I just found out that earlier this month, Barclaycard announced that it will offer some of its card members complimentary FICO scores. This applies to several cards including: the Barclaycard Ring, Barclaycard Arrival, Barclaycard Rewards, NFL, Juniper, Frontier and Carnival cards. You can check your free FICO score from Barclaycard here.
One way to get a free FICO credit score (Equifax) is to go to myFICO and sign up for a free 10 day trial. Be careful because if you don't cancel within 10 days, you will automatically be subscribed to their service for $14.95 per month for a minimum of 3 months! And if you obtain your FICO score through myFICO and try to cancel, be prepared to have a difficult time trying to your account cancelled when you call in. The reps will do anything possible to get you to keep the service. You can request similar free trial FICO scores through Experian and Transunion.
When it comes to checking on my credit score, I still prefer using the following methods of obtaining my simulated credit score for free: credit karma, credit sesame, quizzle, and credit.com
When you apply for credit (whether with a new credit card, auto loan, mortgage, or personal loan), the company you are seeking credit from checks your credit report and credit score. The credit report chosen is one generated by Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion. Many companies use their own propriety method of calculating your credit score, however, it is estimated that the score used 90% of the time is your FICO score. The FICO score is the global standard for measuring credit risk. To learn more about your credit score, read this pdf on consumer credit education produced by FICO.
Since I already have a Barclayscard (NFL card I sign up for the $400 bonus), I decided to check my own FICO score:
808. Nice! This just goes to show that applying for credit cards and responsibly using your credit to travel for free will not lower your credit score.
Of the Barclayscards that allow you to view your FICO score, there is currently only one card that I would recommend: The Barclaycard Arrival Plus(TM) World EliteMastercard®.
The Barclaycard Arrival credit card offers a unique and interesting rewards system.
The sign up bonus of 40,000 bonus miles is easily attainable after
$1,000 (now $3,000)
in purchases within the first 90 days from account opening. With
this card, you earn 2x miles on every single purchase. You also get
10% miles back when you redeem for travel.
Barclaycard uses the term “miles” loosely in my opinion. Redeeming the miles earned by this card is different from other points and miles earning credit cards. While airline specific cards only allow you to earn the affiliated airline mile, the Barclaycard Arrival card allows you to earn miles to pay for all travel purchases such as made within the last 90 days as a statement credit for cash back. Other points programs like the Chase Ultimate Rewards program only allow transfer of points to certain airline partners.
The way that you redeem your Barclaycard Arrival miles is to first pay for any travel, such as airlines, travel agencies, tour operators, hotels, motels, cruise lines, railways, and car rental agencies, and then later request a statement credit. You can redeem your miles for a statement credit with your travel related expenses at 1 mile = 1 cent, and you get 10% miles back. This effectively turns this card into a 2.2% cash back card for all travel expenses.
Because of the 10% miles back feature, I value each Barclaycard Arrival mile at 1.11 cents. Miles need to be redeemed at a minimum of 2,500 mile increments, or a $25 statement credit.
Let's go over an example on redeeming these miles:
Let's say you purchase a round trip airline flight on any carrier of your choosing for $200. You can then use 20,000 miles in your Barclaycard account to get a statement credit of $200 on your bill. The flight is now free, and you have earned travel miles on the airline you flew on. Because you redeemed your miles on a travel related purchase, you will receive 10% miles back, or 2,000 miles back into your account.
This example shows how great the Barclaycard Arrival is for flyers traveling domestically or in economy. There's no need to search for any special award seats; simply book a ticket as you normally would, and then get a cash back statement credit (and 10% miles refund) later. You will earn frequent flyer miles on the airline you are traveling with.
Barclaycard Arrival miles earned can be used on any airline, for any flight, in any seating category without restriction. And of course, you can always redeem miles for statement credit on non travel purchases at 1 mile = 1 cent.
On the other hand, the Barclaycard Arrival is not good for international travel or expensive trips.
For our most recent trip to Asia, the cash value of our flight was $5,210. Of course, we didn't pay for our trip in cash! We spent a total of 120,000 American Airlines miles, 55,000 United Airlines miles, and $258 in taxes and fees. 175,000 miles allowed us to fly from LAX (Los Angeles) to ICN (South Korea) to TPE (Taipei, Taiwan) to HKG (Hong Kong) and back to LAX for free instead of paying $5,210 in cash for our flight, the actual cash value of our trip.
In order to redeem Barclaycard miles for our Asia trip, we would have needed to accumulate a whooping 521,000 Barclaycard miles. This would convert to a statement credit of $5,210, with a 10% miles rebate of 52,100 miles. As you can see, I would save the Barclaycard miles for domestic or economy class travel. This card is also not good for accumulating miles for first class travel, which can be upwards of $10,000 dollars per ticket.
This being said, the Barclaycard Arrival credit card is still a great credit card worth considering. One great benefit of this card is that there are no foreign transaction fees. There is also a complimentary TripIt Pro mobile travel organizer subscription. https://www.tripit.com/pro. This is a $49 annual value, although I have no personal experience with the service.
The first year of card ownership is free, then an $89 annual fee applies. As long as your account remains open and in good standing, your miles never expire.
Is this card worth it? I think so. In fact, my wife just applied for the card and was approved!
You can apply for a Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard here.
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