The travel blogosphere is abuzz today with news that the Barclays Arrival Premier Card has been closed to new applicants. Gary Leff of the blog View From the Wing broke the news, quoting Rachana Bhatt, Managing Director for Barclays US Branded Cards as his source. The reason appears to be that the market's response to this new card was underwhelming.
For the time being, it appears that existing holders of the Arrival Premier will remain unaffected and will continue to enjoy all of the advertised benefits (though I personally wonder how long that will last if they don't relaunch the card, which seems very much in question).
You can read the story here:
The Points Guy is also covering this.
What do you all make of this news?
Feel free to throw a kudo my way if you find this info to be of value :)
As an active (i.e. spending with the card regularly) cardholder, I'm very disappointed to hear the news. I'm a little surprised that they didn't have some kind of marketing "Plan B" if their initial strategy didn't pan out.
As far as what I think would've made the card more successful: free lounge access/Priority Pass, as most cards at this level offer. And really, it's a basic feature nowadays in any card aimed at a seasoned premium traveler (under the assumption that people putting $25K+/year on a personal card probably have money to spend on above-average travel). The insurances and purchase protections are all excellent as far as I'm concerned (perhaps car rental insurance can be upgraded to primary coverage).
Also, their goal was to create long-term loyalty, and the $15K/$25K bonus milestones helped with that; however, after $25K they should have continued to offer some kind of incentive... perhaps simply every additional $10K is a 5K point bonus, or perhaps the Arrival Plus 5% rebate would kick in, something along those lines. It most likely wouldn't have cost them a great deal of extra money since, statistically, the number of people surpassing $25K would drop and drop the larger the amount.
I don't know if anyone from Barclays reads this, but as far as I'm concerned, the card will stay in my wallet as long as they allow me to --- on the condition that they keep the ability to transfer points into airline miles intact. If that goes away and it becomes a cashback-only card, the card will go away for me...
You make a lot of good points, Moe. It will be interesting to see what is in the works going forward. I would think that the only options are relaunch the card, possibly with an up front sign up bonus, and maybe add some benefits, or pull the plug on the whole thing. I don't think the economics of maintaining the card for a small group of cardholders going on indefinitely into the future will work out from Barclays' perspective.
Makes you wonder if permitting folks to upgrade to the card would have made much difference. Seems like a decent amount of people wanted to do that but were not willing to burn a fresh card application for it like Barclays wanted/required.
Agree with most of what you said, but free lounge access would be a lot to expect for a card with an annual fee under $400.
The annual fee is $150. The Chase Sapphire Reserve, for example, is $450 but $300 is returned same as cash essentially against travel spend - effective fee of $150.
The Chase Reserve is also very competitive against the $95 cards. In addition to $300 back on travel, they cover Global Entry, that is worth $20 a year. So the Reserve is essentially $130 a year. For that they give free lounge access, 3 points on travel and dining, free Roadside Assistance (save $75 on AAA membership), etc.
Barclays should relaunch Premier as a prestige card to sufficiently differentiate from Plus.
Agree completely! They should dive right into the big leagues with a solid, competitive offering that gives people willing to pay $150+ annual fees what they're looking for. Any serious world traveler will be expecting at a minimum free lounge access for at least the primary cardholder these days. The spend bonuses are nice, but the card needs "that something else" at the end of the day. I think they'd be fine raising the fee as well, since the kind of person paying a $150 fee would most likely be okay with paying a $200 or $250 fee if the benefits justify it.
Looks like there are three distinct segments in this market: no-fee, under-$100 fee, and over-$400 fee, with each expecting an appropriate level of services. Barclays was trying to find a new segment in-between the latter two, and that didn’t work. Not sure what market research they did to identify that segment. Wonder if that segment exists in the U.K. Would be interesting to see their future plans.