If rides from ride-sharing companies (like Lyft and Uber) are eating up an increasing portion of your budget, you might as well try to earn some extra rewards.
Luckily, a few credit card issuers and travel rewards programs are making it easy to do so by offering discounts and bonus rewards on rideshare transactions:
NEW: First ride free with Chase card
For a limited time (until Dec. 31, 2016), you can get your first Uber ride free (up to $30) when you use a Chase debit or credit card to set up your new Uber account and enter the code ChaseUber (more terms and details here).
Get double Membership Rewards points
This partnership allows you to get 2 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent by linking your Uber account to a credit card from American Express (a CreditCardForum advertising partner).
To sign up for the promotion, you’ll need to download or update the Uber app, add an American Express card that earns Membership Rewards points to your account and then tap “Enable.” To get the 2 points per dollar, you will need to select the enrolled card to pay for your ride. Your receipt will confirm that you’ve earned 2X points.
You can also use Membership Rewards points to pay for Uber rides. When you request a ride, the app will ask you if you’d like to pay with points. When redeeming this way, your points will be worth 1 cent each toward the fare.
If you have enough points to cover the ride, the cost will be automatically deducted from your rewards balance. If not, your card will be charged for the full fare (and you’ll earn 2X points).
Visit this page for more details on earning and using Membership Rewards points with Uber.
Get every 10th ride free with the Capital One® Quicksilver® or QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card
This is available for only a limited time. Through March 2017, if you add your Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card or Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card card to your Uber account and use it to pay, you’ll get every 10th ride free (up to $15). This will happen automatically if you use your Quicksilver card to pay.
Earn Starwood Starpoints by taking Uber
The SPG-Uber benefits program doesn’t require a credit card, but can certainly be enhanced by one (which we’ll get to in a moment).
First the basics: You’ll need to join the Starwood Preferred Guest rewards program. Then, you’ll need to sign in to your SPG member account and link it to your Uber account. Finally, you’ll need to complete one stay at a Starwood property.
After that, you’ll earn 1 Starpoint for every dollar spent on Uber rides (up to $10,000 per year). It gets better for Uber rides you take while staying at a Starwood property, as you can earn even more points, with elevated Starwood status. If your Uber pick-up happens between the date you check in and 11:59 p.m. on the day you check out, you’ll earn:
- Preferred members: 2 Starpoints per dollar spent with Uber
- Gold and Platinum members: 3 Starpoints per dollar spent with Uber
- Platinum with 75 nights: 4 Starpoints per dollar spent with Uber
Now, here’s where a credit card can help you: Elite status above “Preferred” requires you to complete a certain number of stays/nights per calendar year. The Starwood Preferred Guest card gives you 5 nights and 2 stays toward elite status, speeding up your progress to those higher-earning tiers.
Extra points using cards with a travel category
Does your card give you a fixed number of bonus points for travel purchases? Lyft and Uber may fall into your card’s travel category, meaning your rides could get you double or triple points, depending on the card.
Most generic travel cards consider an assortment of transit options to be “travel” expenses. For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred includes taxis, limos, ferries and passenger trains – and some have reported that Uber and Lyft do indeed fall within that category for double points. Citi’s ThankYou cards, meanwhile, include “merchants that provide passenger transportation services for hire.”
I used my Barclaycard Arrival (which rewards 2 miles per dollar on travel charges) on both Lyft and Uber and was rewarded double points for both:
Of course, it’s difficult to know in advance exactly which purchases will count as “travel.” It’s based not only on the card, but on the merchant category code assigned to the purchase. That code has to match the card’s requirements. If it does, using a travel card for ride-sharing (and taxis) can help you get some extra rewards out of a regular expense.
Updated Sept. 23, 2016