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To woo wealthy, UBS dives into credit card fray with Chase, AmEx

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

UBS, Switzerland's largest bank, plans to introduce a premium card this month as it seeks to strengthen ties with affluent American clients. 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 ultrahigh-net-worth for the Americas, said in a statement Tuesday.

The wirehouse, which has about 7,000 advisers, has long focused its growth strategy on wealthy and ultrawealthy clients. The new credit card offering would enable the firm to serve "more than their traditional wealth management needs," Mathews said.

But the competition already is stiff.

Lenders including JPMorgan Chase and U.S. Bancorp unveiled new offerings in the past year as they seek to wrest market share from American Express, 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.

Bloomberg News