Why it matters: Uber may refuse to consider its drivers full-time employees, but that doesn't mean it hasn't taken steps to improve their lives. Uber today launched the "Uber Pro" program, a beta service that rewards the company's more dedicated workers with car maitneance discounts, cash back at gas stations, and even free college tuition for themselves or their family members.
Uber is always looking for ways to keep its drivers on its own platform instead of letting them slip over to competitors like Lyft. For example, Uber in October sought SEC approval to offer stock options to its drivers as an additional reward for their hard work.
Now, Uber is launching the "Uber Pro" program, which arguably offers an even more significant bonus to its contractors: free college. This program is launching in the form of a Beta throughout 8 US cities, including Seattle, Chicago, New Orleans, Phoenix, Orlando, Tampa, Denver, and New Jersey.
Uber has partnered with Arizona State University to make this happen, but there's a caveat - all classes must be taken online. Uber says "eligible drivers" can choose from 80+ undergraduate degrees, and they can transfer their tuition to a family member if they so choose. In other words, a parent could theoretically pay for their teenager's college tuition by driving for Uber.
..."eligible drivers" can choose from 80+ undergraduate degrees, and they can transfer their tuition to a family member if they so choose.
Uber Pro isn't just a free college service, though - it's also a driver rewards program, of sorts. As drivers work for Uber, they'll unlock perks like 25 percent discounts on "standard car maintenance" at 20,000 shops across the US, "up to" 5 percent cash back at gas stations, free dent repair, and more.
So, how do drivers earn these rewards? According to Uber, they'll need to maintain a 4.85-star rating and a "low cancellation rate," though the company doesn't specify what that means. Apparently, drivers will earn reward points during "fixed 3-month periods" for every trip they complete.