Uber Rewards rolled out to more cities and we aren’t that impressed

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Uber Rewards rolled out to more cities and we aren’t that impressed

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It's a gold party.
It’s a gold party.

Image: uber screengrab / mashable

2016%252f10%252f18%252f6f%252f2016101865slbw.6b8ca.6b5d9.jpg%252f90x90By Sasha Lekach

On my way home from the gym Tuesday evening, I was pleasantly surprised to see an invite to join Uber Rewards on the ride-hailing app. 

I’m in San Francisco and the loyalty program hadn’t made it there yet — or so I thought. As of this week, the program that offers perks and rewards based on the number of Uber rides taken expanded with a long list of new areas. 

SEE ALSO: Lyft’s rewards program will offer perks for choosing Lyft over Uber

Uber Rewards was first announced in November in nine areas. Now it’s also in:

  • Washington, D.C.

  • Philadelphia

  • Atlanta

  • San Diego

  • New York City

  • Miami

  • New Jersey

  • Denver

  • Tampa Bay

  • Boston

  • Dallas

  • Orange County

  • Houston

  • New Orleans

  • Kansas City

  • Indianapolis

  • Los Angeles

  • San Francisco

  • Fort Collins

  • Rockies

  • Pittsburgh

  • Lehigh Valley

  • York-Gettysburg

  • Erie

  • Western Massachusetts

Based on my past six months of ride-hailing, I qualified for gold status. I felt something like a sense of pride that I wasn’t relegated to lowly blue, the starter status. Then I realized it meant I’d simply spent enough money on Uber to qualify. Funny how they get you.

Once people in ride-hailing heavy cities like Los Angeles, New York, Denver, Boston, and San Francisco realized they were part of a loyalty club that could offer them perks like no cancellation fees, people started to look a bit closer at what they were a part of. It also felt like a game to see if you’d reached diamond status (the highest level — it goes blue, gold, platinum, then the coveted diamond).

After a quick look at the perks, it became apparent that, yes, you do receive $5 credit for every 500 points but only after spending a lot of money on the car service. You receive one point for every dollar spent on Uber Pool rides and Uber Eats orders. You get two points for ordering an UberX, UberXL, Select, or WAV ride, and three points for ordering Black and Black SUV rides.

Several noted that the rewards were fairly stingy in an attempt to cultivate loyalty away from competitor app, Lyft. Lyft’s loyalty program  — also announced in November — has yet to make its way to riders yet.

Some detractors had thoughts:

Appreciate @Uber new rewards program, but seems stingy. I’m not at all motivated towards more loyalty. Margins already too low? Not enough market research? What do you think @TheRideshareGuy?

— Murph (@GregMurphy_SD) January 23, 2019

Uber’s new loyalty program is kind of a joke. You have to spend $250 to get $5 in uber cash.

Or in subway sandwich terms, buy 25 sandwiches and get one free!! https://t.co/lFVha0Joka

— Harry Campbell (@TheRideshareGuy) January 23, 2019

But for others, the rewards are a welcome bonus for doing nothing but ordering a car or a meal — many, many times.

Now we’ll see if the new points system changes things for riders. Some speculate that ride-hailing will become more like airline loyalty programs, favoring higher-frequency flyers. 

I have a theory that the quality of service for the average customer is going to suffer as a result of Uber’s rewards program. Make service worse for the those without status, making them chase higher status for better service. Straight from the airline industry playbook.

— harold nyikal (@wickedH) January 23, 2019

Lololol no use fighting you on that front since you are the food delivery marketplace expert, solving for different use cases though imo and not sure rewards incentives strong enough to make customers choose Uber v Lyft, and Ubereats v Caviar, Grub, etc

— Minion Capital (@MinionCapital) January 23, 2019

For anyone with a Lyft all-access pass, the choice is easy. But for everyone else, the eternal question of Uber or Lyft rages on.

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