Uber has announced a new loyalty program called Uber Rewards. It’s an improvement for customers because there’s earning for Uber transactions — you get rebates you did not get before — and better treatment for frequent Uber riders.
The program isn’t super innovative. And it isn’t fully rolled out yet. Right now it is just in the New York City/New Jersey area; Philadelphia; Miami; Washington DC; Denver; Tampa; Atlanta; and San Diego with the rest of the country rolling out over the coming months. Uber will email you to let you know when your city gets added if you want.
Points-Earning and Redemption
You earn rebates on Uber services in the U.S., it’s a point system but each point equals a penny with 500 points minimum to redeem. That’s pretty unimaginative, and minimum redemption amounts promote breakage.
- UberEats and UberPool: 1 point per dollar (1% rebate)
- UberX, UberXL, UberSelect, WAV: 2 points per dollar (2% rebate)
- UberBlack, SUV, Lux: 3 points per dollar (3% rebate)
This stacks, of course, with rewards you earn for spending on your credit card used to pay for Uber services.
Uber Elite Status
Uber will offer revenue-based elite status. There are (4) membership levels based on the number of points (which are based on spend) earned over a six month period. That period is based on when you join the loyalty program, with initial status based on prior six months’ activity.
- Blue: General member
- Gold: 500 points ($250 in UberX, $500 in UberEats, or some combination thereof)
- Platinum: 2500 points ($1250 in UberX, $2500 in UberEats, etc)
- Diamond: 7500 points ($3750 in UberX, etc)
Once you earn status you keep that status for the remainder of the 6 month qualifying period and for the next six month qualifying period.
This seems confusing at first, but think of it like any other loyalty program but with a 6 month membership year instead of a 12 month membership year. And that of course the membership year’s start date is personal to each member. Alright, yes, this is way more confusing than it needs to be.
The benefits of elite status seem relatively weak to me, but again they’re better than what is offered today so it’s hard to complain.
- Gold: Waived $5 cancellation fee if you cancel a ride and rebook within 15 minutes (excludes UberPool) plus priority customer service.
- Platinum: Lock in your price for a specific route, which you can change each month. If you go home to the office most, or home to the airport, then your office or airport rides will have a fixed price not subject to surges. Platinums also get priority at airports to get assigned to drivers faster.
- Diamond: Dedicated customer service agents, surprise and delight upgrades from UberX to Black or Select cars, and a ‘Diamond’ option for UberX to get paired with top rated drivers. It also includes waived delivery fee on 3 UberEats orders (up to $8 per order)every six months.
Where This Leaves UberVIP and Competition With Lyft
Uber’s elite level to date has been UberVIP. Frequent riders in some cities could request highly rated drivers, but it also means waiting longer in some cases for those drivers. American Express obtained this status for Platinum cardholders who link their cards to their Uber accounts.
That status doesn’t appear to go away with these changes, even though it’s largely duplicated by the Diamond level option.
Ultimately it’s tough to run a loyalty program where the people delivering service are independent contractors (drivers) who don’t benefit more from a customer who is valuable to Uber than a customer who isn’t. This isn’t a new problem, it’s one that hotel loyalty programs face especially where the property may be franchised.
Lyft has just announced a new loyalty program, that may have influenced the timing of Uber’s move. I expect that Lyft will integrate its credit card into the elite rails of its loyalty offering, and there’s no question this has been a big hole in the Barclays-Uber relationship — a credit card with Uber that doesn’t actually provide Uber benefits. Hopefully now that there’s a loyalty structure launching at Uber this will change.