Credit Cards

Replacing The Barclay Arrival Plus Card

A couple of weeks ago my Barclay Arrival Plus account was shut down, which was really unfortunate because that was my primary credit card for manufactured spending. People often cite the $89 annual fee as a reason to get rid of the Arrival Plus card. After all, it takes over $100,000 worth of spending (and redeemed travel credits) to justify paying $89 to earn just 0.5% more rewards than a no-fee 2% cash back card. Not that I ever had a problem spending $100,000+, but now I won’t have to worry about it anymore. With my Arrival Plus card shut down, it’s on to Plan B: Finding a replacement card.

Wallet filled with a stack of credit cards

Discover It Miles Card

I still have a month left before my 1-year is up, which means there’s still a month left to earn 3% cash back on the Discover it Miles card. Discover has also been ok with Walmart Bill Pay so far, so I’ll continue to milk this one for my gift card purchases through the end of the month. Other than the 3% cash back rate during the first year, the Discover It Miles card is a keeper for its $0 annual fee and $30 annual wifi credit. I’ve used up every single credit available to me this year (i.e. via family members’ cards), so its like I’m getting paid to keep this card. If you don’t have a Discover It Miles card but plenty of manufactured spending opportunities, you might want to get one soon.

Discover It Cash Back Card 

Another winner from Discover, the Discover It Cash Back Card earns 1% cash back and 5% in select rotating categories (capped at $1,500 per quarter). Like the Discover It Miles card, earnings are doubled during the first year, which is pretty awesome for a $0 annual fee card. 

Fidelity Rewards Visa

The Fidelity Rewards Visa has long been a favorite 2% cash back credit card. The card has no annual fee and since Fidelity isn’t heavily invested in the rewards credit card game, they’re probably more ms-friendly than, say, Chase. I’ve put the Fidelity Rewards Visa to good use over the last year, especially as a tool to off-set gift card fees. However, now with my Barclay Arrival card gone, it will probably turn into my newest travel savings account.

Citi Double Cash Back Card

The Citi Double Cash Back Card offer “1% cash back when you buy + 1% as you pay.” In other words, pay your card off every month and you’ll earn 2% cash back without an annual fee. All of you should be doing that anyway since not paying off your card means you’re incurring interest fees that exceed the cash back you’re earning with this card. The Citi Double Cash Card is great if you’re looking to add a non-Chase or Amex card to your collection. Citi has been fairly ms-friendly so far, though you may want to read up on Mile Per Day’s list of bank credit card bans to make sure you stay under the radar.

JCB Marukai Premium Credit Card 

For a card that earns 3% cash back on over $3,000 of annual spending, it’s amazing how the JCB Marukai Premium card remains so low key. Even the modest $15 annual fee (along with $10 Marukai membership) is waived the first year. We west coasters often get the short end of the stick in this hobby, but in this case we come out ahead because the JCB Marukai Premium card is only available to residents of California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, and Hawaii.

For now, I’m probably going to focus on the Discover It Miles and Fidelity Rewards Card. I’m serious about cutting back on gift card churning after overdoing it over the last few months. I have no immediate need for more miles anyway. If I find myself in need of more miles or cash back, I’ll probably apply for the Citi Double Cash or give the JCB Marukai Premium card a try.

I’m also supposed to start a new job pretty soon (it’s a government job so things are move at a snail’s pace).  That will inevitably slow things down and I won’t have as much time to devote to this hobby anymore. However, earning an extra couple of hundred bucks per month by simply purchasing some gift cards using a 2% cash back card is still just too easy to pass up.

Which of these credit cards would you use to replace your Barclay Arrival Plus card?

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  1. Hi there Ariana – maybe I am missing something – but if you are earning $$ by using 2% cashback – are these merchant gift cards you are buying (so you have no additional fees like you would with a Visa GC?) – also, if are reselling these GCs, and your GC is not buying at face value – how are you able to still earn a full 2%…would appreciate the details, because I am having trouble seeing how the math works on this transaction.
    PS – good luck with the new job, hope you will still be blogging.

    • Justin Turnbow

      We’ll use as an example.

      Buy 4x $500 VGCs. Total fees+shipping = $35.25 but you offset most of that by earning 1.25% by going through Yazing (cashback portal). Through Yazing you get $25 back taking your total fees to roughly $10.

      Fidelity will give you 2% on your purchases so you earn roughly $41 on this transaction ($2,035*.02)

      You unload the giftcards via money orders which costs $1 or $2 depending on where you do it.

      Payout = $41 from Fidelity

      Fees = $11 or so

      Profit = ~$30

      • Hi Justin, thank you, I see now. If not for the extra step of liquidating using MOs, I might do this – but payout is too small, only because I already have a full time job – would do it however to meet spend on a high bonus card – so it’s definitely a YMMV thing depending on how much time a person has on their hands.

        Thanks for laying out the example.

    • Thanks Lynne! Yes, I’ll continue blogging. And yes, they’re merchant gift cards and I’m buying them online ( and using a cash back portal (Yazing) to reduce fees.

  2. Read your blog all the time..hope you won’t stop when you begin your new job! Best of luck to you!

  3. SexyKitten7

    Fidelity is issued by Elan (US Bank). USB is not particularly fond of MS and it well known for shutdowns. They shut me down last year.

    • I use my Fidelity 2% all the time, for all kinds of charges, no problems at all. Do you think their software filters for MS using flags for round denominations i.e. consistent charges of the same exact dollar value? eg. $505.95

      • SexyKitten7

        Hm. I may have overreached in my comment. It’s unclear why I was shutdown. I assumed it was due to light MS (serve loads and funded one acct, nothing ending in 5.95, 6.95, 13.90, etc). Never got a straight answer from them.

        As to algorithms, personally I think they are quite sophisticated. I used to only use my Cash+ at restaurants (locally and in other states) and it was never declined. However I tried to use it at a local staples once and it flagged my acct. This was 2+ years ago so unrelated to shutdown. Of course that’s just an anecdote.

        Perhaps other hardcore MSers can chime in.

    • I’ll keep that in mind. Thanks!

    • @ SexyKitten7- How much were you MSing when USBank shut you down? & Which card?

  4. What? No more posts of $50,000 MS in a month?????

  5. Good luck on your new job! I hope it’s something you’ll enjoy. One of the advantages of being a ‘Govie’ is that you get holidays off, something that’s becoming more and more of a privilege nowadays.

  6. why wouldnt you go for the capital one venture card where you get 2x on every purchase? seems like the logical replacement for arrival+

  7. Hi Ariana. Out of the blue, Barclay reduced my C/L on the Aviator, Wyndham, Jet Blue card to 1K and Arrival to 500.00. I cancelled the Wyndham, Aviator and Jet Blue cards and PC the Arrival to the Mastercard Rewards Card. When the conversion was completed, i had my rewards transferred to my checking account. I then cancelled my Rewards MC. Will reapply in 6 months.

  8. Has anyone been burned by using a Chase Freedom Unlimited with an online Giftcard service? I was wondering about getting one to close the gap on my Chase trifecta and make Costco returns better (fam of 4), but was also going to use it to offset the fees.

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