Miles For Car Services… And When You Should Just Say No

New Girl in the Air highlights several ‘miles for car service’ offers.

I was particularly interested to see 500 miles for your first use of Groundlink and then 1 mile per dollar thereafter with your choice of American, US Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Alaska, Frontier, Hawaiian, Icelandair, AviancaTaca LifeMiles, or Priority Club (or, apparently, Best Buy).

With your first booking you need to use promo code POINTSGL. Within a couple of weeks after you earn miles you’ll receive a ‘claim code’ e-mail from Points.com to redeem your points.

Becky also notes offers from ExecuCar (the SuperShuttle car service) and Carmel.

I’ve been using GroundLink quite a bit, first when they ran a flash sale via Jetsetter and I was able to grab a San Francisco airport car transfer for $14. And then when I was able to do another one via Groupon or LivingSocial for $29.

Overall I’ve found them pretty reliable and I like their mobile app for ordering cars, tracking their arrivals, and handling receipts. They’re quite reasonable and I’ve often found good discounts as well.

I’m using them less, though, now that I’ve discovered on-demand car service Uber.

I love their app, once you set up an account they recognize your phone and a couple of taps on their app and they send a car to your current location, or you can text the pickup location to them. A car arrives, you tell them where to go, and they charge you based on time and distance.

On Saturday I grabbed a lobster roll in the middle of nowhere a few miles from Logan airport, and the cab driver who took me there was concerned to leave me along with my luggage, however would I get where I was going? A couple of taps on my phone and a black car showed up, $35 all-in later (including an $8.50 airport toll) and I was checking into my hotel. Not the cheapest ride ever, more money than walking a mile to public transit, but this was a few miles on the other side of the airport from downtown.

When I got into the elevator to check out of the Intercontinental Boston, I tapped a couple of times on my phone. I stopped by the desk to have the hotel email me my folio (it never arrived), and by the time I walked outside a black car was waiting. Groundlink wanted a whopping $63, Uber was $38.50.

In that case, I’ll definitely take Uber — without the miles! — over Groundlink.

What’s more, they have a ‘refer a friend’ offer where if you sign up through a referral link you get a $10 credit to start. The referrer gets a $10 credit as well. (Feel free to leave your own referral link in the comments if you’d like.)

So far Uber is in only some of the most major cities and decidedly not all — Boston, Chicago, London, Los Angeles, New York City, Paris, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Toronto, Vancouver, and Washington DC.

Notably absent, to my mind, Miami, Houston, Dallas, Denver, Las Vegas, Atlanta, and Phoenix. But they’re growing.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Truly amazing business model and outstanding customer service… Let’s just see if it lasts and is profitable. I know they’ve run into some issues in DC with the taxi mafia, but I’ve used them in SFO, Chicago, and NY. Predictable, affordable, and convenient.

  2. I just used Uber for the first time in Toronto last week. Our driver Paul was at YYZ within five minutes of us departing customs. We got texts, a phone call from him and amazing service in the cleanest Town Car i’ve ever been in. And he set up our 4am departure a few days later. I hope Uber takes off and expands.

  3. How is the price for JFK-Midtown vs. a taxi?

    Or SFO-downtown?

    Thanks!

    (And thanks for the AA Avis post, nets me 8k miles!).

  4. Totally agree! I was skeptical at first but my first experience couldn’t have been smoother. After waiting 45 minutes in DC for a cab to be dispatched to pick me up, I downloaded the app for my iPhone, signed up and had a car on its way within minutes. By the time the car showed up the cab was just being sent on its way!

    My referral link for anyone interested in trying it out:
    uber.com/invite/t4edz

  5. @Carol probably not,, lack of Blackberry apps is one of the reasons I made the swtich to Android finally a month ago

  6. Uber seems cool but other than the nicer ride, why would I use it in a city where there’s TaxiMagic? In Boston, for example, you can use the TaxiMagic app and get a regular taxi the same way and a pay a regular taxi price. Not all cities (NYC) have that but in those that do, I’m not sure why I’d pay a 50% premium for a nicer ride unless that was something I was inclined to do anyway.

  7. They don’t have an app for Blackberry, but you can text them your location and it works just the same.

  8. Vente-privee with American Express has a deal running offering $40 in Uber credit for $19. The deal runs till Sunday at 9am.

  9. For Manhattan to airports, isn’t Carmel MUCH cheaper? In addition, you also get the 250 United Miles.

    What I am missing? Used Carmel 3-4 times and even chose the option all inclusive with all tax and tip prepaid.

  10. uber.com/invite/8yp92

    Stephen, I used your link… I’d be grateful for anyone using mine thanks!

  11. @NYCTAXI for *New York airports* Carmel is cheaper than Groundlink, though not MUCH cheaper, and though I haven’t used them my experiences with Groundlink are superior to anything I’ve heard about Carmel. Remember that Carmel’s advertised prices (http://www.carmellimo.com/Rates.shtml) do not include tips or tolls, are subject to ‘peak hour pricing’, and have a surcharge for certain parts of the city.

  12. Signed up with Mitch’s link. Here’s mine: uber.com/invite/rfufr

    Can’t wait to give ’em a try. Many thanks!

  13. When you’re in San Francisco, forget Uber, take SideCar 😀 http://www.side.cr/

    It costs about 2/3 of what a cab does and about 1/2 of what Uber charges. Same deal, you drop a pin at origin, and at destination, and a driver shows up. But instead of a black car, it’s just some guy in his own car. They all get individually vetted and approved by SideCar AFAIK, and you rate them and they rate you after. That way bad drivers get eliminated, and bad passengers never get picked up again. I’ve taken them around 20 times over the last 3 months, and I’ve got to say, I’m never taking a cab here again.

  14. I am going to try it as well. I used micajoy’s referral link, here’s mine to get your free $10:

    uber.com/invite/weaw9

  15. Love Uber.

    Had to find a ride for someone and couldn’t find a cab so I got an Uber. This was just after the Seattle launch, and the driver was great and it automatically billed my card.

    I use them a lot in NYC and L.A. and constantly am disappointed when I try to find a cab in Denver and can’t use Uber.

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