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Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Review: 60,000 Bonus Miles + Annual Fee Now Waived First Year

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(Updated September 2018. The sign-up bonus is still 60,000 points (worth $600 towards travel), but now the $89 annual fee is also waived for the first year. This is the highest total incentive ever offered to try out this card. Looks like Barclaycard is back to trying hard to get your attention. Details below.)

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus(TM) World Elite MasterCard® is a travel rewards card with 60,000 miles sign-up bonus (worth $600 toward travel statement credits) and 2X miles on every purchase. Note that this card is different from the Barclays Arrival Premier World Elite Mastercard. Here are the card highlights:

  • Enjoy 60,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 90 days and paying the annual fee
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase
  • Book travel your way—no airline, seat or hotel restrictions—and redeem your miles for travel statement credits
  • Get 5% miles back to use toward your next redemption, every time you redeem
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • International Chip and PIN for use at self-service chip terminals around the world
  • Miles don’t expire as long as your account is open, active and in good standing
  • $89 annual fee (waived first year)

Rewards program details. With this card, you earn 2 miles per $1 spent on all purchases. There are no special categories. These miles (easier to think of them as points, really) are then redeemable towards travel booked from any merchant or retailer classified as Airlines, Travel Agencies & Tour Operators, Hotels, Motels & Resorts, Cruise Lines, Passenger Railways and Car Rental Agencies. You can redeem towards any airline on any date.

To redeem, visit any booking site (Delta.com, Expedia.com, Hilton.com, Hotels.com, etc) and buy a ticket with this credit card. You don’t need to use any specific portal. Let’s say you buy an airplane ticket for $250. Then, you visit your Barclaycard account website and you’ll offset your purchase. You’ll redeem 25,000 “miles” and see a $250 statement credit on your statement. I’ve done this multiple times, and it always went smoothly with no issues.

Travel statement credit redemptions start at 10,000 miles for $100 toward a qualifying travel purchase of $100 or more made within the last 120 days. For example, you could use 10,000 points for a $100 credit towards a $200 plane ticket, if you wished.

On top of that, the card gives you a 5% miles rebate when you redeem for any travel. So if you redeemed 50,000 miles, you would get 2,500 back in your account after about a week. Although this is more complicated than just spending less points, you can calculate that getting $500 of value out of 47,500 miles at 2X miles/$ spent works out to 2.11% cash back towards any travel. Everything else (gift cards, merchandise) offers a worse redemption ratio, so I wouldn’t bother.

Comparison with alternatives. 2X miles is nice and the rebate adds a bit extra. The competition offers multiple cards earning 2% cash back with no annual fee. A few examples:

During the first year, the $89 annual fee is waived. However, in future years it comes back. So I would take the first year and see how you like it. You would have to put over $80,000 in purchases on this card annually in order to get the 0.11% advantage to offset the $89 annual fee (after the 1st-year waiver). That’s a big number. Now, you could also use 8,900 miles out of the 60,000 point bonus to offset the $89 annual fee. You can also ask them to downgrade your card into the “plain” Arrival card with no annual fee (and no 2X miles).

Bottom line. The Barclaycard Arrival Plus(TM) World Elite MasterCard® is a travel rewards card that earns double miles on all purchases (even more with the 5% rebate). The sign-up bonus has been raised to 60,000 points – worth $600 in travel statement credits – the highest ever for this card. The $89 annual fee is waived for the first year, but applies in subsequent years. This is strong offer as there is a $600 net value over the first year to get me to try out a new card.

Ally Bank 11-Month No Penalty CD Review: 2.10% APY for $25k+

Rates updated 9/24/18. Ally Bank raised the rate on their 11-month No Penalty CD. These have been an interesting new product in this rising rate environment. If you have older No-Penalty CDs, you may want to take advantage of this higher rate. Here are the new interest rates for the No Penalty CD under their tiered structure (as of 9/24/18):

  • 2.10% APY at $25,000 minimum opening deposit
  • 2.00% APY at $5,000 minimum deposit
  • 1.75% APY at no minimum deposit.

The 11-month No Penalty CD is unique in that while the 2.10% APY rate is locked in at deposit, you can still withdraw your principal and interest without penalty at any time (well, you must wait at least 6 days from the deposit date). In other words, your interest rate can never go down, but you can still jump ship if rates rise or if there is a better promo elsewhere.

If you recently opened one of these, remember that Ally Bank offers a “Ten Day Best Rate Guarantee”:

When you fund your CD within 10 days of your open date, you’ll get the best rate we offer for your term and balance tier if our rate goes up within that time. The Ally Ten Day Best Rate Guarantee also applies at renewal.

If you have an existing No Penalty CD past the 10-day rate guarantee, this means you may consider closing it and then opening up a new one at a higher rate. You will have to withdraw everything at once – there are no partial withdrawals allowed on this type of CD. If you have an Ally savings or checking account, you can close the old CD, see the deposit in your savings/checking, and open up a new CD all in minutes online. (Note that savings accounts are limited to 6 withdrawals per month, so use your checking if possible.) You will be extending the term out another 11 months, but since you can always close it at any time it isn’t much of a concern.

Here’s a screenshot of my withdrawal showing no penalty and instant availability when withdrawn directly into an Ally account:

ally_np_withd

You can use my Ultimate Rate-Chaser Calculator to get an idea of how much additional interest you’d earn if you switched over.

Close alternatives.

  • Ally Savings is now at 1.85% APY, while other online savings accounts rates are even higher. You gain liquidity, but rates can also change on you.
  • Ally 12-month CD is now at 2.50% APY with no minimum deposit, and the 2-Year “Raise Your Rate” CD is at 2.50% APY with no minimum deposit. Both of these do have early withdrawal penalties..
  • CIT Bank 11-Month No Penalty CD is a similar product, currently at 2.05% APY but with a lower $1,000 minimum deposit. This means you could open multiple, smaller CDs and only break out what you need later. These two banks both offer 11-month No-Penalty CDs, and I’ve opened (and closed early) CDs from both places.

Ally is my primary bank, due to various factors like user interface, Live Chat, you can link tons of accounts, 1-day bank transfers are available, and their innovative CD products. I use Ally Bank Online Savings, Interest Checking, and No Penalty CD accounts as my “hub” and then open additional bank CDs as temporary “spokes” when external rates are significantly higher.

Bottom line. The Ally No Penalty CD is unique in that you are always able to move out to a higher rate, but you’ll never get a lower one. This means you can even break the No Penalty CD simply to get another No Penalty CD if/when the rate rises again.

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