a woman leaning on a car door

Sometimes you have a moment where something just clicks and that’s been the case with Uber’s loyalty strategy for me. I never particularly cared about their program, but now I do and it’s going to drive my behavior.

It goes without saying that I love points and rarely miss an opportunity to earn more of them. More is typically better, but I find it important to admit that to me, some loyalty games never feel quite worth playing. Uber was almost one of those?

While on one hand I loved that Uber was offering me a chance to earn Marriott Bonvoy Points or British Airways Avios on my Uber rides, I also felt like Uber was a niche part of my life. With limited exceptions, I pretty much only take an Uber to the airport when no decent mass transit exists or when I’m away from home.

So what changed? Well, the whole “super app” thing.

a group of people on a boat

Trains, Planes And Automobiles

I like earning Avios or Bonvoy Points on each Uber ride I take, but at a clip of 20-80 per trip in recent deposits, I’m not jetting off or crashing on any plush five star hotel beds anytime soon. It’s just a nice little “why not?” moment for my points accumulation.

But I got an email this week telling me that in the UK where I spend most of my time these days, I can now book my train tickets via the app. I get rewarded for it, unlike when I book direct. I assume the same is true in areas of the US too?

Basically, as a “super app” Uber is finding more ways to issue me more points in my favorite loyalty currencies as they interact more with my daily life, rather than just my travel or airport life.

I’m on a train to or from London every few days and I can now get 10% Uber Credit back on all train tickets booked via the Uber app. If I book directly at the station or just tap my Google Pay to hop on, I’d earn nothing back. This launched in April but hadn’t been of note to me. If I want Avios instead, I get one point per £1 spent for booking via the Uber app.

A Reason To Change Behavior

I, of course, use a rewards earning credit card to make every purchase in my life and that includes when I tap Google Pay to grab a train. But now I can get even more if I change my behavior to book the very same things via the Uber app instead.

a train on the tracks

I’ll still earn my credit card reward when I pay, but I’ll double dip with this opportunity to earn 10% back in credit, or points with a loyalty program I already enjoy by changing my method of booking.

I have to imagine that Uber has worked out a clever partner strategy with these travel booking integrations that doesn’t eat into the train company revenue like traditional online travel agencies have for flights, cars and hotels.

I Don’t Necessarily Want This, But…

I want to be clear that I like robust competition in the market. We tend to benefit more from competition than anything else in life.

I say that, because Uber developing a “super app” where you can book flights, trains and all sorts of other stuff that isn’t a traditional car and driver, may cause a real shift in the market.

You could easily argue that Uber is helping tourists discover things like train options and therefore the train is acquiring new customers, but if the Uber app becomes the primary source of growth and customer bookings, the train company could become subservient to Uber, or stop innovating with their own booking platforms.

However you see this gaming out, for now — Uber is brilliant for using their loyalty program and coalition partner earning strategy as a call to action to use their platform for things you could book elsewhere.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *