No More Arrival Applications
Yesterday news broke that Barclay’s had stopped accepting applications online for both their Arrival and Arrival Plus Mastercards. I learned about the development from Gift Card Nirvana on Twitter and Amol broke the news over at Travel Codex.
If you go to the Barclay’s website, all of the same information as far as features, benefits and bonus shows up, however the “Apply Now” button has been replaced with a “Check back soon to apply” message. Very very interesting.
My Calls & Semi-Confirmed Changes
This morning I called into Barclay’s and spoke to a few different representatives. None of them knew anything of changes coming to the cards. With that said, Amol at Travel Codex was able to get confirmation of several negative changes coming to the cards. These changes were also mentioned by a user on Reddit.
According to Amol, Barclay’s will be dropping the rebate from 10% down to 5%, they are raising the minimum travel redemption to $100 (10,000 points), they are removing TripIt Pro membership and finally they are shaking up which merchants will count as travel expenses.
Let me break down my thoughts on each of the semi-confirmed changes coming to the card:
This is insane. Now the card goes from being a 2.2% cashback card to a 2.1% card. Considering you can get a Citi Double Cash or a Fidelity Amex and earn 2% with NO ANNUAL FEE, you would need to spend $89,000 per year on the Arrival Plus to justify the annual fee.
- 2% on $89,000 = $1,780
- 2.1% on $89,000 = $1,869
- Difference = $89
We don’t really know all of the details, but my guess is that the categories will be much more limited than before. In the past I have been surprised at how widely they defined travel, so this isn’t hugely surprising to me. It does lower the appeal of the card, but there are ways around category limitations when cashing out.
TripIt Pro is a useful service and I do like that it scans my emails and builds itineraries for me. I have enjoyed my subscription, but I think Google Now does a decent job of reminding me of things as well. I’ll be sad to lose this subscription, but I don’t think it is a deal breaker.
Minimum Redemption ($100)
So I saved this one for last, because it truly drops the value of the points. If you don’t have 10,000 points, then it sounds like you will have to redeem your points at $.005 each for cash. In other words, Barclay’s is trying to force more breakage. In my opinion, this drives the overall value of the cashback down and therefore I don’t really think this card is worth much more than a standard 2% card.
At some point you will end up with less than $100 worth of points at which point you either have to take half the value for them or spend more on the card. I think Barclay’s is making these changes to get people to stick around and use the card, however I think this will have the opposite effect. This card is DEFINITELY not a long term keeper with these changes unless you are a huge spender and even then it may not be worth it.
When Do These Changes Take Effect
Amol says the changes will be in effect for all new applicants July 1 and after. As for when current cardholders will see a change, it most likely will happen after their annual fee hits going forward. My annual fee was just charged on June 30, so perhaps I just missed these sweeping changes by a day or so.
Side Note on My Retention Experience
On a side note, since I was already on the phone with Barclay’s this morning, I inquired about any retention offers they had for the my Arrival Plus card. As has been the case in the past, Barclay’s still isn’t waiving the annual fee or offering anything to cardholders. This isn’t a surprise at all, but I thought I would provide a data point while I was on the subject.
I have heard rumblings that Barclay’s hasn’t been too thrilled with the long term product retention on this card. In my opinion these changes lower the value of the Arrival Plus significantly long term. If they still offer a $420 sign-up bonus then people will apply, but Barclay’s has just given them much less reason to stick around. I guess we will see how this works out, but either way the Arrival Plus card is much less valuable for most of us.