What Is Uber VIP?

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Uber and use them all the time. They’re a great way to reliably get around major cities where public transportation is otherwise limited. Uber has a great referral program whereby you can get a free ride of up to $20 when you sign-up through a referral link, and the person doing the referring gets the same.

On top of that, Uber and SPG have a partnership, so you can earn bonus Starpoints for your Uber rides (you can earn even more points if you’re using Uber in conjunction with a hotel stay).

Uber

Aside from that, though, Uber is pretty egalitarian, in the sense that they don’t have any elite status. Or so I thought…

I just received an email from Uber indicating that I’m now Uber VIP for being one of their “top riders” (ahem):

We wanted to say thanks for being one of our most valued Uber riders in New York City. Today we’re welcoming you to VIP, our exclusive offering for riders who have completed more than 100 trips with Uber in NYC.

Uber-VIP

Interestingly this seems to be market specific, so only certain cities have a VIP program. Apparently I got it based on having completed more than 100 Uber trips in New York City. That’s sort of shocking to me, because I would have never guessed I’ve taken Uber that often in New York City. But perhaps over the years these rides do add up.

New-York-City

So I was intrigued by what the benefits of Uber VIP could be. The option to request an Uber VIP ride now shows up when I try to request a car in NYC.

Uber-VIP-5

So what are the supposed benefits of Uber VIP? Apparently Uber VIP connects you to drivers who have at least a 4.8 star rating, and “high quality cars.” The downside of this is that wait times might be longer, given that there are fewer of those cars on the road:

VIP has no additional cost. Rates are the same as uberX or UberBLACK — you’ll be charged according to the option you select.

There aren’t as many VIP vehicles on the road, so wait times may be a bit longer.

That’s sort of anti-climactic, at least for travelers who are used to “VIP” status with airlines and hotels, which typically comes with real benefits:

  • Typically when I’m requesting an Uber it’s because I want the car that’s closest to me, so I’m not going to wait longer for a certain type of driver
  • I can’t say I’ve noticed much of a difference between a driver with a 4.7 rating and 4.8 rating, for example
  • When Uber says these are “high quality cars,” are they saying the other cars aren’t high quality, or how are they defining that?
  • The status is city specific, though to me it seems like it would make more sense to award some sort of “elite” benefits globally, as opposed to specific to one market

Uber

Don’t get me wrong, offering Uber VIP certainly doesn’t hurt, as it’s just another option riders can choose if they want. That being said, I also don’t see myself actually ever going out of my way to request an Uber VIP, and I don’t really view it as much of a “reward.”

But I’m curious to hear what you guys think.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Has anyone used an “Uber VIP” driver, and if so, how was your experience? Am I missing something?

Comments

  1. weak. Glad I use Lyft primarily. Buddy in Chicago is in the equivalent club and at least they throw parties and give free Cubs tickets and stuff like that. Obviously a discount is what Uber and Lyft should provide combined with a priority support line in case of issues or if you need a very specific kind of vehicle with a bit more advanced notice.

  2. VIP in Singapore nets you a S class and up every time. If not it is really a gamble you will usually get an E class which I refuse to use… I can get a cab which is E class…

  3. I’ve been VIP for a year or so and rarely use it due to the longer wait times. Where it is useful, however, is when you have a group of people and need an SUV. When I use VIP I almost always get an SUV, but because you get charged for a normal car, it saves a ton of money.

  4. I work downtown in Manhattan and use VIP almost every day to get home from work. Wait times are minimal, and I notice no difference between VIP uberx cars and standard uberx. Similarly, the drivers are fine, but in NYC they’re all kind of the same because they have to be T&LC licensed.

  5. They have a similar sounding program in Boston called Business Class. Essentially its UberX vehicles with higher rated drivers & better cars. Earlier in the year, you needed to open a business account, its easy, to get acces to the Business Class vehicle type. Again, this is only in Boston!

    I have found there is a difference with higher rated driver in their service and navigation abilities. I know people, including myself sometimes, that will cancel a ride if a drivers rating is say 4.7, 4.6, or below. These lower rated drivers tend to exclusively rely on their GPS. Usually with a low rated driver, like 4.6 or below, you can tell why they have that rating! Also I think the ratings are arteficially high. People are “trained” to rate 5 stars just for a good ride with nothing unusual.

    I was using business class for a while, but now in Boston, I largely use UberPool which is about 30% off the UberX rates, and it gives you a flat rate quote from origin to destination.

    I find it very interesting Uber is not offering atrue elite level. I’ve taken 500 plus rides on the system. I think some elite level perks I would enjoy are:
    *Waived surge fees;
    *Priority allocation of vehicles when it is busy sort of like priority standby on the airlines;
    *Some ability to pick the closest available vehicle or the highest rated vehicle.
    *Ability to participate in forums to discuss new features and offerings.
    *Meetings or events with Uber city managers & staff.
    *Bonus StarPoints even when not staying at SPG.
    *More free rides based on volume of use or a higher referral bonus based on the elite teer.
    *Ability to book airport pickups where you input your flight information. They could test this with elite members, and i.e. ask you if you have checked bags as part of the booking flow.
    *Ability to lower the price through self service if the driver takes an inefficent route. This used to be standard with Lyft & Sidecar for all members.

  6. Have you guys noticed that uberx cars in the states have been getting worse and worse? I remember when Uberx was still relatively new, the uberx cars were all very late model cars. Worst case was a new Prius, but not uncommon to get very new german cars like a Passat. Nowdays, when I request uberx, I seem to get 10 year old Hyundais and tiny little Mazdas or beat up american cars. Has Uber changed the requirements on which cars qualify for uberx?

    On the other hand, when I was taking uberx throughout Paris, all the cars were even nicer than our Black cars here.

  7. @Luis, i can really only speak for LA and NYC. In LA, the UberX cars are pretty lousy. Prius 90% of the time. In NYC, I tend to always get a Toyota Camry. Sometimes a step-up, yesterday was a brand new Chevy Suburban. Keep in mind Uber Black drivers can pick up UberX hails if things are slow. Overall, NYC’s UberX fleet is still worlds better than a yellow cab.

  8. I’d rather walk than take a Prius…the sound of that engine alone is bad enough, not to mention just how UNsafe they are. Not too many worse cars on the road today.

  9. I still can’t get excited about Uber here in NYC. A yellow cab is usually quicker to get and the drivers seem to know the city better. Über drivers here are almost religiously devoted to GPS and regularly want to use a less efficient route because that is what their GPS says. And the subway is almost always faster than any other option.

  10. It’s odd. According to Uber’s recent email where they told you how many trips you’ve taken, I had taken 900+ rides. I’m Chicago-based, but surprised I haven’t been invited into this program.

  11. I’m an uber vip in NYC. I’ve used it once and was picked up in an escalade. Though i dont know if they intentionally gave me an escalade vs a camry or if the driver with a 5.0 just happened to drive an escalade. That said it was almost a 10 minute wait which for my location and time of day (upper east side of manhattan on a Sunday afternoon) was 8 minutes longer than a regular uber X and 9 minutes 59 seconds longer than a yellow cab.

    It’s nice that they want me to feel special, but i’m usually focused on getting somewhere fast and thus the longer waits outweigh the ‘vip status’

  12. Glad the benefits aren’t that great. We go to NYC at least twice a year and have definitely taken over 100 rides total there. However, use use two different Uber accounts to request the cars since her and I don’t share bank accounts/credit cards so we take turns requesting the car.

    That brings up an interesting question. Do the rides have to be with you as the requester or do split fares count?

  13. Sorry to play devil’s advocate but I think your attitude around Uber VIP is all wrong.

    Every year, 1 in every 10,000 people die in a car crash. Do 30,000 people die in planes? No. What if you were told because you are an AA Executive Platinum you could get pilots that were 5-10% better at flying? Would you accept it?

    I have had a few friends of friends die in taxi cabs. They are not as safe as buses/trains/subways by any stretch. If I can wait an extra four minutes and get a more experienced, more even-tempered driver, that sounds amazing.

    Congratulations on your Uber VIP status. It’s probably your only elite status that will improve your life expectancy (well… maybe Starwood Platinum comes with better gym access and thus less heart disease? but then there’s the free booze and breakfast… oof…)

  14. I received an email from SPG about a partnership with Uber, I know you can book through the United app as well (I’m assuming for miles). This leads to my question, what is the best earning opportunity for Uber? SPG, United or someone else?

  15. Agreed that Uber VIP is a joke. I get to wait 3x as long for a slightly nicer car? Wow!!

    Driver rating means next to nothing for me. The experience is nearly identical for me every time (which is a good thing), but also means that a 4.8+ star rating means next to nothing to me.

    Hopefully someone from Uber is reading this article and actually implements something meaningful. Some other ideas that would maybe mean something:

    – 5x points or something like that with select partners on all rides
    – free ride <$20 once a month
    – hell, an uber t-shirt or hat

    Could prob think of at least 20 more ideas that would be cooler than what is currently offered.

  16. Funny how people Want to be charged less. Uber prices are already super low; at least in Charlotte. Some drivers go out because of surge which in turn lower wait time. Economics 101 people. If u got laid off, how would you feel about using your car for a $4 pay out.? As a customer prices are more than fair as a driver, prices are to low. A 5 star should be given unless u had a bad experience. Remember the need goes both ways.

  17. I LOVE my VIP status. The quality of the driver and driving skill is VERY noticeable. These are usually career drivers with lots of experience, knowledge of the roads, often using Waze to make the ride more efficient. In NYC, saving a matter of minutes is essential. VIP drivers are some of the best personalities I’ve ever had the pleasure of driving with and because they care about their status they will often have water, gum, extra phone chargers available, offer to play my music (fun!). Above all, their skill is superior which means a much safer ride than some of the newbie regular drivers. 100 rides is not so hard to rack up: 52 wks in a year = approx. 2 rides a week? A round trip to the airport if you’re a reg traveler or round trip to a night out on the weekend. Easy!

  18. You can get Uber VIP cabs without any surge pricing even when all other categories are on surge. That for me outweighs the longer wait time.

  19. I am VIP in NYC. There is no advantage that I can see.
    In general the quality of the black car service has tanked in the past few months.
    So in that respect, perhaps it’s good to have the VIP button, but…

    I’m rarely on a ride without a complaining driver and they seem to have good points.
    I get exclusively black. In NYC that means I get an SUV about 75% of the time because the black car market is heavily SUV.

    So you’re getting guys who paid 70k for a car and they have to give $8.00 rides to X clients because Uber changed the rules on them and makes them take every fare that comes up.

    Uber doesn’t understand the NYC black-car market.
    We will pay for it and we don’t want our drivers doing 15 $10 rides to make ends meet.
    We want them snoozing on the corner ready to go to Connecticut for $150.

    When Juno starts in a few months, all of the good top-of-the-line black cars will jump to Juno and I’ll have no choice to go as well. The app is just as good (most Uber drivers have it and are getting PAID to test it). And Uber doesn’t give me _anything_ for being VIP. Just a button to call the same cars I already get with the same drivers who can’t make ends meet. For black car service we want professional drivers.

  20. I’m taking my VIP Uber as I write this. I have to say it’s a great experience. The Benz was very clean and quite spacious, but most importantly the driver was quite and didn’t speak except to say good morning.

  21. Uber VIP driver here.

    No it doesn’t make me any extra money, but I don’t mind that. I was a passenger a LONG time before I was a driver. I work really hard to make sure my car is well maintained and clean and do my best to provide exceptional customer service, which is where I think a lot of drivers can lack. I know drivers who refuse to change music/temperature because “it is their car and they can do what they want” which is cool except for that pesky service industry thing. I suspect that what you’ll find is that with higher rated drivers there is less of that. We are more accommodating to what our passenger’s needs are and more willing to make sure you have a great experience.

  22. I just got got an email yesterday about my “VIP” status. Maybe some of you all don’t have VIP status because you haven’t taken enough rides in the past month. Apparently in the Baltimore area you need 15 or more rides/month to keep your status, so I guess that could be it. It could very well be different requirements in different markets.

  23. Here in Baltimore VIP is for people who take Uber 15+ times per month. Personally, it’s closer to 40+ for me. The VIP option is there when requesting a ride. But here, as you said, it also funnels higher end cars to you. In the past two days I called an Uber X and got a Range Rover and a Lexus LS460. And that was without the VIP option being selected.

  24. And @Boston Jetsetter is why we can’t have nice things.

    He says:I have found there is a difference with higher rated driver in their service and navigation abilities. I know people, including myself sometimes, that will cancel a ride if a drivers rating is say 4.7, 4.6, or below. These lower rated drivers tend to exclusively rely on their GPS. Usually with a low rated driver, like 4.6 or below, you can tell why they have that rating! Also I think the ratings are arteficially high. People are “trained” to rate 5 stars just for a good ride with nothing unusual.

    So he says he’ll cancel a driver with a 4.7 because of feel, yet he feels a good trip with nothing unusual is not worth 5 stars. So what does it deserve? 4 stars? 3 stars? If it’s 4, then I have to have 3 unbelievable, mind blowing trips for every good, nothing unusual one. If it’s 3? I’ll need to blow unicorn kisses for 6 trips to cover that good, nothing unusual one.

    I’ve been driving for 20 years, Uber Black for over 3. My first decade was without reliable GPS. I get doors, my car is clean and stocked, I’m polite, I speak when spoken to and don’t overchat. But sometimes I don’t get the opportunity to blow your mind with my skills.

    And some have this mentality that if I don’t blow your mind, I don’t deserve 5 stars. And it’s why even though I’m a 4.89, I’m not satisfied with that. I do notice that when I drive late nights, my ratings go down because drunk people have bad aim. It goes up the less I drive those nights. Ratings are important. Thinking your own standards trump others hurts others. Be considerate…

  25. I agree. Its because of inconsiderate selfish minded people like this that drivers who do nothing wrong at all but get the customer to their destination promptly and safely have to receive less than 5 stars because certain customers are spoiled and stuck up. My car is always clean, I offer FREE snacks, and I am extremely respectful and considerate to customers needs and people will stay rate me as not good enough. Very fickle spirits. As a 4.8 driver you still get bad apples in the bunch. Its just a freaking ride people. Geesh your not the president.

  26. I am in an Uber VIP car right now and stumbled on this thread because I was curious to know what is the listed difference between UberVIP and UberX. I agree with some of the other posts that it basically is UberBlack with a longer wait time. Most Uber drivers in NYC now seem to be UberBlack cars (SUV, Mercedes-Benz etc.) and waiting for Uber X routinelly takes 8 minutes or more while I have never waited more than 3-4 minutes for UberBlack. So VIP is useless if you are in a hurry. But if UberX and VIP have the same wait rime, I prefer to wait for a VIP car since they are usually better cars with decent drivers . That being said, I took an UberBlack the other day that was a Lexus but turned out to have ripped seats and was old. Uber cars in general have gone downhill…but at least in NYC they are licensed by Taxi comission.

  27. I question what you people expect from Uber. I was under the understanding that Uber started out as a ride share service. It seems as some have started to compare it to a limo service. If I want a CHEAP ride by someone going my way and choose to share the expenses I certainly have no room to judge them or expect perfection. If that’s what your looking for go elsewhere. No, I’m not either a Uber user or driver but I have checked on what it would cost to take a short ride using Uber. It’s VERY CHEAP and I honestly wonder how these people profit. It would have to be only when someone is actually going where they intend to travel. Lay off all the picking on them. If you don’t think they are clean enough, or their car isn’t new enough or they don’t look quite right then don’t use them. If being a VIP Uber rider is on top of your priority list then you should take a long hard look at yourself and see if you are actually up to VIP standards yourself. Mr Jet Setter made me almost sick with his expectations. I’d love to jump in his vehicle and give him a rating. Did they not worship you either Mr Chicago Jet Setter? As far as you Uber drivers that commented, you need to lose the attitude also. Nothing will work as long as these attitudes exist. If anyone wants to reply I will happily give you my KIK ID.

  28. I just wish your Uber VIP status carried over to other markets when traveling. I’m sure it has something to do with the varying qualifications per market. In Nashville it’s only 10 rides per month to keep it. Easily attainable if you go out every weekend.

  29. I’ve recently used UberVIP. I must say. The wait times are longer and honestly the cars are the same. On my most recent trip, dude didn’t even help me with my bag. I mean what kind of VIP shit is that. Lol.

  30. I will just say in Dallas Market the rates you get to haul VIP is 85 cents/mile and most of the time like 95% the rides are less then 5$, based on my experience you get lower ratings from them as you can imagine the expectations if you read the thread. If you are looking for prestige and a better car then please order select. VIP IS just an x or XL with better driver. By the way I spoke with many drivers and they don’t like VIP because of their attitude and they never tip. This is a very common sitaution here where you drive for 5 or 6 miles for a 2.30$ ride from a VIP whine will never tip rate you bad and drink your water and eat your mints and gum.

  31. Can’t wait to get this via the Amex platinum benefit. In LA II have had some pretty horrible rides. Drivers who appear to be on Crack and drive like they need a score or filthy rattle trap cars. I would happily wait to avoid this horror show

  32. for the record, Uber requires drivers to follow navigation. why, part of the cost reflects Ubers anticipated route. if yhe driver chooses a different route, it may affect the price. Staying on route avoids complications should the rider complains.

  33. Uber Paris X rates are $1.60 per mile and .30 cents per minute much higher than regular USA rates thats why they have nicer cars, DUH

  34. What a bunch of duplicitous wretched awful repugnant expressions of humanity in this thread, this case-study of cuntyness.

    How do you arrive here: at this smug position of petty entitlement when your chief consideration is price? Of all the ridiculous things that you require, what you require first and foremost is to have the cheapest tier of the cheapest transportation platform available. Above all else your budget REQUIRES the very bottom level of quality from the economy market option. And from there you want free water, and snacks, and someone to pick your bags up and set them down for you, and open doors, and someone to humble him/her-self, and artfully cultivate your zen with a delicate balance of of conversational engagement and intuitive silence, a car that’s spotless, sterile, modern and flawless AT A MINIMUM, and you should have dominion over this vehicle to control and manipulate it’s functions at your whim: radio, climate, windows, speed, navigation, everything. Your UberX driver should submit himself AND his vehicle unto you and provide for you entirely, and never ever make eye contact to BEHOLD your greatness for YOU ARE THE LORD and you have paid $5, and there is a very real possibility that, in time, he may receive up to $2.20 of that money, before expenses.

  35. If you want limo service, pay for one.
    If you’re paying for an UberX, then you should wipe your feet, be respectful, sit down, shut up, clean up your mess when you leave and say thank you for the incredible value that you receive in exchange for paying as close to NOTHING as the market allows.

  36. Hello,

    I’m from India, there is a lot of difference between a 4.7 and a 4.6 rider in India. I would say that the option to go with a 4.7 driver is often a peace of mind and good quality in driving against a 4.6 driver. The 4.6 drivers are usually rude, and each one has their own quirks. I would rather wait a bit and enjoy the ride rather the other way around.

  37. Hello,
    Just want to put a few things out there for the record. Yes uber is a customer service experience ride but it is not fleet, if you want limo pay for limo, if you want a ride from a to b for $5 stop your btching. Think of what your price is then think these guys and gals get maybe half if not less of that money to make you feel like kings and queens, even though you’re NOT. As far as ratings go some drivers have earned their scores but some are new or maybe had a bad experience with a unhappy or dissatisfied customer people make mistakes these are not concierge robots who are flawless make no mistakes just people trying to make an honest living some better than others. To really think people should work harder for your five star rating for a $5 ride other than get you from a to B safely with some offered treats is ridiculous. And as far as navigation goes it is part of the job requirements. Uber quotes you a price based off of the navigation that is selected for you to take not only are you getting away with a much cheaper fare than anything else on the road but now you want to make that even less pay for the driver, really the selfishness of some people in this world really goes beyond belief.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *