Amazon Takes Aim At Costco With New Prime Visa Card

Amazon has a new credit card that promises big rewards and takes aim at Costco’s loyal customer base . The Prime Rewards Visa Card is much more than a store card and promises cash back on all purchases, to varying degrees.

The card is free to Prime members (who pay a $99 annual fee) and rewards users with a whopping 5% cash back on all purchases made at Amazon and 2% in Amazon credit for purchases at restaurants and gas stations. Users get 1% cash back for purchases everywhere else. (See the full list of benefits here.)

Amazon previously offered two different charge cards: The Prime Store Card, good only at Amazon.com, and the Amazon Rewards Visa that gave 3% back in cash for purchases.
The new benefits put Amazon’s card right up there with the popular Chase Sapphire card. Making it one of the best in the market for benefits.

For Amazon though, it helps across a number of different metrics.

“We are adding even more value to Prime by offering rewards on Amazon and everywhere else you shop,” Amazon VP Max Bardon said in a statement.

Luring more shoppers into its Prime membership program and keeping them there with benefits and features is a huge priority for Amazon.

The company doesn’t report how many Prime members it has, saying only it’s in the “tens of millions.” One independent group estimates that half of all U.S. households are subscribed to Prime.

Those members are also among the most affluent in the U.S., according to Greg Buzek, founder and president of IHL Group. Roughly 70% of U.S. households with a household income of $112,000 or higher have an Amazon Prime account.

These shoppers spend more money and time on Amazon. Nearly half of all consumers now bypass Google and go directly to Amazon for product searches and reviews. Each new Prime benefit is directed to further cement Amazon’s lock on this customer.

Other store-branded credit cards offer cash back like Target’s REDcard, where points are rewarded only on purchases at that store. Nordstrom has a branded Visa card good anywhere that allows users to earn loyalty points on all purchases and multiple points at Nordstrom banners.
Costco though, has one of the best cards around and some of the most loyal customers to go with it.
The warehouse club switched from a long-standing exclusive with American Express to Visa this year and the new Visa Anywhere Card offers cash back at varying levels on in-store purchases, gas, restaurant and travel. All other purchases deliver 1% cash back to the user.

Amazon’s new card will appeal to this same customer. Delivering customer value to grow loyalty over profits has been Amazon’s strategy since the beginning. This card furthers these efforts.

Costco’s website often seems like an afterthought. In truth, offering free shipping on bulk items and big-ticket buys (the only things Costco sells) can be quite costly. In-store sampling, seasonal displays and exclusive merchandise increase impulse buys and draw enthusiastic members into the brick and mortar space more frequently.

That’s a difficult experience to replicate online and thus far, Costco hasn’t really tried. That might have to change.

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Golden State Warriors Break Ground On New $1 Billion Chase Center

The Golden State Warriors destroyed the Cleveland Cavaliers 126-91 last night in a rematch of the last two NBA Finals match-ups. While fans celebrated the win, team ownership will celebrate another victory today when it breaks ground on their new $1 billion arena, Chase Center, set to open for the 2019-2020 season. Warriors brass, along with coach Steve Kerr, forward Kevin Durant and San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee are expected to attend the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the venue located in San Francisco’s Mission Bay neighborhood.
Stephen Curry and his Warriors teammates will have a new home arena starting in 2019. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

The arena faced numerous legal challenges and concerns over traffic in the area, but the project is moving forward. The Warriors ownership group, led by Joe Lacob and Peter Guber, are privately financing the venue to replace Oracle Arena in Oakland, which is the NBA’s oldest building.

The new 18,000-seat arena will be state-of-the-art with emerging technologies befitting its locale in the Bay Area. The arena will anchor 11 acres of restaurants, offices and public plazas.

“This new venue will not only ensure our beloved Warriors remain in the Bay Area, but it will fill a void in San Francisco’s portfolio of arts and events facilities,” said Mayor Lee in a statement. “It will provide enormous economic benefits, including thousands of new jobs and millions in new tax revenues for The City. And the Warriors are doing it the right way — financing this arena entirely without public funding.”

Arena funding got a major boost when JPMorgan Chase locked up naming rights 12 months ago for 20 years at a price estimated to be in the neighborhood of $300 million. It is the richest arena naming rights deal ever in the U.S.
“We have been looking forward to this day since we first had the vision of building a privately financed state-of-the-art sports and entertainment complex in San Francisco are excited for what this will bring to the city of San Francisco and the entire Bay Area community,” said Warriors President Rick Welts. “Chase Center and the surrounding area will serve as a destination for the entire community and we will continue to work to make sure it is the best experience possible for everyone to enjoy NBA basketball, concerts, family shows, conventions and more.”
Lacob and Guber bought the Warriors for $450 million in 2010. It will go down as one of the great investments in sports. The ownership group got in shortly before Steve Ballmer paid $2 billion for the Los Angeles Clippers and the NBA inked a $24-billion TV contract with ESPN and TNT at triple the prior yearly rate.

The Warriors turned into a juggernaut on the court as well, winning 85% of their games since the start of the 2014-15 season while guard Stephen Curry became a two-time NBA MVP. The Warriors set the NBA-record for regular season wins last year with 73 before falling to the Cavs in the NBA Finals. The Warriors had the NBA’s highest average cable TV rating of 9.76, more than double the previous season.

Ticket prices at the Chase Center are expected to be sky-high, but the Warriors shouldn’t have a problem filling the building. The season ticket waiting list was at 32,000 to start the current season with a renewal rate of 99.5%. Only 23 seats were not renewed during the offseason.

Locking up the new arena and the success on the court pushed the value of the Warriors up a league-best 46% to $1.9 billion in our NBA valuations published 12 months ago. Look for the value of the Warriors to be up again next month in our updated look at the business of the NBA.

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30 Under 30 Europe 2017: Continent's Leaders Of Tomorrow Gather For A Toast

Europe was buzzing Monday following the release of the second annual FORBES 30 Under 30 Europe, launched in the wee hours of the morning here. Monday night hundreds of the continent’s best and brightest gathered in London to celebrate earning spots on the list.
They came from Greece, Italy, Spain, Finland, Denmark and every corner of London. A few making pit-stops on their frequent transcontinental journeys between, say, San Francisco (work) and Helsinki (home). They ranged in age from 17 to 29 and represented every section of the list.

An extension of the original United States-centric franchise, which celebrated its 2017 edition earlier in January, the Europe list honors 30 young stars in 10 categories from finance to the arts to industry. There’s Pablo Vidarte, 20, co-founder and CEO of Bioo, a Barcelona-based upstart turning the energy plants create through photosynthesis into electricity. There is also Emily Forbes (no relation), the 29-year-old Brit behind crowd-sourced video startup Seenit. And there’s Jill Xiaozhou Ju, born and educated in China, Ju, 28, now runs Greystar’s £1 billion portfolio of U.K. student housing.
The evening started with a tour of London’s historic Camden Market, and quickly turned into a night of drinks, dancing and dining at Gilgamesh, the market’s Pan-Asian restaurant and lounge. DJ Cruz kept the dance floor full as flashing lights reflected on the club’s carved copper walls. Waiters passed sushi, spring rolls and spicy shrimp as bartenders kept the champagne flowing.
Many newly minted Under 30s admitted to knowing they made the list when they received the invitation (one reasoned it would be cruel to invite people to a party celebrating a list they hadn’t made). Others seemed genuinely surprised. Kostapanos Miliaresis, founder of Greek volunteer platform Ethelon, woke his co-founder up at six in the morning to share the news. After at first telling Miliaresis to go back to bed, he processed the information and joined the celebration. ”I think it is one of the best wake-ups that he ever had,” say Miliaresis, 25. Both continued toasting late into the night.