Barclays may be a London-based bank, but they’re hungry for the US market, too.
Since acquiring Juniper credit cards in 2004, they’ve had a presence in the US. But over the past year or two, they have really been ramping things up.
In addition to bolstering advertising of their co-branded US Airways MasterCard, they’ve launched several of their own cards.
Here’s a review of the best Barclays credit cards for 2014…
Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard
This is by far the best of the bunch. It has a lucrative travel rewards program that was made to compete against the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. Here is what the Arrival can offer you…
- You get 2x miles on all purchases. The Sapphire Preferred only gives 2x points on travel on dining, while everything else earns only 1x. Meanwhile with this Barclays MasterCard you’re going to get 2x on everything. Since each mile = 1 cent towards travel, you’re essentially earning 2% rebate on your spending.
- You get 10% of your miles back during redemption. For example, if you were to cash out 40,000 miles, you would get back 4,000 of them. The net result? That’s like earning a total of 2.2% on your spending!
- You can use the miles to pay for any travel expense charged to the card, whether that’s airfare, hotels, car rentals, cruises, etc. You simply request a statement credit for those expenses using your miles.
- Free FICO score every month. As a cardmember, your online account displays your real FICO (the real thing, not a FAKO).
- The annual fee is $89 (waived for the first year). That’s slightly lower than what the Sapphire Preferred charges.
Barclaycard Rewards MasterCard
If you have excellent credit and are looking for a card that covers essential spending categories, consider this one.
- 2x points at gas stations, grocery stores, and on utility purchases. Of course getting 2% may not seem like a lot when you compare it to the Discover 5% program, but keep in mind that Barclays is giving you practical categories year ‘round. With the rotating reward programs like Discover has, the categories aren’t always applicable. For example, I live in an apartment so the “home improvement” category during Q2 of 2013 was of no use to me.
- 1x points on all other purchases.
- The points can be redeemed for statement credits at a conversion of 1 point = 1 cent.
- 0% intro APR for 18 months on both purchases and balance transfers, followed by an APR of 14.99% or 19.99% Variable thereafter.
- Free FICO score every month. This benefit in and of itself makes getting this card (or the other one above) worthwhile. To put the value in perspective, only two sources are allowed to sell FICOs to the public (the websites for MyFICO and Equifax) and they both charge around $20 each and every time you check it.
- No annual fee
US Airways Premier World MasterCard
This is the second most popular MasterCard from Barclays. Since US Airways is the smallest of the major airlines, you don’t see it advertised as much as others like the Delta SkyMiles.
- You earn 2 miles per dollar on US Airways purchases. All other purchases are 1 mile per dollar.
- One of the most popular benefits is the companion airfare certificate you get for having the card. You get this not just for one, but two companions. Their airfare is only $99 each (plus taxes/fees) with the purchase of normal priced tickets. For example if you’re a family of 4, you could buy 2 regularly priced tickets and then use certificates to get 2 seats for your kids at $99 a piece.
- When flying on US Airways, cardholders get to check in at the first-class counter and board the plane early during Zone 2 boarding.
- When cashing out your miles, award flights will cost you 5,000 fewer miles. For example, if the award flight normally costs 30,000 miles, as a cardholder you can get it for only 25,000.
There is one drawback to be aware of with all of these cards – they have relatively high interest rates. Really you should only apply for them if you’re the type of person who pays their bill in full. If not, a Barclays credit card won’t be the best choice for you.
This post was written or last updated March 5, 2014