Barclaycard is the undisputed master in my mind of the marketing technique of "underpromise and overdeliver." It seems like every month they're making small, positive changes and adjustments to improve their flagship proprietary rewards card, the Arrival+.
When the card launched, it had a great earning rate and rewards structure, but the limitations on qualifying "travel" purchases were arbitrary and frustrating.
Since then, they've introduced the following changes, all positive:
- Increased redemption period from 90 to 120 days;
- Widened eligible "travel" purchases, importantly to include taxis and services like Uber;
- Started providing free Transunion FICO scores;
- Improved their smartphone app, including the addition of in-app Arrival+ mile redemptions;
- Issued Arrival+ cards as "chip and signature cards with PIN capability," which can be used at unattended kiosks abroad.
With absolutely no publicity, as far as I can tell, Barlcaycard has made another positive change: Arrival+ mile redemptions for irregular amounts are no longer "rounded up" to the nearest dollar (100 miles).
Previously, a redemption against a travel purchase of $35.50 would cost 3,600 Arrival+ miles. You'd receive the full 10% mile rebate of 360 miles, but you'd still be losing 45 Arrival+ miles.
And I do mean losing: you'd pay 50 "extra" Arrival+ miles for the redemption but wouldn't receive an extra $0.50 as a statement credit. The $25 in purchases required to generate those miles was well and truly wasted.
Sometime in the last month or two Barclaycard removed this penalty for uneven redemption amounts. Now you can redeem Arrival+ miles "to the penny" for all travel redemptions, like this train ticket I bought at an unattended kiosk in Milan:
Is this a small change? Tiny. But it's also more unabashedly good news, and I want to give Barclaycard all the credit they deserve for making ongoing, positive changes to such a popular and lucrative credit card.
Just remember, don't pay the annual fee unless you spend more than $44,500 on your Arrival+ card each cardmember year; that's the point when the 10% mileage rebate makes up for the $89 annual fee compared to a no-annual-fee 2% cash back card like Fidelity's or Citi's.
And in any case, call Barclaycard and ask for that annual fee to be waived when it comes due. I've seen increasing reports of such requests being denied, but it's absolutely free to ask.