Uber Beats Lyft to the Punch, Rolls out Own Airline-Style Rewards Program First

Riders earn points toward discounted trips and other perks with the company's revived program.

AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File

Shortly after Lyft announced plans to launch an airline-style rewards program in December, Uber went ahead and rolled out its own take on the concept. The ride-hailing giant's program, called Uber Rewards, launched in nine United States regions Wednesday. It lets riders earn points that can be redeemed for perks like fare discounts.

Just like the airlines, and Uber's existing driver rewards program, Uber Rewards divides customers into tiers. Customers start out at Blue and advance through Gold and Platinum to Diamond. They do this by earning points based on the amount of money they spend on Uber services. Uber Pool and Uber Eats earn one point each while UberX, UberXL, Select, and wheelchair-accessible vehicles earn two points per trip. Uber Black and Black SUV then earn the most at three points per.

Riders need 500 points to advance from Blue to Gold, 2,500 points to reach Platinum, and 7,500 points to hit the top Diamond level. Points are earned over a six-month period, starting when a customer signs up. When they unlock a new tier, they have it for the remainder of that period as well as the following six months but after that, everything resets and customers must start again from zero points.

For every 500 points earned, customers get $5 added to their Uber accounts. Additionally, each tier comes with its own perks. Gold gets flexible cancellations where Uber will refund the cancellation fee if another ride is booked within 15 minutes, as well as premium customer service. Platinum customers get priority pickup at airports and capped fares between their two favorite destinations, like work and home.

Diamond customers get 24/7 phone support from what Uber calls its "most experienced" customer service agents, as well as access to higher-rated drivers. Other perks include complimentary surprise upgrades from UberX to Uber Black and other high-end services, and no delivery fee on three Uber Eats orders every six months.

The markets where Uber Rewards launched include Miami, New Jersey, Denver, Tampa, New York City, Philadelphia, Atlanta, San Diego, and Washington, D.C. Uber said it plans to roll the program out nationwide in the coming months. In the meantime, Lyft plans to launch its own rewards program in a handful of U.S. cities in December.

Ubers Outnumber Taxis by More Than 3 to 1 in New York City
The Drive