5 Tips for Travel Hacking Uber with American Express Canada

By |2019-02-20T18:09:24+00:00January 24th, 2019|Categories: Case Studies, How To Travel Hack, Sweet Spots, Travel Hack Las Vegas|

In the US, American Express Platinum cardmembers get $200 in annual credits ($15 per month) that can be used towards Uber, a ride-sharing service, or Uber Eats, a food delivery service. However, in Canada, we aren’t so lucky. So how can American Express cardholders in Canada travel hack Uber for some free rides and food?

Until April 30, 2019, use promo code UBERAMEX and pay with your American Express card for rides in the US to receive up to $30 USD off your first ride. This code is only valid for new accounts. And to the best of my knowledge, I haven’t found a better promo code for new user signups. But there are some things you should know before you use this promo code in order to get the best deal, so keep reading.

Don’t have an American Express card, but still want a credit? Here’s a consolation prize: Sign up for Uber using this link and get $5 off your first ride or Uber Eats delivery.

Or if you’re interested, consider applying for the American Express Canada Platinum card and earn 50,000 points when you meet the minimum spend requirement of $3,000 in the first 3 months.  You’ll also get airport lounge access around the world and an annual $200 travel credit! See why we why think this card is one of Canada’s premier travel hacking cards with our review.

I have a love/hate relationship with the Uber app. On one hand, ride-sharing is amazing, convenient, much cheaper than a cab, and my first choice for transportation when I travel. I’d love to use it at home too, but it frustrates me to admit we don’t have Uber in Vancouver, BC yet. Don’t get me started on that one.

On the other hand, I find the app itself hard to travel hack (which admittedly is the point). From a tech point of view, I really despise apps that leave the user with little control over their account or companies who have designed apps in such a way that hide crucial account features. So through my trials and tribulations with using this app in Las Vegas on my recent trip, I wanted to report my findings in an effort to help you at least save some time if you’re looking to travel hack Uber, and best case, teach you how to get the best value out of your Uber promo codes!

Let’s take a look at some tips for travel hacking Uber:

1. New User? Research the best promo codes BEFORE creating an account.

Once you’ve applied a promo credit to your new Uber account, you won’t be able to replace it with a better offer. Most sites will allow you to keep trying promo codes and keep entering them until you’re satisfied, but Uber will simply just give you an error message saying there’s already a promo code applied to your new account. Neat. Thanks Uber.

American Express Platinum Canada

American Express Platinum Card®

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2. Promo credits don’t carry over, use them wisely

Most promo codes available for Uber are only for new accounts, and to make matters worse, these credits don’t carry over. That means that high value promo codes like “UBERAMEX” offering $30 off your first ride will be used up even if the cost of your ride was only $10. If you plan to use a promo code like this, make sure you’re using it for a long trip. When I was in Las Vegas, most rides up and down the Las Vegas strip were in the $10-$15 range. It wouldn’t even cost $30 to get to the airport, so that means you’d be leaving money on the table if you used that code. Which brings me to my next point…

3. Don’t Let Uber Burn Through Your Promo Codes

When you apply a promo code to your Uber account, it will automatically be applied to your next trip. If you have more than one promo code, they’ll be used in reverse order. This can be really disappointing if you use a high-value promo code on a short trip because you won’t be able to carry the balance over. This is by design so that you’ll burn through your promo credits as quick as possible. It would be very easy to miss the fact that you can actually turn off promo credits for your ride (and save them for the next one). Here’s how:

There is an option to turn promo credits on or off, but you must do this before you request a trip!

You can toggle credit On or Off after you’ve set your destination and before you select your vehicle option.

1. Tap the white credit bar above the black REQUEST button and then tap “Change payment method.”
2. On the “Payment Options” screen, use the slider on the bar next to your credit amount.
3. Slide to the left to toggle credit Off. Slide to the right to toggle credit On.

Once the trip has been requested, you cannot toggle your credit On or Off.

Saw my first self-driving car in Las Vegas. A BMW operated by ride sharing service, Lyft. I am beyond fascinated with this idea!!!

4. Do not allow drivers to cancel a trip without disputing it

When you use the Uber app and specify your pickup location, Uber drivers nearby will be alerted and have the chance to accept the trip, therefore connecting you both through the app. At that point, the driver will be able to see where you’re located based on what you inputted into the app, and you’ll be able to see the driver’s location and their estimated time of arrival.

However, just because a driver has accepted the job to pick you up, doesn’t mean they have to follow through with it. Drivers can cancel a trip for a variety of reasons, but most annoyingly, they can cancel a trip just because they can, and still get paid $5 for it, which comes out of your pocket! A driver may want to cancel your trip if a better fare comes along, or if there is some miscommunication with the pickup location. Whether it’s your fault or not, you’ll be on the hook for the $5 cancellation fee which isn’t fair at all. Luckily, if this happens, you can go into the app and dispute the cancellation fee and with very little effort you can get that money reimbursed.

$30 in free food thanks to promo code UBERAMEX.
A fast food buffet and some Netflix at the Cosmpopolitan, Las Vegas to end a late night.

5. Consider Using That Promo Code for Uber Eats and Fill Up

And lastly, my favourite tip for travel hacking Uber. Did you know that Uber promo codes can be used for Uber Eats too? That’s right! If you found a good promo code, (ie the UBERAMEX one), you can get $30 in free food delivered to your doorstep, or hotel. This is my favourite way to use Uber promo codes because it’s not always easy to use up the whole credit on a ride, but I can assure you I can always find a use for it on restaurant food!

If you’re getting food delivered to a hotel, especially in Las Vegas, make sure your hotel allows deliveries. Some do not. Crazy, I know. Most will, but they have a designated area for Uber dropoffs/pickups. You’ll have to meet your driver down at the Uber pickup for the food handoff. So when you shamelessly order $30 in fast food treats at 2am, you might want to consider you’ll actually have to leave your room to go get it.

Bonus Discoveries With Travel Hacking Uber

So here’s what doesn’t work. If you’re like me, you might want to try signing up for multiple accounts and apply the promo code to each one (worth a shot right?), but Uber is smarter than you and I both think.

I thought it would be easy to create new phone numbers and link them to new Uber accounts, but it’s not quite that simple. Each account must be linked to a unique phone number, and even though there is software available such as TextNow or the Burner app that will create virtual phone numbers for you, Uber is aware of this tactic.

A virtual phone number (VoIP) is a telephone number that’s used to route calls to the user’s actual phone number. Although these apps are excellent for most uses, Uber can detect they’re not a real phone numbers. So if you’re waiting for that verification code to be sent to your phone to activate your new Uber account, it probably won’t come. And if you request the verification code via telephone call, the call will come through, but it will probably disconnect.

I tried several times (for research purposes only…) to create a new Uber account with my fabricated phone number and at first, I received the verification code to confirm my account, however, moments later when I logged into my Uber account, it had been suspended. Ouch.

I would suspect that Uber is looking at several factors when it comes to creating a new account:

  • Your phone number: Is it connected to an existing account? Is it a VoIP number?
  • Your IP address: Are you repeatedly trying to create new Uber accounts from the same computer? You might find yourself in a re-captcha loop that you’ll never get out of. Basically Uber thinks you’re a robot and will keep asking you to click on images of traffic lights, buses, stores etc. Usually, when this happens, you’ll proceed through the captcha test and continue with the signup form, but if your IP address is flagged, never-ending captchas will keep appearing.
  • Your payment method: If you have the same credit card connected to several different accounts, that looks suspicious, and your account likely won’t get verified.

Your account must be verified with Uber before you can call for a ride or place an order with Uber Eats. Even if you got as far to create a new Uber account, apply a promo code, and make it to the checkout page, you might think you’re in the clear, but you must receive that verification code to a legitimate phone number to place the order.

Travel Hacking Uber, In Closing

I hope the above tips help you out on your next Uber or Uber Eats experience. Always keep your eyes open for Uber promo codes, and consider using a friend or family member’s phone number to create a new account and take advantage of a promo code if you already have an account. Make sure to explain what you’re doing and only use their phone number if you know it’s someone that won’t care you’re getting free rides/free eats by using their phone number.

Do you have any tips for travel hacking Uber? Let us know in the comments below!

American Express Platinum Canada

American Express Platinum Card®

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About the Author:

With a passion for tech startups, Britt has always loved being hands on with designing and developing websites. When she’s not at the computer, she’s probably enjoying time with her German Shepherds, Trevor and Stacy. From rustic cabins, to five star hotels, Britt is always ready for the next adventure.

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