I don't understand Travel cards very well...

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kiteman
 
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I don't understand Travel cards very well...

Postby kiteman » Sun May 25, 2014 6:10 pm

This is going to be a bunch of dumb questions so I apologize in advance. I was looking at the Barclays Arrivals card and it seems like a good card, but I don't know if I understand the miles application. Here is what I read about the miles:

With 100,000 points (from $50,000 in purchases) you can apply that towards $1,000 worth of travel expenses. Hotels, flights, trains, taxi's, etc. You can break it up or do it for one trip.

But the card calls out the points as miles. And when I hear miles, I think of an example like I buy an economy plane ticket from ATL to LAX, and then later I want to upgrade to business class with 100,000 MILES and then use the MILES I've earned from the Arrivals card to make that upgrade. Is that possible with this card?

It sounds to me like the above scenario (100,000 points worth $1,000 CASH) makes this card simply a 2% cashback card but for cash only on travel items. If that's the case then my Fidelity Amex 2% is a much better card rewards-speaking, since there is no fee or limitations on what you can use the 2% back on.

If the Arrivals is more like a cashback card, are there any cards that can do what I mentioned earlier--allow you to use the MILES you've earned on that card to upgrade flights that are booked or to book flights altogether?


MemberSince99
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Postby MemberSince99 » Sun May 25, 2014 11:23 pm

It's not more like a cashback card - it's called a travel card for a reason: that reason is it gives higher rewards when used that way vs cashback with only gives 1%.


If all you want is cashback then yes the Fidelity card is 2% across the board and is better. If you want a travel card, the Arrival can give you slightly better rewards (2.2%) for travel.


The Barclay's also has no foreign transaction fee, meaning if you travel overseas that's a big plus.


Anyway, I would not think of the Arrival as a cashback card as it's not that great when used that way. It's a travel card. You can use it that way but then you can use a hammer for just about any job too though it won't always do a great job at it.


If you want specific scenarios answered probably the best way to find the answer is call them up and ask them (such as the upgrade). I don't work for them and I don't have all the specifics of their travel program memorized. They pay people to answer these questions so it's probably a good idea to call and ask them.

MB131174
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Postby MB131174 » Mon May 26, 2014 10:07 am

Oh boy. Now Member is gonna be saying "Now why did I close this?!"
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MemberSince99
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Postby MemberSince99 » Mon May 26, 2014 11:54 am

No I know why I closed it. There were multiple reasons. One is I'm simply not travelling right now, and had two travel cards with annual fees. Should I do any travel, I have a no fee card that should work just fine (BofA) for my needs. If it turns out I'm REALLY travelling heavily then I'll address that issue at that time. But I just in the end can't see paying an annual fee for cards I'm not using in a way that justifies the fee, is what it came down to in the end, and in the case of Barclays the poor customer service experience I had with them along with not getting WE upgrade clinched it for me. (Is that petty? maybe but I'm entitled to feel the way I do).


Not to mention I just had too many cards for my spend/use level. It was more complicated than I wanted. Right now it's simple - Associated is main card, Amex secondary. The others, except for Discover, get a small recurring monthly charge plus any 5% or specialized charges (i.e. Gas and Amazon for Freedom for example). That should make my life easier and reward the main lender that did right by me (Associated). I'm done with trying to win the favor of the others - if they wanna show me some luv, I can reciprocate, otherwise, I really don't need you so take the swipes you get or close if you want.

takeshi
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Postby takeshi » Mon May 26, 2014 12:55 pm

kiteman wrote:But the card calls out the points as miles. And when I hear miles, I think of an example like I buy an economy plane ticket from ATL to LAX, and then later I want to upgrade to business class with 100,000 MILES and then use the MILES I've earned from the Arrivals card to make that upgrade. Is that possible with this card?

That's not what miles means for all travel cards. Redemption options are listed on the Barclay site and what you're asking is not possible*. Don't just assume that miles means that you can use the miles just as with a frequent flier program. Always read the program's redemption details. In some cases miles and points are interchangeable terms. In some cases you're actually accruing miles in a frequent flier programs (generally with airline cobranded cards but, again, read the details).

* Though you could certainly pay for an upgrade and then use redeem miles to cover the cost of the upgrade.

The thing is that "travel" is a very vague term and encompasses a wide range of cards and they don't all behave the same way. People seem to assume that if they intend to travel that a "travel card" is a natural fit but it's not such a straightforward matter. A lot of travel cards require a significant amount of spend in other to realize the associated benefits. There are many cases where a person may be better suited with cash back cards. It's just a matter of crunching the numbers. However, what makes the comparison tricky is that it can be difficult to determine value per point/mile for comparison.

kiteman wrote:If that's the case then my Fidelity Amex 2% is a much better card rewards-speaking, since there is no fee or limitations on what you can use the 2% back on.

Better isn't a universal matter. Some would find plenty of use for the rewards even if they could only apply it towards travel expenses. For some the AmEx network is a concern due to acceptance. You have to make the call based on your own specific priorities.

kiteman wrote:If the Arrivals is more like a cashback card, are there any cards that can do what I mentioned earlier--allow you to use the MILES you've earned on that card to upgrade flights that are booked or to book flights altogether?

As I mentioned earlier it's typically the cobranded airline cards that fit the bill and they don't earn their own miles. Cardholders accrue miles in their frequent flier accounts. Check with airlines that you use.

MemberSince99 wrote:Anyway, I would not think of the Arrival as a cashback card as it's not that great when used that way.

It basically is cash back since redemptions have to be for statement credits.

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Postby MemberSince99 » Tue May 27, 2014 6:46 am

takeshi wrote:It basically is cash back since redemptions have to be for statement credits.




I think you COMPLETELY missed the point, which is that you only get that 2.2% on travel. If you use it as a general spend card you get 1%. That was the point, so yes it is a "travel" card if we are talking about optimal rewards.


I mean what is it with people that they squabble and scrap over stupid details like this. The country is turning into the 4th Reich and a third world country, and people are debating if rocks are edible and if Arrival is a travel rewards card. It's no wonder we are doomed. Time to go see who the Kartrashians are sleeping with tonight and pop another beer!

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Postby MB131174 » Tue May 27, 2014 6:52 pm

Member - I've been noticing that takeshi's posts have a certain level of arrogance to them. It's no use getting into a p***ing contest with someone like that.
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