How Barclaycard Arrival Travel Redemptions Actually Work

File this under tricky, or at first glance, confusing. If you recently hit the minimum spend on your Barclaycard Arrival Plus MasterCard, you might be wondering how best to maximize those lucrative travel credits.

Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a manual on how to do it provided by Barclaycard, you’re just told you can redeem for travel statement credits “starting at 10,000 miles.”

Where it gets murky is the “starting at” part – in reality, the minimum redemptions are usually a lot higher if you’ve made large travel purchases, which makes it appear as if you’re getting a raw deal.

Let’s look at an example of this to illustrate what might seem like a misleading redemption policy.

Say you spent $3,000+ on the card and received your 50,000 bonus miles. You’re now around 56,000 total miles thanks to the 2X on all purchases plus the bonus.

Kudos to Barclaycard for applying those miles to your account literally the minute your purchase that surpassed $3,000 hit your account. That’s a big plus – no waiting period or wondering if you hit the minimum spend. The miles are just there instantly!

Where It Gets Confusing

minimum redemption

When you go to the travel statement credit area of their rewards page, you’ll see any qualifying travel purchases listed that you can redeem miles against.

But when you click on the “redeem now” button, you’ll probably be presented with a minimum number of miles that is well above 10,000, despite this being the number Barclaycard advertises.

In our case, the minimum redemption for a $393.90 purchase was 32,500 when the miles balance was around 56,000, more than triple the stated 10,000 minimum. What gives?!

Well, it’s unclear what gives to be honest, and it’s somewhat annoying because it might lead someone to believe they’ll be stuck with an insufficient amount of miles if they choose that high redemption.

Assuming they cash in 32,500 miles, they’ll have somewhere in the neighborhood of 25,000 miles remaining, which if the minimum is once again a seemingly arbitrary 32,500, they’d fall short.

So they’d either need to spend more to get more miles, or make a new purchase around $250 that the system recognizes as travel and generates a lower redemption number, such as 25,000.

In reality, this isn’t necessary, though you wouldn’t know it until you took that leap of faith and redeemed your miles on an initial travel purchase.

After redeeming 37,500 miles (which was another option above the 32,500 minimum), the minimum mile redemption was lower on subsequent redemptions. But again, this wasn’t known until that first redemption was finalized. So a cardholder might not know they’ll be able to redeem for a lesser amount.

As you can see from the screenshot above, the redemption minimum dropped to 15,000 miles on a different $393.90 travel purchase once the miles balance dropped to around 22,000, which while still above the oft-quoted 10,000 minimum, is manageable with the remaining miles in the account.

Our hypothetical cardholder can now redeem 20,000 of their ~22,000 remaining miles (they redeemed 37,500 the first go around) and wind up with only about 2,000 unused miles stuck in their account, unable to be redeemed until they reach 10,000 again.

Getting Nearly $600 in Value Fast

In total, the redemptions equate to $575 in travel credits, which is a good deal for a card that doesn’t charge an annual fee the first year, and only requires $3,000 in spending.

travel credits

The trick is making sure you actually spend $500+ on travel so you can redeem your miles for their maximum value, as opposed to cash.

It would be nice to know that your minimum redemption amount will automatically reset LOWER once you make your first travel redemption. But there’s literally no way of knowing what that magic number will be as it’s not set at 10,000 in many cases.

Oh, We Get It Now…Maybe

25 increments

Update: We figured it out, we think.

There was another situation where there were around 57,000 miles in the account and a few travel purchases we could redeem against.

One of the travel purchases was over $1,000, and it appears if you don’t have the miles to erase the entire purchase, it will only let you redeem in $25 increments.

That meant we could redeem at maximum of 55,000 miles for $550 value, but that would have left a random, and more importantly, insufficient amount of miles leftover for another redemption.

So we did some math and realized if we redeemed 10,000 miles first for a smaller ~$100 purchase, we’d wind up with more than 47,500 miles remaining. That just so happens to be enough to get over the next $25 threshold on a subsequent redemption.

most miles used

Returning to the $1000 transaction, we could now redeem 47,500 miles for $475 in value.

All told, that meant we got $575 in travel credit as opposed to just $550.

575 total

The moral of the story is this. For whatever reason, Barclays doesn’t seem to let you redeem all your miles unless it will cover the entire travel purchase.

If it’s less than the full amount, you apparently have to redeem in $25 increments. That means you need to do the math first to see how best to maximize your miles.

(photo: Ethan Lofton)

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