If you’re looking for a high-octane travel rewards credit card, there a few that are worth considering. Depending on how much value you want out of a credit card and what kind of annual fee you’re willing to pay, it can narrow down your search even more.
In this guide, we’ll compare two top-tier travel credit cards: the Barclays Arrival® Premier World Elite Mastercard® and the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. We’ll discuss what each card offers, what sets them apart, and how to pick the right one for you.
Barclays Arrival® Premier World Elite Mastercard vs. Chase Sapphire Reserve®
While both of these credit cards are a good fit for different types of travelers, they’re not very similar in what they have to offer. As a result, it should be relatively easy to determine which one works better for you.
The Barclays Arrival® Premier World Elite Mastercard® offers a flat 2 miles per dollar on every purchase. You’ll also earn an extra mile per dollar on the first $25,000 you spend every year.
So, if you spend at least $2,083 per month, you’ll earn 3 miles per dollar until you reach the $25,000 threshold — that’s unbeatable as a base rewards rate. Points are worth one 1 cent apiece.
With the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you’ll earn 3 points per dollar on travel and dining, and 1 point per dollar spent everywhere else.
If you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, you’ll get a 50% rewards boost, effectively giving you a 4.5% rewards rate on travel and dining and a 1.5% rate on everything else.
You can also transfer your points to various hotel and airline travel partners. And depending on your savviness with rewards points, you could squeeze even more value out of them.
For the average person, though, the Barclays Arrival® Premier World Elite Mastercard® offers a better rewards program.
The Barclays Arrival® Premier World Elite Mastercard® is unconventional for a travel credit card in that it doesn’t offer a sign-up bonus.
Instead, you get the 25,000-point bonus every year when you spend at least $25,000 — that’s 15,000 points when you spend $15,000 and another 10,000 points when you spend another $10,000.
While that may work well for someone who plans to keep the card for a long time, it can be disappointing if you’re looking for a way to help pay for your next trip.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve®, on the other hand, offers 50,000 points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months with the card. If you use those points to book travel through Chase, they’re worth a whopping $750.
While the Barclays Arrival® Premier World Elite Mastercard® could offer much more than that over the years, it’ll take you three years of maxing out the card’s bonuses to earn $750 worth of rewards.
Since the Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers that up front, we think it’s the better of the two offers.
Both credit cards allow you to redeem your points for travel, but how you do that differs by card. Also, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® provides more redemption options. Here’s what you need to know:
Redeeming for travel: The Barclays Arrival® Premier World Elite Mastercard® allows you to redeem your miles by booking virtually any kind of travel with your card, then using your miles to get a full or partial statement credit against that purchase.
While that offers a lot of flexibility, the minimum redemption amount is 10,000 miles or $100. So, if you have travel purchases worth less than that, you’re on your own.
With the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you can use your points to book travel through Chase’s website. The card issuer partners with Expedia, giving you plenty of booking options.
Other redemption options: Beyond using your miles for travel, the Barclays Arrival® Premier World Elite Mastercard® doesn’t give you any other valuable options. For instance, you can use your miles to get cash back or buy gift cards. But you’ll only get 0.5 cents per mile in value.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve®, on the other hand, allows you to use your points to get cash back and gift cards at a value of 1 cent per point.
You can also move your points from your Chase account to one of the bank’s many hotel and airline partners, including Marriott and Southwest Airlines.
All things considered, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers more redemption flexibility.
You can’t measure the value of a credit card without looking at the costs. For these two cards, there’s a vast difference.
While the Barclays Arrival® Premier World Elite Mastercard® charges an annual fee of $0 the first year, then $150 after that, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® charges a $450 fee every year.
As a result, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® makes more sense for someone who can afford the fee, or at least justify it based on the value they get from the card.
When it comes to added features, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® outshines most other credit cards on the market. Here’s a quick summary of what you’ll get:
- $300 annual travel credit
- Up to a $100 statement credit for the Global Entry or TSA Precheck application fee
- Complimentary access to more than 1,000 airport lounges worldwide
- Trip cancellation and interruption insurance
- Primary rental car insurance
- Lost luggage reimbursement
- Trip delay reimbursement
- Emergency evacuation and transportation
With the Barclays Arrival® Premier World Elite Mastercard®, you do get some extra features, but they’re not as impressive.
The main highlights are a $100 statement credit for the Global Entry application fee and complimentary access to the Mastercard Airport Experiences network of 850 airport lounges. The problem is that you have to actually pay to get in the lounges.
When it comes to extra perks, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® wins hands down. And considering you get an annual $300 travel credit, that effectively drops the annual fee to $150 if you use it up each year.
Which credit card is better for you?
There are a few things to consider before choosing one of these credit cards. The first is how often you would use the perks of the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. If you don’t travel often, you may not get enough from the card to make up for its steep annual fee.
If, however, you’re a frequent traveler, the card may sound like a no-brainer.
And while the Barclays Arrival® Premier World Elite Mastercard® doesn’t offer much in the way of features, its rewards program is a powerhouse for someone who likes to travel but won’t take advantage of elite perks.
As you consider both of these credit cards, also look at other top travel credit cards to make sure you’re making the best decision. The more you know about what you want and the more time you spend looking, the easier it will be to find the best credit card for you.
Editorial Note: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.
This article was last updated September 17, 2018 but some terms and conditions may have changed or are no longer available. For the most accurate and up to date information please consult the terms and conditions found on the issuer website.