Ride-sharing competitors, Uber and Lyft, both announced rewards programs this week, as they battle for the loyalty of riders. The programs resemble the frequent flyer programs of airlines; they’re free to sign up and provide points for every dollar spent.
Lyft edged out Uber, revealing their plans earlier in the week – though vague. Lyft Rewards will be tested for "select riders in various cities," starting in December, before expanding in 2019. The program will offer savings on future rides and upgrades to more premium vehicles. It will be free available via Lyft’s app.
Uber, meanwhile, launched its loyalty program on Wednesday in several major U.S. cities: Miami; Denver; Tampa; New York; Philadelphia; Atlanta; San Diego; Washington, D.C.; and across New Jersey. A nationwide rollout is planned over the coming months.
Uber passengers will receive points based on which service is used, with the points unlocking different tiers and corresponding perks. Among the notable rewards are discounts on future rides, better customer support, and priority pickup at airports.
Points are earned as follows: 1 point per dollar spent on UberPool and UberEats; 2 points per dollar spent on UberX, Uber XL, Select and WAV; and 3 points per dollar spent on UberBlack, Black SUV and Lux.
Blue is the standard tier, where riders can use rewards dollars to pay for Uber rides or Uber Eats deliveries. After the first 500 points, users are bumped up to the Gold tier, which provides faster customer support plus the ability to cancel an Uber ride and get the cancellation fee refunded (as long as a new ride is ordered within 15 minutes).
Those who reach 2,500 points will be upgraded to Platinum, with additional perks such as priority pickup at most airports and a fixed price between two points. The top-tier Diamond level requires 7,500 points and comes with special access to top-rated drivers, a dedicated support phone line, three free Uber Eats deliveries, and complimentary car upgrades.
Frequent riders also will be able to get "price protection" on a particular route of their choosing, allowing them to lock in a set rate for an UberX ride. The rate is for either direction and will not be impacted by surge pricing caused by traffic or if the ride is taken during the busiest times of the day.
Points are accrued over six months, with corresponding perks available for the remainder of that period, as well as over the following six months.