- Uber is offering discounts on car maintenance, rebates on fuel purchases and even free college courses to its top drivers as part of a program being piloted in eight cities. To enter the first tier of the Uber Pro program, drivers must maintain a 4.85 rating and a cancellation rate of 4%, and can advance through the four tiers by earning points on future trips.
- The lowest tier offers drivers 1.5% cash back at gas stations and up to 25% off of car maintenance. Higher tier promotions include rising cash back deals of up to 5%, higher rewards for long trips, free roadside assistance and recognition in the app. The top two tiers offer fully covered tuition at Arizona State University or ASU online courses for drivers or their family members.
- The initial launch markets are Seattle, Chicago, New Orleans, Phoenix, Denver, Orlando and Tampa, FL, and the state of New Jersey.
Uber has faced increasing scrutiny for its driver pay. A recent study by JPMorgan Chase found that monthly wages for Uber and Lyft drivers fell by 53% between 2013 and 2017, although that did not reflect hours driven. Cities have also drawn increasing attention towards the companies’ pay and treatment of drivers, with Seattle considering a potential rate hike to send more money back to drivers. In London, Uber drivers held a 24-hour strike to protest low pay and a lack of benefits.
Uber launched what it called a "180 Days of Change" campaign to improve driver conditions last spring, including tipping for drivers, a redesigned app and increased payments for picking up riders far outside of their route.
The new benefits will continue Uber’s campaign, and help it keep pace with Lyft, which has its own driver benefits program. Through Lyft, top drivers can earn fuel and maintenance benefits, access to tax preparers and access to a health insurance marketplace (a way to offer drivers benefits that are lacking in the gig economy).
Some have criticized Uber’s existing rewards for drivers as a way to keep them on the road longer, but the company says it is designed to help all drivers, even ones working part-time. Daniel Danker, head of driver product at Uber, told The Verge in an interview that more than half the drivers in the Pro program would drive less than 30 hours a week, adding "this is really about recognizing commitment and quality across drivers, whether they drive a whole bunch or less."