Catchy title, no? I thought so. I planned to do this post anyway but decided to add some controversy. The idea was to show that it’s not worth it to keep Barclaycard Arrival for a middle class family or most non-manufacturers (my new invented word) past the first year.
The card earns 2.22 percent cash back factoring in rebate, towards travel expenses and has an annual fee of 89 dollars. It’s a great card for the sign-up bonus, no doubt. Lo and behold, Frequent Miler wrote a post that related to my theme. For the purpose of this exercise we ignore the bonus or the waived first year annual fee completely, which is what he did.
CLICK HERE to his post
In it Frequent Miler claimed that if he had to recommend just one card to use for everyday spending, it would be Barclaycard Arrival. You can only optimize redemptions for travel expenses. But since it’s a travel related industry, the assumption is, most people would do just that. The idea was to avoid Amex because it’s not accepted everywhere.
We routinely run into places that do not take American Express. So I would have to agree on that. Personally, I recommend everyone keep at least 2 credit cards in their wallet, in case one gets denied. But we will ignore that for the purpose of this post.
I think the logic is sound, especially if you don’t care about premium redemptions. The card is very straightforward, since you earn 2 points per dollar and get 10 percent back on redemption. So it becomes a 2.22 percent card. But here is what I think Frequent Miler should have added. This is overall best card for HIGH SPENDERS. If you are not, look elsewhere. Especially if you are a middle-class family.
My recommendation is either Sallie Mae Barclaycard or possibly US Bank Club Carlson Signature Visa. I wrote a post on the second pick HERE if you want to take a look. It’s a very good choice, no doubt. But only if you care about that particular brand of hotels. And in his post Frequent Miler did mention it was an excellent rewards card.
But it is too specific to be recommended broadly, which is why I would go with Sallie Mae Barclaycard as the best overall choice currently for low to medium spenders. Since it’s a family blog, let me show you our expenses, which are most likely representative of most middle-class in America:
1) Groceries: $500 a month, or $6,000 per year.
2) Gas: $300 a month, or $3,600 per year.
3) Dining: $400 a month, or $4,800 per year
4) Amazon : $100 a month, or $1,200 per year
5) Drug stores: $100 a month, or $1,200 per year
6) Everything else: $600 a month, or $7,200 per year.
Grand total is $24,000 per year, which is pretty close to average for a regular family if you charge most things on a card.
I wrote a post on Sallie Mae card here CLICK
This is how the rewards limits break down:
5% rewards up to $250 total for groceries per month
5% rewards up to $250 total for gas per month
5% rewards up to $750 total for books per month
1% on everything else
So going by this chart, here is how your rewards would stack up:
1) 150 dollars from the 5 percent back, 30 from the rest. Total 180.
2) 150 dollars from the 5 percent back, 6 dollars from the rest. Total 156.
3) 48 dollars.
4) 60 dollars, since Amazon is currently considered a bookstore.
5) 12 dollars.
6) 72 dollars.
Grand total is 528 dollars, more than 2 percent cash back. Now let’s take a look at Barclaycard Arrival . This one is simple. Take 24,000 dollars and multiply it by 2.22 percent. Grand total is 533 dollars. Wow, it beat the Sallie Mae card! But remember, it has an annual fee of 89 dollars. So after we deduct it, we are left with 444 dollars.
That’s 84 dollar difference. So you would have to charge about 7,000 more dollars just to break even if you use Arrival. A family would have to put over 31,000 dollars per year on credit cards to benefit, a good chunk of change. I would argue that more than 50 percent of people in America and even this hobby don’t put over 31,000 dollars per year on credit cards.
Additionally, you can only redeem for travel expenses, as in Sallie Mae card’s case it can be for anything. So I think by my logic, faced with the question of best single credit card, Frequent Miler should have said Sallie Mae Barclaycard. No doubt, for high spenders and Marathon Man of Flyertalk fame, Arrival is the winner. But not for a regular family in America. Or even a single regular person for that matter.
P.S. This post is dedicated to Marathon Man. The man, the myth, the legend. Photo credit goes to 2012techkriti.org
Please, understand, it is only a math exercise. I strongly recommend, a family should focus on sign-up bonuses if there is no mortgage or major loan in the future. But from the comments below I see, somehow it wasn’t made clear in the post.
Leana is the founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.