Do Barclaycard’s new travel benefits give it a new edge?

Barclaycard has rolled out several devaluations over the past couple years. But recently, it’s been rolling out improvements to its travel-protection benefits on some cards. If you use travel benefits (like trip-delay coverage, rental-car insurance and trip-cancellation protection) to determine which card you use to pay for a trip, take note. Barclaycard may now be your best option for some types of protections.

Here’s a list of what’s changed – and how Barclaycard now compares to the competition.

What’s changing

Barclaycard has added some new travel benefits and improved others. These changes affect its World, World Elite and Visa Signature cards (mostly its World Elite cards, though):

Adding trip-delay coverage (World Elite): Trip-delay coverage is a rare perk, with only 10 percent of credit cards offering it, according to our Card Benefits Survey. And Barclaycard has just joined the club.

Trip-delay coverage reimburses you for expenses (like meals and lodging) if you’re stranded due to inclement weather, equipment failure or lost/stolen travel documents when you use your card to pay for the trip. The coverage maximum is $300, and your trip must be delayed at least six hours or more, according to The Free-quent Flyer.

Improving rental-car collision damage waiver coverage (World, World Elite, Visa Signature): This benefit used to provide coverage for just 15 days on domestic rentals and 31 days on international rentals. Now, the benefits terms state that all rentals worldwide are covered for up to 31 days:

Also, no countries are excluded. Ireland, Israel and Jamaica used to be excluded under the old benefit terms.

Expanding trip-cancellation coverage (World Elite):
This benefit reimburses you for pre-paid expenses if you cancel a trip and paid for that trip with your card.
Barclaycard’s old terms were pretty narrow – only cancellations stemming from death, accidental injury, disease and physical illness (of the insured or an immediate family member) were covered. Now, covered reasons for cancellation include severe weather, terrorist attack and more.

The coverage limit has also been raised (from $1,500 to $5,000 per person per year).

Is Barclaycard now more competitive?

Issuers improve existing benefits when they’re trying to compete against their rivals. After all, most of these benefits come with the stipulation that you must use the card to pay for your trip (or a portion of the trip). And issuers want you to reach for their cards when you’re paying for those $2,000 plane tickets.

So should Barclaycard’s improved benefits put one of its cards at the top of your wallet – or motivate you to apply? We did a side-by-side comparison of one of Barclaycard’s most popular travel cards, the Arrival+ (which, as a World Elite MasterCard will benefit from all the changes listed above) and that card’s biggest competitor – the similarly priced Chase Sapphire Preferred.

Travel protections: Barclaycard Arrival+ vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred
Trip-delay coverageUp to $300 for delays of 6+ hours.Up to $500 for delays of 12+ hours.It’s a draw. The Sapphire Preferred has a higher max dollar amount of coverage, but requires a longer delay.
Auto rental collision damage waiverSecondary coverage. 31 days. No excluded countries.Primary coverage. 31 days. No excluded countries.Chase Sapphire Preferred. Its primary coverage kicks in before your own auto insurance coverage does. Here’s why that beats out secondary coverage.
Trip cancellation coverageUp to $5,000 in prepaid expenses per person per year.Up to $5,000 in prepaid expenses per person per year.Its’ a draw. Not only is the coverage amount the same, but the list of exclusions is practically identical.

In a nutshell, the changes to Barclaycard’s travel benefits make its products (especially its World Elite MasterCards) much more competitive against the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Our 2016 Card Benefits Survey found that Chase was the most generous issuer when it comes to protections and perks, with Barclaycard in second place. These changes close that gap a bit.

Even so, Chase’s primary coverage for rental cars is a vital perk to consider. So, even if you reach for your Barclaycard for your flight and hotel booking, use one of Chase’s travel cards to book the rental car. Rewards are another thing to consider. Chase has a far-more expansive rewards program, while the Arrival+ program is more consistent and simple. So, in addition to considering perks, consider the rewards currency you want to earn. Our reviews on the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Barclaycard Arrival+ have more details.

Written or last updated April 19, 2017

 
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