Uber Pro, the driver loyalty program that rewards high ratings and low cancellation rates with increased take-home pay and free college tuition, is coming to more cities. After testing it in 10 cities, the ride-hail company said it would be rolling out Uber Pro to another 20 markets. For the first time, the program will be extended to Uber Eats couriers as well.
Uber first announced the loyalty program last November. It came amid a swirl of new product announcements in the run-up to the company’s hotly anticipated public offering. Long criticized for how it treats its drivers, Uber wanted to show that it was ready to take a step toward boosting their incentives.
Initially, the company tested the rewards program in just a handful of cities and often targeted at specific groups of drivers. Now, Uber is launching it in major markets like San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Houston, Atlanta, Las Vegas, Austin, Dallas, and Baltimore. The company estimates over 120,000 drivers will be eligible for the top-billed perk: free college tuition at Arizona State University.
Uber Pro divides drivers into four categories: partner, gold, platinum, and diamond. Drivers in the partner category need to maintain a 4.85 rating and a cancellation rate of just 4 percent. To ascend to the next tier, they must earn points on every trip during fixed three-month periods, and the points they earn in one period go toward unlocking status (and more rewards) in the next category.
The rewards include cash back on fuel purchases, discounts on vehicle maintenance, and free roadside assistance. Drivers who achieve platinum and diamond status qualify for increases of 3 percent and 6 percent, respectively, on time and distance rates. This could translate to significantly higher earnings for some drivers. Drivers can also enjoy rewards such as faster airport pickups and free bodywork.
Platinum and diamond status drivers are also eligible for online classes at Arizona State University, completely tuition-free. Drivers can take English language courses as well as entrepreneurship classes as part of the deal with ASU. If they don’t have time to attend or don’t want to, they can transfer the ASU reward to a family member. So far, 25 percent of eligible drivers have gifted enrollment to a family member, Uber says.
Uber Pro is also expanding internationally, starting with tests in Mexico. The company plans to launch a rewards program for Uber Eats delivery drivers as well, which will be available in select US cities soon.
Uber is expected to make its debut as a publicly traded company next week at a reported $80 to $90 billion valuation. Uber drivers are independent contractors who lack many of the benefits and protections of salaried employment — including employee stock options. As a workaround, Uber is dispensing $300 million in “driver appreciation rewards.” These bonuses come in an amount equal to $100, $500, $1,000, or $10,000, based on the number of lifetime trips completed by the qualifying driver, according to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.