Uber plans to roll out its new Uber Rewards frequent flyer rider scheme on a worldwide basis, including Australia, with passengers enjoying perks such as surge-free pricing, priority airport pick-up and free "surprise upgrades" from UberX bookings to a premium Uber Black ride.
The program will launch across the USA in the coming months, and a spokesperson for Uber spokeswoman tells Australian Business Traveller "we are planning to expand this program internationally (although) unfortunately I can't give you any indication of timing for Australia yet."
Uber Rewards will be free to join, with passengers starting at the most basic Uber Rewards Blue level and then working their way up the ladder to Uber Rewards Gold, Platinum and Diamond status.
How to earn Uber Rewards points
Uber Rewards points are earned on a per-dollar spend at the following rates:
- three points per dollar spent on Uber Black and Uber Black SUV trips
- two points per dollar spent on UberX, UberXL, or Uber Select trips
- one point per dollar spent on Uber Eats and Uber Pool trips
You can of course redeem Uber Rewards points on rides. 500 Uber Rewards points – equivalent to $250 spent on Uber Select rides, for example – is equivalent to $5 in Uber credit towards any nominated ride.
How to earn Uber Rewards status
Each Uber Rewards point, whether you spend it or save it, is added to your overall account balance. The qualifying 'earnings periods' for Uber Rewards status is six months long, based on your joining date for the scheme. Once you move up in status, such as from Gold to Platinum, that new status is yours for the rest of the earnings period and across the next six months.
Uber Rewards Gold status
Uber Rewards Gold status is yours after earning 500 points, which most business travellers and regular Uber users will find easy to clock up.
The main benefit of Uber Rewards Gold is 'flexible cancellations' – if you've called for a pick-up but realise you won't be ready on time, you can cancel and rebook within 15 minutes and have the cancellation fee refunded.
Uber points out that these cancellations can be used once per hour at most, up to three total uses per month "and may not be available in all locations, such as certain airports and venues/stadiums."
Uber Rewards Platinum status
Uber Rewards Platinum status needs a loftier 2,500 points on the clock, and adds two more perks:
- nominate any single route (typically between your two favourite places, such as your home and the airport) and this route will be 'price-protected' against slow rides due to traffic or peak surge charges, albeit only on UberX and only up to 'a 35% maximum discount per ride'. If your ride is super-slow or the surge factor is say 1.5x, you could still be up for the difference
- Uber also promises priority pick-ups to reduce waiting time at airports
Uber Rewards Diamond status
Uber Rewards Diamond status is yours after racking up 7,500 points, for which you also get
- free 'surprise upgrades' on UberX bookings to the likes of an Uber Black
- an option in the Uber app to restrict your ride request to only highly-rated drivers
- three free Uber Eats deliveries every six months
- and premium telephone support which Uber says will deliver faster response times "from our most experienced customer support agents"
The first cities to see Uber Rewards include Miami, New Jersey, Denver, Tampa, New York City, Washington DC, Philadelphia, Atlanta and San Diego.
As Uber Rewards launches in each city, local users will see a pop-up screen in the Uber app inviting them to sign up to the loyalty scheme.