Free Travel has obviously become a passion of mine over the last 18 months. I went from rockin’ a cash-only budget, to booking a Free Trip To Hawaii in less than 2 years, and it just gets better and better. But this did take a little bit of work.
I did a few months of research and analysis before jumping into the credit card rewards game, and had figured out the fun tricks to get us free flights and hotels. I signed up for all the best bonus cards, redeemed for 3+ trips last year, and reaped about $10,000 in travel rewards in 2013 alone! But deep down, I really wished that all the rewards shenanigans would stop being so complicated. Why can’t a mile be a mile be a mile, and everyone just get along?!
It seems the folks at Barclaycard felt the same frustration I did when trying to book travel on rewards. You had to use the right airline partners, and know which points work where, and how much they were worth, and it was annoying like finding a fly in your soup. And though I have cut through the crap and help break down how to make the most of your rewards, having a simple rewards redemption would be awesome. And it is!
When you sign up for the card, you receive 40,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in 3 months on the card. And here’s the best part: 40,000 miles = $400 in travel rewards. Period. You just log into your online account and give yourself up to a $400 statement credit for any travel booked using your card. BOOM!
And there are no booking restrictions. No blackout dates. No “you don’t qualify for this deal” crap. Nothing. Just find the best price possible when booking, use the card, and redeem your rewards. Simple.
And in case you are a one-card kind of person, check it out. 2x bonus miles on every purchase. THAT MEANS ALL. Not just eating out or travel. On everything. So you’re $3,000 spend on the card just netted you another 6,000 miles, which means you now have 46,000 miles, or $460 worth of rewards travel to use as you see fit.
In case that isn’t sweet enough, they want you to keep coming back for more, so they incentivized using your rewards points. What does that mean? It means you get 10% miles back on your card for using your miles for rewards travel. So take your 46,000 miles, book a cruise, and get 4,600 miles back on your card, which is a $46 bonus value.
So now your simple $400 rewards card is really a $506 rewards card with your 6,000 spending miles and 4,600 bonus miles. How cool is that?
And remember, Barclaycard defines travel rewards as “Airlines, Travel Agencies & Tour Operators, Hotels, Motels & Resorts, Cruise Lines, Passenger Railways, and Car Rental Agencies”. So it’s not just flights and hotels, but rental cars, cruises, Disney tickets*, etc.
Even More Benefits
Here are some other side benefits to the card, in case $500 in free travel doesn’t really matter because you’re so rich 😉
- Free FICO® Score: All active cardmembers get access to their free FICO® score. This is great because you’ll want to know if you’re around 730+ to keep signing up for the best reward card offers.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees: Many cards have this feature, and it is really convenient when traveling abroad. My wife actually just used her card up in Canada, no issues.
- $200,000 Accident Insurance And Trip Cancellation/Reimbursement: Stuff happens. You need some insurance, and this card has you covered.
How We Use It
We just booked 7 tickets to Maui for $30 (see, travel hacking is fun!). And we wanted to get as much of our trip “free” as possible. So my wife and I both signed up for these cards to earn rewards toward booking our rental cars. We’ve already hit the bonus on each, and are accumulating a few extra points in case any other travel comes up.
Well, other travel DID come up, and this card did the trick. My mother-in-law just had a 50th birthday, and my wife took her to Canada for a night using our Barclaycard. They hopped on a quick cruise, and stayed in a fun hotel for some mommy-daughter time with the grandbabies. Since we had a few extra points, I told her “hey, use the grey card” (yes, I tell my wife what color card to use. Hazards for racking up a ton of credit card bonus points, lol). So she did.
After the transaction cleared, I hopped online, clicked “Manage Rewards” and selected “Redeem Now”. It automatically found the travel booking, and showed me a few different options for how much I wanted to redeem. I redeemed the rewards quickly, and voila, vacation paid for! A few days later my 10% bonus miles showed up like a pat on the back from an old friend saying “here’s to you!”
We still have enough points to book our rental cars in Hawaii, and are now looking at what else we can do with these cards. Heck, we even just found out buying *Disney Tickets through “Undercover Tourist” classifies as travel, and this card could help BUY DISNEY TICKETS! We’ll see.
But I’d like to hear from you as well, what would you do with $500+ in free travel rewards? Where would you go, what would you do? And for you couples out there, join forces and get yourself over $1,000 in free travel this year!
So do this:
- Sign up for the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard (or two of them for you couples out there)
- Pick out your dream vacation
- Post in the comments and let us know where you’d going!
p.s. I fully expect someone to now say “I’m going to Disneyland!”
p.p.s. The $89 annual fee is waived the first year. Make sure to read this post on what to do before your annual fee is due. Happy travels!