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Uber riders have seen many changes to the passenger experience recently. It rolled out Uber Rewards, its new loyalty program, and has introduced new product offerings like Uber Comfort and made improvements to its premium service, Uber Black.
Some may have even noticed a tiny box situated next to drivers that’s stocked full of items like chips, gum, granola bars, candy, phone chargers and more — all available for passengers to purchase. These boxes are supplied by a startup called Cargo, and the company has announced an expansion of its partnership with Uber to make these purchases a whole lot more rewarding.
Starting Wednesday, Cargo will be launching the Cargo Store app, which is an e-commerce marketplace available to Uber passengers. Just like JetBlue’s partnership with Amazon where you can earn 3x JetBlue points for Amazon purchases made in-flight or the SkyMall Catalog, Uber and Cargo are trying to turn the backseat into a marketplace and will reward riders for participating.
Cargo CEO Jeff Cripe told TPG in an exclusive interview that the company has found that shopping is one of the most popular activities for riders in Ubers. You can already browse Amazon or Ebay during a ride and order whatever you like with just a few taps on your phone.
But, what makes the Cargo app special? It’s rewarding riders for those purchases. There are a few ways to earn rewards throughout the experience, but you’ll first want to download the Cargo app here.
Once you find yourself in a car equipped with a Cargo box, you’ll need to scan the QR code on the box and then you’ll be hit with your first set of reward options. “Rider Rewards” feature gifts you get just for opening the Cargo app. Once a day travelers can earn things like Uber credits, a $30 discount on purchases at SeatGeek or even products like an Oculus Go headset. When TPG took a peek at the app, the smallest reward was an Uber credit of less than a dollar.
Next, you’ll be taken to the Daily Deals page, which features a handful of popular products to shop from. Products will rotate on a weekly basis, but launch items include things like Ray Ban sunglasses, makeup from Glossier and Apple AirPods — all things Cripe says aligns with the core Uber demographic. Cripe says that over time, the offerings in the store will likely expand from just the handful of rotating items.
While prices will stay at normal MSRP levels, you’ll instantly receive 10% back on all purchases in the form of Uber credits.
That’s a pretty fantastic return and competes or beats most online shopping portal rates, especially when buying products from Apple or Glossier, for which it can be difficult to find savings. Still, it’s always worth doing some price comparisons before you make an impulse buy on your next ride. Note that you’ll only be able to access the Cargo store after scanning the QR code during a ride, so you won’t be able to visit it a day or two after your ride.
To maximize your rewards even further you’ll want to use a credit card that’s great for everyday spending (since transactions made with Cargo likely won’t code as travel), like the Chase Freedom Unlimited or The Blue Business®️ Plus Credit Card from American Express.
Not only will you earn rewards on the larger purchases from the online store, but you’ll also earn Uber credit when purchasing smaller items that are located in the Cargo box — so you can feel a little less guilty when picking up that pack of Skittles or replacing your phone charger after a night out.
Since a significant portion of Uber rides are to and from airports, travelers may find the third feature of the new Cargo App appealing, as you’ll have access to discounted movies from Universal Pictures.
Unfortunately, unlike the products that are located within the car, you won’t be able to get the bigger ticket items immediately. Cargo will still ship the items to you for free, with most arriving to your address in 3-5 days.
Cargo already gives ride-hailing drivers a box filled with items you might see in a hotel minibar or convenience store to sell to passengers, and drivers get to take home a cut of every sale. Cargo is currently in ride-hailing cars across dozens of US cities, is rapidly expanding in Brazil and has equipped more than 30,000 drivers with boxes to distribute goodies to passengers.
While the Cargo product has been a new way for Uber (and Lyft) drivers to diversify their revenue sources and make a few extra bucks, Cripe said that drivers will not receive any compensation when someone makes a purchase through the online Cargo store. That being said, you can tip drivers through both the Cargo and Uber app, 100% of which goes to the drivers.
Featured photo by Olly Curtis/Future via Getty Images.
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