The Uber Credit Card from Barclays (formerly known as the Uber Visa Card) recently underwent a top-to-bottom overhaul with huge changes to the reward system, including the bonus categories and redemption methods. Earlier this week, Barclays released a revamped Uber Credit Card that has left very few of the initial offerings intact. To describe the changes in a single word: they’re drastic – with the most significant difference being the form of rewards themselves (spoiler: kiss cash back goodbye). Virtually every aspect of the card was changed, down to the name of the card itself, which was updated from “Uber Visa Card” to “Uber Credit Card”. Even the physical card was unable to escape the redesign and has emerged with a sleek new card face. As a credit card fanatic who was initially singing the praises of this card to anyone who would listen, I have a lot of mixed feelings about these updates.
Initial Thoughts on the Original Uber Card
The original Uber credit card caused a frenzy when it was first launched back in November of 2017. It was quickly touted as one of the best cash back credit cards available – and one of the most accessible. Boasting up to 4% back on popular categories, this card could compete toe-to-toe with some of the hottest credit cards on the market (including the premium ones). In 2019, their most notable rivals would be the uber-popular Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Capital One Savor cards. On top of the Uber card’s incredibly generous and well-rounded rewards structure, Uber also had no annual fee (both the Sapphire Preferred and the Savor card have annual fees of $95) and was eligible to those with imperfect credit scores (below 670) – which was previously unheard of for such comprehensive rewards.
Changes to the Uber Credit Card Rewards Program (Big Ones)
Hands down, the single largest update to the Uber Credit Card is the removal of cash back earnings (cue the waterworks). Previously, owners of the Uber Credit Card would earn their respective returns in the form of Uber Cash, which could then be converted into actual cash (a statement credit) once you reached $25 worth of rewards. Instead, rewards will now be earned in the form of Uber Cash which can only be used in the Uber app and can no longer be converted. Here’s why that’s less than ideal:
- Cash back rewards cards are inherently more user-friendly than other types of rewards cards because they typically offer the most straightforward redemption methods. If anything, the comfort of knowing you could put a little bit of money back in your pocket offers some peace of mind when you’re swiping your credit card for your latest clothes or tech haul.
- If you don’t use Uber all that often (ride shares or food delivery), you could end up with a bunch of rewards in a form that you can’t make use of. It’s like having millions in an ancient and long-defunct currency – it’s not going to do you much good, is it? Granted, if you’re even considering applying for the Uber Credit Card then you must partake in their services with some level of regularity – but I’m not certain that I use it often enough to be willing to sink all my earnings into their app.
- A combination of the above reasons: At the end of the day, I prefer flexibility with my credit card reward options. Say, for instance, that I moved to a country that didn’t have Uber. Then what? I either close the card since I can’t use the rewards I would earn through purchases, thus, losing all the credit history I’ve accumulated with them (not to mention the loss of ‘total available credit’ and the hit on my ‘average age of credit’). Or, I could continue to keep the card open for credit score purposes, but then sink my rewards into an unusable format.
Changes to the Uber Credit Card Bonus Categories
When I first heard about the Uber card, my first thoughts were that it was too good to be true, and sadly, it looks like I was right. The new Uber Credit Card rewards structure has been altered so greatly that the only thing reminiscent of the good ol’ Uber card are the dining and travel rewards. While the changes haven’t been all negative (some were definitely warranted) I find they have made this card less of a must-have and more of a “we’ll see.” So how do these changes fare for the future of the Uber Credit Card? Here are my thoughts on the good, the great, and the maybe-not. Here’s a breakdown of the old Uber bonuses vs new Uber bonuses:
|Original Uber Visa Bonuses||New Uber Credit Card Bonuses|
5% Bonus Categories: All-Things Uber
The new 5% back on all Uber-related purchases makes a lot of sense – so much so that it’s questionable as to why Barclays didn’t have Uber as the top rewards category in the first place. In truth, the original, somewhat strangely-skewed, rewards structure was one of the main reasons why the original Uber card was so alluring in the first place: It didn’t matter how frequently (or infrequently) you used ride-shares or Uber Eats; literally any person could’ve made use of the card. Now, the card’s current state requires potential cardholders to be frequent Uber-ers in order to really squeeze the maximum rewards out of this card.
Previously only earning 2% on its own services, ordering Ubers has become a much more lucrative way to score big bonuses through the Uber Credit Card. No complaints here. This new bonus is a win that will handsomely reward those routinely rely on Uber. Looking for more ways to earn that top 5% bonus? Use Uber as your go-to for drop-offs and pick-ups at airports, when you’re out on the town and responsibly avoiding drinking and driving, or if you simply can’t be bothered to deal with the hassle of finding parking to wherever you’re headed.
Uber Eats has also gotten a boost from the revamped bonuses and now earns 5% compared to 4% when it was lumped in with the dining category. If you’re the type of person who orders delivery on the regular, this is obviously a huge gain. If you’re a person that tends to dine out more than you order in, the new Uber will have lost just a tad of its edge as a dining rewards credit card. Unless you love paying for delivery fees, I wouldn’t recommend relying on Uber Eats as your primary way of earning points.
JUMP is Uber’s relatively new bike-sharing program that allows users to rent electric bikes through the Uber app (similar to those Lyme scooters you’ve been seeing everywhere). It’s currently only available in major cities in the United States, with much more limited availability in Europe, Asia, Canada, and Mexico. Unless you live in a major metropolitan area such as Miami, New York, or Austin, you’ll be hard-pressed to score any rewards from this redemption method.
3% Bonus Categories: Dining & Travel Rewards
If you were a fan of the previous Uber Visa setup, you can breathe a tiny sigh of relief as the majority of this category remained unchanged. Major travel, hotel, and airfare purchases will still net you 3% back – which is suitable if you don’t already have a designated travel credit card in your wallet but are still looking to cash in on those travel-related purchases.
Dining Category Takes a Hit
The one adjustment that was made, however, is one that will hit most credit card lovers the hardest: The dining category, which includes restaurants and bars, that dropped from a 4% return to 3%. Technically, 3% percent on restaurants is still a very decent bonus for a credit card with no annual fee. But after taking into account the other monumental changes of the new rewards format, it adds just another kink in the Uber card’s crumbling establishment as one of the best credit cards of the year, succinctly removing the edge the Uber Credit Card had over its closest credit card rival, the Capital One SavorOne. I eat out a lot (much more frequently than I order delivery) and would much rather have my rewards in the form of cash back than tied up as Uber Cash.
Uber Credit Card, No Longer Considered a Dining Card
In short, Uber’s change to the dining category is both good and bad news. The bad is obvious: Those who are looking to score the most for dining out aren’t going to find it with the Uber Credit Card any longer. The good? It’s made it that much easier to decide between the Uber Credit Card and the Capital One SavorOne card.
R.I.P., Bonuses for Online Shopping (and Other Perks)
One of the most disappointing changes is the loss of the 2% return on online shopping. I can say with certainty that I (and probably the majority of you out there) do a lot more online shopping than the ordering of Ubers. While 2% isn’t terribly significant, knowing that I could’ve had it hurts. The loss of this bonus category makes the new Uber card much less well-rounded for everyday use and no longer viable to serve as a default payment method for shopping. Unfortunately, the online shopping bonus category wasn’t the only thing to get the axe. Uber no longer offers a $50 credit for streaming services such as Apple Music, Netflix, and Amazon Prime. In lieu, they have added a $69.95 pay-per-use roadside dispatch feature and retained the $600 in mobile phone protection.
The Updated Uber Credit Card – Is It Still Worth Getting?
The revamped Uber rewards card has positioned itself strategically with a heavy push for cardholders to use Uber services. And while many others are viewing the change as an improvement on the card, I say otherwise. It has made Uber purchases more lucrative but at the cost of the card’s versatility. It is no longer a suitable fit within the wallet of most consumers. Whereas I previously considered the Uber Credit Card as an outstanding catch-all card, the new 5% bonus category has made it more of a niche card to be used for very specific buying needs. Now, the Uber card will no longer have to compete with your designated travel and credit cards and can instead be used solely for all your Uber-related transactions. If you don’t currently have a card specifically for eating out or getting around, this card will do will in the interim, but there are other cards with similar rewards for those things that offer much more flexible redemption methods. For better or for worse, others like me who were torn between several credit cards (that had equally impressive rewards structures) will find that the updates to the Uber Credit Card make it much easier to make a choice. If you’re looking to earn rewards on ride-sharing, the Uber card offers an unrivaled earning potential (many other travel cards offer a measly 2% return) and there’s truly no equal for the Uber card any longer. Fortunately, there is still no annual fee, so those who aren’t sure how they feel about the new card can try it out with minimal commitment.
What to Do if You’re an Existing Uber Card Holder
For those lucky enough to have owned the original Uber card in all of its 4/3/2/1 cash back glory, you’ll be able to hold onto your current product until mid-2020. If you’re an avid Uber-taker and itching to cash in on the 5% bonuses, you can contact customer service to transfer to the new product immediately, but all customers will be moved to the new card structure in 2020.
It should go without saying that I was crestfallen to see that the Uber Credit Card had been relaunched with several dramatic changes. Fortunately, there were perks that remained intact (the welcome bonus, $100 in Uber Cash for spending $500, no annual fee, and no foreign transaction fee) that helped to ease the surprise but still could not salvage my interest in this card. While it is no longer on my personal want list, I can admit that it still makes for a lucrative rewards card (it just requires a more specific type of person to make use of it now). You might expect a boyfriend or girlfriend to break your heart eventually, but a credit card? Nothing could’ve prepared me for changes of this magnitude. With the old Uber Visa, I felt like there was nothing you couldn’t do—or buy—that wouldn’t end up scoring a bonus of some sort. Those days are long gone and I’m kicking myself for not having applied for the card earlier. Lyft, don’t you hurt me too.