Ridesharing might be safer than public transportation during the pandemic, but the cost can add up.
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.
While many people have opted to drive during the pandemic instead of using rideshares, it continues to be a viable means of transportation for essential workers. During the coronavirus era, this could be a safer way to get around instead of using public transportation. But making the switch to ridesharing could come with a significant increase in transportation costs.
Thankfully, the right card – and a few loyalty programs – can help you save money on your rides.
See related: Rewards cards target sharing services, and their millennial fans
Using the right travel or rewards card is crucial
One of the premier travel rewards cards, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is an excellent choice to help you earn more on ridesharing. Though it will cost you $550 a year, this card covers the first $300 you spend on travel (in the form of statement credits). After that, general travel spending will earn you 3X points per dollar (plus you can earn 10X points on hotel and car rental purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards and 5X points on air travel purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards).
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 if you activate by 3/31/22 (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 Flex offers 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 $695 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 airline fee credit and a $15 monthly Uber credit (U.S. rides only), plus a 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.
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 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 Uber rewards program
Don’t forget that Uber has 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 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.
See related: Best cards for Uber
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.
*All information about Wells Fargo Propel American Express card has been collected independently by CreditCards.com and has not been reviewed by the issuer.