The lives of taxi drivers will likely never be the same as the taxi industry has been flipped on its head over the past 10 years.
The first breakout success of the gig economy came in the form of the ridesharing service Uber, which began its journey in 2009.
Since then, the Silicon Valley darling has grown into a household name servicing almost 800 metropolitan areas worldwide. With over two million drivers, Uber’s ridesharing minions scoot around cities making urban transportation a little more convenient for city dwellers.
There are many articles out there that talk about the various aspects of Uber. We thought it’d be helpful to give you everything you need all in one place.
Below is a definitive guide to Uber that’ll help you decide if you want to ride or drive with Uber.
What Is Uber?
Uber is a ride-hailing service that allows drivers to use their own vehicles to pick up passengers at an affordable rate. Not only does it provide riders with a convenient way to get around congested cities, it also provides drivers with an opportunity to make money by using their own car as a side hustle or a full-time income.
Co-founders Garrett Camp and Travis Kalanick formed Uber in 2009 after Camp — who came up with the idea — was inconvenienced by a steep $800 private driver bill on New Year’s Eve. After launching its app and services in San Francisco, California in 2011, Uber has expanded to almost 800 metropolitan areas. Along the way, it has paved the way for other gig companies and is still the market leader in the U.S. ridesharing business.
Initially setting out with the goal of reducing the costs of direct transportation, Uber’s business model morphed into providing services like Uber Eats — its food delivery service — and Uber JUMP Bikes, which are dockless Uber bikes that you can also rent through the Uber app.
Under the new leadership of Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber has also moved into developing the future of mobility by getting into the self-driving car and autonomous freight business.
Have you taken a ride with Uber already? If not, let’s get into the good stuff and show you how to use and save money with Uber.
Ride With Uber
Uber is a convenient choice for getting from A to B in urban areas. It’s typically a quick, reliable, and extremely user-friendly form of transportation. So how do you use Uber?
How to Use Uber
Getting set up to become an Uber rider is pretty easy. You just need to follow three simple steps.
- Download the Uber app and create an account: You can download the smartphone app from either the App Store or Google Play. Once you download the rider app you’ll need to set up your account which consists of providing your name, email, phone number, and a credit card or debit card.
- Request your first ride: After your account is set up, you can type in your destination and select which form of transportation you’d like. You’ll see the price of the ride before you submit your ride request.
- Wait for your ride and then hop in your Uber: As your Uber driver is on his or her way to the pickup location, you’ll be able to see driver details like their profile picture, their driver ratings, and what their Uber vehicle looks like. You can track their location in real time as they drive to your pickup spot. Once your Uber ride arrives, you hop in and get on your way. After you reach the dropoff location, you simply get out of the Uber car and you’ll be automatically charged through the app.
How Much Does Uber Cost?
When using Uber as a passenger, you’ll be required to pay a fee for every ride you take. Uber implements upfront pricing, so you’ll always know ahead of time what your trip fare will be before you submit your ride reservation.
Uber uses dynamic pricing, so every ride fare that you purchase will be different than the last. There are many factors and variables that go into each Uber rate, however, you’ll always see a flat fee base fare, a distance rate, and a time rate on your ride receipt.
For example, Uber pricing will be affected by factors like drive time, distance driven, time of day, driver supply, rider demand, surge pricing, cancellation fees, and if you need to pay any tolls. Plus if you’re a nice rider and would like to pay it forward, you have the option of tipping your driver.
You can also decide to save cash by sharing your ride with other passengers by selecting UberPOOL, which picks up multiple people at once.
If you’d like an even more accurate gauge of how much you’ll pay on your next Uber trip, then you can always open your app and see your Uber fare estimate before you take your ride, which we’ll explain next.
Uber Fare Estimate
Before every ride, you’re able to see Uber’s upfront fare. After typing in your destination, you’ll be shown an Uber fare estimate.
For the most part, this Uber estimate is the price you’ll need to pay after the completion of your ride. In very few instances will the fare be different than the one you committed to.
Reasons for receiving different Uber prices than originally quoted could be that you added stops onto your ride while it was in progress, you changed your destination mid-trip, or there are extreme unanticipated delays due that add on substantial time or distance to your trip.
If you’d like additional ways to estimate your next Uber fare, you could always use Uber’s Fare Calculator on its website. There’s also this Uber Fare Estimator tool from our friends over at Ridester. Just put in your current location and destination to see how much your fare will cost.
If you want to make the deal a little bit sweeter and save a little money on your next fare, you could also look into using an Uber promo code.
Use an Uber Promo Code
Uber implements a handful of promo codes to lure in new customers, increase usage of existing customers, and bring on additional customers through referrals. These promo codes are like Uber coupon codes that give riders discounted or in some cases free Uber rides on its platform.
As a first time rider of Uber, you should be able to receive your first ride for free, as long as it doesn’t exceed $10. New user promo codes vary, but we dug up the following Uber codes that are the most current promotions Uber is running for new customers.
You can apply the following promo codes to your first ride to receive a $10 free credit:
In regards to existing riders of Uber, the promo codes are much harder to come across. The best current Uber offer that we could dig up was the $10 referral bonus that riders can share with their friends.
This Uber referral code not only credits the existing rider with a free $10, but it also shares that discount with the new rider who received the promo code.
To share your $10 discount code you simply open your app, tap the menu button, select “Free Rides,” and then copy your promo code to send to your friend. Once they take their first ride, you’ll be credited with $10 in your Uber account.
Use an Uber Gift Card
Another way to save a few bucks and lower your ride cost is by using an Uber gift card on your next ride. Uber gift cards are a great present to give to loved ones and also a great present to receive.
With the holiday season right around the corner, asking for an Uber gift card might not be a bad idea. It would surely be better than last year’s gift of socks and white T-shirts.
If you want to purchase an Uber gift card, you can pick one up from quite a few major stores, like Target, Walmart, or Kroger. You can also purchase one online from some of these stores or from Uber directly. If you purchase online, then you would receive your gift card via email delivery.
Once you’ve purchased your card, it’s time to apply your gift code to your next purchase. Simply open the app, tap the menu icon and select “Payment.” Then tap “Add payment method” and select “Gift card.” Lastly, enter your gift code that appears on your gift card.
Your newly added Uber credits will be used as the default payment option on your next purchase. You can switch to a secondary payment method if you prefer to not use your gift card just quite yet.
Note that you cannot reload or add value to your gift card balance, but you can put up to $1,000 on one gift card.
Visit Uber for full terms and conditions regarding Uber gift cards.
Now that we covered nearly everything on the rider’s side of Uber, let’s go into further detail if you’re thinking about becoming an Uber driver.
Drive With Uber
Driving for Uber is an excellent way to earn some extra cash. You can decide to drive on the side as a part-time job or you can jump right in and start driving full-time. Regardless, Uber drivers are able to set their own hours, have a flexible work schedule, and have the luxury of being their own boss.
So what is required to become a rideshare driver and start earning some extra income?
Uber Driver Requirements
In order to become an Uber driver, you’ll need to prove that you’re a safe driver with a relatively clean record, you have a vehicle that passes Uber’s standards, and you’re at least 21 years of age.
For the most part, the requirements for becoming a driver are consistent across the United States. The complete list of driver requirements is as follows:
- Must be 21 years of age
- Have a valid driver’s license and Social Security number
- Have access to an eligible four-door vehicle to drive
- Valid vehicle registration, license plates, and auto insurance policy with your name on the policy
- Apple iPhone or Android capable of operating the Uber app
- Photo for your driver profile
- Clean criminal background
- Relatively clean driving record
One part of Uber’s application process consists of a background check that makes sure drivers have a clean criminal and driving record. Applicants that have felonies, violent crimes, sexual harassment offenses, or are registered sex offenders will be disqualified from driving for Uber.
In regards to the driver screening aspect, Uber checks to make sure that you have at least one year of licensed driving experience (three years if you’re under 23 years old), no major violations within the past seven years, and no more than three minor violations in the past three years.
To give you an idea, a major violation consists of violations like DUIs, reckless driving, or failure to stop, and minor violations are blemishes like speeding tickets and other minor traffic violations.
How Much Do Uber Drivers Make?
A recent driver earnings survey conducted by Ridester reports that the median income for UberX drivers is about $13.70 per hour and reaches to only $14.73 per hour after tips are included.
This estimate doesn’t account for driving and vehicle expenses that can pull driver earnings to below $10 per hour. Note that drivers are responsible for their own expenses, like maintenance costs, and are considered independent contractors. This means that you’ll be responsible for setting aside money for taxes at the end of the year.
This isn’t entirely promising seeing as driver income is barely above minimum wage in most areas. This is quite a stark difference from the driver pay that Uber portrays on its marketing materials.
It’s also important to note that what a driver makes is largely dependent on how much you drive, which city you’re driving in, and if you decide to be on the road during peak hours.
For instance, larger markets like New York City, Chicago, or Los Angeles will produce larger fares than less popular markets. Also, drivers who elevate their driving game and put in longer hours during peak times are more likely to make more money driving. If you consider Uber driving a full-time job and are always on the clock, then you’ll obviously pull in more income.
To give you some comparison, we’ll take a look at how Uber sizes up to its biggest competitor, Lyft.
Uber vs Lyft: Which Should You Drive For?
Uber and Lyft are the two biggest ride-hailing car services in the U.S. While Uber has been around longer, Lyft is making significant steps to catch up with its big brother.
The two rideshare apps offer similar services but have subtle differences here and there. Both platforms have an almost identical driver and vehicle requirements, with the onboarding process also being very similar. Driver earnings also come in right around the same for these platforms.
Some say that Uber has more driver options and vehicle types — like UberBLACK, UberSUV, and UberXL — that allow you to reach a more high-end business clientele. This is great if you have access to a luxury car that can demand higher fares.
Uber has gone through some terrible legal turmoil with its drivers over the years, so the relationship is slightly strained to say the least.
Lyft, on the other hand, is slightly more laid back. Based on our qualitative research of scouring driver forums and comment sections, Lyft drivers seem to have more positive feelings and attitudes towards the company.
Overall, the Lyft app has similar functionalities for drivers, like “prime time,” which is Lyft’s equivalent of surge pricing. Lyft also has multiple luxury vehicle options — like Lyft Lux, Lyft Lux Black, and Lyft Lux XL — however, they aren’t as readily available in all cities like Uber’s offerings.
As for which ridesharing app you should drive for, at the end of the day it’s up to you to decide which one is a better fit for you. If you like them both, you can even drive for Uber and Lyft at the same time.
Uber Customer Service
When it comes to customer service and driver support, Uber has several ways for drivers and riders to get ahold of them. Let’s take a look at driver support first.
Drivers may sometimes need to get ahold of driver support to address problems like account issues, difficult passengers, or even reporting an accident.
If you’re a driver and need to get ahold of Uber, you can use the following contacts depending on what your issue is:
- 24/7 Uber helpline: (800) 593-7069
- Critical safety response line (emergencies only): (800) 285-6172
- In-app support
- In-person at Greenlight Hubs (if available in your city)
- Online at help.uber.com
As a rider, there may come a time when you need to contact Uber customer service. Most commonly, Uber users need to reach out to customer service to retrieve a lost item from a previous Uber ride.
If you’re a rider and need to get ahold of Uber, you can use the following contacts depending on what your issue is:
- Critical safety response line (emergencies only): (800) 285-6172
- In-app support
- Online help section at help.uber.com
- Twitter support: @Uber_support
- Facebook support
Believe it or not, Uber doesn’t offer riders accessible phone support to call up. The only Uber phone number they provide is for emergencies only.
Get on the Road
Whether you’re someone who wants to try out Uber for the first time or you’re interested in becoming an Uber partner to make some extra money in your spare time, you should have all the information you need to make your decision.
Some passengers prefer the Uber experience for finding reliable rides that don’t cost a fortune. Likewise, some drivers see value in driving for Uber over other competitors.
If it’s a matter of Lyft vs Uber, then we suggest you download and sign up for both apps and give them a shot. You can always decide after you see firsthand the pros and cons of each.
No spam, just stories.
Subscribe to the Gigworker.com newsletter and never miss a gig-economy story.
*We don't spam, we promise.