Capital One will give cardholders a 20 percent credit towards the cost of using Uber’s ride-hailing service until April 2016, and cover the cost of new users’ first two rides until the end of June 2015, according to a Bloomberg Business report.
The partnership is the latest of Uber’s efforts to combat the idea that its service is too expensive for the average consumer. The most obvious of those efforts is the attention paid to UberX, UberTaxi, and the ride-sharing UberPool service.
All of those services are cheaper than the original Uber service, which provides the traditional black car experience. UberX allows drivers to use other vehicles, UberTaxi hijacks the existing taxi infrastructure, and UberPool makes it easier for consumers to pool resources and split the cost of a ride amongst themselves.
Yet the company has also attempted to shift the costs of its service to people other than its users. That’s why it created Uber for Business, a service that allows businesses to pay for employees’ rides, after some businesses reported that many employees were charging rides to their expense accounts anyway.
Now it’s passed the costs of its rides on to Capital One. In return, the credit card company will be able to advertise the partnership, which might convince people to sign up for its card instead of the competition’s. It’s like earning “points” for purchasing airline fare or staple products — like groceries, food, and gas — but applied to Uber’s service.
And, of course, the timed nature of the deal could allow both companies to lock-in their customers. The ride-hailing habit is hard to break, and once you start using a credit card for one thing, it’s hard not to use it for everything else, too.
Capital One attaches itself to the ride-hailing hype train. (Does that metaphor work if it’s applied to another type of vehicle? Whatever.) Uber convinces its users to take more rides, since a portion of them are on someone else’s dime. And consumers are shuffled around their cities for a lower cost than usual.
If only there weren’t serious concerns about the safety of those rides, Uber’s attitude towards women, and the willingness its new security chief previously displayed when it came to handing over information to law enforcement. Otherwise this deal might actually seem tempting, at least until April 2016.
[illustration by Brad Jonas]