What is Uber and How Do I Use It?

Posted by Jamie on December 29, 2016

Uber has been in the news constantly over the past couple of years, for mainly good reasons. It is an on-demand taxi-style service that uses self-employed private drivers rather than taxi firms to get you around. The main difference is that it is predominantly controlled by a smartphone app.

Uber isn’t a taxi service though. It is different. The drivers are all self-employed, no money has to change hands as Uber can be cashless and you can use the same app and the same account in hundreds of cities across the world.

The company was founded in San Francisco in 2009 as an alternative to the traditional cab. It integrates into Google Maps, has its own smartphone app and offers something quite different. Order a ride through Uber and you see who your driver will be, where they are, how long they will take to get to you and track their progress. All through the app. Plus, Uber enables ride sharing if more than one user is going to the same place.

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How to use Uber

Uber takes a tiny bit of preparation before you can use it. You will need to download the app and register an account before you can do anything.

  1. Get the iPhone app from here and the Android app from here. They are both free.
  2. Set up an account with your name, email address, phone number and payment information. Nothing can happen until you enter all this.
  3. Log into the app and allow it to use your location as it won’t work otherwise.
  4. Select a car type. This may vary depending on where you live. UberX is the default budget option. Black Car is a luxury sedan and Rush is if you’re in a real hurry. Other options include Taxi, which will be a taxi who works with Uber and SUV is pretty self-explanatory.
  5. Select your pickup point and destination and then set your payment type. Uber account is the default.
  6. Check the cost, ETA and max car size.
  7. Wait outside the pickup point for the car.

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Some useful things to know about Uber

Here are a few tips I have picked up after a couple years using Uber.

  • You are provided with an image and phone number of the driver. Call the driver if anything changes that would affect your booking.
  • If you cancel, you are charged a fee of between $5-10.
  • If you’re in city traffic and driving slowly, under 11 mph, you are billed by the minute. If you’re driving faster, you are billed by the mile.
  • If you use the Taxi option, they charge as per their usual rates.
  • You can elect to leave a tip through the app. You should not tip cash.
  • Earn Uber credits by getting friends to join up. You can use them to pay for rides.

Uber currently operates in 53 countries and hundreds of cities. While not without its detractors, it makes getting round a city easier, faster and cheaper than ever before!

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