertisers Citibank, Chase, American Express, Barclays, Capital One or any other advertiser to ensure that questions are answered, either. Terms and limitations apply to all offers.

Comments

  1. You omitted Jet Blue. Now that southwest flies to Hawaii, who wants to waste their time on the Hawaiian Airlines card.

  2. @ Gary — These cards are awful. As with other awful cards, get the opening bonus and cancel after one year. Repeat.

  3. @Gene – there is no opening bonus on the Aviator Silver. I think the Frontier card is a winner for people who can make Frontier the airline work for them and who live in places like Denver, Orlando, Philadelphia…

  4. @Gary, Arrival+ didn’t make the list. Also, with regard to the Frontier Airlines card, I know that spending 100k makes all of your tickets refundable, which is huge. But what’s the opportunity cost? Southwest is also pretty big in Austin, and they’re tickets are refundable too.

  5. @Jeremy, did you not read the first sentence? “Now that Barclays has pulled new applications for the Arrival Plus card from the market”

  6. I was alright using an Uber card for restaurants and travel until Barclays told me I needed to set a travel alert when checking into a hilton 100 miles from my home – guess I wasn’t using uber enough??

  7. Thanks for this writeup, it clearly points me to dropping my existing Barclays cards to the Aviator White (or whatever it’s called)

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