Earlier this year, in a less-than-subtle attempt to gain favor among affluent millennials, American Express announced a partnership with ride-share giant Uber via the venerable Platinum Card. In addition to some Uber-specific benefits, including double points for Uber rides, Platinum Card-holders (who pay $550 a year for the privilege of Platinum Card-holding), get $15 a month in Uber credits for domestic rides (plus an extra $20 in December).
This week, Uber announced a card of its own, and no surprise, it takes Uber integration to a new level. The non-fee card promises to shore up the loyalty of the Uber app’s most faithful users—loyalty that’s been tested, retested, and tested again in recent months—and to encourage price-shoppers to pick Uber over its good-guy archrival, Lyft, even when the fare (and public opinion) favors the latter.
“We weren’t thinking about payments strategy when Uber started,” says Drew Quinn, product manager for the Uber Visa card. “But then we saw that the moment our customers got out of the car was actually one of the most magical parts of the entire experience—no transaction, no cash, no card, no signature. At that point, we realized that payments were critical to the Uber experience.”
The particulars of the Uber card include 4 percent back on dining, 3 percent back on hotels and airfare, 2 percent back on Uber rides and online purchases, and 1 percent back on everything else, whatever else there is. But wait: There’s more. The card also gives members access to some insider events, a $50 credit for online subscriptions like Spotify, and fittingly, phone insurance.
Naturally, the card plays well with the Uber smartphone app. “Cardholders will have access to their rewards in real time, and they can redeem them for Uber credits from the app as well, or for cash back and gift cards with a couple taps to the Barclays app,” says Quinn.
Our verdict: Unless flashing Platinum is an important part of your social identity, the Uber Visa looks like a better deal for serious fans of the ride-share service—particularly those who travel frequently.