Car-sharing showdown: UberX offers free rides in Lyft's new cities

UberX gives out free rides in St. Paul, Indianapolis, and Phoenix shortly after Lyft announces its launch in two of those cities.

Donna Tam Staff Writer / News
Donna Tam covers Amazon and other fun stuff for CNET News. She is a San Francisco native who enjoys feasting, merrymaking, checking her Gmail and reading her Kindle.
Donna Tam
2 min read

Following Lyft's simultaneous launch in three cities last week, Uber is offering free UberX rides in a trio of cities, the company said Thursday.

The two car-sharing services, which let users order cars from a smartphone app, continue to go head-to-head in US markets, but Uber is clearly trying to make a point: It's not afraid of some competition.

Uber is giving out free UberX rides for a few weeks this month in St. Paul, Phoenix, and Indianapolis. Two of those cities, St. Paul and Indianapolis, are newly launched Lyft cities.

Uber isn't in St. Paul officially, but it has launched in nearby Minneapolis, so it probably has been covering both areas. (Update: Uber officially only runs its black-car service in Minneapolis. The city has not been so hot on car-sharing services like Lyft and UberX, so it makes sense for Lyft to launch in St. Paul.)

Lyft also launched in Atlanta last week, so we may see some different UberX deals coming out of that city soon. It's unclear why Phoenix is in the mix, but, as we know, Uber is a big fan of promotions. The company is hoping that a ride in an UberX car will convince residents that they should choose the more upscale-style service over Lyft's more informal rides.

These three promotions highlight Uber's penchant for extravagance. To help kick off the deals, Uber turned to Indiana Pacers' shooting guard Paul George in Indianapolis, Vikings football players Harrison Smith and Toby Gerhart in St. Paul, and Jimmy Eat World's Jim Adkins in Phoenix.

The Uber promo details for the three cities:

St. Paul: Sept 5 - Sept 30 (*up to 5 rides, with a discount of up to $20 each)

Phoenix: Sept 5 - Sept 18 (*up to 3 rides, with a discount of up to $20 each)

Indianapolis: Sept 3 - Sept 30 (*up to 5 rides, with a discount of up to $20 each)

Lyft has also been running promos in its new cities. Riders get $10 off their first ride if they enter the promo codes "MSPAUL" for St. Paul and "INDIANA" for Indianapolis. In Phoenix, it has a more generous deal for first time riders -- enter "SPARKY" for $20 off.

UberX is the car-sharing service branch of Uber, which also offers taxi and black-car services. The company has a presence in more than 40 cities globally, including 22 in the US. Lyft, on the other hand, only does peer-to-peer car-sharing services. While it operates in only 10 US cities so far, the company tries to set itself apart by encouraging drivers to be create a fun and quirky vibe for rides, including attaching pink mustaches to cars.

Update, 9:45 a.m. PT: Added more information.