Barclay Arrival+ Redemption Math Lesson – Optimize Your Miles

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The current version of the Barclay Arrival+ card has an interesting award redemption structure.  You earn a 40,000 A+ mile bonus for signing up and 2-miles per dollar spent.  When you redeem these miles for travel, they are worth 1-cent per mile, and you get a 5% rebate.  The minimum redemption for travel is 10,000 miles, or $100.  Confused yet…?

This redemption structure can be frustrating – After redeeming miles for a large travel expense, you will likely be left with some amount of miles under 10,000, due to the 5% dividend.  These miles are effectively “held hostage” until you can earn enough for another minimum redemption.  Follow along with our math to make sure you optimize your redemptions and minimize the amount of miles “held hostage.” 

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The strategy in this article will help people who do not intend to use their Arrival+ card after redeeming their current A+ mile balance.  There are plenty of better “2 percent” cards, including the Discover IT and Citi DoubleCash for daily spending.  The Arrival+ is not a great card beyond the initial sign up bonus.  Get the most out of your initial bonus, and move along.

An optimal mile redemption will leave exactly 10,000 miles in your account, for a minimum redemption after your next travel booking.  Anything under that, and you will be unable to redeem without earning more miles.  Anything over that will leave a larger rebate balance, which essentially goes to waste.  To solve for the ideal redemption number, let’s think of this as a word problem (remember those from elementary school??):unnamed

Billy has an A+ mile balance of 46,000 points.  He purchases an airline ticket for $500.  If Billy wants to be able to redeem 10,000 miles for a future travel purchase of $100, how many miles should he redeem toward his airline ticket?

Go ahead and take a stab at this one… I’ll wait… … … got it?  Did you come up with 38,105 miles?  Did you show your work?  Haha.  Ok, how did we reach this number?  For the math nerds among us, the equation sets up like this:

CurrentBalance – X + 0.05X – FuturePurchase*2 = 10,000

X = [(10,000 – FuturePurchase*2) – CurrentBalance]/-0.95

X = [(10,000 – $100*2) – 46,000]/-0.95

X = 38,105

I put together a simple spreadsheet, so you can calculate your own number.

What does this all mean?  In this scenario, if Billy redeems exactly 38,105 miles, and subsequently purchases $100 worth of travel, he will have exactly 10,000 miles left.  He could then redeem these miles to offset the $100 travel cost.  He will be left with a small remainder of 500 miles after this redemption.

If Billy had redeemed all 46,000 miles against the $500 Airline ticket, he would get 2,300 miles back from the dividend.  These miles would be “held hostage” until he spent another $3,850 on the card!  Sounds terrible!

Use the spreadsheet linked above to calculate your ideal redemption, so your award miles don’t get stuck.  Unfortunately, Barclays only allows redemptions in increments of 5,000 miles, so select the redemption option just below your ideal number.  This concludes our math lesson for the day.  Good work class!

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9 thoughts on “Barclay Arrival+ Redemption Math Lesson – Optimize Your Miles

  1. I shared this on your Reddit post as well, but I took this and added the ability to calculate the rebate based on the new terms or old terms. I can still redeem $25 and get 10% rebate for a few more months… I’ll probably drop the card when the AF comes due, so this is really helpful to optimize for that. Here’s my Google sheet if you want to take a look: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1qgid17_Ht5Aib-i_OWrbpNdM0s8h8Gwo6vU2SndvY7s/edit?usp=sharing

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  2. Now that we can’t fund Citigold with CC, I am planning to downgrade A+ to A. I am within 60 day grace period after AF posted, so hoping to get back AF. I also have Cap 1 venture for lower redemptions. Is that good thing to do? I have 1100 miles left. Thoughts?

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  3. I did even better, I figured out the two refundable travel purchases you can make so that in the end, once you redeem for them and refund them, you’ll have zero points left.

    In the case of the old 10% rebate and $25 minimum system, one should be equal to Points Balance/1.125, the other is Balance/4.5 Minimum starting point balance to make this work is $112.50. This works well with booking refundable hotels.com reservations where you can fine tune the amount pretty well

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    • Absolutely. That is a ton of A+ miles! The math in this article considers the 5% rebate and tries to help people maximize their redemption without leaving a “remainder” of miles. In your case, your rebate would be 11,950… Enough for another minimum redemption.

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