Gabe Douek

Editorial Disclosure: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone.

If you’re looking to travel overseas, then having a good chip & PIN credit card can save you from having your regular card declined, particularly in smaller towns or at terminals. While chip & PIN cards can be hard to come by in the US, there are several issuers that offer them. Here we’ll take a look at one such card that’s earned a reputation as one of the best due to its offer of no foreign purchase fees and an impressive travel rewards program.

Overview: Barclays Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard

Interest rates and fees

  • Annual Fee: $0 the first year and $89 after that
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 3% of the amount of the balance or $5, whichever one’s greater
  • Balance Transfer APR: If you make a transfer during the first 45 days after opening your account, you’ll receive a 0% APR for the first 12 months. Otherwise, the APR is 18.24%, 22.24% or 25.24% depending on your credit history
  • Purchase APR: 18.24%, 22.24%, or 25.24% depending on your credit history
  • Cash Advance APR: variable 27.49%

Miles rewards program

The Barclaycard Arrival card has become known as one of the most competitive travel cards on the market, in part due to its Miles Rewards program. Most travel rewards cards offer 1 mile for every dollar you spend on most purchases, with the occasional chance to earn more on certain types of purchases. With the Barclaycard Arrival card, however, you’ll earn 2 miles per dollar you spend on every single purchase you make with your card. In addition, you’ll enjoy the chance to earn 70,000 bonus miles when you spend $5,000 within the first 90 days after opening your account. You can earn even more points by participating in the Barclays Travel Community, where you can post and share your travel stories with other cardholders around the world. Miles will never expire as long as you keep your account open and in good standing, so you can use them how and when you want.

The Barclaycard Arrival card also offers one of the most flexible redemption methods of any travel card on the market. Rather than having to worry about partner airlines or booking your travel through a specific online portal, you simply book it with your card using whatever method you prefer. After your purchase is made, you can use your rewards miles to pay off the statement on your credit card balance. This means that you’ll never have to deal with airline, seat, or hotel restrictions when selecting your rewards.

Though travel redemptions will net you the best value for your points, you’ll also have the option to use them on cash back statement credits, gift cards, merchandise, or to cover your annual service charge. Each time you redeem, you’ll even get 5% of the miles back on your next redemption.

How much your miles are worth will depend on which redemption rate you choose. If you use them on travel, they’ll be worth 1 cent each. Considering that you earn 2 for every dollar you spend and get 5% miles back with each redemption, you can get a travel rewards rate of up to 2.1%. If you chose to redeem them on other options, such as gift cards, merchandise, or cash back statement credits, they’ll be worth half a cent each, which is still not bad considering you earn miles for every $0.50 you spend.

Other benefits:

  • The International Chip & PIN Feature which you can use at chip terminals around the world.
  • $0 Fraud Liability Protection
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Access to the Mastercard World Elite Concierge. As a part of the service, you’ll enjoy the benefits of 24/7 travel card concierge service to help with any questions or problems you make acquire.

Why chip & PIN cards are best for traveling abroad

What exactly is a chip & PIN credit card and why are they so good for international travel? If you live in the US, then you’re likely used to using a chip & sign credit card, which requires you to sign either a screen or a receipt after inserting your card to pay for a purchase. As commonplace as they are in the United States, chip & sign cards aren’t nearly as standard throughout much of the world at large. If you find yourself traveling abroad, it’s much more likely that you’ll be required to pay with a chip & PIN card. Rather than sign your name to validate your identity, you’ll be required to enter your PIN number instead, much like you would on the average debit card. The only problem is that chip & PIN cards can be hard to find in the US. Luckily there are a few issuers, such as Barclaycard, who offer them.

What to look for in a chip & PIN international credit card

When it comes to which chip & PIN card to choose, there are a few things you’ll want to be on the lookout for, especially if you plan to travel internationally. The first is to make sure you select a card with no foreign transaction fees. These can add up quickly and either add to your balance or end up robbing you of rewards points. Speaking of rewards points, if you do plan to do some traveling, then you might as well chose a card that has a great rewards program in order to enjoy travel rewards, discounts, and other perks offered by many chip & PIN travel cards. Last but not least, try to shoot for either a Visa or Mastercard. Most of these are accepted worldwide, while Discover or American Express can be a bit hit or miss.

Is the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard right for you?

When taking into account the specifications above, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus Elite World Mastercard is definitely one of the top contenders for the best chip & PIN travel cards. Among its only drawbacks are the annual fee and a fairly high travel redemption minimum of 10,000 miles for $100 worth of travel rewards. If, however, you chose to cash in on other redemption options, there’s only a minimum 5,000 miles requirement. For many regular travelers, the drawbacks are worth the flexible rewards program. If they fail to impress you, however, there are a few other chip & PIN cards on the market, some of which offer more perks. Just be sure to do your research in order to understand their reward programs, how you earn points, and what exactly they can be redeemed on.

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