Uber’s new loyalty program incentivizes you not to check Lyft or the local competitor. Riders earn points for all the money they spend on Uber and Uber Eats that score them $5 credits, upgrades to nicer cars, access to premium support, and even flexible cancellations that waive the fee if they rebook within 15 minutes.
Uber Rewards launches today in nine cities before rolling out to the whole US in the next few months, with points for scooters and bikes coming soon. And as a brilliant way to get people excited about the program, it retroactively counts your last six months of Uber activity to give you perks as soon as you sign up for free for Uber Rewards. You’ll see the new Rewards bar on the homescreen of your app today if you’re in Miami, Denver, Tampa, New York, Washington, DC, Philadelphia, Atlanta, San Diego, or anywhere in New Jersey.
The loyalty program ties all of the company’s different transportation and food delivery options together, encouraging customers to stick with Uber across a suite of solutions instead of treating it as interchangeable with alternatives. “As people use Uber more and more in their everyday, we wanted to find a way to reward them for choosing Uber” says Uber’s director of product Nundu Janikaram. “International expansion is top of mind for us” adds Holly Ormseth, Uber Rewards’ product manager.
As for the drivers, “They absolutely get paid their full rate” Ormseth explains. “We understand that offering the benefits has a cost to Uber but we think of it as an investment” says Janakiram.
So how much Ubering earns you what perks? Let’s break it down:
In Uber Rewards you earn points by spending money to reach different levels of benefits. Points are earned during 6 month periods, and if you reach a level, you get its perks for the remainder of that period plus the whole next period. You earn 1 point per dollar spent on UberPool, Express Pool, and Uber Eats; 2 points UberX, Uber XL, and Uber Select; and 3 points on Uber Black and Black SUV.
Blue: $5 Credits
The only Uber perk that doesn’t reset at the end of a period is that you get $5 of Uber Cash for every 500 points earned regardless of membership level. “Even as a semi-frequent Uber Rewards member you’ll get these instant benefits” Janakiram says.
Gold: Flexible Cancellations
Once you hit 500 points, you join Uber Gold and get flexible cancellations that refund your $5 cancellation fee if you rebook within 15 minutes, plus priority support. To earn 500 points, you’d need to take about 2 UberPools per week, one Uber X per month, and one Uber Eats order per month,
Platinum: Price Protection
At 2,500 points you join Uber Platinum, which gets you the Gold benefits plus price protection on a route between two of your favorite places regardless of traffic or surge. And Platinum members get priority pickups at airports. To earn 2,500 points, you’d need to take UberX 4 times per week and order Uber Eats twice per month.
Diamond: Premium Support & Upgrades
At 7,500 points, you get the Gold and Platinum benefits plus premium support with a dedicated phone line and fast 24/7 responses from top customer service agents. You get complimentary upgrade surprises from UberX to Uber Black and other high-end cars. You’ll be paired with Uber’s highest rated drivers. And you get no delivery fee on three Uber Eats orders every six months. Reaching 7,500 points would require UberX 8 times per week, Uber Eats once per week, and Uber Black to the airport once per month.
[Disclosure: Uber’s Janakiram and I briefly lived in the same three-bedroom apartment five years ago, though I’d already agreed to write about the redesign when I found out he was involved.]