If you use ridesharing services to get to work, hitch a ride to the airport or avoid a DUI after a night at the club, it’s important to know there are ways to earn rewards on rideshare costs beyond just the obvious. Here’s how to earn more points and miles from your Uber and Lyft trips.
Ridesharing has completely transformed the way consumers worldwide get from place to place, and that’s especially true in the U.S.
A Gallup poll from 2018 reported that 30 percent of Americans use ridesharing services from companies like Uber and Lyft at least part of the time, and that percentage climbed to 45 percent for those ages 18 to 29.
High-income and urban Americans were also more likely to lean on ridesharing to get around, which makes sense. City dwellers are less likely to own cars and those with high incomes are, well, wealthy enough to splurge for an Uber when they don’t want to drive.
If you use ridesharing services to get to work, hitch a ride to the airport or avoid a DUI after a night at the club, it’s important to know there are ways to earn rewards on rideshare costs beyond just the obvious. We interviewed experts to find out how they maximize ridesharing to earn more points and miles over time, and here’s what they said.
Using the right travel or rewards card is crucialWhile Uber came out with its own co-branded credit card in 2017, don’t assume this one is a winner for Uber rides, says digital nomad and credit card rewards expert Caroline Lupini. It’s true the Uber Visa Card lets you earn 4 percent back on dining with no annual fee, but you only earn 2 percent back for online purchases – including rides with the ridesharing service.
“The new Uber co-branded Visa card isn’t a bad choice, but I prefer to use my Chase Sapphire Reserve card for my rideshare purchases,” said Lupini. (Note: The Uber Visa changed this rewards rate on Oct. 28, 2019. The card now offers 5 percent back on Uber, UberEats and JUMP and 3 percent back on dining, hotels and airfare.)
The Chase Sapphire Reserve doles out 3X points per $1 on travel – including rideshares – and your points are worth 1.5 cents each when you redeem them for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.
If you frequently use Lyft or are open to switching, the Chase Sapphire Reserve could offer even more value, as through March 2022 you’ll earn 10 points per dollar on Lyft purchases. You’ll also get a free membership to Lyft Pink, Lyft’s subscription service, for one year (usually $19.99 per month). Lyft Pink promises 15% in savings on all Lyft rides, priority airport pickups, relaxed cancellations and more.
But you don’t have to shell out a huge annual fee to earn outsized rewards on Lyft rides. Through March 2022, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card (with a $95 annual fee) offers 5 points per dollar on Lyft rides and the no-annual-fee Chase Freedom and Chase Freedom Unlimited cards offer 5% cash back on Lyft rides.
Chase Ultimate Rewards points also transfer 1:1 to popular airline and hotel brands like Hyatt, Southwest, British Airways and Marriott, which could lead to even more value.
Travel rewards and airline expert Ramsey Qubein also recommends looking into The Platinum Card® from American Express if you’re considering a premier travel credit card. While this card comes with a hefty $550 annual fee, you get a big welcome bonus and 5X points on flights booked with AmexTravel.com or airlines and hotels booked and prepaid through AmexTravel.com.
You also get airport lounge access, an annual $200 airfare credit and a $15 monthly Uber credit (plus bonus $20 in December) – good for up to $200 in rides per year, among other benefits.
If you don’t want to pay a big annual fee, you can also consider the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card since it gives you 3x points in popular categories like dining, travel and rideshares with no annual fee.
See related: Best cards for Uber
Load up on Uber gift cards with a points-earning credit card
Travel expert Dan Miller of Points with a Crew suggests a back-end way to earn more rewards on Uber rides: Pick up a rewards credit card that offers bonus points in categories that let you maximize gift cards, then use it to load up.
If you had the Ink Business Cash Credit Card from Chase, for example, you could earn 5 percent back on a combined $25,000 spent at office supply stores and internet, cable and phone services each year. Buy Uber or Lyft gift cards at Staples or Office Depot, and you could earn 5 percent back and load your gift cards into your account.
Another strategy is buying Uber gift cards at a local grocery store or drugstore. Both the Chase Freedom and Discover it® Cash Back cards offer 5 percent back on up to $1,500 spent each quarter (then 1 percent) in popular categories that rotate every three months, after you activate them.
While bonus categories are different for every 12-month period, they typically include grocery stores and drugstores at least one quarter of the year.
Earn Delta SkyMiles on Lyft rides
Also note that you can earn Delta SkyMiles on Lyft rides, and these miles are doled out on top of any points or miles you earn with a travel or rewards credit card. All you have to do to qualify is sign up for a free Delta SkyMiles account and connect it to your Lyft account online. Once your accounts are connected, earning SkyMiles on all your Lyft rides happens automatically.
Also be aware that, as of last year, consumers can earn 2 Delta SkyMiles per dollar spent on all rides to and from the airport. Qubein says he always uses Lyft for airport rides for this reason, although he typically uses Uber for other rides since he loads up on Uber gift cards at office supply stores to take advantage of credit card bonus categories.
When it comes to using Lyft for airport rides, keep in mind you’ll only earn 2X miles on the Lyft fare itself and not on taxes, fees, tolls and tips. This promotion is also only good for Lyft rides that originate or terminate at a U.S. airport where Lyft operates.
Join the new Uber rewards program
Don’t forget that Uber just launched its own rewards program that lets you earn points good for discounts on Uber rides. With Uber Rewards, you earn 2X points on eligible UberX rides (plus 3X points for UberBlack rides) as well as the ability to climb the elite status ladder. Uber Rewards offers four tiers in their new rewards program — Blue, Gold, Platinum and Diamond — each of which comes with its own benefits.
While you can score perks like priority airport pickup, flexible cancellations and free delivery on Uber Eats orders, the main point of this program is the fact you get $5 in Uber Cash for every 500 points you earn.
More ways to save
To level up your rewards game even more, travel rewards expert Lee Huff of Bald Thoughts says to make sure you’re subscribed to Uber and Lyft emails. Both email lists occasionally offer discount coupons for upcoming rides, and you can stack those coupons with other discounts.
Also explore the possibility of using Visa Local, a free program that rewards members with Uber credits when they dine at participating restaurants and pay with a registered credit card.
“Many of my favorite restaurants give 5 percent to 10 percent cash back towards future rides,” said Huff.
All that’s required to qualify is signing up for the program through the Uber app and connecting an eligible Visa credit card. Your discounts will be applied to your Uber account automatically when you use the right Visa card when you dine, so why not give it a try?