Great deal: Flight + $250 in GCs + Uber credit for about $400 (depending on your itinerary)

At conferences like Frequent Traveler University, I have often heard rumblings about Upside, but until today I had never given it much of a look. Then, I saw a promotion this morning at Doctor of Credit: if you sign up through someone’s referral link (more on this below), you can get a $250 gift card for making a package booking of $400 or more. What makes this deal great is that the “package” can include Flight + Uber credit or Hotel + Uber credit (or obviously Fight + Hotel) and the gift card can be to AmazonWhole FoodsTargetEbay, and a bunch of other stores — you get your choice of tons of useful places. In other words, that gift card is very nearly the same as cash to me. With the average domestic flight itinerary pricing in at around $352 round trip this year, I imagine a lot of people could take advantage of this deal.

As it turned out, I had a flight I needed to book that was in the right range to make this a good savings. By packaging my Uber to and from the airport, I’m going to nab a $250 gift card on a reservation I was already planning to make. Here’s the deal..

The Deal

  • Using a referral promo code provides the best deal: Book a package that costs $400 or more and you will get a $250 gift card (without a referral, you could get a $200 Netflix gift card with code NETFLIXNOW (H/T: Extreme Hotel Deals)
  • See the refer-a-friend chain in our Frequent Miler Insiders Facebook group.to use and post referrals (if you’re a new member requesting to join, don’t forget to answer the question prompted, this helps us keep spammers out)

Key Terms

  • Valid for new travelers only for bookings through 8/19/17
  • One promo code per transaction
  • Gift card can’t exceed the cost of your trip
  • See full Upside terms here

My Experience

This is my first experience with Upside, but I’m pretty excited about this particular deal since it gives me a nice rebate on a trip I needed to book anyway. I went with Flight + Uber credit because there are many ways to find discounts on hotels — between coupon codes, Hotels.com gift card deals, and just plain old sales, I’m not one to lock in a hotel far in advance. However, many flights cost about the same no matter where you book them — and I was surprised to find that to be true with Upside as well. The place where I’m getting ripped off is on the Uber credit — but the $250 gift card will more than make up for it.

Rather than posting referrals here (our spam filter will block them from posting), head over to our Frequent Miler Insiders group to find and share referral links. Note that the $250 referrals were targeted for existing users. After signing up, the referral code in my account was only good for $125 back in gift cards. I inquired with a “navigator” (customer service rep) who reached out after my booking about the $250 referrals and she told me the following:

The best way to get promo codes is to “Like” us on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/UpsideTravel), or to listen to the radio. There are many programs and stations we advertise on, and often the promo codes are for $100, $200, and sometimes more (like the one you used!). The marketing team is always cooking something up, so be sure to check your emails as well; you never know what you might get!

When you click on someone’s referral link, you will be taken to the home page and see this (with their promo code in the space that says promo code below) — check to make sure that the referral you click is offering the promo shown below for $250 in gift cards:

You will then choose two of the three options for a package (options are flight, hotel, and Uber credit). As you can see here, I’ve chosen Flight + Uber credit.

I then put in my airports and dates. I was pleasantly surprised when the flight prices came back the same price as I had found through Google flights. I thought for sure that Upside would have an upcharge on the flights, but they didn’t. YMMV — perhaps I just lucked out, but I searched several sets of dates and cities and found that Upside matched the prices I saw elsewhere for the same flights.

My itinerary is a less-than-perfect example because I picked something I really needed rather than cherry-picking just the right flight/package. In this case, the cheapest itinerary that worked for my needs was $336. The next step was to bundle Uber credit — and this is definitely where you get the short end of the stick. You can choose to bundle $50, $100, $200, or $300 in Uber credit. The catch, however, is that each of those Uber credit amounts are separated into codes worth “Up to $25” and the credits are only valid during your trip (in my case it shows they are valid from the day before until the day after my trip). So unless you have multiple trips that will cost $25 or more, you’re not going to get that full value out of these credits (and even then, we often see discounts on Uber gift cards that mean you could do better than full price). Still, in order for me to hit the threshold to get the $250 in gift cards, I needed to both book a package deal and hit $400 or more.

In my case, I went with the $100 Uber credit to get myself over $400. I won’t really use $100 in Uber credit. In reality, I’ll use Uber for round trip transportation from the airport and I’m probably going to need exactly one more Uber trip that weekend, so this works out for me. I might end up having one long round trip in there, but to be conservative, let’s value the Uber trips at $7.50 each for a total of $30 in real-world value. I feel like that is more than fair and I may get a good bit more value out of at least a couple of the four trips. At this point, I’ve got my $336 flight (same price as Google flights) and at least $30 in value out of the “hundred-dollar” Uber credit — or $366 in value to me.  The total cost with the Uber credit came out $65 more than that at $431.50 — but I’m also getting a $250 gift card. I don’t know about you, but I’ll make that trade all day long. Heck, even if I valued the Uber credit at $0, I’m still only paying about $95 for $250 in credit to Amazon, Target, Ebay, etc. That’s a nice score in my book.

At the end of the checkout process, if has a button for “redeem gift cards” (after you have purchased).

However, when I clicked there, it told me that I wouldn’t be able to redeem them until 72 hours after my trip:

It does let you see the gift card options, which are plentiful.

And it looks like you don’t even have to redeem for a single $250 gift card. I can’t tell for sure since my credit won’t “unlock” until after my trip, but it seems that you can choose the value that you would like to redeem on many of these gift cards:

I received my American Airlines confirmation number moments after booking and the e-ticket came through within a couple of minutes. I pulled up my itinerary on AA.com right away and added my Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan number. Thanks to my Alaska Airlines MVP Gold status, I was able to choose Main Cabin Extra seats for free (I’m bummed to see this benefit and the ability to earn Alaska miles on these flights going away next year!).

“I’ll take more legroom than first class for $0, Alex.”

Bottom line

This looks like a solid deal if you are already in need of a flight or hotel that costs anything north of $300 as even if you don’t get much value out of the Uber credit, it’s still a nice discount on the gift cards. Getting the round trip flight plus $250 in gift cards plus a few Uber rides plus a couple thousand Alaska Airlines miles on my itinerary for a total of $431.50 was a downright no-brainer in my book. With the Chicago Seminars and the FTU Signature & Expo coming up this fall (See: Meet the FM Team in Chicago and/or Ann Arbor), I have some travel plans that fit into the price point and this just worked out to be a much better deal than my alternatives.

H/T: Doctor of Credit

About Nick Reyes

Nick Reyes is a (fairly) regular guy with an animalistic passion for maximizing the value of miles and money to travel the world in comfort and style. There is little in life that he loves more than finding a fantastic deal and helping you shop smarter & harder to achieve your travel dreams.

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Comments

  1. I have no travel to book but want to take advantage of this deal. Thinking of hacking the system and booking a dummy flight on Alaska for $350 that spans the maximum 28 days, then canceling the flight directly with Alaska for credit. Total haul would be $350 in Alaska credit, 2 $25 Uber credits, and $250 in gift cards for $400 spend. Seems like a good deal to me!

    • First of all, you ‘could have been’ THAT guy who ruined it all- for others, by commenting this explicitly in public forum and but alas,your ‘hack’ won’t work as they credit you the gift card after you actually make the trip. There have been reports of denial if somebody cancels part of the trip.

  2. Thinking about how I could use this for a work trip… What does your receipt look like? Does your recipt show you paid the airline, or the 3rd party? Or does the AA confirmation look the same as normal, where it lists out ticket number and ticket price?

    • I’m not sure what the receipt looks like as Nick can likely comment on that. But typically with any 3rd party booking like this, you can request a receipt from the airline that will show the normal price. You can submit that receipt just fine.

    • So far pending on my CC says:

      Pending*
      UPSIDE WASHINTON DC
      TRAVEL AGENCY AND TOUR OPERATOR

      I’ve got to get my AA info up on the computer and I’ll give you a more complete answer in a little while. Good questions.

    • Ok, sorry for the delay. So my email doesn’t have the email address that Matt has below in the receipt from Upside, but it does include an email address (navigators@upside.com). I also received a personal email an hour or two after booking — a “navigator” (customer service person) emailed to say that they looked at my booking to make sure all was in order and checked and saw that my FF # and seats were added (I had done that myself on AA.com after booking and before she emailed me). She also gave me a heads up on an event going on during my trip — so it was pretty personalized. I will email her back right now and see if I can get a receipt like what you’re looking for. I know that people use it that way, so I imagine it’s possible.

      Unfortunately, I can’t seem to figure out how to do something other than just see, print, or email the itinerary on AA.com. I don’t see a link to print a receipt (like you’d find, for example, at United).

    • Related question – does the fare show up in your itinerary on aa.com? I’m curious as to whether these will post as normal fares (credited by spend) or bulk fares (credited by distance).

      • The fare does not show up. It says:

        ————————————————————
        Cost summary

        Please contact your travel agent for airfare or trip changes.
        —————————————————-

        I take that to mean “bulk”, but I’m not sure.

        • Yeah, generally that means it will credit by distance, which can be a plus or minus depending on the situation. In my case, it’s a big minus, but may go for it anyway. Thanks for the info.

    • I’ve seen it suggested that someone else could create an account and book a trip for you, but the terms state it is valid for new travelers only. I don’t know the answer.

      • Bought two 5* hotel packages in Banff, with the $250 gift card the cost is the same like staying in 3 star hotel. Thank you Nick!

  3. Nick,
    Maybe I am missing it. I have to book by tomorrow, but how long do I have before I actually take the trip.

    Also, do they have the ability to book Southwest? Or no.

    TIA

    • Mostly with poor addition. 🙂

      It should be $95. $431.50 – $336 (what I would have spent on the flight had I not done this deal) = $95. I basically paid $95 for the chance to get $250 in gift cards + 4 Uber rides of twenty five bucks each or less (which will most likely be less). Fixed.

      Odd thing is that I remember having those numbers ($65 and $95) and then changing them for some reason last night before I posted this. Can’t for the life of me think of why. Thanks for commenting!

  4. So many international airports missing from their site. Any way to book manually? Trying to book a trip to Budapest and it won’t come up. Also tried Prague and Cabo San Lucas. This is super frustrating.

  5. How far out can we book travel for? Also, what’s likelihood company will stay around if we book for Christmas travel and gift cards are doled out after travel is completed? Many thanks for heads-up on this deal!

  6. I was hoping to do this, but I applied for membership in the forum and it’s been pending all day, so I don’t have a promo code. Any suggestions? Thanks!

    • Hi Kerry. I’ve approved everyone who has requested to join that has answered the question (I’ve been approving them on the move from my phone all day knowing that this deal was limited-time). I just did a search of the group members and it looks like you are a member. It says you were added to the group yesterday — which, since I’m on the East Coast, I’m assuming means you got added Saturday. I’ve approved a lot of people over the past few days, so I’m not sure exactly when I approved you, but it looks like I did. Unfortunately, I think the referral code for $250 has died. It was through 8/19 and I believe it has ended. Bummer!

      Can you check anyway to see that you can see the Frequent Miler Insiders group? It definitely shouldn’t say pending….

    • Great question, Jan! When you book your business trip through Upside, you will always get the qualifying miles and segments you would normally receive for your flights. However, for applicable airlines, you may not receive – or only partially receive – the qualifying dollars. To find out how many miles and segments you will earn, please consult with United. If there are any other questions, please let us know! ✈️ ^SA

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