Uber — the on-demand rideshare service that took the world by storm — is now a household name.
It’s almost impossible to drive around any city these days without seeing an Uber ride. The distinctive stickers and glowing signs make the vehicles easy to spot. Despite its popularity, however, perhaps you still haven’t tried Uber out for yourself.
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?
- How Much Does Uber Cost?
- Uber Vehicle Options
- How to Use Uber
- Frequently Asked Questions
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.
How Much Does Uber Cost?
Uber is cheaper than a taxi, but how much does it actually cost? The precise cost of your ride will vary depending on how far you’re traveling, how long your ride takes, and how much of a demand there is for Uber drivers. The price also depends on the type of Uber ride you choose, which we’ll cover in the next section.
One major benefit of Uber compared to a taxi is that you can see an estimate of your final cost before you book the ride. You don’t have to worry about unpleasant surprises at the end of a ride, or that your taxi driver is using a meter to cheat you. In fact, the driver has no control over the cost of the ride and doesn’t know how much they’ll earn till after they give the ride.
Instead, the Uber app automatically calculates the ride cost and then charges it to your credit card (or other payment method on file) once the ride is over. And if you ever think that the price is inaccurate or unfair, you can contact Uber support for help with adjusting it.
Uber Vehicle Options
When you’re booking an Uber ride, you’ll inevitably notice that there are different types of Uber vehicle types available. The terms that Uber uses to describe these ride types are not the most intuitive, so it’s worth taking a brief look at what each of them is.
Uber has grown into a transportation behemoth, offering several different ride options to riders of all shapes and sizes. Ride options vary from high-end luxury vehicles to economy options.
The most popular ride types are as follows.
- 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
As mentioned above, vehicles that are larger and more luxurious will end up costing more. After you type in your destination, you’ll be able to see all of your ride options as well as how much each one costs.
How Does Uber Work?
Put simply, Uber’s platform connects a network of independent contractor drivers with passengers in need of a ride. For each ride you take, you’ll be charged a fluctuating rider fare which we’ll go into more detail about in the following section.
So how do you use Uber? You can follow these steps to ensure a smooth and convenient first ride.
1. Download the Uber App and Create an Account
Once you’ve downloaded the smartphone app, you can quickly create your account. 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 to create an account. 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.
2. Enter Your Destination
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.
Schedule your rides immediately or set up rides for a later time. 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. If everything looks good, you can confirm your ride.
Once your destination is entered, you’ll select which type of vehicle you’d like to take. Once selected, tap “Confirm”.
3. Wait for the Driver to Pick You Up
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.
4. 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.
5. Ensure You Get in the Correct Vehicle
Before getting into your Uber vehicle, you should make sure you’re getting into the right car. You’ll be given your driver’s name, vehicle brand, color, and license plate number. You should run through a quick checklist before hopping into what could be a random car.
All Uber drivers go through periodic background checks and must meet strict requirements before they can drive, to ensure riders have a safe experience. But it’s always good to compare the vehicle’s license plate number to the license number that the Uber app gives you.
You should also ask the driver through the window if they’re here to pick you up. Once everything is confirmed, you can hop in and enjoy your ride.
6. Enjoy Your 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.
8. Leave Your Driver a Rating
After your Uber trip, it’s important that you rate your driver. Driver ratings serve two purposes. The first is rewarding drivers who went above and beyond the call of duty. If you had a great experience, you should leave a five-star rating. These ratings can help drivers hit bonus levels where they’ll receive a nice boost in their paycheck.
On the other hand, if you didn’t have a great experience, it’s important to convey that information as well. This will help drivers improve their service and perform better on their next ride.
You should also note that drivers can give you a passenger rating. If you’re not the most pleasant passenger, this could affect your rating. If your Uber rider rating ever gets too low, you risk being booted from the platform. Now let’s take a look at how much Uber will cost you.
9. 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.
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.
Get Your First Ride With Uber Today
We hope this guide has helped you understand how Uber works (and how to take your first ride). Have a great (and safe) ride!