Uber & Visa launch Local Offers, a rewards program offering free rides for spending at nearby businesses

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Uber and Visa this morning announced the launch of a new rewards program which will credit Uber users with free rides by spending at nearby businesses. Called “Local Offers,” the system works by offering one “Uber point” for each dollar spent at a business using the Visa card that’s saved in your Uber account. When you accumulate 100 points, you’ll earn a free ride up to $10.

Local Offers is not a temporary marketing campaign, however – the feature is now built into the Uber mobile application, right above the “Promotions” section in the left-side menu. From here, riders can view a list of participating places where they can earn Uber points, enroll in the program, and track their progress and points.

Riders’ point balance will be increased immediately upon swiping at the merchant due to Uber’s partnership with Visa on the new loyalty product. The system is powered by Visa’s “Commerce Network” – an offers and loyalty platform that connects transactions between merchants. On this platform, qualifying purchases at point-of-sale can be applied directly to cardholders’ accounts, in order to eliminate things like paper coupons or other redemption schemes.

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As Visa notes, there’s already a tight connection between Uber and its own company as U.S. cardholders spend more than $144 billion per year in physical stores, with $2 billion of that occurring as soon as a rider steps out of an Uber. With Local Offers, Visa aims to boost that spending even further, allowing local businesses to acquire new customers, increase sales, and drive loyalty, it says.

Local Offers is debuting in San Francisco and L.A., and includes participating businesses like Barcito, Delarosa, Ike’s, Lucille’s Smokehouse Bar-B-Que, Mixt Greens, Peet’s Coffee, PizzaRev, Specialty’s Café & Bakery, Super Duper, The Pie Hole, Uno Dos Tacos, Veggie Grill, and Wurstküche.

“We’ve built Local Offers right into the Uber app, making it a one stop shop for riders to see our curated list of places and track progress toward free rides,” said Drew Quinn, product manager at Uber, in a statement. “We’re excited to partner with Visa to help riders get even more out of their experience shopping and dining at the places they love, and the local favorites they’ve yet to try.”