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What Uber needs to fix in NYC

by on Aug.21, 2014, under Business Travel, Travel Partners

As a New Yorker, I tried Uber for the first time today and found the issues it must address to be successful in New York City (NYC):

1. Uber must be transparent with its fares. When I enter my current location (home) and a destination, I was given a range as a fare ($40 to $53). When the driver picked me up, he couldn’t give a set price or a rate for my trip. After the driver dropped me off, I received an email with a $50 fare. Furthermore, Uber’s rates are cryptic to the average person. I could have gotten a bill for $85 if there was traffic.

Uber’s competition in NYC are NYC taxis, limousine companies, and local car service firms. When I enter a NYC taxi, I see the rate I am expected to pay and can see traffic patterns to know when I should be dropped off before my destination if I chose to walk. Limousine and local car service companies provide a fixed fee once I provide an origin and destination.

Uber needs to be transparent with its NYC customers or stand to lose them.

2. Despite its marketing materials, Uber is not competitive on price. For the record, Uber X was cheaper than a limousine, but not by much. Uber X was about the same price as a NYC taxi. However I couldn’t really compare because I don’t know Uber’s rates (is it by miles, is it by wait time, etc.?). For sure, Uber X was a lot more expensive than my local car service company.

3. Uber’s route is not always right. When my driver picked me up, he was given a route by the Uber system. When I suggested an alternative route with less traffic to my driver, he said he must follow the Uber route. Uber and its drivers need to take local knowledge into account.  I have been living in my neighborhood and commuted to the city for 20+ years. I believe I know the quickest way to the destination compared to any computer.

I am open to consulting Uber on its way to better compete in NYC.

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Chase Priority Club Mastercard is the best alternative to AMEX

by on Nov.08, 2013, under Travel Partners

In response to Captain G‘s previous post about the best Visa/Mastercard (or alternative to using an American Express card), I would like to tell you that the Chase Priority Club Mastercard is the only card in my wallet. Like the Chase Sapphire Preferred card (see Terminal D‘s post), it does not have foreign transaction fees.

In addition, the Chase Priority Club Mastercard annual fee is 50% less of the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card. The Chase Priority Club Mastercard annual fee is only $49 a year (first year is free). The $49 annual fee is still less than my old American Express Starwood Preferred card which was $65 a year. The Chase Priority Club Mastercard annual fee can be offset with these benefits:

1.  You get an annual free night at any Priority Club property after one year. The real translation is:  at any Intercontinental Hotel in the world which is normally ~$250 a night.

2.  Platinum Priority Club status. This perk is not as good as SPG Platinum but gives you small perks like free bottles water, free Internet, and the occasional room upgrade. Note that the American Express SPG card gives you Gold membership which is equivalent to Priority Club Platinum.

3.  A 10% discount on point redemptions for hotels which is a huge value (36,000 points for Intercontinental instead of 40,000). You should also check out our previous blog post on why hotel points are worth more than airline miles.

You can also check out my previous post regarding the British Airways and Asiana credit cards.

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Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa is my recommended credit card

by on May.25, 2013, under Travel Partners

In response to Captain G’s post regarding which is the best Visa/Mastercard available for business travelers, here’s my take on why the Chase Sapphire Preferred card is my Visa/Mastercard credit card of choice for travelers:

1.  I find myself charging at least $1,000 a month on my existing Visa card for places that do not take American Express and only earning 1% on restaurants. With the Chase Sapphire Preferred, I get 2 points per dollar spent on travel and restaurants. They also have special weekly promotions for dining out.

2.  I paid about $150 in foreign transaction fees annually since I travel abroad quite a bit. The Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa does not charge foreign transaction fees which justifies the $95 membership fee after the first year.

3.  Lastly, I like the feel of the card. It’s extra heavy and doesn’t feel cheap like other credit cards.

Here’s more information about the Chase Sapphire Preferred card:

  • Earn 40,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months – that’s $500 toward travel rewards
  • Additional 5000 bonus points for additional cardholder
  • 2 points per dollar spent on travel and dining at restaurants & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases
  • Get 20% off airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises when you redeem through Ultimate Rewards
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to participating frequent travel programs (Including British Airways, Singapore Airlines, Korean Air, United, Virgin, Southwest, Hyatt, Marriot, IGH, Ritz Carlton)
  • Direct access to expert service advisors anytime
  • Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95
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