Uber Visa Credit Card Review (2019 Changes)
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. Not only did I end up applying for the card the day it became available but also proceeded to talk up the card for the past two years both on this blog and in real life.
Unfortunately Barclaycard and Uber recently made some major changes to my favorite credit card, necessitating a revisit to my original review. So what’s changing with the card and why am I so salty about it? Let’s take a look at the revamped Uber Visa card.
About the changes and info for current cardholders
In October of 2019, Barclay and Uber announced a revamped Uber Visa card. This new version is currently the only one available for new applicants while current cardholders will be converted to the updated product sometime in the first half of 2020 (e-mails with account-specific details have been sent out — my conversion date is February). Additionally cardholders will have until 24 hours before their product changes to cash out any remaining rewards. Otherwise they will be turned into Uber Cash.
Below is a review of the newly-announced product along with some of my impressions regarding aspects of the previous iteration that are sticking around:
Uber Visa Rewards Categories
First off, the biggest change to the Uber Visa card — and the largest negative in my opinion — is that the card will now only earn Uber Cash. Previously cardholders could use their points for statement credits, gift cards, cash transfers to bank accounts, or Uber credits. Instead, now you’re stuck using your rewards for rides or Uber Eats and that’s it. The card will still operate 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 are worth.
5% on Uber purchase
Under the old card’s rewards model, Uber rides only earned 2% back while Uber Eats (just filed under “Dining”) earned 4%. Ironically the former was recently bested when Uber partnered with Apple Card to offer 3% cash back. Therefore it makes sense that the company would finally put more of an emphasis on their own products.
This new category applies to Uber rides, Uber Eats, and JUMP bike and scooter rentals.
3% on dining
Down from the previous 4% back, the Uber Visa now nets you three points for every dollar you spend. This includes fast food, take out, and table service. 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 this category proved to be for us. Plus, unlike my Discover It card that might offer 5% on dining for single quarter, this category is year-round. So while the step down is disappointing, 3% is still pretty strong.
3% on hotels and airfare
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 offers when booking flights or hotels compliments such wanderlust nicely. There’s also another bonus this card holds for travel enthusiasts, but we’ll discuss that more in a moment.
1% on everything else
Although the above categories cover a good amount 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.
Also worth noting is that the previous version of the card had a 2% back on online purchases category that has sadly been discontinued.
Other Uber Card Perks and Benefits
No annual fee
Perhaps the Uber card’s greatest strength upon its release was that it was a free card. Thankfully this aspect has not changed. As someone who, until recently, didn’t have any annual fee cards, this is a big perk (and takes a bit of the sting out of the changes).
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 has been a game-changer for me and has saved me money on many adventures.
As a side note, 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.
Mobile phone insurance
One of the more interesting features is the inclusion of mobile phone insurance. 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 use myself. 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, even if it is now in the form of Uber Cash.
Discontinued streaming credit
If you came to this review looking for mention of the $50 streaming credit earned after you spent $5,000 on the card in a year, I have some bad news for you. Sadly this perk was also removed from the card as of October 2019. However current cardholders like myself will apparently still be able to claim this credit until your next account anniversary date, but then no more.
Uber Visa Experience and Tips
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.
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 three 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 (it would now be 3%). 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 — which would now be 1% since the online purchases category has been discontinued. But, as I recently confirmed, reloading at the store’s register qualifies me for the Dining-level cash 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.
Final Thoughts on the New Uber Visa
Before I get to my final thoughts, I wanted to share this quote from my original review: “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.” Well, while I may have been off on the time, my overall statement now seems prophetic.
As I mentioned, I have been a raving fan of the Uber Visa since its release. However, given the recent changes, the card is no longer viable for me. While the decrease in dining rewards, removal of 2% back on online purchases category, and the abolition of the streaming credit were all changes I could live with, the move to Uber Cash from “cash cash” gives me far less incentive to rack up rewards on this card.
What was great about the original iteration of the card is that it seemed to prioritize the needs of its target market over brand-specific loyalty. Now the card has transitioned to be the Uber store card that many assumed it would be upon release (before reading details, of course). Surely there’s nothing wrong with creating a card strictly for Uber enthusiasts but the bait and switch is what makes it all so disappointing.
Personally my plan is to keep my cell phone bill on the Uber Visa to 1) keep the card active and 2) maintain that free cell phone insurance. Then I can merge whatever rewards I do earn with the $15 a month in Uber credits I now get from my Amex Platinum for the occasional Uber Eats order. As for the other perks, I’m now in the market for a new dining card.
Overall, if you are a frequent Uber user, there’s definitely still a lot to like about the Uber Visa from Barclaycard. Meanwhile, if you’re like me and only use Uber every once in a while, this might no longer be the card for you. As much as it pains me to say, after two good years, the Uber Visa is now all but dead to me.
Also published on Medium.