UBS Takes on AmEx, Chase in Credit-Card Rewards War

  • Swiss bank to introduce card for high-net-worth clients
  • Competition for affluent U.S. credit-card spenders is stiff

Don’t count the Swiss out of the war for top U.S. credit-card spenders.

UBS Group AG, Switzerland’s largest bank, plans to introduce a premium card this month as it seeks to strengthen ties with affluent Americans. The offering -- dubbed the UBS Visa Infinite card -- carries a $495 annual fee and sweeteners including an annual $500 airport lounge credit if users spend $50,000 a year.

With the new card, UBS “can have a more meaningful impact on our clients’ everyday lives and experiences,” John Mathews, the bank’s head of private wealth management and ultra-high-net-worth for the Americas, said in a statement Tuesday.

But the competition already is stiff. Lenders including JPMorgan Chase & Co. and U.S. Bancorp unveiled new offerings in the past year as they seek to wrest market share from American Express Co., which long dominated the elite-card business. That’s left customers with a growing array of benefits to weigh, and in March AmEx shot back by retooling its Platinum card, adding $200 a year in Uber rides.

For its part, UBS said cardholders will be able to redeem 25,000 points for a $350 airline ticket, versus AmEx’s rate of 35,000 points. The new product will be available May 27, replacing the UBS Preferred Visa Signature card, according to the statement.

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