William Charles - The Penny Hoarder

While I’m an avid traveler, the worst thing about traveling is the expense. Ever since my first trip, I’ve been completely hooked on amazing experiences like scuba diving, but my bank account doesn’t always agree. Thankfully, I’m getting pretty good at finding ways to offset my travel costs and go on longer trips for less money.

One of my favorite new methods is through the Barclaycard Travel Community. Like TripAdvisor, it allows you to share your travel stories and advice with friends and family. The key difference is that Barclay provides you with an incentive to share your travel tips.

How Does It Work?

For every travel story you submit, you earn 150 miles. Get an additional 10 miles by adding locations such as a hotel or restaurant, and another 10 miles from every “kudo” your story receives (“kudos” are similar to “Likes” on Facebook). Eventually, redeem your miles for Amazon gift cards, travel expenses or as credit card statement credits.

Write stories about whatever you like: some people like to review restaurants or tour operators, while others suggest must-try foods for certain cities, such as poffertjes, stropwafels and nieuwe herring in Amsterdam). As long as it has some relevance to travel and a certain city, and others would find it useful, you’re good to go.

Your story must be at least 50 words in length and must contain a relevant photograph you’ve taken. You can write a maximum of five reviews for each city you visit.

Earning Miles: A Case Study

I decided to test out how long it actually takes me to post these reviews to see if it was worth my time or not. Here are my results:

  • Time taken: 1 hour
  • Stories written: 14
  • Points earned: 2,100

My hourly rate is 2,100 miles, which actually quite decent. I could easily improve it in a few simple ways:

  • Keep selected photos in a separate folder. I had to go through all my disorganized travel photos to choose the ones I wanted for each post, which took a bit of time. If I had the photos I wanted to upload in a separate folder, this would've been much quicker. In future I'll take a snap of a photo on my iPhone and put it in its own folder for future use.
  • Use an image optimizer. After uploading the first picture, a huge JPEG, I realized it would take ages unless I changed something. Using an image optimizer to make the files much smaller and easier to upload helped the process move more quickly. I used this program, but search online and you’ll find many options.
  • Write shorter reviews. I didn't always write 50 words; sometimes I wrote 100. Though this obviously slowed me down, I wanted the reviews to be useful, so I’m not too concerned with writing a few extra words. If you’re able to be more concise than I was, you’ll be quicker.

Redeeming Miles: Calculating My Earnings

Redeeming miles will depend on whether you have a Barclaycard Arrival credit card, such as the Barclaycard Arrival™ Plus World Elite MasterCard® ($89 annual fee, waived for the first year) or Barclaycard Arrival World Mastercard (no annual fee). If you do, transfer the miles onto those cards to redeem at a rate of 1¢ per mile for travel expenses and 0.5¢ per mile for non-travel expenses.

If you don't have one of these cards, you're stuck redeeming for Amazon gift cards and 2,500 miles will earn you a $5 gift card. This is what my hourly rate works out to be:

  • $21 per hour with an Arrival card when redeeming against travel expenses for statement credit (Like this idea? Click to tweet it!)
  • $10.50 per hour with an Arrival card when redeeming against non-travel expenses for statement credit
  • $4.20 per hour in Amazon gift cards

Personally, I find this strategy is only worthwhile if you hold an Arrival card and you're redeeming for travel expenses. It’s also important to keep in mind the restriction of five reviews per city -- you’ll need to explore more cities to write more reviews.

Remember that if you write good reviews, you'll usually get a few kudos -- which means extra miles. I know some people have earned 80,000+ miles by using this community ($800 in travel expenses), so this might be a worthwhile option.

Your Turn: Have you tried writing reviews for the Barclaycard Travel Community?

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William Charles is the writer at Doctor of Credit. All of the information on his website is consumer credit focused, with his most popular article being on how the credit scoring algorithm FICO score works. He also regularly posts free money opportunities.