After CEO Travis Kalanick resigned as an adviser to Donald Trump and the company joined the lawsuit against the president's travel ban, there were fewer calls to ditch the ride-hailing app. But with Uber, controversy is never too far away.
There are alternatives, like Lyft, which briefly surpassed its competitor in the App Store during the travel ban tussle, but when you're standing on a street corner with no taxi in sight, it's hard not to click on that familiar logo.
And while it's easy to use, Uber has a lot more going on under the hood than you might realize. Did you know there are seven types of rides available, and you can end up literally paying the price for not being able to discern one from another? And even if you don't care because your employer is the one footing the bill, there are ways to make that process even easier. If you want to make things harder on your driver, cue up your own playlist. But if you do, you should tip heavily. What's that you say? You don't tip your Uber driver? We have some thoughts on that, too.
So read on for some tricks that will have you navigating the service better.
Know Before You Go
There's far more to Uber than just Uber anymore. The app has several levels of pricing and service, some of which may be available in your area and some of which may not.
You can use Uber to request a taxi. The payment is not included so you will have to pay your driver. A $2 booking fee is processed through the app. The cancellation fee is $5.
uberPool (known as UberPop in Europe)
With uberPool you share your ride and the cost with others. You'll be given the price for a flat fare before you request a car.
UberX has cars that are owned by the driver and are year 2000 or newer. An uberX seats four riders. Base fare and per-minute and per-mile fees are higher than uberPool. The minimum fare is $7 and the cancellation fee is $10.
The same as uberX but with larger cars for larger groups. An uberXL seats six riders. Base fare and per-minute and per-mile fees are higher than uberX. The minimum fare is $10.50 and the cancellation fee is $10.
The original Uber black-car service. Base fare and per-minute and per-mile fees are higher than uberX and uberXL. The minimum fare is $15 and the cancellation fee is $10.
Request an UberSelect and you'll get a 2008 model year or later high-end car like a BMW, Mercedes, or Audi with a leather interior for slightly less than you'd pay for an uberBlack.
The most expensive Uber option gets you an SUV that seats six and has the highest base fare and per-minute and per-mile fees. The minimum fare is $25 and the cancellation fee is $10.
When you really want to make an impression, order up an uberLux. A professional chauffeur will pick you up in an Audi A8, BMW 7 Series, Jaguar XJ series, Land Rover Range Rover, Lexus LS, Mercedes-Benz S-Class or G-Class, a Porsche Panamera, Tesla Model S, Bentley, Maybach, or a Rolls Royce. Expect it to set you back about twice as much as an UberBlack would.
Share Your Ride
We don't mean literally (unless you want to). If you feel unsafe or just want someone to know when you're scheduled to arrive without texting them every two minutes, you can share the details of your ride. When the app alerts you that your driver is on the way, go to Share My ETA next to the driver's name, enter the destination, and then select people from your contacts list that you'd like to share the info with. They will then get a text with a live map of your location. You can also share your Uber ETA via Snapchat.
You can also pre-select up to five emergency contacts by going to Settings > Manage Emergency Contacts > Add Contacts. Choose contacts from your address book and tap Add Contacts again. Next time you take a trip and would like to share it, tap Send Status to Contacts. You'll see your list pop up and you can select Send.
You Are My Destination
To simplify the process of meeting up with a friend, sync your contacts to Uber (Settings > Sync Contacts). When you go to request a ride, type your friend's name in the "Where To…" box. Your friend will get a request for their current location. When they accept, their location is set as your destination.
Get the Message
If you're making plans with a friend in Facebook Messenger, there's no need to leave the app to book an Uber. Have your friend shoot you the address of where to meet, tap the address, and then select Request a Ride.
Filling out expense reports is a pain, but Uber makes it easy to get your cash back. Go to the menu, select History, and get the details on all of your rides, including total miles and minutes.
If you want to use separate cards for your business and personal rides with Uber, you can set up a separate profile. Add your work email to your Uber account and Uber will set you up.
Here's a Tip
Uber's success is predicated on just how easy it makes hailing and paying for a ride. But there's no way to add a tip inside the app (here's why, according to Uber), so you might want to have a little cash on hand for tips. It might help you get a better Uber rating.
You can set up tipping in uberTaxi by going to Payment and choosing a preferred tip percentage from the drop-down menu. This feature might become more widespread if New York officials have their say; the Taxi and Limousine Commission has proposed requiring car services that only take credit cards to accept tips, the New York Times reports.
In My Estimation
When you're sitting in the back of a cushy Uber, smug that you're not on the subway, it's easy to forget just how much you'll be paying for it later. Uber last year made it easier to know how much you'll be charged. But if you're at your laptop wondering if you should brave the cold or swing for an Uber, you can tap into Uber's fare estimator, which tells you how much your ride could cost across its various kinds of cars.
There Is Such a Thing As a Free Ride
You can get free rides or money off rides if you invite friends to sign up for Uber. Go to the menu and then select Free Rides to see your promo code, which you can share with friends.
Easy Listening Rider
You should probably let the driver listen to their own music, but if you must, Uber lets you play your own Spotify playlists (and tracks from Pandora). Just try to avoid these songs. Go to Settings > Connected Accounts > Connect Spotify.
Does Not Commute
You can use commuter pre-tax benefits toward uberPool if your employer uses WageWorks, Edenred, Ameriflex, Benefit Resource, or Navia. Just enter your commuter benefits debit card to your account via Payments > Add Payment Method. Select Credit or Debit Card, add the information from the benefit card, and then select Save. Before you request a ride to or from work, go into Payments and select the card.
Remember that because it is an uberPool you could be riding with up to six people, so allow some extra time in your schedule for pick-ups and drop-offs.
Pick Up Where You Left Off
Did you move locations since you last requested that Uber? Dashed across the street for a hot dog? Slipped indoors out of the sun? You can let your driver know in the app. Go into the map, tap Pickup Location, and enter in a new address.
Save some time with Calendar Shortcuts. Connect your calendar to Uber and upcoming meetings and appointments will show up as a "shortcut" on the bottom of Uber when you open the app. Just tap the one you're going to for a ride there (make sure that you enter an address for the event in your calendar app). If you don't see Calendar Shortcuts in your app yet, it should roll out soon.
On the Map
If you're in Google Maps trying to figure out your next destination, there's no reason to leave it to request a ride. When you enter in your location and direction in Maps, you'll see transportation icons. Select the one of the figure with a bag hailing a ride. You'll be able to click on any one of the types of Ubers available in that area and can just hit Request to summon one.
Be Our Guest
If you're hosting an event and you want to make it a fun, carefree one for your guests, you can take care of their transportation. Log onto Uber Events and fill out the form to get customized ride passes you can give to guests to use to get to and from your event. If they don't use the pass, you won't be out the cost of the ride.
When an app knows where you're going and where you've been, privacy is a major concern. Uber has now put all its privacy settings—Location, Contacts, and Notifications—on one page. Go to Settings > Privacy Settings to choose when Uber and others can see your location, manage or remove contacts, and select what notifications you want to get from Uber and how.
If none of this is compelling and you're still on team #DeleteUber, the ridesharing service has made it a tad easier to say farewell. Just go to the bottom of the Privacy Settings page and tap Delete Account.