How to get a free ride after a night out

Drinking and driving is never a good idea, yet statistically South Africa has one of the worst drink driving rates in the world and every year thousands of people die or are severely injured as a result of drink related driving accidents. Some banks have stepped in to provide ‘take me home services’, which give free rides to their customers after a night out. Angelique Ruzicka surveys the offerings and finds out how consumers can take advantage of them.

Let’s face it: being the designated driver who keeps to the legal limit, while everyone else is having a good time, is never fun. However, with South Africa’s notoriously high drunk driving rates it’s the necessary and mature thing to do if you want to have fun on a night out. But not many people follow this reasoning.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) 55% of all road traffic deaths in South Africa involve alcohol. Figures produced by South Africans Against Drunk Driving (SADD) show that in the first six months of 2014 almost 8,500 people were killed on South Africa’s roads, while 77,234 people were injured and 4,709 were paralysed.

A number of companies, including banks and insurers, have since stepped in to provide ‘take me home services’ to their clients. Three of the big four banks: Standard Bank, Absa and FNB offer a certain number of free rides per year to customers. Nedbank does not yet offer this service but some insurers offer them too, including Santam and First for Women. So if you’re a Nedbank customer, find out if one of your insurers offer a ‘take me home’ service instead.

Here’s how the offerings from the major banks stack up:

FNB

How do you qualify?

The take me home service will transport FNB Standalone Petro Cardholders, Linked Platinum Petro holders, FNB Private Clients Petro and RMB Private Bank Petro holders.

What distances and cities are covered?

The service covers a 50km radius of the city centres in Durban, Johannesburg, Cape Town, Pretoria, East London and George.

How many free trips do I get?

Six free trips per annum.

What happens when the trips are finished?

Once the six trips have been used customers may continue to use the service at a charge of R450 (excluding VAT) per trip.

How much notice you have to give to make a booking?

Between two and 48 hours’ notice.

Standard Bank

How do you qualify?

The service is free for Standard Bank customers on the following accounts:

Excludes business current accounts: Achiever Electronic, Elite, Prestige, Private Banking, Private Clients and Consolidator.

How many free trips do I get?

Customers have access to four free pick-ups per annum.

What distances and cities are covered?

The service offers customers (plus a maximum of two passengers) a free driver service. Customers are covered for the first 50kms of their trip. Distances exceeding 50kms are for the customer’s account.

What happens when the trips are finished?

If you need additional trips beyond the four offered Europ Assistance will facilitate the booking but you will have to pay for the additional trips at a 30% discount off the full rate then payable. “The full Europ Assist rate is R642. With the 30% discount, customers will be charged R450,” a Standard Bank spokesperson explains.

How much notice you have to give to make a booking?

Bookings can be made at any time with the last booking being at 1am and last pick up at 3am. Bookings can be arranged by calling the Europ Assistance call centre on 0861 224 555

Absa

How do you qualify?

The service is available to the following account holders: Gold Value Bundle

Platinum Value Bundle, Spouse Gold Value Bundle; Spouse Platinum Value Bundle. Private Bank holders with the following accounts: Exceller Account, Marhaba Account, Private Bank Cheque Account, Private Bank Senior Account, Private Electronic Account and the Practise Management Transactional Account can also use this service.

How many free trips do I get?

This depends on the type of account you have: Gold Value Bundle and Spouse Gold Value Bundle account holders get six trips per year. Platinum Value Bundle and Spouse Platinum Value Bundle account holders however get eight trips per year.

What distances and cities are covered?

The pick-up or drop-off point must be within the Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town, Durban, East London, Port Elizabeth or the George metropolitan area.

What happens when the trips are finished?

You pay R320 per trip within a 50km radius after that it’s R10 per km.

How much notice you have to give to make a booking?

Where possible, bookings should be made at least 48 hours in advance.

So when planning a night out on the town, the key is to include your travel arrangements in that plan. If you’re happy to stay sober for the night then appoint yourself the designated driver. But if you know that alcohol will prove too much of a lure then organising a ride home could truly be a life saver.

To save money, take advantage of the free rides you are allowed under your bank’s benefits and thereafter compare fares with other providers to make sure you are getting the best deal.