Ride-sharing apps are everywhere, and more popular than ever!
The most famous of these, Uber, is available all over the world and is almost certain to be operating in your city.
Uber has a lot of features, and getting to know all of them will ensure you get the most out of this immensely popular, immensely useful app.
But if you’ve never downloaded the app and given the rideshare service a shot, where do you start?
You may have heard of Uber, but do you understand how the service works, how to hail a ride, and what ride options you have?
In this article, we’ll cover all of these topics and then some. By the time we’re done, you’ll know exactly what to expect when you hail your first ride.
- What Is Uber?
- Getting Started With the Uber App
- Requesting Your First Ride
- Completing the Ride
- Other Features
- Frequently Asked Questions About How to Use Uber
- Wrapping Up
What Is Uber?
Uber is a service that uses a smartphone app to connect private drivers with riders. Essentially, it takes the traditional concept of a taxi and improves it with technology.
Whereas you have to call a phone number or wave to a pssing driver to get a taxi, you can summon an Uber with just a few taps on your smartphone.
Paying for your ride is easy, too — all payment occurs within the app, meaning you don’t have to pull out your credit card or handle cash.
The key thing that makes Uber work, however, is that the drivers aren’t employees of the company who use company vehicles.
Instead, Uber drivers are just regular people who use their personal vehicles to transport passengers. This lets Uber save lots of money compared to a traditional taxi company, which means lower prices for you as a customer.
Getting Started With the Uber App
Uber is an app that connects riders with drivers. As such, you need to have an account on your phone so that drivers know who they’re picking up, and so that your ride receipts and ratings are tracked for future reference.
When you download Uber to your phone, you will be prompted to set up an account. You will not be able to book a ride until you do!
1. Download the App
The first step to hailing your first ride with Uber is downloading the app and creating your Uber account.
2. Account Registration
Once you’ve downloaded the smartphone app, you can quickly create your account.
You must have an account to use Uber. This is for both your and your driver’s safety and allows everyone to know who they’re riding with.
Do this within the app or by heading to the online signup page. You need to give your name, phone number, email address, and password. You’ll also need to upload a payment method in the form of a credit card or debit card.
When signing up, you have the option to use a promo code. Uber offers promo codes to give you additional riding credits when first signing up.
3. Enable Location Services
Location services allow Uber to track where you are when you need a ride. You can approve location services through the Uber app to track one of three ways.
If you enable location services all the time, Uber can gather location data whether you’re using the app or not.
You can also enable location services only while using the app, or disable it entirely. If you disable location services, you’ll have to enter your location manually when you want to be picked up.
Whichever you choose, be sure to remember so you don’t get caught out waiting for a driver who doesn’t know where you are!
4. Payment Methods
To pay for your rides, you’ll have to link a payment method to your Uber account. You can link a credit or debit card to your account and your fares will be automatically charged to your card at the end of your ride.
Requesting Your First Ride
Uber works by connecting you to a pool of active drivers. You share your pickup location and where you want to be dropped off, and one of your potential riders accepts the ride.
Your details are shared with them and their details are shared with you, including their license plate, driver rating, and name.
1. Setting Your Location
If you enable location services, your approximate location will be shared with surrounding drivers. If you disabled location services, you’ll have to enter the location yourself so drivers know where to pick you up from.
You will see your location on the map represented by a little black pin, and you can shift that pin around to show your driver exactly where you want to be picked up from.
2. Choosing Your Destination
When you request a ride, you’ll need to choose a destination for dropoff. This is how your price is calculated and shows your driver the length of the trip you’re requesting.
When you open the app, it should automatically pull up your current location.
You can then enter your desired destination. You can also set a different pick-up location if you want to be picked up elsewhere.
3. Uber Types
When you’re booking an Uber ride, you’ll inevitably notice that there are different types of Uber vehicle types available.
Uber offers a range of ride services to suit your needs. It’s important to know the difference between these rides in order to pick the best service for you:
- UberX: Popular low-cost ride option. This is the basic, default Uber service. You’ll get a four-door vehicle that can hold up to four passengers
- UberPool: Similar to UberX except you’re riding with other passengers along the way. Rides take longer, but are cheaper if you’re not in a hurry
- UberXL: similar to UberX, but instead vehicles hold up to six. Due to the larger size, UberXL will cost a bit more than UberX. It’s the ride to choose if you have a large group of people or just need to carry lots of large items.
- Uber Select: Slightly nicer service than an UberX
- Uber Black: White glove service in a black, luxury vehicle
- Uber Black SUV: Luxury service for larger groups
- Uber Comfort: Similar to standard UberX options with added legroom
- Uber Assist: Extra assistance provided to those who need a helping hand
- Uber WAV: Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles so everyone can ride
Uber provides a number of other ride services which you can check out in the app.
4. Understanding Ride Fares and Surge Charging
Uber charges you based on the distance of your ride. The longer you want to go, the more you have to pay!
On top of this, to manage congestion and competition at peak times, there is a surcharge at key times throughout the day called “surge charging”.
Surge charging takes place during peak morning and afternoon traffic times, as well as after major events or closing times for local bars and clubs. Plan ahead accordingly and leave a little earlier or later to avoid surge charges on your ride.
5. Confirming Your Ride
After you enter your information, you’ll see an estimated pick-up time, the duration of your ride, and how much you’ll be charged. Schedule your rides immediately or set up rides for a later time.
Once you have checked your pickup and dropoff locations, chosen the type of ride you want, and seen the fare estimation, you can go ahead and confirm your ride.
If everything looks good, you can confirm your ride. Once you’ve done this, Uber will connect you with the pool of available drivers in your area. One will accept your ride, and they’ll make their way to you!
6. Wait for the Driver to Pick You Up
Once your driver begins making their way to you, you will be able to track their progress on a map of your area.
You can monitor the driver’s real-time location in the Uber app, as well as how long until they reach you.
Be sure that you’re in the pick-up spot you specified, as being in the wrong location can delay your pick-up.
Contacting Your Driver
If at any time you need to contact your driver or your driver needs to contact you, you both have the ability to contact one another through the app by phone or by text.
You might use that to give your driver more specific directions, or they might contact you to warn you of traffic delays or difficulty finding your pickup location.
7. Get Picked Up
Within the app, you can see your driver navigate to your location as you wait for your ride to arrive.
Your driver will be able to send a text message through a chat feature or call you through the app if they have any questions or need help finding the pick-up spot.
When your driver arrives, you’ll be sent a notification that they’re there.
Drivers oftentimes drive for both Uber and Lyft, so understand that they are typically trying to complete as many rides as possible during their shift, so it’s important that you’re respectful of their time.
You’ll have approximately five minutes to locate and hop into the vehicle.
Remember, if you’re having trouble finding your driver, you can always communicate through the Uber app.
If you’re unable to get to your ride in a reasonable amount of time, you’ll be charged a cancellation fee.
All Uber drivers go through periodic background checks and must meet strict requirements before they can drive, to ensure riders have a safe experience. However, before getting into your Uber vehicle, you should make sure you’re getting into the right car.
You should run through a quick checklist before hopping into what could be a random car.
You’ll be given your driver’s name, vehicle brand, color, and license plate number. Check these to make sure your ride is correct.
You should also ask the driver through the window if they’re here to pick you up. It’s also always good to compare the vehicle’s license plate number to the license number that the Uber app gives you.
Once everything is confirmed, you can hop in and enjoy your ride.
8. Enjoy the Ride
Once you’re in the car, you can sit back and relax.
Make small talk with your driver if you like, or sit in silence if you prefer. Drivers are used to both types of passengers, and they won’t be offended if you’d rather just have a quiet ride.
Your driver will have step-by-step directions to get to your location. The only thing you need to worry about is enjoying the ride.
Also, don’t be afraid to ask the driver to do anything (reasonable) to make your ride more comfortable, including adjusting the air conditioning or changing the music.
Always be courteous when in your Uber vehicle. This includes keeping the vehicle clean, being kind to the driver, and maintaining a safe and comfortable experience for both parties.
This goes both ways. If you ever feel uncomfortable or have a negative experience, you can reflect that in your driver’s rating or reach out to customer support and let them know what the issue was.
7. Get Dropped Off
Once you’ve reached your destination, thank your driver and exit the ride.
Don’t be afraid to give them instructions if your drop-off location is difficult to see or navigate. Your Uber driver will appreciate the help, as their navigation app won’t always show precisely where you need to go.
Completing the Ride
Once you’ve reached your destination, your ride has been comfortable and prompt, and you’ve had a pleasant conversation with your driver — or not, whatever you prefer! — there are a few more steps to take to conclude the ride process:
Payment is automatically deducted through your account from whatever payment method you’ve set up.
2. Leave Your Driver a Rating
After your ride, you’ll be given the opportunity to give your driver a star rating.
Did they play good music, offer great conversation, or have a particularly comfortable car? You can mention these things in feedback for other riders to see.
Rating and feedback are also valuable for pointing out a driver who made you feel endangered or who drove too fast, so other riders can see the rating of that driver.
Your ratings are not directly tied to your account, so neither the driver nor other riders will know which review is yours.
Your driver will also be able to rate you, and other drivers will be able to see your ratings.
3. Leave a Tip (Optional)
After you rate your driver, you’ll have the option to leave them a tip.
Tipping is never required with Uber, but it is a great way to show your appreciation for excellent service and help your driver offset the expense of operating and maintaining their vehicle.
You can tip right from within the app, though you’re also welcome to give your driver a cash tip before you exit the ride.
1. Scheduling a Ride in Advance
If you have an early morning flight to catch, or you want to plan an exit from an event that doesn’t involve searching for a ride at the time, you can book an Uber in advance!
Simply set your pickup time and day to whatever is appropriate, and a driver will accept your trip ahead of time and meet you at your agreed-upon time.
2. Splitting Fares
You can split fares with other Uber accounts when you ride together. This functionality is especially useful if you’re heading out with friends because everyone’s card will be charged a portion of the fare.
3. Other Uber Services
Probably the most popular Uber service outside of ride-sharing is Uber Eats!
Uber Eats is a food delivery service that brings meals right to your door from local restaurants all over your town or city.
Uber Freight is another service, but it focuses on logistics and freight. If you need to send a package or make a delivery to a business, Uber Freight can be used in place of a standard courier service.
Uber’s range of services is not available everywhere, so you will need to check which ones are operating in your area before attempting to book them.
Frequently Asked Questions About How to Use Uber
To conclude this guide, here are answers to some common questions about how to use Uber.
1. Is Uber safe?
Yes, Uber is quite safe. All Uber drivers must undergo a background check and have a clean driving record. Uber also monitors the driver’s and passenger’s location at all times during the ride, so you can know for sure that you’re safe.
And, in the unlikely event that a driver does something unsafe or illegal, you can call a special phone number to get immediate help. Note that this phone number is for emergencies only.
2. What is surge pricing?
Surge pricing refers to the method Uber uses to adjust prices during times of high demand. If there are more people in a certain area requesting Uber rides than there are available Uber drivers, Uber will increase the prices of rides for that area.
They do this with what’s called the “surge multiplier.” Essentially, they take the price of the ride and multiply it by a number.
This could be as low as 1.25 or even as high as 4 (not unheard of during very busy nights like New Year’s Eve).
While surge pricing can be annoying, the whole point of it is to balance the demand for rides with the supply of drivers. When the price goes up, some riders will choose to wait, which brings prices back down.
Additionally, drivers will flock to the surge area from other parts of the city, which will also help to bring the price back down. If you encounter a surge, your best bet is to either wait until things have calmed down or just walk a few blocks to get away from where the surge is happening.
3. How is Uber different from Lyft?
The two services are very similar. They provide the same product using the same business model. Many passengers have accounts with both apps so that they can compare prices and get the best possible deal on a ride.
To learn more about how the apps differ, check out our guide to Uber vs. Lyft.
As you can see, Uber is an organization that offers a wide range of valuable services to suit your needs.
Being up to date with developments on the app and knowing how it all works will allow you to use these services in the ways that best suit your needs!