Uber

Changes Are Coming To The Starwood & Uber Partnership

SPG-Uber

Starwood Preferred Guest has been a leader among hotel loyalty programs it comes to their partnerships with other travel providers, whether it’s airline or ridesharing apps.

One of my favorite partnerships is between Starwood and Uber. The partnership was launched in February 2015, and has allowed SPG members to earn bonus Starpoints for Uber rides.

While the partnership has remained unchanged for almost two years, there will finally be some changes coming as of next month. I’m not sure if this is influenced by Marriott’s takeover of Starwood or not. I suspect it isn’t, and that this is simply the natural progression of any partnership, where companies renegotiate after being able to analyze the performance of a partnership.

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Reminder: You Can Now Earn 5x Points On Uber & Lyft

Uber-Logo

The Chase Freedom is one of my favorite no annual fee credit cards, as it offers 5x points in rotating quarterly categories, for up to $1,500 of spend per quarter. Most people use this as a cashback card, meaning the 5x points really translates into 5% cashback in these categories.

The best part is that in conjunction with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card, points earned on this card can be converted into “premium” Ultimate Rewards points, and be transferred to the Ultimate Rewards airline and hotel partners. Since I value one Ultimate Rewards point at significantly more than one cent, that’s my preferred use of those points.

Now that it’s 2017, the first 5x points category for the Chase Freedom is active, and it includes gas stations and local commuter transportation.

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One Of My Biggest Uber Driver Annoyances

Uber-Logo

I take Uber on a daily basis, and really appreciate the service. While there are some horrible drivers in the system, for the most part I’ve found Uber drivers to be exceptional, and so much better than what was available in the taxi industry before.

I’ve read all kinds of stuff on the internet about “pet peeves” that drivers have about passengers, most of which seem warranted. As a passenger I have one slightly unusual annoyance that I have to get off my chest.

Let me start by saying that I do everything I can to be respectful of Uber drivers — I’m always polite, I almost never talk on my phone in a car (and when I do, I ask the driver if it’s okay and keep it very short), etc.

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Get 2 Free Uber Airport Rides Thanks To Amex!

Uber-Logo

American Express and Uber are teaming up to offer a great promotion for American Express card members. Between now and December 31, 2016, you can get two free Uber rides (up to $65 each) originating from select airports.

Just enter code AMEXAIRPORT in your Uber app prior to requesting a ride, and select an American Express card as the payment method for your ride (pre-paid cards aren’t eligible). You can enter the promotion code by clicking on the “Payment” tab, and then at the bottom click “Add Promo/Gift Code.” Once you enter the code it will stay linked to your account, and your fare up to $65 will automatically be covered (and if your fare is more than that, you’ll get a $65 discount).

The following airports are eligible for this promotion, and again, only rides from the airport (and not to the airport) are eligible:

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You Can Now Earn JetBlue Points For Lyft Rides

jetblue-lyft

I think the gold standard of ridesharing partnerships is the one between Uber and Starwood, where members can earn Starpoints for all their Uber rides. It’s one of the most straightforward and beneficial ridesharing partnerships, especially since Uber is a service many of us use everyday anyway.

Since then we’ve seen a few other hotels partner with ridesharing apps in one way or another (including Hilton and IHG), though none have been especially valuable, in my opinion.

Well, Lyft and JetBlue just announced a partnership, and it’s worth being aware of, though not really as useful as I would have hoped.

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Get Lyft Rides For An Entire Month For $29

lyft-unlimited

The ridesharing apps have been testing out all kinds of programs to see what works and what doesn’t. Many of these programs can be lucrative for consumers, and are intended for the apps to steal market share from one another, and perhaps even from the taxi industry.

In late August I wrote about how Uber was offering flat rate uberPOOL rides for an entire month at a very reasonable cost in select cities.

For example, in Seattle you could pay $49, and then receive flat rate uberPOOL rides for $3 and flat rate uberX rides for $8.

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Here’s Why Uber Drivers In China Are Painting Their Faces To Scare Passengers

uber-china

Okay, this is sort of hilarious/ridiculous. Per Quartz, apparently there’s a scam among Uber drivers in China where they intentionally use scary profile pictures. These drivers are painting their faces to the point that they look like ghosts, or perhaps even clowns. Why are they doing this? In order to scare passengers into canceling trips, so that they get hit with the Uber cancelation fee. Per Sixth Tone:

“With profile photos that look like they’ve just stepped off a horror movie set, the ghost drivers scare passengers into cancelling their trip, meaning they will owe the driver a few yuan for their troubles.

Another scamming method used by the ghost drivers is accepting rides, saying the passenger has entered the vehicle, and cancelling the trip. The customer will have been taken for a ride worth a few yuan without noticing. Either way the ghost driver wins.”

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Uber Is Now Selling Gift Cards — Should You Buy Them?

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Uber announced yesterday that they’re slowly rolling out gift cards, which are already available at many retailers, and will soon be available online. Uber gift cards will be available at 35,000 retailers across the country, including Walmart, Target, and CVS. Furthermore, in the coming weeks they’ll also be available online through Uber’s website.

The gift cards don’t expire, and the amount of the gift card will be added to your “credits” balance, which can be applied towards as many rides as you want.

So, does it make sense to buy Uber gift cards? There are a few reasons you may (or may not) want to consider buying them.

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Save $20 On A Lyft Premier Ride (Including For Existing Users)

Lyft-Premier-Discount

As I first wrote about in July, Lyft recently introduced Lyft Premier, which is intended to compete with UberSELECT service. This isn’t quite to the level of UberBLACK, where you’ll get a town car, Escalade, etc.

While the basic ridesharing services offered by Lyft and Uber are less than the cost of a taxi in most cities, their premium services are typically more than a taxi. However, you’re also getting an all around better experience. For example, Lyft Premier is advertised as offering “a high-end sedan or SUV (such as a BMW, Audi, or an Escalade) with leather seats.”

Per Lyft’s website, as of now Lyft Premier is only available in San Francisco, Silicon Valley, New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Washington, D.C.

Well, if you haven’t yet experienced Lyft Premier, you can get $20 off your next ride, even if you’re an existing Lyft user. Just use promotion code PREMXRIDE. The promotion is valid for rides through September 28, 2016.

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Uber Now Lets You Pay In Cash In Some Cities

Uber-Cash

A few weeks back I used Uber during an overnight in Colombo, so I’ve been receiving email updates about their service there ever since. Usually I’d just delete the emails, but the one in my inbox this morning caught my eye, as the subject line read “Arriving now: Cash payments in Colombo.”

I was confused at first, because in my opinion half of the benefit of Uber is that it’s cashless. To me, marketing “Uber” and “cash” in the same sentence would be the same as marketing “Starbucks” and “gin & tonic” or “Dunkin’ Donuts” and “steak tartarte” in the same sentence. They just don’t go together… or so I thought.

Here’s what the email said:

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Uber Plus Offers Flat-Rate Uber Pricing For A Fee

Uber-Seattle

Uber is frequently tweaking around their pricing in test markets as a way of figuring out what does and doesn’t work, and it looks like they’re rolling out an interesting new offering in select markets.

It’s called Uber Plus, and allows you to essentially purchase fixed price rides in select markets for a monthly fee. Eligible cities for the month of September include Boston, Miami, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington DC.

Let me explain, in the form of an example. Let’s look at Uber Plus in Seattle.

For the month of September you can pay $49, and then you’ll receive flat-rate uberPOOL rides for $3, or flat rate uberX rides for $8.

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Earn Uber Credit For Everyday Purchases With Uber Local Offers

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While Uber has a couple of useful long standing partnerships, including with Capital One and Starwood, they’ve also been testing out a lot of concepts in various markets. I wish they’d have a bit more follow-through on some of these concepts, as they’re usually in limited markets for a limited amount of time.

Uber still hasn’t launched an outright loyalty program, though has tested out all kinds of partnerships with other companies. Well, Uber and Visa have partnered to launch the latest such initiative, called Uber Local Offers.

As of now Uber Local Offers is available in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and may be expanded to other markets in the future. The concept is as follows:

— Uber riders can earn points for purchases at select local shops and restaurants
— The offer is only available if using the same Visa card you have on file with your Uber account
— Merchants have to opt-in to participate, so I imagine it’s a similar business concept to a mileage dining portal
— Uber riders can track their points directly through the Uber app, and 100 points (which equates to $100 of spend) gets you $10 worth of Uber credit

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Is This The Worst Lyft Passenger Ever?

Lyft-Passenger

Nowadays just about everyone has the ability to film situations on the spot thanks to smartphones, which is probably a blessing and a curse.

Well, for a recent Lyft passenger, it was probably a curse. Essentially this lady was offended by the driver’s dashboard doll, and proceeds to chew him out over it. She doesn’t just tell him it offends her, but demands that he remove the doll, and then lectures him for several minutes.

Perhaps worst of all she’s filming the situation thinking that she’s in the right, and talking about how she’s going to humiliate him and upload the video go Gawker (hah). Meanwhile the driver does an amazing job maintaining his composure.

Here’s the video:

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OpenSkies Introduces Free Uber Rides For Business Class Passengers

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There are a few airlines out there offering complimentary chauffeur service for first & business class passengers, though the restrictions associated with the services vary. Some only offer the service to full fare passengers, some only offer it at certain airports, etc.

Well, transatlantic airline OpenSkies has just introduced an innovative new type of chauffeur service. For those of you not familiar, OpenSkies is British Airways’ subsidiary which operates flights between New York (both JFK and Newark) and Paris Orly Airport.

They have fully flat business class seats, and while it’s not the most modern product anymore, the experience overall feels pretty intimate, thanks to the premium heavy 757s they operate (though they also now have a 767 in their fleet).

No doubt OpenSkies is facing more competition in their market due to La Compagnie, which offers all business class service between New York and Paris. While La Compagnie’s hard product isn’t as good, their fares are exceptional.

Anyway, it looks like OpenSkies is trying to find a way to differentiate themselves and add services for business class passengers.

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