What is Uber?
To passengers, Uber is essentially synonymous with taxis, and to drivers, it’s basically a referral service. The Android, iOS and Windows Phone app connects riders with drivers using their phone’s GPS capabilities, letting both parties know one another’s location and removing the question of when the ride will actually arrive. In addition, the tech company also processes all payments involved, charging the passenger’s credit card, taking a cut for itself (which ranges from 5% to 20%), and direct depositing the remaining money into the driver’s account, all in the background and completely cashless.
Depending on availability, Uber also offers several different levels of service. The service’s lowest-cost option, UberX, runs in everyday cars like the Toyota Prius. Uber Black is the company’s original service, costing a bit more but running in high-end town cars with professional drivers. Uber SUV is precisely what it sounds like, charging a premium for a larger vehicle. Uber LUX is the top-of-the-line option, operating in posh rides like Porsche Panameras and BMW 7 series sedans.
1. Schedule your Uber
I’ve heard from 2 separate Uber drivers that they’re coordinated with clients to drive the same morning commute every day. If you regularly take the same Uber route and have established rapport with your driver, get their phone number so you can schedule them at a mutually convenient time. This works best if it’s extremely convenient for your driver (e.g. you live near your driver and can start your morning together every day). If you actually get this to work, cherish your new friendship!
2. Get Free Uber Credit by Referring your Friends
Invest some effort to get people around you to sign up for Uber, and you’ll get a free ride (usually $20-$30). I’ve had success with this by just sending over my referral link over my college dorm. This is getting harder and harder as Uber gets more established.
3. Tip your Uber Driver
Uber doesn’t have an option to do this within the app, so you’ll have to tip with cash at the end of the ride. Your Uber driver may be instructed to refuse the tip, so insist or just leave it in their drivers seat. This is a way to complement your driver for their service and encourage that kind of behavior for future passengers!
4. Minimize Wait Time
To minimize the time you have to wait to get an Uber, 1) call your Uber ahead of time, before you actually get to the pickup point 2) call your Uber driver right after they get assigned to you, to make sure they know where to pick you up. It is NOT advisable to keep your Uber driver waiting for you for too long, since this can severely annoy your driver and decrease your passenger rating.
5. Get Refunded for your Grievances
If you ever have a less-than-satisfactory Uber ride (your ride is unsafe, or your driver took a less-than-optimal route), you can contact Uber support and complain. If you have a valid grievance, they will usually give you a ride credit as a redress within 24 hours. I’ve done this multiple times via email with good results.
6. Uber through the Drive-Through
You can ask your Uber driver to detour through the drive-through. Just a warning that some Uber Drivers are not amused at this, since the time-rate for Uber rides is poor, and you won’t be paying for any mileage while you’re waiting for your burger. Your Uber Driver may retaliate by rating you low, which brings me to…
7. Find out your Uber Passenger Rating
I haven’t really found a use for this, but you can learn what your Uber passenger rating is. Your Uber Driver will see this rating whenever they decide whether or not to pick you up. If your rating is low, that might explain why it’s taking so long for a car to confirm you. If your rating is super-low, then you might get banned from the system.
8. Get Starwood Points by Using Uber
If you’re a Starwood Preferred Guest card holder, you can simply link your account with your Uber account to get free Starwood points every time you take an Uber, as long as you stay in a Starwood hotel once every year. (Link your Starwood Account). No need to have a Starwood Preferred Guest credit card. Combine this offer with the next one to maximize credit card bonuses.
9. Get a 20% Discount on Uber
With a CapitalOne Quicksilver credit card, you will get a 20% statement credit for each Uber ride you pay for with your card (until April 2016). This is a pretty big deal, especially if you spend a fair amount on Uber rides every year. The CapitalOne Quicksilver has no annual fee, and will also get you your first two rides for free (if you’re a new Uber rider). Announcement: Uber-CapitalOne Partnership
Note: The first 7 also apply to Lyft (company). The last 2 are Uber specific.
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