American Express, Uber offer free holiday rides from 11 airports

Through the end of December, AmEx cardholders can get two free ride credits, worth up to $65 each, for Uber rides from 11 major airports. That could add up to savings of $130 for the holidays.

Jeff Chiu/AP Photo/File
Uber driver Karim Amrani sits in his car parked near the San Francisco International Airport parking area.

You might not have to cajole a family member to pick you up from the airport this holiday season. American Express and Uber will get you — and pick up the tab.

Through the end of December, AmEx cardholders can get two free ride credits, worth up to $65 each, for Uber rides from 11 major airports. That could add up to savings of $130 for the holidays.

The promotion comes as Uber tries to expand into airports, which often require taxis and similar services to carry special permits or licenses.

Where you can get free rides

You can get a free airport ride from Uber as long as long as you have an American Express credit card or charge card. The offer applies to pickups at 11 major airports:

  • New York
    • John F. Kennedy International Airport
    • LaGuardia Airport
    • Newark Liberty International Airport
  • Chicago
    • O’Hare International Airport
    • Chicago Midway International Airport
  • Washington, D.C.
    • Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport
    • Washington Dulles International Airport
  • Boston
    • Logan International Airport
  • Houston
    • George Bush Intercontinental Airport
  • Seattle
    • Seattle–Tacoma International Airport
  • Las Vegas
    • McCarran International Airport

How to get free rides

Here’s how the promotion works:

  1. Enter the promo code “AMEXAIRPORT” in your Uber app’s Promotions tab.
  2. Set your AmEx card as your primary payment card under the Payment tab. The free ride won’t apply if you use a different card.
  3. Request a ride on the Uber app from the airport when you set your pickup location, including your terminal number. The app will tell you where to meet your driver.

Uber will apply your ride credit to your total. If your total is more than $65, you’ll get the full amount of the credit, and the extra will be charged to your AmEx card. For example, if your ride was $70, the promotion would cover $65, and you’d pay the other $5 with your AmEx card. If your ride is under $65, your ride will be free, but the extra credit won’t roll over. Each cardholder gets two ride credits, up to $65 each. The offer is valid until Dec. 31, 2016.

This isn’t the first time AmEx has teamed up with Uber for cardholder promotions. In 2014, AmEx began promoting its integration with the Uber app, which allowed users to redeem points directly through the app for 1 cent apiece. And earlier this year, the two companies gave away free Beyonce tickets to cardholders.

But this promotion is different from the others: It’s rare that credit card issuers let you earn more than $100 worth of travel this easily.

The fine print

AmEx’s Uber offer is great news for many holiday travelers, but it comes with a few exclusions:

  • The promotion is for pickups, not drop-offs. You can’t use the ride credit if your driver is dropping you off at one of these airports.
  • You can’t combine this offer with other offers. If you have another Uber discount lined up, save it for another ride.
  • The promotion is only valid if you pay with an AmEx credit or charge card. Prepaid cards aren’t included in this offer.
  • Only the promotion you added most recently will be applied to your purchase. If you add the AmEx and Uber promotion, then add, say, a 10% off promotion later, the 10% off promotion would be applied to your next ride, and you wouldn’t get your ride credit.

If you have trouble applying your ride credit, you can contact Uber, and it might be able to help you.

Using Uber at airports

Hailing an Uber from an airport isn’t always easy. In fact, many major airports still prohibit it, and drivers can face steep fines for picking up passengers at terminals without city permits or special license plates. At certain airports, taxis and shuttles might still be the only game in town.

But over the past few years, after several legal battles and lengthy negotiations with both cities and individual airports, that’s started to change. Uber now offers airport pickup from more than 400 cities, according to its website.

Still, airport pickups require more coordination than other Uber rides. Many airports require rideshare customers to wait at a designated pickup area, for example. When you fill out your location information when requesting a ride, your app will tell you where to meet your driver. Plan ahead by checking out the Uber pickup rules at your airport so you know where to go.

Claire Tsosie is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: Twitter: @ideclaire7.

This story originally appeared on NerdWallet.

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