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I have talked about how Uber is the world’s best taxi app because it has clean, courteous drivers and the easiest taxi-ordering app imaginable. Tap, tap, tap, and a cab whose progress you can track towards you is on its way with a constantly-updated ETA.

And now it has gotten even better. Uber just announced that Americans with iPhones will earn 2x Membership Rewards when they pay with an eligible American Express card (a great deal) and can even use Membership Rewards to pay for their ride at a rate of 1 cent per point (not a great deal.)

Uber Rewards Email Screenshot

 

This is in addition to the current offer where new Uber users can get $20 in free rides when they sign up through my referral link. You need to sign up and take your first ride by June 16, 2014 for the $20 credit. If you miss that deadline though, you’ll still get $10 in free rides.

(I know that clicking that link takes you to a page that says $10 free credit. But I can confirm it is paying out $20 until June 16, 2014 as my targeted Uber email claimed.)

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  • Why is Uber the best taxi service?
  • Why is paying with Membership Rewards not a good deal?
  • What are the best current offers for American Express Membership Rewards cards?

More About Uber

Uber is an app on your smart phone on which you request a taxi or private car to pick you up.

The in-app map shows you nearby cars and tells you how long you’ll have to wait. You can input your destination and get an estimated price.

Once you get dropped off, you rate your driver. Bad drivers are fired, so you are extremely likely to get a good driver. And if you don’t, customer service is extremely responsive.

Let’s list the ways Uber is better than your local cab company:

  1. Easier and faster to order a cab. No calling in and waiting on hold.
  2. More accurate timetable given for pick up. I hate when the taxi operator tells me she’s sending the “next available” cab. How long will that be?
  3. You can get an estimate of the price in advance.
  4. Uber drivers are more likely to drive a clean, not smelly car in my experience.
  5. Your credit card is saved on file, and you can set your tip percentage on uber.com. No need to carry any cash.

The Uber News

There are two parts to the news.

The Good News

American iPhone users–first, maybe Android users will get this feature later–will be able to sign up in the Uber app to earn 2x Membership Rewards per dollar spent.

If this is on top of the normal 1x per dollar that all spending gets, to make the total 3x, this would make paying with an American Express card a no-brainer. If this is only a 1x bonus so that with the normal 1x, paying with an AMEX now earns 2x, it is a good deal, but probably a bit worse than paying with the Chase Sapphire Preferred, which always earns 2x on Uber purchases.

The Sucker News

Instead of earning bonus Membership Rewards, you will also have the option to pay with Membership Rewards.

Under this pricing scheme, each Membership Reward can be redeemed for 1 cent worth of rides, so that 1,000 points would pay for a $10 ride. As savvy points people, we all know that we can get much better value for our Membership Rewards.

Membership Rewards are flexible rewards points that can transfer to 17 airlines. While the points generally transfer to these partner programs at a 1:1 ratio, Memberships Rewards often runs promotions that provide a transfer bonus of 25% or even 30%, like recent promotions with Virgin Atlantic and Emirates.

There is some overlap in the transfer partners between Membership Rewards and Chase’s Ultimate Rewards, which make it easy to amass large quantities of points in certain programs, which can be especially useful if you are trying to book award travel for more than one person. These overlapping programs include:

  • British Airways
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Virgin Atlantic

Best Eligible Cards

Membership Rewards are earned by all Platinum and Gold cards, both personal and business. The highest sign up bonus is on the Platinum Card from American Express Exclusively for Mercedes-Benz, which comes with 50,000 bonus Membership Rewards after spending $3,000 in three months. The card does have a $475 annual fee.

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