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Bank of America Travel Rewards or Barclaycard Arrival? Which is the better no fee card?

by on Fri July 8, 2016 • 1 Comment
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Update: The Barclaycard Arrival is no longer available as of September 1, 2016.

If you’re looking to earn travel rewards the simple way, with one or two credit cards and no annual fees, the Bank of America Travel Rewards and Barclaycard Arrival credit cards are both worth considering. Here we’re going to take a look at the details of each and help you determine which credit card would be better for you.

The short answer is:

  • Get the Bank of America Travel Rewards card if you are looking for a very simple card to spend on for most or all of your credit card purchases, or if you have significant amounts of money ($20,000+) in qualifying Bank of America bank accounts and/or Merrill Edge and Merrill Lynch investment accounts.

  • Get the Barclaycard Arrival card if you are able to focus your travel and dining spend on one credit card and don’t already have another card that earns bonus points for travel and dining purchases but you do have another card that earns more valuable rewards for non-bonused spend categories (anything other than travel and dining).

Here’s a rundown the the main features of each card:

  • Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card: Earn unlimited 1.5 points for every dollar you spend on all purchases, points never expire, no foreign transaction fees, 0% APR on purchases for your first 12 billing cycles, 20,000 bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening, 10% bonus points if you have an active Bank of America checking or savings account, no annual fee.

  • Barclaycard Arrival: Earn 2 miles per dollar spent on travel and dining purchases, 1 mile per dollar spent on all other purchases, get 5% miles back every time you redeem miles, no foreign transaction fees, 20,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days, chip and PIN technology, 0% APR for 12 months for each Balance Transfer made within 45 days of account opening, no annual fee.

Now we will look at the pros and cons of each card and help you decide which card makes the most sense for you.

Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card

Pros

  • Card Description ultragraphix20,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 in purchases within the first 90 days of your account opening. These bonus points can be redeemed for a $200 statement credit toward travel purchases, a pretty solid sign up bonus for a no annual fee credit card.

  • Simple points earning. You don’t have to worry about keeping track of which categories earn the most points when spending on your Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card. Every single purchase earns the same 1.5 Travel Rewards points per dollar spent, everyday.

  • You won’t pay foreign transaction fees when traveling abroad. This is becoming a pretty standard benefit on credit cards that have an annual fee, but is far less common on credit cards without an annual fee. Not paying foreign transaction fees when traveling abroad is a must as it would otherwise add an additional 3-5% to the cost of your trip. There’s no reason at all to be paying them when you can have a no annual fee card that won’t charge you foreign transaction fees.

  • 0% APR on purchases for the first 12 months after opening your account. While we don’t recommend carrying credit card debt, if you do have a big purchase coming up and you need a bit of financing, 0% APR is the way to do it.

  • 10% bonus points on every purchase when you have an active Bank of America checking or savings account. This is an easy way to earn extra points because you can have an account with no fees even if you don’t use it very often. This means that you’ll earn an additional 0.15 point on each purchase, effectively making this a 1.65 point per dollar spent credit card. You can earn an even higher bonus if you qualify for Bank of America’s Preferred Rewards Program. In order to qualify, you’ll have to have a Bank of America personal checking account and have your 3-month average combined balances of $20,000 or more in qualifying Bank of America bank accounts and/or Merrill Edge and Merrill Lynch investment accounts. At the base level you will earn a 25% rewards boost, but if you qualify for the upper tier you can earn a 75% rewards boost.

  • Points don’t expire so you’ll never have to worry about keeping your account active as long as you have your credit card account open. Since there’s no annual fee on this credit card, simply leave the account open until you are ready to use your points. If you do decide to close your account make sure you redeem your points before you close your account.

  • Easy redemptions at one cent per point of value as long as you redeem towards travel. You can either redeem for travel directly by booking a flight, and if you don’t have enough points you can cover the rest with cash, or you can redeem your points for a statement credit toward travel. You can make a partial redemption for a statement credit, you don’t have to cover the full cost of the travel booking. You will usually need at least 2,500 points ($25 toward travel) for a redemption.

  • No annual fee. This is a solid credit card offering for a card that doesn’t charge an annual fee.

Cons

  • Point redemptions that are not toward travel are not as good of value. You can redeem for gift cards and cash in addition to travel. Cash redemptions are at a value of 0.6 cents per point and gift card redemptions are usually between 0.7 and 0.85 cents per point. If you redeem for a higher denomination gift card, you may be able to get the full one cent per point of value, but make sure you double check this on the specific redemption you are looking to make.

Barclaycard Arrival

Pros

  • 20,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days. This is enough to redeem for a $200 travel statement credit.

  • You have the ability to earn bonus miles on travel and dining purchases. If you spend a lot of money in these categories, it gives you the potential to earn even more points than you would on a card with straight points earning across all purchases.

  • Broad definition of the travel category. Some credit cards only count airline tickets and hotel charges as travel, but Barclaycard has a very wide range of purchases that will count toward travel including: airlines, buses, campgrounds, car rental, cruises, ferries, hotels, taxis, timeshares, tourist attractions, train tickets, travel agencies, and other travel sites.

  • No foreign transaction fees when traveling abroad. This is a standard credit card offering on credit cards that charge annual fees, but is somewhat uncommon for credit cards that do not charge annual fees. If you travel abroad, carrying a credit card with no foreign transaction fees is an absolute must.

  • Chip and PIN technology makes this credit card an even better travel card.  In Europe especially, there are some purchases that can only be made with a Chip + PIN credit card as many train and subway stations no longer have a personal attendant who will accept cash and kiosks will not accept a credit card without a PIN.

  • Get 5% of your miles back to use toward your next redemption every time you redeem miles. This effectively means that you will earn 2.1 points per dollar spent on travel and dining purchases and 1.05 points per dollar spent on all other purchases.

  • 0% APR for 12 months on Balance Transfers made within the first 45 days of account opening. We don’t recommend carrying credit card debt, but if you have made a big purchase on another credit card with higher APR, a balance transfer to the Barclaycard Arrival is a way to finance that purchase at 0% for 12 months.

  • Points can easily be redeemed as a statement credit toward travel purchases within 120 days of that travel purchase being made. Again, Barclaycard’s broad definition of travel applies to redemptions as well as purchases.

  • No annual fee. This is a solid credit card offering for a credit card that doesn’t charge an annual fee.

Cons

  • $100 minimum to redeem points. This is a very high minimum redemption rate compared to other competing credit cards.

  • Non-travel redemptions are at a low value. Redemptions toward gift cards or merchandise will only have half of the value of a travel redemption.

Does having both make sense?

There’s not much downside to holding both – neither card has an annual fee. You can get the most out of the pair by using the Arrival for dining and travel, and the Bank of America Travel Rewards card for everything else.

Which card is right for you?

Consider your travel goals, spending patterns, and what other credit cards you have before determining if one, both, or neither of these credit cards make sense for you to get.

The Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card will most likely make more sense for you if you have $20,000 or more in qualifying Bank of America checking and savings accounts and/or Merrill Edge or Merrill Lynch investment accounts. Depending on the total amount, you could earn a bonus of up to 75% on the 1.5 points per dollar spent earned on all purchases.

The Barclaycard Arrival will probably make more sense for you if you already have a credit card with better points earning on non-bonused categories and you can make use of the 2 points per dollar spent (really 2.1) earned on travel and dining purchases. It also might make sense to apply for the Barclaycard Arrival if you travel semi-frequently to Europe and don’t have another Chip + PIN credit card.

If you travel abroad at all and only have credit cards that charge foreign transaction fees, or if you don’t have credit cards at all, you should get one of these cards in order to avoid paying 3-5% on all of your foreign transactions.

Which one you get should be determined by which one will earn you the most rewards from your spending.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Miles dont expireas long as card is open
Learn more

Partner Offer

50,000 bonus points

Intro Offer

$0 introductory annual fee, then $95

Annual Fee

$0

Foreign Transaction Fee Waived

Yes

Points Can Transfer to Airline Miles ?

Still confused? Have a question?

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"These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered."

One thought on “Bank of America Travel Rewards or Barclaycard Arrival? Which is the better no fee card?

  1. MP

    Barclay Arrival has the Barclay Boost portal, where you can earn a lot of bonus points. Lots of vendors you won’t find elsewhere.

    Reply

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