Back in October, Uber and American Express were offering a $10 credit when you spent $10 or more on Uber using a linked American Express card. That was great if you were planning to take one (or many more) eligible Uber rides by December 31, but it was also possible to prepay future Uber rides at a steep discount by using linked American Express cards to buy Uber gift credit (and applying it to your own account).
The catch was that Uber only allows gift credit to be purchased in increments of $25. While that was enough to trigger the American Express statement credit, Uber doesn't let you split payment for gift credit, meaning you were still stuck paying $15 out of pocket for your $25 in Uber credit.
Last weekend in San Antonio I ended up taking quite a few Uber rides, and was glad that I had "overpaid" for my Uber credits. Why? Because my Uber rides in San Antonio were cheap:
Two of my rides fell under $10, and wouldn't have triggered the $10 statement credit if I'd paid with an American Express card. Interestingly, another fell below $25, meaning it wouldn't even have been eligible for redemption if I'd paid with my Barclaycard Arrival+ MasterCard. As it turned out, my Uber balance (after referral credits) was applied dollar-for-dollar to those fares, and I was able to capture the entire 40% discount by prepaying.
Prepay your Uber rides, $25 at a time
By now readers can no doubt see where this is going. By pre-funding your Uber account with $25 gift credit, purchased with the Arrival+ MasterCard, you can guarantee that every ride you take – no matter how short – is eligible for Arrival+ redemption. Since each credit card transaction will be exactly $25, the minimum Arrival+ redemption, you can squeeze the maximum value from an Arrival+ balance of any size.
Before my faithful readers flood the comments to chastise me for passing over the myriad ways Uber has invited its service to be "gamed" by travel hackers willing to color outside the lines, let me assure you that I am fully aware of this. This post is not about those techniques: it's for folks who use Uber, pay for their rides, and want to do so in the most efficient method possible.