If you’re looking for a premium travel card and are willing to pay $495 a year, you have another option to consider – the UBS Visa Infinite card. UBS is an obscure bank to many Americans – it’s a Swiss bank that caters to a wealthy clientele. But, with this product, it’s positioning itself to compete with the Chase Sapphire Reserve, Citi Prestige, American Express Platinum and U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve.
Fees, general info
The card, which is made of metal, charges a $495 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees.
It’s offered at the Visa Infinite tier and (good news) offers one of the rarer Visa Infinite-level benefits that NOT all U.S. cards offer. More on that below.
The card will be available starting May 27 and will replace the bank’s UBS preferred Visa Signature product. Existing Visa Signature cardholders will automatically receive new Visa Infinite cards, according to a UBS press release.
The current advertised sign-up bonuses are 50,000 points after you spend $3,000 in the first three months or 25,000 after the same spend. Your application will determine which one you qualify for.
The card is packed with benefits, as are most high-annual-fee cards designed for travelers. Some are identical to benefits on similar cards while others give the UBS Visa Infinite a unique edge.
- Visa Infinite Discount Air benefit: Get a $100 discount when you purchase between two and five eligible round-trip, domestic coach airline tickets. All tickets must be on the same itinerary. This discount is applied to the overall cost of the itinerary, not per ticket. There’s no limit to how many times you can use this benefit each year. This Visa Infinite-level benefit is not offered on all Visa Infinite cards, but it is on this card.
- $500 statement credit for airport lounge access: You must spend $50,000 on the card each calendar year to get this benefit. If you meet that requirement, you have up to $500 to use on annual lounge-club memberships and day pass.
- Priority Pass Select lounge access: This card gets you complimentary access to lounges in the Priority Pass network, although expect each lounge to have its own rules regarding guests.
- $100 statement credit for Global Entry application fee: Get automatically reimbursed for the fee required to apply for Global Entry (which includes TSA PreCheck).
- $250 airline fee credit: This credit cancels out any charges for airline incidentals, such as bag-check fees and in-flight food/drinks – but only with an airline you choose in advance. You must select an eligible U.S. domestic carrier.
- 12 free Gogo in-flight Wi-Fi sessions: Register for Gogo, and get 12 free passes. If you don’t use all 12 in a year (based on your enrollment date), remaining passes will expire.
- Primary rental car insurance: Some cards merely offer secondary coverage (which requires you to file claims with your regular car insurance company first). But, with primary coverage, if you damage a rental car, your primary insurer doesn’t need to be involved. Here’s why this is a great benefit.
- Discounts and perks with Silvercar, National Car Rental and Avis and more: Save 30 percent with Silvercar, 15 percent with GroundLink, up to 25 percent with National, up to 30 percent with Avis, up to 5 percent with Enterprise and at least 5 percent with Alamo.
- Luxury benefits at some hotels: Get extra amenities at hotels in the Visa Infinite Luxury Hotel Collection.
With this card, you’ll earn:
- 3 points/dollar spent on commercial air travel
- 2 points/dollar spent on gas and groceries
- 1 point/dollar spent on other eligible purchases
The way this card’s rewards work set it apart from other cards in its niche.
As with other cards, you can redeem for a variety of things: travel, gift cards, merchandise, charitable donations and cash back. The per-point value varies by redemption, but, for cash-back statement credits, you’ll get one cent per point (10k points will get you a $100 statement credit, for example).
When it comes to travel, though, you can maximize your point value by redeeming on commercial airlines. That’s because this card offers a tiered structure for airline redemptions:
- 25,000 points for flights worth up to $350
- 50,000 points for flights between $600 and $900
In between $350 and $600 (and above $900), you’ll need to cash in 5,000 more points for every $50 of ticket price. So, a flight costing $1,001 would require 65k points. A flight costing $351 would require 30,000 points
So, there’s much math to be done to calculate the value of your points. With most programs, your point value is a certain amount, no matter how much the ticket costs. For comparison, that amount is 1 cent per point for the American Express Platinum and 1.5 cents each for the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
This can work for OR against you with the UBS Visa Infinite, depending on whether you hit one of the sweet spots in this rewards scheme. Redeeming for a $250 flight gets you a 1-cent-per-point value. Redeeming for a $900 flight gets you a 1.8-cent-per-point value. Outside that, your value fluctuates.
Is it worth it?
If you’re ready to pay more than $400 a year for a card, compare it to others in the luxury-card field to make sure the UBS Visa Infinite fills your needs best.
Here are some things to consider:
The benefits: Whether this card’s benefits are the best fit for you, only you can determine. You’ll find many of the same ones on other cards, but this one has the Visa Infinite companion-airfare discount benefit (worth $100 per itinerary). The yearly $500 credit toward lounge access yearly is also intriguing, but it requires $50,000 in spend per year. If you spread your spending out among other cards, you may never see that benefit.
The rewards: The 3X on travel is pretty restrictive – it applies to airfares only. The Chase Sapphire Reserve has a more flexible travel category, which includes airfares, hotels, rideshare rides and more. The American Express Platinum, meanwhile, gives a more-generous 5X on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
However, the UBS card offers the everyday bonus categories of gas and groceries, which are rare among premium cards.
The tiered system for airfare redemptions: The tiered redemption structure for airfares (described above) can help maximize your point value, but it’s also complicated. If you’d prefer not to give it any thought, know that you’re always going to get at least 1 cent per point – and potentially a lot more.
Lack of airline transfer partners: Both American Express and Chase offer the ability to transfer points directly into frequent-flier miles with partner airlines or hotel-loyalty points with partner hotels. This is widely known as the way to get maximum value out of your points. And it’s an option the UBS card doesn’t offer.
The airline-fee credit: This card’s $250 airline-incidentals works similarly to the American Express Platinum’s – airline-incidentals for your designated (chosen in advance) airline only – not airfares. The Citi Prestige’s credit (which includes airfares) and the Chase Sapphire Reserve’s (which includes anything coded as travel) are more flexible.
Modest lounge perks: The American Express Platinum reigns in the lounge category, with its access to multiple lounge networks. The UBS’s lounge access is more akin to the Chase Sapphire Reserve’s with its Priority Pass access. That is, unless you spend $50k on the card per year, in which case you could use the $500 credit to shell out for, say, Admirals Club or Sky Club access.
It’s air-travel friendly, but less hotel-stay friendly: The rewards and perks of the UBS card are heavily geared toward frequent fliers. If you’re looking for more generous hotel perks, check out the Citi Prestige, which offers a popular fourth-night-free benefit.
Why we gave it 4.5 out of 5 stars
We rated this card based on our standards for flexible-rewards programs, as the card allows you to redeem points for a variety of rewards.
|Rewards-earning rate: This card meets our standards by offering at least 1X on all spending at least 2X in at least two bonus categories.|
|Reward value: We require cards to guarantee a value of at least 1 cent per point for at least one redemption option. This card does that with cash back.|
|Unique perks: This card has many unique perks, including the $100 airfare discount benefit, which is rare.|
|Fair annual fee: When you add up the perks with direct monetary value (statement credits, airfare discounts, Priority Pass lounge membership, Gogo benefits), they equal or exceed the annual fee.|
|Bonus opportunities: This card advertises a sign-up bonus, but no opportunities for earning ongoing bonuses (such as bonus-shopping or redemption bonuses). We rewarded half a star.|