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Now You Can Earn Free Uber Rides By Shopping At Local Stores

A new rewards program from Uber and Visa is kind of like earning air miles, except you get free Uber rides.

Now You Can Earn Free Uber Rides By Shopping At Local Stores

[Photo: Dan Gold via Unsplash]

The next time you grab a salad for lunch, it might benefit more than just your health: You could also earn some frequent-Uber miles.

The ride-hailing company is partnering with Visa for a new program called "Local Offers." With it, you can earn points each time you swipe your Visa card at participating local merchants—like that salad shop. Those points can then be redeemed for free Uber rides.

Think of it like accumulating airline miles using your credit card. Each dollar you spend at a local merchant equals one point. When you get to 100, you score $10 off your next Uber trip.

Once you register, everything is handled within the app automatically, so there's no need to remember to pull out a rewards card or get the barista at your local coffee shop to input anything special to make sure you get credit. Every Visa card you attach to your Uber account counts, no matter which one you happen to pull out come lunch time.

Any merchant that accepts Visa can technically sign up to be part of the program (if you happen to be one you can do that here), and Visa has quite a few already signed up.

"The goal has been to get some of your local favorites, as well as merchants perhaps you haven't tried before in your area," says Terry Angelos, vice president of loyalty and offers for Visa.

You can discover which businesses near you are participating right from the Uber app (they'll all be nested under a Local Offers tab. When you make a purchase using your Visa card (or Apple or Samsung Pay with a Visa card attached), then you'll instantly see a push notification on your phone indicating how many points you scored for the transaction, and how many points you've accumulated so far toward a free trip.

Uber's Local Offers is powered by Visa's Commerce Network. The program offers loyalty rewards between two different merchants that accept Visa. For instance, a hotel might offer guests a discount at a local restaurant or tour company. When that guest uses the same Visa card to book their room as they do to purchase dinner or a tour, the discount is automatically applied to their bill, with no need to tote coupons around or remember to redeem the offer.

Uber will be rolling out Local Offers in San Francisco and Los Angeles starting today, with plans to potentially expand the program in the future to other cities.

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