Barclaycard Rolls Out Arrival Changes, Adds EMV Chip

NOTE: The offers for the Arrival and Arrival Plus are unavailable. The information below is only for reference.

A year after their 2013 launch, Barclaycard has made some changes to its Arrival cards. The most obvious is the re-design. Formerly plain black ($89 annual fee version) and white ($0 annual fee version), both versions of the card are now sporting cyan. And the $89 version has undergone a name change, to the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® (the “Plus” part is new).

Yet there are additional changes that are more than skin deep …

1. EMV chip: This perk is available only on the $89-annual-fee Barclaycard Arrival Plus. That’s good news for travelers because, before, the card teased globe-trotters with no foreign transaction fees – without giving them the ability to make transactions in parts of the world where EMV is the norm. Now, with the EMV chip, this card becomes a much better travel companion.

The EMV chip uses chip and signature technology with PIN capabilities. That means you’ll likely sign for your purchases stateside (where chip and signature is becoming the norm). But you can also set a PIN, which you’ll use wherever chip and PIN is required — think unmanned ticketing and fuel stations in Europe.

2. Upgrade to World Elite: The Arrival Plus is a MasterCard World Elite card (formerly, the annual-fee version of the card was a World MasterCard). Whether you’ll benefit from this upgrade depends on your travel habits and tastes. For example, you can get a complimentary upgrade to business class on certain airlines to certain destinations (with the purchase of a full-fare economy ticket). You also get discounts on private jets and chauffeured cars.

3. Longer redemption window: Both versions of the card are getting this improvement. You now have 120 days (from the date of purchase) to redeem for statement credits against travel expenses. The old redemption window was 90 days. For comparison, the Capital One Venture card’s redemption window is 90 days, and the BankAmericard Travel Rewards card’s is 12 months.

4. More travel redemption options: Again, this change applies to both versions of the card. When you redeem for a statement credit against travel, the travel expense must be on Barclaycard’s list of valid travel expenses. Based on the cards’ new terms and conditions, that list (which formerly contained only hotels and motels, airfare, car rentals, cruises, travel agencies, tour operators and passenger railways) has now expanded to include:

  • Time shares
  • Campgrounds
  • Buses
  • Taxis
  • Limos
  • Tourist attractions

Just like before, you’ll get 10 percent of your miles back each time you redeem for an expense in these categories – and your redemptions must be at least $25 (2,500 miles).

None of these changes are drastic, since the rewards-earning structure remains the same. Yet all these changes are improvements (unless you have something against cyan). The addition of the EMV chip is a gain for travelers and an important step, considering that the Arrival was one of the only travel-related cards without a chip option (go here to see which other cards have EMV technology).

How to get the new versions

If you’re an existing cardholder with the no-annual-fee version, you can request a new version of your card, or simply wait until your old card expires. Existing customers with the annual-fee version of the card who have been targeted for the upgrade will get the World Elite benefits added to their account by May 28, says Maurice Ragland, vice president of Barclaycard Rewards for Barclaycard US. Those account holders will also receive the new World Elite “Plus” version of the card by mid-June.

Getting the cards for the first time? You’ll automatically get the features listed above, assuming you qualify for the version of the card you applied for.

Updated May 20, 2014

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