First time riding Uber? Important things you need to know

Uber iPhone app

Uber iPhone app

For the most part, Uber is amazing. The ability to request, track, and pay for a taxi at the tip of your fingers is a simple yet brilliant idea. With any new technology comes pros and cons.

Lately, in the news and online, there have been reports about issues with Uber drivers and passengers. How do you know what is true and what isn’t? Is Uber safe for you to ride?

If you are deciding to ride Uber for the first time, or even if you are a repeat customer, here are a few important things you should know.

What is Uber and how does it work?

When using Uber, the customer uses a smartphone app to request a driver. The closest driver is sent based on GPS coordinates of the customer’s location. The customer can track the driver on their smartphone. Fares are charged directly to a preloaded credit card, debit card, or PayPal (see below). Fares vary by type of vehicle (UberX, UberXL, Black, LUX, Taxi). Receipts are emailed directly to the customer’s email address after the ride is completed.

Uber is offered in 507 cities and 66 countries and expanding all the time to new destinations.

Uber offers promo codes and referrals for free or discounted rides

When you sign up for Uber, you will get your very own referral code. To earn credits, share your code with friends, family, your doctor, whoever. If they sign up and take a ride, you will get a $20 credit that can be applied towards your next Uber ride.

To find your code, simply sign in at http://www.uber.com, click on profile, and look for your code where it says Invite Code.

If you find this information useful and want to use my referral code, then you can enter at3706ue when you sign up for Uber. You will get $20 off your first ride if you enter this promo code into your Uber app. Are you looking for a Lyft code instead? No problem then, enter in the code LYFT36888 for $50 off your first Lyft rides.

Hungry? Uber also delivers food

Uber has since expanded into the on-demand food delivery market. At the moment, UberEATS is limited to major markets such as Los Angeles, Orange County, San Francisco, Chicago, and New York. There are plans to expand worldwide.

Instead of requesting a ride, you use your app to request food to be delivered directly to you.

All you have to do is open your UberEATS app and select a participating restaurant. After selecting a restaurant, you will be able to view their menu and add food items to your cart. You even have the option of customizing your order exactly as you choose.

Estimated delivery times are listed for each restaurant, just be aware that an UberEATS booking fee of $3.99 will be added to each order. While tipping is not required nor expected, it’s always nice to throw your driver down with a few extra dollars.

Looking for an UberEATS promo code? Simply enter this code into your UberEATS app to receive $15 off your first order: eats-at3706ue.

There are multiple types of Uber vehicles with different prices

What is the difference of UberX vs UberXL? Should I take Uber Black or Uber LUX? These are questions first-time riders often ask themselves. Luckily, Uber offers many different levels of services, prices, and cars. All you have to do is pick the one that is right for you.

Here is a breakdown of some of the different Uber cars and services:

UberX: UberX is what I use the most. When using UberX, expect everyday vehicles and hybrids that are owned by the driver themselves. UberX is cheaper than a regular on the street taxi and offers better service (in my opinion).

UberXL: The main difference between UberX and UberXL is the size of the vehicle. UberXL is for passengers who need to fit up to six people in a larger SUV. Prices are a little more than UberX but in the long run cheaper if you split the fare between more passengers.

Uber Black: Black car service is usually more professional with higher end cars and higher prices. Think of it as your own private driver without the hassle of finding one. Uber Black vehicles include Chevrolet Suburbans and Cadillac Escalade

Uber SUV: Similar to UberXL, but more expensive with higher-end vehicles.

Uber Select: Uber Select lets you travel in style at an affordable rate. Sleek and stylish cars include BMW, Lexus, and Mercedes.

Uber LUX: The highest service possible along with the highest prices and high-end vehicles. Something you would use for a special occasion or if you are rich and like to travel in style.

Uber Taxi: Just like a normal taxi, but part of Uber. Same taxis you are used to but you don’t have to worry about exchanging money and you don’t have to worry about flagging the taxi down on the street.

Rates vary by city. To find the rate in the city of your choice, check out https://www.uber.com/cities. Also remember that rates can vary by weather, traffic conditions, and road conditions.

Uber drivers are rated…and so are you

After completing a ride, you can use your Uber smartphone app to rate your experience with your driver. These ratings help keep drivers at their best and ensure an enjoyable experience.

What happens when drivers have a low rating? They can be suspended or banned from working with Uber.

Surprisingly, Uber drivers can also rate you, the passenger. Passengers who receive low ratings can also be banned from using Uber. You know who you are…

Uber offers great coupons such as $50 off

This is probably one of the best things about Uber. They often have coupons up to $50 off (usually for new users only). But once in a while they will have coupons or offer other promotions for all users. This is a great way to make your Uber ride a little bit cheaper or even free.

A little bit of a heads up. If you are a new user and using a coupon, often the coupons will only work for your first ride. So if you have a $50 coupon, and your first ride is $10, you lose the remaining value.

You can get a fare estimate before requesting a ride

Worried about how much your Uber ride is going to cost you? No need to worry. The Uber app will give you an estimate of your fare from Point A to Point B before you ride.

All you need to do is set your pick up location and press “Fare Estimate” in the bottom left-hand corner before you request a ride. Simply enter your destination and the Uber app will estimate the fare for you.

In my experience, the fare estimate is pretty actuate, sometimes even overestimated.

Watch out for surge pricing

During certain peak usage times, Uber implements something called surge pricing. During these periods, Uber increases rates. Uber claims that surge pricing ensures that cars are more available during these busy times. Surge prices are often 1 to 2 times the normal rates.

How do you know when surge pricing is in effect? Before you request a ride, the app will notify you of surge pricing in big bold print so that you understand the cost before you accept.

Even though Uber has taken steps to ensure all riders know beforehand about surge pricing, they still have many disgruntled users that feel they got scammed. So be careful about surge pricing.

You don’t have to tip or even exchange money

Uber does not use cash or exchange any money between drivers and passengers.

When you create a new Uber account, you must add a credit card or debit card to your account. When your ride is complete, your method of payment is automatically charged. Drivers get 80% of the fare while Uber gets 20%.

No exchanging of cash, no tip, it’s that simple.

Uber drivers are safe and insured…maybe

Luckily, I have never had an issue with Uber and believe it is safe. But what happens if you were inside a vehicle that was in an accident?

First of all, all drivers are supposed to have past background checks, DMV checks, and have personal auto insurance.

Uber claims that all drivers have a $1 million policy that covers drivers in case they get into an accident and their personal insurance fails. Some government officials claim that Uber, and other competitors, may not be covered by insurance.

Who is right? To be honest, I am not really sure. But it does seem like the media dislikes Uber and some claims are frivolous. Also, non-Uber taxi drivers aren’t too happy with Uber and make sure their local elected officials are clearly aware of this.

Uber has competitors

Uber may be the most popular of the group, but there is competition such as Sidecar and Lyft which keeps prices in check. Uber does have the most competitive prices though and is much cheaper than regular taxis.

Conclusion

Uber is great and I will continue using it.

Stories on the news trying to scare you into thinking that Uber is unsafe are mostly untrue. Are there a few bad apples? Of course. Could you get into an accident while riding in an Uber vehicle? Sure. These risks are no different than riding in a regular taxi.

Even with the small risks and surge pricing, Uber will continue to have my business as my personal taxi whenever I need it.

For $20 off your first Uber ride, use promo code at3706ue. Are you looking for a Lyft code instead? No problem then, enter in the code LYFT36888 for $50 off your first Lyft rides.

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24 Comments

  • Reply
    Chris
    November 16, 2015 at 3:40 pm

    Thanks for the information!

    In a few weeks, I’ll be looking for a ride to my local airport at a very early hour, on a Saturday. Is it possible to reserve such a ride, a day in advance? Or do I have to take my chances the day of, hoping that there will be available rides in my area at that time?

    • Reply
      Anthony
      November 20, 2015 at 8:23 pm

      Chris,

      Unfortunately, you can’t reserve an Uber driver in advance.

      Unless you live in a small market with very few drivers, you should have no issue with finding an Uber driver within minutes of your request. Uber drivers are available 24 hours a day.

  • Reply
    Danielle
    December 24, 2015 at 7:16 pm

    What about using UBER on New Year’s Eve? Would this be a time we should expect surge pricing? Most taxi’s give you a free ride home on this day in my area…..

    • Reply
      Anthony
      December 28, 2015 at 7:03 am

      Danielle,

      Yes, surge pricing would be quite likely in the hours before and after midnight on New Year’s Eve.

  • Reply
    Bob
    February 4, 2016 at 8:05 am

    How do I arrange for a round trip Uber? I am in downtown SF and have to pick up a package in San Jose, I will only be 5 or so minutes in San Jose, then need a return trip. How do I book this on uber ?

    • Reply
      Anthony
      February 6, 2016 at 7:01 pm

      Bob,

      I would just book your Uber as normal. Select San Francisco as your pick up location and San Jose as your detestation.

      When your Uber driver is on their way, use the app to contact your driver by phone. It’s simple and quick. When you have your driver on the line, just explain your situation and what you need. I’m sure it shouldn’t be a problem. If for some reason it is, have the driver cancel the trip and repeat the process with another driver. You shouldn’t be waiting for more than a few minutes since San Francisco has plenty of drivers available.

  • Reply
    Brian evans
    June 10, 2016 at 4:22 pm

    When I did a fare estimate it said 10-14 dollars how does it work for this never used uber b4

    • Reply
      Anthony
      June 10, 2016 at 6:31 pm

      Brian,

      When you enter in your location and destination, you can view a fare estimate. You can expect to pay this fare on you ride.

      In my experience, the fare is usually almost always correct and often less.

      Just remember that the fare can vary due to traffic and other unforeseen circumstances.

  • Reply
    Erin
    June 20, 2016 at 4:00 am

    Can you use Uber if you have wifi but no cell service?

    • Reply
      Anthony
      June 20, 2016 at 7:35 am

      Erin,

      Yes.

      If you have WiFi you can request a ride on Uber even if you do not have cell service. Just make sure you know who your driver is and the exact location of pickup in case you lose WiFi.

  • Reply
    Carol
    July 4, 2016 at 5:43 am

    Did I understand correctly that you do not tip Uber drivers? When I entered my credit card it requested I indicate a tip percentage.

    • Reply
      Anthony
      July 4, 2016 at 7:49 am

      Carol,

      In certain cities, such as Boston, you can request a normal taxi through the Uber app. This tip only applies in that situation. Otherwise, you never tip Uber drivers through the app.

  • Reply
    Debra House
    July 29, 2016 at 3:44 pm

    I’ve seen in news stories that Uber drivers do not like to pickup handicapped persons, like those with canes, etc. Is this true becauseI am handicapped and need a ride to the doctors office but am afraid to use Uber. Please give me an honest answer!

    • Reply
      Anthony
      August 16, 2016 at 3:53 pm

      Debra,

      While I do not have any first hand experience with any sort of discrimination against Uber passengers with disabilities or handicaps, I can give you some useful information.

      Uber offers two services, UberWAV and uberASSIST. UberWAV drivers are experienced with passengers in wheelchairs who require ramps or lifts for transportation. uberASSIST drivers are trained to drive those with disabilities who do not require a ramp or lift. uberASSIST is great for seniors or those with walking disabilities.

      While I do not think you will have any issues using UberX, I recommend you give uberASSIST a try as the driver will have experience with passengers with handicaps.

  • Reply
    Molly Munthri
    September 4, 2016 at 2:26 pm

    Hi,
    We are a group of 4 adults with luggage. How can I request a suitable vehicle?

    • Reply
      Anthony
      September 10, 2016 at 12:34 am

      Molly,

      For a group of four adults with luggage, you probably would want to request an UberXL. If you want to splurge a little, you could also request Uber Black or Uber SUV. All three will have enough room but each are more expensive than the last.

  • Reply
    Roslyn
    October 9, 2016 at 1:56 pm

    What is the least expensive car for me to order?

    • Reply
      Anthony
      October 9, 2016 at 10:25 pm

      Roslyn,
      o
      The least expensive Uber option is Uber Pool. If Uber Poll is not available in your location, the next cheapest option is UberX.

  • Reply
    Des Fortune
    November 2, 2016 at 11:55 am

    Hi Anthony, great article just a quick question about tipping. I’m from Ireland and we normally tip 10%, is there any expectation in the US, I’m in Chicago soon and don’t want to offend! Thanks. Des

    • Reply
      Anthony
      November 2, 2016 at 7:49 pm

      Des,

      Good question. No, you will not offend by not tipping your Uber driver. They will not expect a tip, but some people still do. In certain situations, I have given a tip to a driver if they went out of their way during the ride. To be honest, I rarely have cash on me, and you can’t tip using the Uber app, so 98% of the time I never tip and no problems.

  • Reply
    Angel
    April 23, 2017 at 1:18 pm

    I will be travelling with a family of 4 with 3 checked in baggages and a carryon. Can uberx fit us or do I need to get uberxl?

    • Reply
      Anthony
      April 25, 2017 at 4:53 pm

      Angel,

      I would recommend you request an UberXL for the added room for your luggage.

  • Reply
    Tatyana
    December 4, 2017 at 7:23 pm

    Hello Antony,
    I am panning to use Uber for a distance outside GTA to Toronto airport. Two people and 2 pieces of baggage. would Uber X be suitable?

    • Reply
      Anthony
      December 5, 2017 at 10:28 pm

      Tatyana,

      Unless your baggage is ridiculously oversized, I don’t think this should be a problem.

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