Or, consider other cards for 50,000 more miles or points that transfer into United miles with additional flexibility for your everyday spending.
$1,000 toward travel or transfer to United, Southwest, and more.
Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card.
The Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® with an $89 annual fee (waived the first year) is one of the most powerful cards for earning hassle free travel rewards with 2x points on every purchase, plus a 5% refund every time you use your points. That was hard to beat for your regular spending, but AmEx changed that by introducing two new cards, the EveryDay Preferred with a $95 annual fee, and the EveryDay card with no annual fee. If you use them properly you could earn even more points than with the Arrival card or the popular Capital One Venture Double Miles card.
While the Barclaycard Arrival Plus is a simple double points card (plus 5% of your miles back when you redeem points), the Amex EveryDay cards are a bit more complicated, with bonuses on grocery and gas spending, as well as a bonus every time you make 20 or 30 transactions on the card in a month. The EveryDay Preferred earns 2x points on gas, and 3x points on groceries (up to $6,000 in groceries a year), plus a 50% bonus on all points each month you use the card fro 30 or more transactions, with no limit.
That combination means you can sometimes earn a lot more than the Arrival’s double points on all spending. The table below lets you compare how many points you might earn in a year with each card based on your total monthly spending.
|Barclaycard Arrival Plus||25,200||37,800||50,400||63,000||75,600|
|Amex EveryDay Preferred||39,600||48,600||57,600||66,600||75,600|
To make things simple we assume you spend at least $500 per month in groceries, which is $6,000 per year, the maximum you can spend to get the special bonus on grocery spending with the EveryDay cards. We also assume you spend $200 a month on gas, which takes advantage of the bonus from the EveryDay Preferred, and that you meet the number of transactions each month to get the bonus on all spending for the EveryDay cards.
Another way to look at it is to see how many points your earning per dollar of monthly spending, when you factor in all of the EveryDay Preferred’s bonuses. As you can see in the chart below it’s possible to earn 2.5x – 3x points per dollar, well ahead of the Arrival at about 2x.
If you want a more customized look of what you can earn, use our CardFinder tool to enter your monthly spending in each category and see how the Arrival and EveryDay cards stack up.
But let’s walk though the examples above.
If you spend about $1,000 – $2,000 a month on your card, use it at least 30 times (about once per day), and spend at least $500 on groceries and $200 in gas, which is pretty typical for most families, the EveryDay Preferred is hard to beat.
For example, at $1,500 a month in spending, you’ll earn 48,600 points from the EveryDay Preferred, over 10,000 more than the Arrival. That works out to 2.7 points per dollar, an incredible earning rate that’s about 30% better than the Arrival.
At $2,000 a month things get a little closer. You’ll earn 57,600 points from the EveryDay Preferred, which works out to 2.4 points per dollar.
If you’re a big spender who racks up more than $3,000 a month then the Arrival card will earn you more points overall, even if you max out the grocery bonus on the EveryDay Preferred. One option if you spend this much each month is to use the EveryDay Preferred for your spending up to $3,000 a month, then use the Arrival card for everything else.
Warning: One pitfall of the EveryDay cards is that they Amex charges a fee of 2.7% on purchases you make in foreign countries. The Barclaycard Arrival does not, though you can get one of many no annual fee cards that don’t charge those fees as an alternative.
The Barclaycard Arrival is great when it comes time to use your points because it’s so simple to redeem for travel credit. For any travel purchase you make on the card, whether it’s a plane ticket, Air BnB room, or car rental, you can use points to erase some or all of the purchase. Every 10,000 points is worth $100 in credit.
The Amex EveryDay cards have some similar options, letting you book flights with almost any airline, but they are a little more complicated to use. One is a good complication, the other less so.
First, the good one.
With the AmEx EveryDay cards you earn Membership Rewards points, which you can transfer anytime into your mileage accounts with several airlines, including Delta, JetBlue, British Airways, Air France, and Air Canada. That means you can build on points you already have and take advantage of the reward values that lie in airline programs. That gives you some great power the Arrival doesn’t have, making rewards like expensive international trips or business and first class seats more accessible.
But what if you don’t want to deal with airline mile programs and just want to use your points like cash, as you can with the Arrival?
You can do it, but there are a few more limitations than the Arrival.
For starters, you can book flights online at the American Express Travel website and use your points to pay for some or all of the purchase. Every 10,000 points is worth $100 in flight value, which is the same as the Arrival card, so that’s a draw between the two.
The catch is the American Express Travel website doesn’t include Southwest Airlines flights, so if you want those you’ll have to call in to American Express and there can be a $39 phone ticketing fee for that. But for the vast majority of flights using the American Express tool is easy and gets you the same fares you’d find elsewhere.
Hotel bookings are trickier. If you want to book hotels with your points you’re limited to the hotels in American Express’ network of ‘best rate guarantee’ hotels. It’s good that you’ll get the best rate, but it limits you to only certain hotels in each city and, the real kicker is that you have to pay for your hotel upfront with points or a mix of cash and points, and AmEx will charge you a penalty if you cancel your plans.
If instead you want to book a hotel or flight elsewhere you can still use your points, but it’s not always a good deal.
AmEx offers a ‘charge with points’ feature where you can use points to erase charges on your statement like many travel expenses. The conversion rate isn’t good though. Every 10,000 points is worth only $60 so you’ll almost never want to take advantage of this.
The only situation where you will want to use ‘charge with points’ is if you are using the American Express mobile app. There AmEx lets you erase charges right from your phone and sometimes it runs promotions where the value of your points is a more standard 10,000 points = $100 rate. That’s the same as what you get with the Arrival and a decent deal.
If you’re spending $1,000 – $2,000 a month on your Arrival card now, you should take a hard look at the new Amex EveryDay Preferred. It’s possible to earn 2.5 – 3x points per dollar on your monthly spend if you regularly charge $500 or more per month in groceries, about $200 in gas, and can use the card for 30 transactions of any size each month. Plenty of families fit that profile.
While using the Membership Rewards points the EveryDay card earns isn’t always quite as easy or hassle free as the Arrival, for most cases it is just as easy and can give you even more options thanks to the ability to transfer your miles into airline programs. And when you have the opportunity to earn points over 30% faster that can be a reasonable price to pay.
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