With a new integration into the Uber iOS app, AmEx card members who have enrolled in the Membership Rewards program in the U.S. can choose to earn 2x points using their AmEx card to pay for the ride, or they can use their points for Uber rides.
Once a card member with a rewards-enabled card on file with Uber downloads the latest version of the Uber iOS app, she will see a prompt to enroll her card in the program. After that’s done, the member will have a new in-app option to toggle between “Earn 2x Points” or “Use Points” for Uber rides using their AmEx card.
If a card member doesn’t have enough points to use for the ride, then the card will be charged the full fare and the member will earn 2x points for that transaction. Those who choose to “Earn 2x Points” or “Use Points” will receive a ride summary and email receipt from Uber showing that 2x Membership Rewards points were earned or how many points were redeemed.
Over the years, American Express has steadily expanded how cardmembers can use rewards points at the point of sale, as it looks to “be” in all the places where its card holders spend their money. Last year, it started allowing cardholders to use their points to pay for fares in VeriFone-enabled NYC taxi cabs.
For AmEx, the Uber integration is about going where its users are. Leslie Berland, senior vice president, Digital Partnerships and Development at American Express, tells us a high number of its card holders are using Uber regularly. And this integration is unlike anything AmEx has ever done before, she adds.
“We are creating a living and breathing loyalty program, unlike anything that exists to date,” she told us.
There’s another reason AmEx is tapping Uber for this deal: Uber, which just closed a new round of funding at a $18 billion-plus valuation, operates in 128 cities and 37 countries around the world and has considerable reach.
The integration could bring additional AmEx users to Uber, and vice versa, says Emil Michael, senior vice president of business at Uber. And he says that Uber doesn’t plan any other similar, deep integrations with other credit card companies at this time.
It’s worth noting that this isn’t the first alternative payments feature Uber has added. Last year Uber integrated PayPal as a payments option for its app, as the company looked to expand in international markets where PayPal is a dominant payments mechanism.