Is Your Next Lyft Going to Help Earn You Free Starbucks?

We’ve seen some interesting tie-ups in the loyalty world over the past few years, including a great relationship between Hyatt Gold Passport and MGM Resorts as well as Uber tie-ups with Starwood Preferred Guest, Delta and, to a lesser benefit for US residents, Emirates.

Now there’s news of a partnership with Lyft and Starbucks.  It appears Starbucks will be supplying their loyalty program so Lyft can reward their customers.

The first thing I thought about this was, “Gee, why didn’t Uber do this?”  I consider them a market leader in this segment, rightly or wrongly.  However, given that they have partnerships like the SPG one to reward customers, I imagine the Starbucks asking price may have been too high.  And, considering the existing Starbucks partnerships like Apple and an upcoming one with the New York Times, it seems believable the coffee giant may have tried to land Uber before settling on the smaller Lyft, especially since they already have something of a partnership with Uber.

At any rate, Lyft riders will be able to earn free Starbucks points (or “Stars” in Starbucks lingo) towards free beverages when they pay for a ride with Lyft.  I also like the twist where Lyft drivers can earn benefits as well, showing that Lyft is trying to create incentives for all the “customers” in their funnel.

Further, it appears riders will be able to gift free drinks and stars to drivers as tips.  No idea whether this is in lieu of the prepaid tip built into the fare (does Lyft have this? Uber does) or on top of it.

There’s also a tidbit that says Lyft will give Starbucks baristas rides to work “when they need it most”.

This isn’t enough to get me to switch from Uber in a given market where they compete with Lyft.  I value the extra Starpoints I earn with my Uber rides, especially when I have an SPG stay.  But, pending the final details of this program, it’s sure a nice “lift” for Lyft customers.

I’ll be interested to see the details when they come out later this year.

Does this make you more likely to use Lyft over Uber?


  1. Just so you know there is no tip whatsoever in Uber fares. Uber used to claim that the tip is in the fare. They no longer claim that anymore. There is absolutely no tip included in Uber fares. In fact Uber drivers will make about 40% less then if they delivered groceries or hot food. Especially after Uber takes 30% which again is 10% higher than the industry standard.
    However in New York and some other cities people can leave a tip when using Uber but not in California for some reason.
    Lyft however does allow customers to tip. It’s a real tip and Lyft passes on the entire amount to the driver. And about 30% to 40% of Lyft customers tip. It’s not that high but it is high considering that when ride sharing started Uber claimed that the tip was in the fare.

    1. Jennifer, fair point. I would have been more correct to say that the standard Uber protocol is not to tip. FWIW, I make it a point to make conversation with each Uber driver, asking how they enjoy driving with Uber. I have yet to meet a driver who says they don’t like it. All have been enthusiastic. That being said, all but one were black car drivers. Maybe drivers at other levels are unhappier. And, my sample size is probably still registered in dozens, not hundreds.

    2. I never drive anywhere and I always tip both Uber and Lyft drivers in cash so it is not taxed on their paycheck/1099. Given that, I’m hoping g the tipping rate is higher than 30-40% on Lyft. I do always ask the driver if they would prefer cash to avoid taxes or a tip via the app. 100% prefer cash. Uber seems to claim a much larger portion of a rider’s cost than Lyft, but both services take a large % ratio when compared to the cost for shorter rides.. Therefore I try to help them out by tipping tax free and also more %wise c for shorter trips, especially those that are very short and charge the minimum fare.

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