Frequent Flyer

IHG Is Latest Hotel to Partner with Uber

Uber’s latest move to dominate the shared-ride space is a new tie-up with InterContinental Hotels Group.

Uber’s latest move to dominate the shared-ride space: a new tie-up with InterContinental Hotels Group.

Beginning this week, members of the IHG Rewards program who sign up as new Uber users will earn a one-time bonus of 2,000 Rewards points plus a $20 discount on their first Uber ride. On a longer-term basis, travelers can book Uber rides via the IHG mobile app. And beginning in early 2016, app users will be able to set up Uber “Ride Reminders” on their smartphones.

Uber already has relationships in place with Starwood and Hilton. Although the Hilton tie-up is decidedly superficial, limited to “Ride Reminders” and a few local destination highlights, the Starwood relationship features a substantial ongoing benefit for Preferred Guest members: the ability to earn Starwood points for Uber rides.

While the IHG-Uber link features a nice first-use bonus, Rewards members will not earn points thereafter for Uber rides, so the long-term benefit is limited to easier Uber booking access through the IHG app. It’s possible that there are unpublicized plans to extend the relationship to include points-earning at some point in the future. But until that comes to fruition, if it ever does, Uber customers who value hotel points will be best served by staying with Starwood. Which raises yet another question: What will happen to the Uber relationship when the Marriott-Starwood merger is completed?

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By Tim Winship

After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.