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How to Use Uber: The Ultimate Guide to Your First Ride

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.

Maybe you’re skeptical, or maybe you’re just unsure of how to use the service. Either way, we hope we can change that with this guide, which will walk you through the entire process of taking your first Uber ride.

In this post, we’ll cover how the service works, how much it costs, and how to hop in the car for an Uber trip. You’ll be an Uber pro before you know it.

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What Is Uber?

How to Use Uber: Sign up page

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?

Okay, so 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.

Curious to get an estimate of how much an Uber ride will cost in your city? Check out our Uber fare estimate tool below. Just enter your pick-up location and destination to get an accurate estimate of your ride fare:



Want to get free rides? Check out our guide to Uber promo codes so you receive serious savings.

Uber Vehicle Options

How to Use Uber: Graphic of three 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.

We won’t examine every possible Uber ride type out there, as certain cities or countries will have their own unique offerings. Instead, we’ll look at the five most common Uber ride types you’ll encounter.

UberX

This is the basic, default Uber service. You’ll get a four-door vehicle that can hold up to four passengers (though fitting four plus the driver will generally be a tight squeeze). The actual vehicle you’ll get can vary from a sedan to a hatchback to even a pickup truck or minivan. The only constants are the passenger capacity and number of doors.

UberXL

This is just like UberX, but instead of vehicles that can hold four passengers, UberXL vehicles can hold up to six. UberXL vehicles tend to be minivans or large SUVs, but the specifics can vary from there. 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.

UberPOOL

UberPOOL is just like UberX, except that you get a discount in exchange for sharing your ride with other passengers headed in the same direction. The downside of this is that your ride will take longer, but the large savings (often half the cost of UberX) can make it worth it if you’re not in a hurry and don’t mind sharing your ride with strangers.

UberBLACK

This is Uber’s high-end, luxury car service. You can think of it like a fancier version of UberX. It works the same way, but instead of riding in, say, a Toyota Prius, you might find yourself riding in an Audi or even a Tesla. UberBLACK drivers also tend to be more professional than UberX drivers. Given all the extra bells and whistles, UberBLACK costs much more than UberX (often two times as much).

UberSUV

UberSUV is simply the high-capacity version of UberBLACK. Or, put another way, it’s the luxury version of UberXL. You’ll get a luxury vehicle that can seat up to six passengers, as well as a professional driver. The combination of a large vehicle and a high degree of luxury make this one of the most expensive Uber services out there (paying over $100 for an UberSUV ride is not uncommon).

How to Take Your First Uber Ride

Now that you understand the basics of how the Uber works, let’s get into the details of taking your first Uber ride. Don’t worry — the Uber service is simple to use, and the company is constantly developing new ways to make it even easier. If you can send a text message, you can get an Uber ride.

To take an Uber ride, follow these steps:

1. Download the Uber App

You can get it from the Google Play Store (Android) or Apple App Store (iPhone).

2. Create an Uber Account

You’ll need to enter your first name, last name, email address, phone number, and payment information. Uber accepts all major debit and credit cards, as well as a variety of other digital payment methods. You can see a full list of accepted payment methods here.

3. Open the App and Enter Your Destination

Also, be sure to verify that the pick-up location Uber has chosen is correct. The app uses your phone’s GPS to get your location, but it can sometimes choose the wrong location if you’re in a dense urban area with lots of businesses.

4. Select Your Vehicle Type

Refer to the previous section to decide which is best for you.

5. Tap “Confirm”

Once you do this, Uber will match you with the nearest available driver and notify you when they’re on their way.

6. 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.

7. Verify the Driver’s Identity

You can easily do this by checking the vehicle description and license plate number within the Uber app and ensuring that they match your driver’s vehicle. The driver may also ask you your name to confirm they’re picking up the right person. This is especially important if the driver is picking you up in a busy area like outside a bar or at the airport.

8. Relax and 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. 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.

9. 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.

10. Rate Your Driver

After the ride has ended, take a moment to leave your driver a rating. You can give them a star rating ranging from 1–5. Generally, you should give five stars unless there was a problem with the ride. If there was something the driver could have done better, it’s up to you to decide what star rating is appropriate. You can also leave suggestions for what the driver could do better. Uber will receive this info and share it with the driver. Don’t worry about the driver seeing your name — all reviews and ratings are anonymous.

11. 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.

How to Use Uber FAQ

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). To learn even more about how to get the most out of Uber, check out our collection of Uber articles.

Have a great (and safe) ride!

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