The Best Travel Rewards Card to Start Wanderlusting

For more than three years now, we’ve been blogging about how to take advantage of travel reward credit cards and take almost-free trips all around the world. We have hundreds of subscribers who read our posts the moment they come out.  We have helped people plan amazing travels to the southernmost reaches of South America to the powdery beaches of the Caribbean. Seeing people embrace the idea is an incredibly satisfying experience.

tuscan farmhouse

We used the Arrival card to book this Tuscan Farmhouse for 2 free nights

But the one question we get – and we get it constantly – is “where do I start?” We always respond by educating people about their credit because we want to be sure that people understand we are in no way advocating debt of any sort.  We say that credit cards should only ever be used as “purchasing instruments,” never buying anything you wouldn’t otherwise buy with cash, check, or a debit card.

But I think what people are usually asking is “What is a good card to start with?”  As long as you have good credit (above 700), I think the card for most people to start with is the Barclaycard Arrival World Mastercard.

The biggest reason is that using it doesn’t require knowledge of a complicated points-exchange system. Far too many people get confused by the idea of “miles” and how many it takes to get somewhere.  Sometimes the booking systems are overwhelming.  And while I do want you to make the time to educate yourself about these things… they can come later.  Our first objective is to get you wanderlusting!

The Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard offers a generous 40,000 point bonus once you spend $3000 in the first 3 months. That simply translates to $400 in free travel which you redeem by reimbursing your account for approved travel expenses. Those expenses might be car rentals, cruise bookings, airline tickets, hotel rooms, or anything booked with an online travel agency – even a package that might include a show.

The way you use it is so easy. Once you have made a travel purchase, you log into your account which greets you like this:Redeem Barclaycard Points

You can see that I’ve already burned some points but I still have 38,840 which are worth $388 in free travel.  I click on “Redeem now” and it shows me if I’ve made any purchases which I can reimburse with points.

Best Travel Rewards card

I happen to have a couple, so I click on “Redeem now” again and it puts them in my reward card

I check out and my account trades points in my account for dollars against my balance!  It’s a beautiful thing.  Even if I’ve already paid my card down, I can reimburse myself any time within 90 days.

But wait, a little bit like an infomercial it gets even better.  Every time you use your points, they give you a 10% points-kickback.  That means in this case, I instantly have 3200 more points or another $32 in free travel.

Every dollar I spend on the card gives me 2 points, so effectively every dollar I spend on the card gives me 2.2 cents in cash back for travel.

The flexibility and simplicity in using this card and its points is what makes it really nice.

To read more about what we’ve shown you can use this card for, check out some of these other posts.

To see other travel rewards cards, visit this Best Travel Credit Cards page.


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13 Responses to The Best Travel Rewards Card to Start Wanderlusting

  1. Brandon says:

    Hey Brad, just got this card a little bit ago based on your recommendation. My questions is, are there stipulations regarding “purchases available for redemption?” Do they purchases have to be through a major vendor i.e., Delta, United or can you redeem points for purchases made via Expedia, Kayak and the like?

    • Sheldon says:

      @Brandon- Congrats on joining the ranks of World Wanderlusting. You’ll feel like you’re in the saddle in no time at all. Thanks for your comment and we look forward to hearing how you use the points.

      I pulled these quotes from their site to further answer your question:

      You can use your miles to: (a) “pay for travel” (Airlines, Travel Agencies & Tour Operators, Hotels, Motels & Resorts, Cruise Lines, Passenger Railways and Car Rental Agencies) purchases made within the last 90 days as a statement credit, (b) redeem for cash back as a statement credit, (c) redeem for gift cards or (d) redeem for merchandise.

      Use your card to book through any airline, hotel or discount travel engine with no blackout dates or seat restrictions.

      As you can see, they are pretty open on how you use the points. You can use Expedia, Kayak, Orbitz, or any other discount site.

      Let us know where you go!

  2. Glinton says:

    How do you compare the Arrival card compared to the CapOne Venture card? It seems they have equal benefits (+/-), but most travel bloggers seem to push the Arrival card more. Any thoughts on why? Thanks!

    • Sheldon says:

      @Glinton- Great question. There are a couple of reasons that you hear more buzz about the Arrival card over the Capital One Venture. Let me share with you the reasons why:

    • The Arrival card is a newer card. It came out within the last two years, where the Venture has been around for longer.
    • The Arrival provides a 10% points back after redemption, thus making it really a 2.2% cash back card, where the Venture only gives 2% cash back.
    • The Arrival is a card issued by BarclaycardUS, who usually pulls credit from TransUnion. CapitalOne is famous for pulling your credit from all 3 bureaus. Thus really making it like three separate inquiries. (Big bummer)
    • The bonus on the Arrival is currently 40,000 or $400. This is better than the standard 25,000 or 10,000 that the Venture generally gives. (There have been a few exceptions to this, but generally it pays a poor bonus)
    • The Arrival pays a commission to most bloggers where the Venture does not.
    • Those are all the reasons that came to mind for me. Does that answer your question?