A number of varied travel credit cards are available to individuals with the wanderlust bug. Utilizing rewards credit cards with extensive travel benefits, from frequent flyer points bonuses or statement credits on travel related purchases, can have a major impact on the total cost of your next big trip. But, it can be a challenge to determine which travel credit card is truly the best in terms of rewards, extra perks, and costs. Let’s take a look at two heavy hitters in the travel rewards card genre: the Discover it Miles credit card and the Barclaycard Arrival Plus credit card.
It’s all about the Points
The Discover it Miles card is specifically designed for the traveler with a penchant for simplicity. As a flat rate rewards card, the Discover it Miles program allows card members the opportunity to earn 1.5 miles on each dollar spent, regardless of category or amount. There are no bonus categories to track on a quarterly basis, and no reduction in rewards earnings once points reach a certain level, making this card a smart choice. As an additional bonus for new card members, Discover is offering to automatically match all miles earned at the end of the first account year with a limit and without having to make a minimum dollar amount of purchases.
The Barclaycard Arrival Plus is also considered a flat rate rewards card, but offers 2 points for each dollar spent. There are no rotating categories that increase rewards potential, and no limit on how many miles can be earned in any given time period. Compared to the Discover it Miles credit card, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus program offers a bonus for new card members as well. After a minimum of $3,000 are spent in the first 90 days after account opening, card members with Barclaycard Arrival Plus earn 40,000 bonus miles.
The Discover it Miles credit card and the Barclaycard Arrival Plus credit card differ in terms of miles redemption, despite being similar in terms of flat rate rewards. Discover it card members can redeem accumulated miles in any value, at any time, and miles never expire as long as the account remains in good standing. Redemption can be taken as a statement credit for travel related purchases, or as a cash back deposit into a checking or savings account. In addition, Discover it Miles members can receive up to $30 back each year for in-flight Wi-Fi purchases.
The Barclaycard Arrival Plus credit card requires a minimum of 10,000 miles to accumulate prior to card members having the opportunity to redeem. Barclaycard miles can only be redeemed for qualifying travel purchases made with the card, as a statement credit, which means only purchases of $100 or more that took place within the last 120 days. For new card members who do not end up qualifying for the bonus mile promotion, reaching the required minimum for miles redemption with the Barclaycard Arrival Plus credit card could present some challenges. However, Barclaycard Arrival Plus card members earn 5% in miles back that can be used for their next redemption, each and every time miles are redeemed.
Added Value through Member Benefits
Both Discover and Barclaycard offer attractive benefits for card members. First, both Discover and Barclaycard provide card members with free access to their individual FICO scores either through the respective mobile app or the desktop log-in. That’s where the benefit similarities end, as the travel credit cards differ in most other value-added aspects.
Discover it Miles card members have a variety of security features inherent to the card that make it appealing for those concerned about ongoing control. The Freeze It feature allows card members to prevent new purchases, cash advances or balance transfers on the card if it is temporarily lost or stolen, simply by selecting the option in the mobile app or online. Additionally, free overnight card replacement is available for all card members when needed. Discover also provides 24/7 monitoring of accounts to ensure no suspicious activity is taking place.
Barclaycard Arrival Plus card members also have access to a number of added benefits, including travel accident and trip cancellation insurance. Baggage delay insurance as well as auto rental collision damage waivers are also available to card members on the go. Barclaycard also provides $0 fraud liability on any unauthorized charges made with the card, providing added peace of mind for card members. Not found with Discover it Miles card members is the direct access to MasterCard World Elite Concierge and Luxury Travel Benefits that Barclaycard Arrival Plus members have automatically. This enhanced benefit is incredibly valuable to those who travel often or are seeking a unique experience while away.
The Dollars and Cents
The main difference between the Discover it Miles card and the Barclaycard Arrival Plus card is the cost. Barclaycard members are subject to an annual fee of $89, although it is waived for the first year the account is open; Discover it Miles card members do not pay an annual fee at all. Both card options offer no foreign transaction fees on purchases made outside the United States – a lifesaver for those who travel abroad often.
Barclaycard Arrival Plus credit card members are subject to an APR for purchases and balance transfers of either 16.24% or 20.24%, based on creditworthiness. Discover it Miles card members start as low as 11.24% for purchase APRs, and can go as high as 23.24%, again based on credit history and score. The Discover it Miles credit card comes with a 0% introductory rate on purchases for the first 12 months, while the Barclaycard Arrival Plus card comes with a 0% balance transfer offer, also for the first 12 months.
Which is Right for You?
Both the Discover it Miles card and the Barclaycard Arrival Plus card are top contenders in the world of travel credit cards, but it is important to know what you want out of a card prior to applying. Although the Discover it Miles card comes with a lower rewards earning rate (1.5), the flexibility to redeem for statement credits or cash back is an attractive perk, as is the lack of an annual fee. For those who are strictly seeking out a travel rewards card and spend enough to justify the annual fee and high redemption barrier, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus credit card may be the better option.