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Ridesharing rewards are here.
Uber announced Wednesday its first consumer-facing loyalty program called Uber Rewards that will offer users dedicated phone support, complimentary upgrades and access to the highest-rated drivers.
The program will begin in nine cities and launch for all U.S. riders over the next few months. Users earn points for eligible dollars spent on the company's ridesharing and food delivery platforms. Uber says they plan to add its scooter and bike platforms into the program soon.
Just two days before Uber's announcement, ridesharing rival Lyft announced its own loyalty program called Lyft Rewards that will launch for select passengers in December.
Both companies have existing loyalty programs, like Uber's partnership with Visa and Lyft's Business Travelers rewards, but this is the first time both companies have announced plans for all of their millions of users in the U.S.
Uber Rewards project director Nundu Janakiram told CNBC the company waited this long to launch a rewards program because the company needed a lot of time for research and investment into the technology.
"A rewards program has to deliver benefits. We wanted to get it right," Janakiram said.
The new rewards program is an initiative under CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, who took over the company last year after a string of PR crises. His strategy has been one of engagement and integration among Uber's businesses. Uber is expected to file for an IPO in 2019.
Uber's program will have four tiers: Blue, Gold, Platinum and Diamond and is free for existing Uber customers. Members will earn one point for every dollar spent on Uber Pool and Uber Eats, $2 for UberX and $3 for luxury Uber rides. At 500 points members go from Blue to Gold; 2,500 points gets customers to Platinum and 7,500 to Diamond.
Once customers reach Gold membership they will get free cancellations. At Platinum, they can add on fixed rates between two set locations. Miami, New York, Washington D.C. and Philadelphia are among the cities where this new loyalty program will first be available.
Uber says it will evolve the program after receiving feedback from customers in its first nine cities.
The company says the program has taken "significant investment." Janakiram says, "we look at the long term and feel that if we invest in customers, they'll continue to invest in us and choose us."
As Uber gets closer its public debut next year, investors are looking for the startup to continue to narrow losses.