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Uber is one of my all-time favorite travel apps because it allows you to page private cars and taxis directly from your smartphone without having to wait out on the street and try to hail a cab or call a town car. The rates can be a bit more expensive than taxis, though still competitively priced, and the service is a godsend in cities where it can be difficult to find a taxi or at times of day when taxis are scarce.
Well, apparently I’ve been using Uber a lot because today the company let me know that they are introducing a new elite status tier for members who have taken over 100 rides in New York City and that I’m part of it. The new program is called Uber VIP and the only benefit is to try to match VIP riders with the highest-rated drivers from Uber’s standard Black service in New York City.
For those of you, who like me received a notice about your new status, here’s how you can use the new status. Starting now you can open up your Uber app and you’ll find a VIP option in addition to the usual options of UberX, Black, and SUV. Select the VIP option if you would like to ride as an Uber VIP.
There aren’t as many VIP vehicles on the road, so Uber warns that wait times may be a bit longer for VIP-certified vehicles, but you can always book one of the standard services, UberX, Black and SUV, and the prices for Uber VIP cars are the same as for Uber Black car service, so you won’t be paying more to try this out.
While it’s cute of Uber to call this new status VIP, to be frank, I don’t see any real value for Uber customers. Almost every single driver I have had has been exceptional (literally I can remember one time I wasn’t happy, and even that was nothing serious), so I read this as basically having to wait longer to get the same service I would normally.
Instead, I wish that VIP status came with some more tangible perks like priority in the car request queue so I could get cars faster especially during the peak times when I tend to be out and about. I’d also love to see discounts on higher-level services like Black and SUV cars (or free upgrades to them if you order an UberX), and even cash back or some sort of return on spending like for every 10 rides you take you get the equivalent of the average value of one of them in credit to use towards a future ride.
If you don’t have an Uber account, you can use my link to sign up and you get $10 off your first ride. One of the things I like about Uber is that the service automatically bills the (points-earning!) credit card you have on file and that gratuity is included, so no arguing with the taxi driver about whether they only take cash, waiting for a receipt, or any other little inconvenience like that. I use my Sapphire Preferred for 2.14X points per $1, since Chase classifies car service as a travel expense, so it’s another great way to rack up bonus points while going about your daily business.
Uber customers in Los Angeles and Orange County can also take advantage of a current promotion that allows them to “ride for free like an Uber employee.” Never having to pay to be picked up is one of the perks of working for the company, and the promo gives the winner a year of free travel equaling $400 of rides a month for a total of $4,800 over 12 months. The only drawback is that you have to take 7 Uber rides in the next 7 days (before 11:59pm PST on Monday, October 28, 2013), which is a lot seeing as most people in the LA-area have a car and probably only use Uber on weekends. There is one grand prize winner and anyone else who completes the seven rides will get a free T-shirt. For the full terms and conditions, click here.
And a final message to Uber: I love your service, but if you’re interested in any consulting on how to actually engage and incentivize your most loyal customers, feel free to reach out.