Uber today introduced a program that lets riders earn points toward a free trip simply by using the same Visa credit card they’re using in its app. Called Local Offers, the program lets riders who’ve enrolled in the program visit a participating restaurant, shop, or business, and make a purchase. For every dollar spent, they will receive one point toward their free trip. This is rolling out today in San Francisco and Los Angeles, with additional markets coming soon.
“We’ve seen that everyday riders use Uber to explore their cities,” said product manager Drew Quinn. “It’s an integral way for people to connect with businesses.”
After updating your Uber app, you’ll see Local Offers available in the menu and a list of nearby businesses participating in the program. Find the ones that interest you and tap the “enroll” button. There’s no minimum or maximum number of offers you can participate in, although you won’t start earning points until your first visit after enrolling. Shops and restaurants listed are chosen by Visa, and Quinn said more are being added constantly — any overlap with UberEats is coincidental.
You’ll need to earn 100 points in order to receive a free ride worth up to $10. In addition, you’re only allowed to horde 200 points per merchant but there’s no limit on how many points you can rack up. Points will expire a year after you’ve earned them. However, although points can only be earned in San Francisco and Los Angeles right now, the free rides are valid anywhere in the U.S. that Uber operates.
Once you’ve earned a free ride, you’ll be allowed to dictate when you use it.
Some businesses participating include Super Duper Burger, Delarosa, Barcito, Ike’s, Peet’s Coffee, Specialty’s Cafe & Bakery, and Lucille’s Smokehouse BBQ.
Uber’s partnership with Visa comes more than two years after the ridehailing platform debuted a loyalty program with American Express. Back then, Amex cardholders enrolled in the Membership Rewards program could earn 2x points or use points for eligible rides. It seems Uber has learned that tying the program more closely with community shops and businesses means everyone wins.
Local Offers may also be a way for Uber to play nicer with neighborhoods, demonstrating to regulators and politicians that it’s a good corporate citizen that shouldn’t be banned from their cities. Quinn explained that the feature is also an interesting way to help you discover hidden gems you may not have known about.
Of course, Uber may not be where you expect to look up places to shop and eat — you’re thinking more about Foursquare, Yelp, or even Google Maps. But Quinn thinks there’s a strong possibility that consumer behavior will change with Local Offers, saying that “early reviews have been positive.”
Uber’s new program is available on both iOS and Android apps starting today.
Updated as of 7:47 a.m. Pacific on Tuesday: Clarified that you’re allowed to horde 200 points per merchant. There’s no limit on how many you can accumulate in total.