Uber VIP is an elite-level rewards tier, first introduced in 2015, that was previously only accessible to the most frequent riders.
In 2021, however, the program rewards a different set of riders but offers many of the same perks. The Uber VIP program really morphed back in January of 2019 when Uber and American Express decided to partner on the program. Today, the rewards are simply offered to American Express Platinum and Centurion card holders (regardless of their Uber trip count).
If you have an American Express Platinum or Centurion card and wish to take advantage of the Uber VIP program, simply enter your card information as the primary payment option in your Uber profile. From there you’ll gain immediate access.
To learn more about what the Uber VIP program has in store for riders in 2021, continue reading our review below.
What is the Uber VIP Program?
The Uber VIP program rewards a small portion of credit card customers with access to highly rated drivers and high-quality vehicles.
Uber VIP is not something that Uber advertises as an option to all of its riders. When it was first rolled out, access to this program was only offered to Uber’s “most valued riders” via private emails. Those designated as top riders completed 100 trips in one city and were extended an invitation into the VIP program. This status wasn’t something you could apply or even pay for, you just had to be invited.
Now, VIP access is automatically granted to Uber riders regardless of trip history if they have one of two credit cards:
- The Platinum Card from American Express or
- the American Express Centurion Card.
Both of these cards are premium. The Platinum Card is a well-known travel card with numerous exclusive benefits and the Centurion Card is a coveted invite-only business card with elusive perks not revealed to the public.
If you’re an Uber regular, you probably already know about Uber Rewards because it’s impossible to avoid. Uber VIP and Uber Rewards are not related, so you don’t have to be a member of one program to be a member of the other. However, some of the rewards offered at the highest level of Uber Rewards are similar to those offered by Uber VIP.
But even Diamond-level Uber Rewards members can’t qualify for VIP status unless they have one of those two Amex cards linked to their account. Additionally, those that used to have VIP status were booted when Uber changed its policy to allow only Amex members.
Uber VIP Program Benefits
The Uber VIP program matches riders with only top-rated drivers in nice vehicles. More specifically, drivers with a rating of 4.8 stars or above—VIP drivers—and high-quality vehicles.
It is not clear what vehicles are considered to be high-quality, but newer models and attractive rides can be expected. However, these might be luxury cars and they might not as the level of luxe depends on what ride type you select. You will be able to choose between UberX VIP and UberBlack VIP trips.
Uber VIP members also receive exclusive discounts and deals and are the first to hear when Uber is running a new promotion. You do not have to pay Uber VIP membership fees and trip prices are not higher through this loyalty program than they would be for non-VIP rides.
How to Join the Uber VIP Program
If you have an American Express Platinum or Centurion card and you link it to your Uber account, you will automatically gain access to Uber VIP if it is offered in your area.
Uber has plans to continue expanding its network of Uber VIP-eligible cities but a full list of locations is not available. However, what is known for sure is that this program favors big cities and metropolitan areas. For example, Washington, D.C., New York City, Dallas, and Atlanta are included.
If you qualify for VIP status but don’t live in an area that offers VIP travel, you’re out of luck and will have to take non-VIP trips.
Overall, Uber VIP is probably not anything to get too excited about. It’s not better than what any other Uber rider can access with enough points and it’s not well-established enough to really come through for the few members that actually qualify for it.
Uber does a pretty good job of rewarding its loyal customers already, and Uber Diamond is generally thought to be much better than Uber VIP.
Uber Diamond, the top benefits tier of Uber’s four-tier rewards program that requires 7,500 to unlock, offers its members loads of complimentary perks such as upgrades to Black rides and a credit for three free Uber Eats deliveries every six months. Diamond members also have access to 24/7 customer support and highly-rated drivers, like VIP members. Plus, Uber Rewards is no longer location-dependent, so your Diamond benefits follow you wherever you go. Even Platinum-level perks are nothing to scoff at.
Another potential negative to the VIP program to consider is ride availability. Uber VIP is not widely available across the country, and even in locations where it is, you might have more trouble hailing a VIP ride than you would a non-VIP ride. Not all vehicles are going to qualify as high quality and a smaller portion of drivers have the service ratings to qualify for VIP driving, so there is no guarantee that you’ll always be able to get a ride when you need one.