Barclays Arrival Premier – A $150 Clunker

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Update: this card didn’t last long. It’s dead.

Barclays announced a new card in the market today, the Barclays Arrival Premier (press release and public card page), with a suspect marketing pitch:

  • No signup bonus
  • $150 annual fee, not waived the first year
  • Niche airline transfer partners at less than 1:1 transfer ratio, not even including several that Barclays has co-brand card relationships
  • No meaningful or distinct travel benefits
  • Anniversary point bonus requires reaching $15,000 and $25,000 annual spend levels

Sign me up!

Barclays Arrival Premier

This is the kind of card that banks try to slip past customers at branches when they are getting a mortgage or sign up for investment management. Except Barclays does not have branches in the US. Hard to see who will sign up for this card.

It is painful to see many blogs toe the marketing line on this.

Such as, “The annual fee on the Arrival Premier is $150, and as a premium rewards card, the Premier offers the usual multitude of travel insurance, purchase protection and other travel benefits.” Travel benefits such as? No foreign transaction fee, a once every five years Global Entry credit, and Lounge Key membership that charges your $27/visit to a subset of Priority Pass lounges (both are from the same company, Lounge Key is the budget offering), chip-and-pin that isn’t quite chip-and-pin.

Many more are squirming around to find some way to praise or to not explicitly criticize.

Doctor of Credit has a fair, detailed review.

The JAL Use Case?

The one positive item that I notice is Japan Airlines as a transfer partner.

SPG transfers to JAL, but not Amex, Chase, or Citi. Not many good options in the US to earn JAL miles. JAL’s own US card only earns 1 mile/dollar at the $70 annual fee option (or 1 mile/2 dollars at the $20 annual fee option).

With the Barclays Arrival Premier, the base ratio of 1.7 Arrival miles to 1 JAL mile is only worth 1.175 miles per dollar spent. Hitting annual spend at exactly the $15,000 and $25,000 thresholds, nets 15,000 and 10,000 point bonuses, respectively. Running all the math, which people over at Frequent Miler are doing, you can make a case compared to the SPG card if you have that much money you want to spend, specifically for the purpose of getting JAL miles, and don’t mind the high annual fee, and also don’t mind JAL’s generally high award ticket surcharged. Enough qualifcations just to eke out some value, huh?

JAL Mileage Bank has some award values. Fewer than it seems at first glance, unless you are willing to fork over a lot in cash surcharges. Economy is usually a poor value, even the promo awards, unless you concoct elaborate hopper itineraries. There are some sweet spots for premium economy and up with JAL if you track their promos, and with some partners. Miles force expire 3 years from earned.

Cash Back Use Case?

There are several no annual fee 2% cash back credit cards in the market. Several other cards offer first-year 3% cash back with no first-year annual fee (e.g. Alliant Visa Signature, Discover it Miles).

If you want 3% cash back, can’t get these other cards, have $25,000 spend to deploy, and can justify the math with a $150 annual fee, then this card is for you.

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12 travel stories you missed by not getting the Boarding Area weekly email - Points with a CrewHoKoprojectxStefan KrasowskiChristian Recent comment authors

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[…] Barclays Arrival Premier – A $150 Clunker by Rapid Travel Chai […]


Lol, agreed. This card is basically a non-starter


I appreciate your independent view without being too commercial like those of your friends. But your writing style sometimes can be challenging to read and hard to understand. Or maybe I am just not intelligent enough… Form what I have read for a couple of times, are you saying this card is basically junk and TPG is all about money? So “sign me up” is a dry humor? I am not suggesting you go for a VH1 or tabloid style like OMAAT and VFTW ..that is low. But maybe you can write more like USA Today , simple , straightforward… Read more »


While I don’t always agree with Stefan, I like his writing style overall, he has some unique topics, and I really like the lack of commercialism. I personally took the “sign me up” as satire, but that’s just me.


I’m glad to see you’re not in on the hype. It disturbs me to see other bloggers using all kinds of contortions to make this card sound like a winner.