Uber will roll out its Uber Rewards loyalty program in Australia and New Zealand this week, allowing riders to earn points, achieve status levels and unlock tier benefits across both Uber rideshare and Uber Eats food delivery.
Perks across Uber Rewards' Gold, Platinum and Diamond levels will include discounted Uber Comfort rides and Uber Eats orders, reduced fixed-price rides between two favourite locations and free upgrades to a higher-class of ride such as Uber Premium.
Select groups of local riders will be invited to join a 'soft launch' trial of Uber Rewards in increasing numbers each month, with the program opening to the public in Q1 2020.
Earning Uber Rewards points
Australian members of Uber Rewards can earn points on rides and meals at the following rates:
- UberPool, Uber Eats: 1 point per A$1 spent
- UberX, UberXL, Uber Comfort: 2 points per A$1 spent
- Uber Premier: 3 points per A$1 spent
This includes Uber rides taken by Australian members both at home and when overseas, as well as Uber Eats deliveries abroad.
Uber Rewards' New Zealand members earn points as below:
- Uber Eats: 1 point per NZ$1 spent
- UberX, Uber Comfort: 2 points per NZ$1 spent
Again, these earning rates apply in New Zealand and when you use Uber overseas.
There's no limit to the number of Uber Rewards points you can earn, and these can be notched up on both 'personal' rides billed to your own credit card and business trips charged to a company account.
The higher ride cost during surge pricing is included in your points-earning total, as are road tolls, but not taxes and tips.
Users can continue to earn Qantas Points on Uber rides to and from eligible Australian airports – at a rate of between 1-3 Qantas Points per A$1 spent, depending on your Qantas Frequent Flyer status – as the Uber Rewards program complements this arrangement rather than replaces it.
Uber Rewards status levels explained
The number of Uber Rewards points you earn determines your status in the program: the Uber Rewards tiers are Blue, Gold, Platinum and Diamond, with all but the entry-level Uber Rewards Blue level enjoying a range of benefits.
Uber Rewards status is evaluated at six-month intervals based on the date you join the program, and based on how many points you earn in each period.
For example, join Uber Rewards in mid-November 2019 and your first 'membership period' will run until mid-May 2020; the next membership period extends from mid-May 2020 to mid-November 2020, and so on.
When a member moves up from one tier to the next, their status will be valid until the end of their current membership period plus the next six months.
Uber Rewards Blue is automatically assigned to each Uber rider when they join the program, although not everyone will begin at Blue. A spokesman for Uber Australia tells Executive Traveller that upon signing up to Uber Rewards, your prior six months of Uber activity will be used to determine your starting status.
Uber Rewards Gold requires earning 1,200 points during any given six-month membership period; for Uber Rewards Platinum you'll need to earn 4,000 points, while reaching the top Uber Rewards Diamond tier calls for 7,500 points.
Some of those tier levels are substantially higher than for Uber Rewards in the USA, where Gold is yours at 500 points and Platinum at 2,500 points (although Diamond remains the same, at 7,500 points.)
"These are different markets at the end of the day," Uber's Head of Strategy for Australia & New Zealand, Dom Taylor, tells Executive Traveller. "We have set up the structure of our program based on what we're seeing in our local markets, such as and the activity and distribution of riders."
Uber Rewards status level benefits
Uber Rewards Gold members will receive 10% off one Uber Comfort trip each month, up to a maximum discount of $30.
However, this applies only to personal rides (not those charged to a business profile) and the discounts can't be rolled over from one month to the next: it's a 'use it or lose it' proposition, so we suggest using it on your longest ride each month.
Uber Rewards Platinum members get the same 10% off one Uber Comfort trip each month (up to a maximum discount of $30), plus the ability to set their two favourite locations – such as home and the airport – for UberX rides at a reduced rate.
Uber says that UberX rides taken between these two points "will not exceed a promotional price identified for that route, except during extremely busy times." Platinum member will still get a discount on those A-to-B rides during peak periods but the savings will be capped at 35% off the going rate. Members can change their nominated locations once every 30 days by contacting Uber Support.
Uber Rewards Diamond members get the same perks as Gold and Platinum with the addition of 'premium support', including access to a 24/7 telephone help desk, and the highest priority response to messages sent to Uber within the app.
While not available during the initial soft launch period, once Uber Rewards is fully launched in Australia by March 2020, Diamond tier travellers will also receive free upgrades to Uber Comfort and Uber Premier in Australia "on select UberX rides".
Members can't choose which trips will receive an upgrade – this is determined by Uber, and will depend on availability.
Spending Uber Rewards points
In addition to being the currency by which Uber Rewards members achieve status, points can also be redeemed on a number of benefits.
This doesn't affect your current status or your progress to the next tier level, as the mechanism for determining status is the number of points earned during each six-month membership period, not the number of points in your account at any given time. (This is different to airline reward programs, which typically treat points or miles and status credits as individual 'currencies'.)
Unlike Uber Rewards in the US, the Australian and New Zealand programs don't let you convert points into a credit to be used against Uber rides.
Instead, for every 750 points earned by an Australian member and 600 points notched up by New Zealand riders, you can choose between the following:
- 15% of all rides for three days: nominate any (ideally busy) period of three days and enjoy a 15% discount on every Uber ride, from the humble UberX up to Uber Premium (formerly Uber Black) in Australia or New Zealand.
- 15% off orders with Uber Eats for three days: once you choose this reward option, it will be automatically applied to orders placed via your Uber Eats account (there's a maximum discount of $25 per order).
- a charitable Paralympians donation of $10: this is used to help Aussie or Kiwi Paralympians (based on the rider's home country) get to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, held in August-September 2020.
These rewards become available every time you earn 750 Uber Rewards points, and can be saved and then activated sequentially: you could, for example, reach 1,500 points and then quality for 15% off every Uber ride across the busy six-day period of a business trip. You just need to 'snooze' the reward when you're first prompted to activate it.
Uber aims to expand upon this initial trio of rewards as its loyalty program evolves.
Based on the Uber Rewards points earning rates, an Australian member can unlock one of the rewards above in return for spending $750 with UberPool or Uber Eats; $375 on UberX, UberXL and Uber Comfort; or $250 on Uber Premier.
How to join Uber Rewards
There's no joining fee for Uber Rewards. During this 'soft launch' period in Australia and New Zealand, selected customers from the pool of over 4million active riders across Australia and New Zealand will be invited to enrol via their Uber app (that's one good reason ensure you've downloaded the most up-to-date version of the app, otherwise you might miss your invitation).
Executive Traveller understands that these customers will be spread across all cities and rider levels, and will steadily increase with new members being added each week through to the first quarter of 2020, when every Uber customer in Australia and New Zealand will be able to sign up for Uber Rewards.
Uber Rewards vs Ola, Menulog, DiDi
Uber's loyalty play is of course intended to keep its customers booking their rides and meal deliveries with Uber rather than its competitors.
While Chinese-based rideshare rival DiDi has yet to dip its toe into the loyalty waters, both Ola and Menulog entice passengers through airline and bank partnerships.
Ola allows riders to link their Virgin Australia Velocity Frequent Flyer account to earn 1,000 bonus Velocity points on their first ride, plus one Velocity point per $1 spent with Ola in Australia and double Velocity points on rides to and from Australian airports.
Passengers using Ola are also routinely offered discounts of 15-30% on their journeys, when applying various in-app coupon codes before ordering a car.
Uber Eats challenger Menulog serves up two Virgin Australia Velocity points per $1 spent when clicking through the Velocity eStore with each order, with a $10 discount routinely available on the first order a member places with each participating restaurant.
Menulog also runs partnerships with ANZ Rewards – offering four bonus ANZ Rewards Points per $1 spent via the ANZ Bonus Points Mall – and with Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, delivering 11 KrisFlyer miles per US$10 (~A$14.50) spent in Australia.
Haven't joined Uber yet? Sign up here or use our special Executive Traveller promo code of UBER10AU to get $10 in free credit towards your first Uber ride.