What is Uber Rewards and how does it work?

Uber has recently introduced a loyalty program for Uber and Uber Eats users. But with Australia’s consumer watchdog, the ACCC, observing in a recent report that loyalty schemes have become ‘ubiquitous’, will it prove to be just another marketing tactic or a boon for Uber customers?

Whether you’re Ubering all over town or an Uber Eats veteran, you may be intrigued to know that Uber is now ‘rewarding’ select users for the dollars they spend with the company. Uber Rewards was rolled out to users in US cities at the start of 2019, and while an Australia-wide launch has been set for early 2020, some Aussies already have access to the service. 

This staggered roll-out of Uber Rewards comes at a time when the company has faced several instances of bad press, both in Australia and further afield. In July 2019, Uber Eats committed to amending its contracts with restaurants after an investigation by the ACCC concluded that they were unfair. Elsewhere, Uber recently lost its license to operate in London after what Transport for London described as numerous “safety failures”.

But could Uber Rewards be a timely positive for the company and its Australian users? If you’ve been chosen to trial the scheme, here’s some information on how it works and a round up its potential benefits and drawbacks. 

What is Uber Rewards

Uber Rewards is a loyalty program offered by Uber to users of both its ridesharing app and Uber Eats. It allows users to accrue points in exchange for their Uber trips and food delivery orders. 

Uber Rewards is a multi-tiered system, with users starting at the ‘Blue’ tier and potentially progressing through to the ‘Gold’, ‘Platinum’, and ‘Diamond’ tiers if they build up enough points. 

How does Uber Rewards work?

If you have been given access to and signed up for Uber Rewards, you will begin accruing points in line with the dollars you spend through the Uber and Uber Eats apps. When you join up, your initial membership level will be determined based on how much you have spent with the company in the previous six months.

The earn rates are as follows:

  • 1 point per eligible $1 spent on UberPool and Uber Eats 
  • 2 points per eligible $1 spent on UberX, Uber XL, Uber Comfort and Assist
  • 3 points per eligible $1 spent on Uber Premier

Your points will automatically be added to your account at the end of any Uber rides or Uber Eats orders you make, but points will only valid for six months, which may make it difficult to build up a significant total depending on your usage. 

In addition, Uber says points are not earned on dollars spent on: 

  • Taxes, levies, fees, tolls and surcharges
  • Tips to delivery-partners or driver-partners
  • Cancellation fees
  • Portions of trips covered by a promotional value 
  • Portions of trips covered by another user through split fare
  • External trip fees such as damage or cleaning fees
  • Taxi, bike, and scooter rides

How do I register for Uber Rewards?

In order to be able to register for Uber Rewards, you will first need to have an Uber or Uber Eats account. You will then need to check if you have been given early access to the service. You may receive an email inviting you to sign up for the service, or you may be given a prompt in the Uber or Uber Eats apps. 

If you are invited to sign up for Uber Rewards, you will be prompted to tap the invitation to join the scheme and then to review and agree to the program terms and conditions within the Uber app. Because you already have an account with Uber, no further verification or proof of identity is required to sign up for Uber Rewards. 

uber rewards sign up process

Source: Uber

Who can use Uber Rewards?

Uber Rewards can be used by anyone with an Uber account who has been invited to sign up for the service. As mentioned, the official launch date for Uber Rewards in Australia is expected to be in early 2020, so not all Uber users will necessarily receive an invitation to sign up for Uber Rewards before then. 

What can you get with Uber Rewards?

Uber Rewards is a tiered system, with users reaching the Gold membership level after earning 1,200 points, the Platinum membership level after 4,000 points, and the Diamond membership level after 7,500 points. According to Lifehacker, this means that you would need to spend at least $1,200 across the Uber and Uber Eats apps in order to reach the Gold membership level, assuming you only used Uber Pool and Uber Eats. You could however, reach the Gold membership level after spending only $600 if you used UberX exclusively, and only $400 if you exclusively used Uber Premier. 

Blue members receive no extra benefits at the time of writing. However, upon registering you will be offered the choice of either free delivery on your next Uber Eats order or a free upgrade to Uber Comfort on your next Uber ride. 

Gold members receive access to an extra reward for every 750 points they earn, as well as 10% off an Uber Comfort trip every month.

Platinum members unlock ‘price confidence’ on a specific route of their choosing during busy hours, meaning they will be protected from price surges when travelling along said route. 

Diamond members unlock access to ‘premium’ 24/7 phone support, and will soon be able to receive surprise upgrades to higher-end vehicles if available when an UberX is requested. According to Uber, this feature is ‘coming soon’. 

Do loyalty programs like this offer value to consumers?

Uber Rewards is one of many, many loyalty programs available to Australians. Perhaps because they are so common, they have recently come under intense scrutiny from the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC). 

Its recently-released final report on customer loyalty schemes raises a number of issues and concerns reported by consumers regarding loyalty schemes – although not necessarily specific to Uber’s offering – including expiry and redemption of points. 

The report found that consumers who had accrued point balances with a value were potentially either not aware of the expiry period at all, or had not been given adequate notice that their points were due to expire soon. As Uber Rewards has a relatively short point expiry period of six months, this may be worth keeping in mind if you are considering signing up for the scheme or have already done so. 

The report also noted that restrictive redemption opportunities were another customer concern, whether this was due to a lack of reward options or prohibitively high point requirements.

With this in mind, you may want to consider whether or not your current Uber and Uber Eats usage would earn enough points in a six-month period to allow you to reap any significant benefit from the rewards program.

Of course, Uber isn’t the only rideshare provider attempting to woo and retain users with rewards and points. Competitor service Ola allows Velocity Members to earn one Velocity point per $1 spent on Ola Rides, and two points per $1 spent on rides to and from eligible airports. In the food delivery arena, customers of Uber Eats’ challender, Menulog, can earn Velocity points on online orders at the time of writing.

Cover image source: Uber

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