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Uber launches Payment Rewards with Capital One, where users get their 10th ride free

TechCrunch TechCrunch 15/06/2016 Ingrid Lunden

Uber has something in common with credit card companies: both businesses face a lot of competition from nearly identical services when it comes to attracting and keeping customers using them. In a bid to kill two birds with one stone, Uber is launching a new feature called Payment Rewards. The transportation giant will team up with specific credit card companies — starting first with Capital One and its Quicksilver brand — to pay for rides, and if you pay for enough of them — nine, to be exact — you get one $15 ride free.

Uber says the the service will be live in the U.S. first and will be rolled out into other markets soon, and it will also include more payments companies over time.

Uber been experimenting and rolling out different versions of loyalty schemes of late, and this is not the first time that it’s teamed up with third parties to do it.

In May, the company launched Uber Offers, which gives users rebates of between $5 and $20 at Uber when they shop at participating stores.

Just weeks after that, we discovered that Uber was running a test in LA where users were rewarded with free rides after they accumulated a certain number of points from previous rides. (This latter offer appeared to work out to one free ride in every 15, so a little less rewarding than Payment Rewards.)

Uber is also part of a new Commerce Network started by Visa to encourage more shopping (and swiping of its own Visa cards, of course).

The Payment Rewards service is interesting in that it opens the door a little wider to how Uber ties itself in with card companies, and offers itself as a conduit to referrals to more sales — yet one more monetization strand for the company, which has raised billions of dollars, is valued at over $60 billion, but is falling well short of that when it comes to revenue.

And, depending on how many card partners Uber decides to sign up, this could also potentially be a useful sales channel for those card companies. (Want free Uber rides? Sign up to get and use one of our credit cards!)

What’s interesting is that once you can track reward payments inside Uber’s own app, it opens the door to Uber positioning itself as a mobile wallet of sorts, to manage other places where you might use and redeem those rewards. Given that Uber has been tying up with other businesses through delivery services, this could open the door to further ways for Uber to sell particular services.

We asked, and Uber declined to comment on whether Uber or Capital One paid each other as part of the Rewards partnership, nor if there are plans to add more services or rewards into the mix.

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