A few years back, I got my first new credit card in probably a decade. Since that momentous occasion, I’ve received numerous credit card offers in the mail and have proceeded to throw them in the trash each and every time. I didn’t get any such mailing regarding the Uber Visa card when it launched in November 2017 but I did see it plastered all over the Internet. While, like most, I was quick to roll my eyes at the concept, looking at the perks the card was offering got me to quickly change my tune. In fact I ended up applying for the card the day it became available and have been using it ever since.
So, with the initial hype dying down, does the Uber Visa card hold up? Let’s dive into what I like about this card, even as someone who isn’t a hardcore Uber user.
Uber Visa Rewards Categories
First off, the Uber Visa (which is issued in partnership with Barclaycard) operates on a point-based system in which 1 point is equivalent to one cent. As a result, you can simply add a decimal and read your point balance as a dollar amount to see what your rewards — which can be used for Uber credits, gift cards, or transferred to your bank account — are worth. This is important to note because, if you’re skeptical like me, you might assume that these point values just appear generous but might not convert to much. But as Teri Hatcher once said, when it comes to these Uber Visa cash back points, they’re real and they’re spectacular.
4% on dining
The top points category for the Uber Visa is dining, netting you four points for every dollar you spend. This includes fast food, take out, table service, and even UberEats. While my wife and I don’t eat out that much (although one could argue that near-weekly is a lot), I was surprised by how lucrative such an offer was. Plus, unlike my Discover It card that might offer 5% on dining for single quarter, this 4% Uber category is year-round, making this an awesome perk for my wife and me.
3% on travel
As I’ve mentioned in the past, my wife and I really enjoy traveling and have been working to ensure we get to do more of it in the future. For that reason, while I’ve ultimately declined past offers, I have been tempted to try a branded credit card with the likes of Delta or Hilton. Alas these options never seemed to make much sense to me. On the contrary, the three points per dollar that this Uber Visa entitles me to when booking flights or hotels compliments my wanderlust nicely. There’s also another bonus this card holds for travel enthusiasts, but we’ll discuss that more in a moment.
2% on online purchases
Perhaps the most interesting of the four spending categories the Uber Visa holds is its 2% category. This category offers two points per dollar spent online, including both e-commerce sites like Amazon as well as the digital offshoots of brick and mortar chains like Target. Incidentally this is also the category Uber rides fall under. Considering how much of my shopping is done online or can be done online, this was another winner for me.
1% on everything else
Although the above three categories cover a lot of spending ground, there are plenty of purchases that don’t fall under any of these umbrellas. As a catch-all, the Uber Visa offers one point per dollar for pretty much everything else you buy. Considering this is what my Discover card mostly offers (aside from those rotating 5% categories), this really rounds out the rewards lineup nicely.
Other Uber Card Perks and Benefits
Once these reward categories grabbed my attention, I was expecting some sort of hammer to fall and be a deal breaker. To my surprise, that never happened. In fact, the Uber Visa actually just kept looking more appealing the more I read. Here’s what I mean:
No annual fee
You read that right — this is a free card. I could have sworn that, reading about this card, it was going to cost upwards of a $100 a year to use. As someone who doesn’t have any annual fee cards and never plans to, this was perhaps the biggest bombshell for me. Well, that and my next point.
No foreign transaction fees
In my travels to Asia and now Europe, I’ve learned how annoying foreign transaction fees can be. Our main Visa tacks on 3% to anything we buy that’s not in U.S. dollars, while the Discover card has limited acceptance in some countries. So that’s why I was ecstatic about the thought of having a foreign transaction fee-free Visa card, which is what the Uber card delivers. Honestly this is a game-changer for me and has saved me some cash on many adventures.
As a sidenote, I’ve also had good luck using my Uber Visa for foreign transactions made online. Previously I’ve run into issues trying to use a card to book hotel rooms in another country but had no such issues with this particular card. I may not be alone either as a travel agent friend of mine said that Barclaycards do tend to work better for such purchases than cards from some other issuers. It’s hard to say for sure but I’ve been pleased regardless.
$50 streaming credit
If it wasn’t already clear what kind of demographic the Uber card is aiming for, this perk should illuminate things a bit more. When you spend at least $5,000 on your card in a year, you’ll be entitled to receive a credit of up to $50 to subsidize your various streaming subscriptions. This includes services like Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, and Apple Music. However, in order to qualify, you’ll need to use your Uber Visa to pay for these subscriptions.
I’ve managed to earn this perk twice now and it’s always a nice added bonus that I nearly forget about until it happens. As soon as you reach that $5,000 figure, you’ll see applicable charges for services start reversing until you’ve reached a total of $50. This completely automatic process is just another great perk for those making the Uber Visa one of their main cards.
Mobile phone insurance
One of the more interesting features is the inclusion of mobile phone insurance. Like with the streaming credit, you’ll need to ensure that you pay your cellular bill using your Uber card in order to take advantage of this offer. If you do, you’ll be able to file a damage or theft claim on your device and get up to $600 after a $25 deductible. For those of you with true butterfingers, you’ll be happy to know you can file two of these claims (up to $1,200) in a 12 month period.
Thankfully this one offer I have yet to take advantage of. Therefore I can’t really speak to how the process of making a claim works or if this feature means you can forgo the insurance your phone manufacturer or wireless provider is trying to sell you. What I can say is that, for those who choose to pass up those protections, hopefully this mobile insurance feature is all it’s “cracked” up to be.
Initial spending bonus
Like many credit cards, the Uber Visa is offering a special incentive to sign-up for their card. When you’re approved for the card and spend $500 in your first three months, you’ll receive a 10,000 point ($100) bonus. Although this might not be the largest initial spending bonus known to man, $500 is also a pretty reasonable threshold. Also, you won’t hear me complain about getting a free c-note.
Uber Visa Review
It’s now been a year and a half that I’ve been armed with my Uber Visa credit card. As a result I’ve had plenty of time to put the card to the test. This includes testing out the various spending categories, getting hands-on with the Barclaycard app, and shopping around their gift card selection. Here’s what I’ve discovered in that time:
Accessing via apps and site
As I mentioned, the Uber Visa card is actually issued by Barclaycard. Thus you’ll likely want to download their mobile app after getting approved for the card. The app itself is pretty easy to use, offering Touch ID login and Apple Watch integrations. It also has a peek feature that lets you view your balance and other basic info without logging in (although you will need to opt-in to this feature).
Something I really appreciate about the Barclaycard app is that you tap your individual transactions and view how many points you received. This function has allowed me to spot some anomalies and plot some ways to optimize my rewards (more on that in a minute). Other helpful features include the ability to set up travel plans, view your FICO score, and of course make payments.
Another way to view your point balance is in Uber’s flagship app. By adding your Uber Visa card as a payment type, a point value bar will appear below your name and rating. Tapping this will enable to cash in your points for Uber ride credits. You can choose to spend these credits in any amount over $5 and leave the rest if you’d like. Below this redeem option are buttons that will launch the Barclaycard app should you choose to explore other ways to spend your rewards.
Previously there have been times when Uber offered a bonus to cardholders cashing in their points for credits. For example at one time you’d receive an extra 5% in credits. However this promotion isn’t currently offered — likely because the company is pushing Uber Cash instead. While it would have been nice if Uber Visa users did get extra credit for converting their cash back, this perk was never advertised as part of the card’s offerings so it’s hard to be too mad about it.
Gift card selection and cash back
Speaking of reward redemption, Barclaycard offers a number of gift cards for purchase with your points — as long as you’ve accrued more than $25 in rewards. Aside from a few cases where $25 gift card are “on sale” for $22.50, these cards are sold at face value. This stands in contrast to my Discover card, which allows you to trade cash back for discounted gift cards (typically offering bonuses of at least $5). That said, they do offer cards from a wide variety of retailers including many I frequent.
Alternatively you can also choose to just transfer your rewards to your bank account. Again, this can only be done once you reach more than $25 in rewards. Personally this is the option I’ve used the most often, regularly transferring cash to one of my online bank accounts where it can earn interest.
Point accrual tips
For the most part, I’ve received all of the points that I should have based on my spending categories. However I have noticed a couple of oddities. First, while I’d expect my local donut shop to qualify as dining and, thus, net me four points per dollar, I’ve now visited twice and only received 1% back. I’m guessing that this has something to do with how this small shop’s Square account is set up, but another cafe I visited that also utilizes Square resulted in 4% back. Ultimately this retailer-specific issue probably isn’t worth my looking into further but I’ll be keeping an eye on it for sure (also, if there’s fault to be laid, it would be on the retailer and not Barclay).
Then, one quirk I found with the system (that actually makes a ton of sense when I thought about it) revolves around my beloved Starbucks. Since most of my Starbucks consumption now involves mobile ordering, I’ve gotten into the habit of reloading my gold card via the app when I order. As it turns out, since this is technically an online purchase, I was only receiving 2% back on these reloads. But, as I recently confirmed, reloading at the store’s register qualifies me for the 4% back, since Starbucks is indeed a restaurant. So, since making this discovery, my wife has been reloading her card in person and getting double the rewards as a result. As for me, I’m still using my Square Cash boost trick to save $1 every time I reload.
Finally, I realized this past holiday shopping season that I could double my cash back rewards by making my purchase on BestBuy.com and picking up my order in-store, instead of purchasing the item locally. Lest you think I’m going overboard at this point, this workaround was a big win when I purchased a new laptop some months ago. Thus I recommend taking a similar approach toward e-commerce if you want to get that sweet, sweet cash back.
When the Uber Visa card was first announced, I actually wondered if it would just be a temporary gimmick that would scale back its perks a few months into its run. To its credit, that has certainly not been the case — the card remains as great as advertised all this time later. As a result, I have to say that it is my go-to card in most situations and even holds a coveted prime spot in my cell phone’s wallet case.
For my money, this is really the ultimate credit card for Millennials for a number of reasons: 1) amazingly generous spending categories, 2) no foreign transaction fees, 3) up to $50 streaming credit, 4) up to $600 cell phone insurance, and 5) all of this for no annual fee! What’s even more interesting is that this a branded credit card that seems less about loyalty and more about lifestyle. Aside from the name on the front, the Uber branding is almost inconsequential, with the only real benefit being that you can cash out points for rides at $5 instead of $25. So, for those who don’t patronize ride-sharing services very often or prefer Lyft, don’t think that this stellar card can’t benefit you as well.
Overall I’d highly recommend the Uber Visa credit card — and actually have, getting a couple of my friends on board in the past year or so. For more information on this honestly awesome card and to apply for one yourself, check out the Uber Visa site.
Originally published at https://dyernews.com on June 13, 2019.