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Barclaycard Takes Top Honors for Travel Rewards

[Sunday, October 18th, 2015]

Money Magazine has named Barclaycard Arrival Plus and Barclaycard Arrival among their Best Credit Cards of 2015-2016. This is the first time both cards have been chosen as outstanding cards in Money’s annual roundup of the best credit cards, though the Arrival Plus has won for three years in a row now.

The Barclaycard Arrival cards debuted in 2013, and offers customers up to two reward points per dollar spent, a sign-up bonus, flexible redemption options, and no foreign transaction fees. The Arrival card has no annual fee and fewer benefits, while the Arrival Plus card carries an $89 annual fee and more perks.

Different cards, different rewards

Travel rewards credit cards come in two basic versions: those that are co-branded with a certain airline or hotel chain, and those that aren’t. The ones that are co-branded give you miles or points you can use only on certain airlines (and their partner alliance airlines) or hotel brands, and the others, like the Barclaycard Arrival cards, give you points that you can use as a statement credit toward travel spending.

The advantage of a card like the Barclaycard Arrival is flexibility. You can use reward points to pay for air travel, car rentals, train tickets, cruises, or anything else categorized as a travel expense. The downside is, they don’t generally give the highest value on trade-in. They also don’t give you traveler perks like priority boarding, free checked luggage, companion tickets, discounts on in-flight purchases, and access to travel lounges. Some of them do offer concierge service, which is a nice benefit that can help you do things like make travel reservations and find your way around a new city.

No foreign transaction fees, and other advantages

One really nice thing about the Barclaycard Arrival cards, as well as travel rewards cards by Capital One and many other travel credit cards, is not charging a foreign transaction fee. This fee, which is generally between 2-3%, is processed on purchases made in other countries. If you’re a frequent traveler, it can add up. Most high value travel credit cards that want to be competitive in the market don’t charge it.

Another thing that contributed to Barclaycard’s win in this category was their EMV technology, which provides more security and lessens the chance of cardholders’ payment information being compromised.

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