Need a ride to meet your friends at a bar this weekend? Budweiser and Lyft want to hook you up, thanks to a new program offering $20 worth of free round-trip Lyft rides every weekend for the rest of the year.
The deal, offered in nine states and the D.C. area as part of the two companies' Give a Damn campaign, is simple: Beginning Sept. 21, Budweiser will post a special code on its Facebook and Instagram accounts every Thursday at 2 p.m. The first 10,000 new or existing Lyft users to claim the code will receive two $10 ride credits valid between 5 p.m. and 5 a.m. over the next three days. If they're not used by Sunday morning, they disappear. (If the ride's under $10, it's free; if it costs more, you're responsible for the balance.)
A scaled-down scheme was pilot-tested last year, giving away 5,000 $10 Lyft credits to New York, Colorado, Illinois and Florida residents that could be used between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. This time, the value has been doubled and the hours have been extended to encourage people to use designated drivers before and after going out.
“We're offering round-trip rides to encourage people to plan ahead,” says Katja Zastrow, the vice president of Anheuser-Busch's Corporate Social Responsibility — Better World division (and, she adds, a former Adams Morgan resident).
If this idea sounds familiar, it's because of the Washington Regional Alcohol Program's SoberRide program, which offers Lyft codes for free rides home over holiday weekends, such as St. Patrick's Day and Halloween. Budweiser has been a long-term sponsor of SoberRide, Zastrow says.
Of course, the new campaign has its caveats. The 10,000 free rides can be claimed by people living in cities served by Lyft in New York, Texas, Florida, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Illinois, Missouri and Georgia, as well as around D.C., so anyone looking for a free ride is competing against millions of New Yorkers, Philadelphians, Bostonians and Atlantans.
The format also favors those who plan ahead: If you find yourself with a last minute invite to hang out with friends on Saturday, the codes will probably be long gone. Zastrow says that, during the pilot program, “we’d regularly see 100 percent of our available rides claimed by Thursday evening or Friday morning.”
Last year, the pilot program offered “up to 80,000 rides total” across the four jurisdictions, but according to Anheuser-Busch, they wound up providing 35,000 rides, or less than half of the maximum promised — even though Zastrow says all available rides were claimed. This year, the number has been raised to a total of 150,000.
Budweiser and Lyft haven't ruled out expanding the program with more credits and participating states in the future. “We'll see how the program rolls and, and what the response is,” Zastrow says. “We might offer more [redemption codes], we might offer more states. For Thanksgiving, we might start redemption on Wednesday.”
The free Lyft passes might wind up disappearing more quickly than tickets for a Foo Fighters concert, but if you want to save a few bucks going out this weekend, checking Budweiser's social media could be worth the effort.