Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Free cruise challenge: halfway done!

$550 statement credit towards our cruise

As some of you may know, me and my wife (and several friends) are going on a 7-day Caribbean cruise next month.  We are always trying to travel for free or as cheaply as possible. 

By booking each of our tickets separately with our own Barclaycard Arrival Plus(TM) World Elite Mastercard®, we are able to use our Arrival miles for cash back on our purchase.  The total cost after taxes for our cruise came out to be $573.51 per person.  While this was an excellent deal for a 7-day cruise with balcony rooms and $100 on board credit, redeeming our Arrival miles towards our purchase gives us an even better deal!

Here’s a reminder about what to expect when redeeming Arrival miles for statement cash back:
  • You redeem your Arrival miles after you make a travel purchase.
  • The Barclaycard Arrival credit card earns 2 miles per dollar spent if redeeming miles for travel related purchases.
  • Barclaycard posts your miles pretty quickly after your purchase charges clear; there’s no need to wait for your credit card statement to close to see your earned miles.
  • Arrival miles can be redeemed for partial credit, only one time.
  • There is a minimum redemption of 2,500 miles for $25 cash.
  • You have 90 days from your travel related purchase to redeem for cash back.

To go on our cruise for nearly free, we are each eligible to earn a $550 statement credit by redeeming 55,000 miles each. 

I’m happy to report that I just received a $550 statement credit towards my cruise purchase! 

It was fairly easy for me to earn 55,000 miles.  Barclaycard awarded me with a nice, big sign up bonus of 40,000 miles after meeting the spending requirement.  That sign up bonus, along with making some normal and manufactured purchases easily earned me more than 55,000 miles. 

Redeeming miles for cash back

A few days after I met my spending challenge, I logged into the Barclaycard website and noticed that I had 55,174 miles. 

When I went to manage my rewards, I was greeted with a few options for redeeming my miles such as paying myself back for travel or redeeming cash back.

Let me remind you what a poor value the Arrival miles are when you redeem them for cash back instead of redeeming them towards travel purchases.  If I were to redeem my miles for cash back, my 55,174 miles would only be worth $275.87.  That’s a crappy value of 1 mile = 50 cents!  Don’t redeem your miles for cash back; save your Arrival miles for travel related redemptions only.

When redeeming for travel purchases, I get a much higher value for my miles:

Notice that I can only redeem for credit in $25, or 2,500 mile increments.  Even though the cost of my cruise ticket was $573.51, I was only able to redeem $550 off my trip.  Now if my cruise ticket was $575, I could redeem the full amount ($575) off the trip.

The final price that I will pay for my 7-day Caribbean cruise ticket will only $23.51 ($573.51 initial cost of ticket - $550 statement credit = $23.51)!

10% Travel Redemption Bonus

One of the best features of the Barclaycard Arrival credit card is the 10% bonus miles refund they give you on travel redemptions.  My 55,000 mile redemption earned me 5,500 miles back, worth another $55 statement credit I can save for future use

For instance, if I were to spend $55 onboard the cruise ship on entertainment, food, or souvenirs, I would earn 55 x 2 = 110 miles.  I could then redeem 5,500 miles towards the $55 purchase to get that purchase for free.  I would earn a 10% bonus off the redemption and get 550 miles deposited back into my account.     

A few days after I redeemed 55,000 miles, I saw a $550 statement credit on my account:

I’m pretty excited to be spending only $23.51 to go on a 7-day Caribbean cruise!

Update on my wife’s cruise ticket

Next, we are going to focus all of our credit card spending on my wife’s Arrival card.  I just logged into her account and see that she currently has 29,340 miles available.  This is enough to get $290 off her cruise ticket. 

In order to redeem the maximum 55,000 miles towards my wife’s cruise ticket, she will need to earn 25,660 miles (55,000 - 29,340 = 25,660 miles).  She will need to make $12,830 in purchases (25,660 miles / 2 miles per $1 spent = $12,830) in order to get $550 off her cruise ticket.

We still have 71 days left to earn these miles and I think we can do it!  I will keep you updated on our progress. 

In the meanwhile, you can apply for your own Barclaycard Arrival credit card here

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