Always enter your location and drop off
Though it might feel like a pain when you're already running late to a work meeting or need to make a dinner reservation with your pals ASAP, UBER driver Teejai Kimsey says adding in your drop-off point can prevent you from getting overcharged. Location accuracy is essential, after all, to what's at the heart of a car service. "Be sure to put in your correct pick-up and drop-off points, as estimates or rides without specific drop-offs can sometimes be overestimated on the fares set by Uber, which will cost you more," she explains. (Once you're in the car, be sure to close the Uber app, as the GPS it uses sucks up battery power.)
Walk a few blocks away from the crowd for a better fare
That super-fun party you bought tickets to ages ago might be packed with booze and fun people, but it also might be a nightmare when you're a tad tipsy and trying to get back to your bed. (Be warned: These things practically guarantee a hangover.) "Remember at peak times when events are letting out with a large crowd, there will most likely be a surge or higher price for the ride," she explains. "If you can safely wait, the price will go down. And if you can walk a few blocks away from the crowd you'll get a lower rate as well, and it will be easier for your driver to pick you up!"
Leave before last call
Nope, you won't turn into a pumpkin or lose a shoe if the clock strikes midnight and you're still raving in your party dress, but you might have less cash in your clutch. According to Kimsey, one of the worst times to call for a car is on the weekends when it's last call. "That's when there is most likely going to be a surge in the price. It's best to time your party exit about half an hour before the bar closes to get the best rates," she says.
Request a specific driver
Every once in awhile, you come across a driver that you really mesh with. Maybe you love hearing their life story, they always play your favorite jams, or their driving skills are bar-none. Though Uber doesn't currently offer the option to request a specific driver for your route, the reservation app UZURV will do that trick for you. "This is a companion app that works with Uber and Lyft and allows you to reserve the Uber driver of your choice in advance," Kimsey says. Currently, it's available in about 100 cities around the United States and growing. Think of the app as the 'Open Table' for Lyft or Uber.
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UberPOOL will definitely save you money, if you have the time
Remember the carpool lane? UberPOOL, which allows you to share the cost of a ride with other passengers who are going in the same direction as you, is one of the most cost-effective ways to use the app, according to Laura Jones, head of product marketing at Uber. The only catch? You can't be in a rush, since your driver has to drop off the other passengers according to the most logical route, meaning, you could be last to get out. (Check out the stupid ways people have tried to cheat the carpool lane and failed miserably.)
Split the fare with friends while you're in the car
A pro tip for budget-friendly riders who are splitting an Uber ride with a friend or family member is using the 'Split your Fare' feature, Jones explains. Available for several months now, this option takes out the guesswork of sorting through cash or even using Venmo or PayPal, and lets you divvy up the cost in real time, while still in the car. Just make sure all of your besties have the Uber app (and a credit card associated with it), and they accept your request to handle the cost together. Here's the polite way to split a bill.
Pack an umbrella and avoid holidays
It's the double-edged sword of depending on car service apps: The times when you want to go out the most are often the most expensive times to get yourself back home, safe and sound (and sober). "As you might imagine, we see the highest demand on nights like New Year's Eve or Halloween night," Jones says. Another time when your first instinct is to open up your app and request a car? When the weather is acting up outside. "Rainy days or commute hours can also correspond to slightly higher fares," Jones adds. "If you check the app and are seeing fares higher than normal, you may want to check back later—prices will return to their base level once the market is back in balance."
Check your Uber rating
After each ride, you already know that you'll prompted to review how the trip went for you. But your driver is extended the same courtesy, meaning you have an Uber score too. (More on how to make sure you get all of those five stars later.) If you're curious, Jones explains how to check out how you're doing in the backseat: Select "Help" > "Account and Payment" > "Account Settings and Ratings" > "I'd like to know my rating."
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You can schedule an Uber in advance
Need to plan ahead for an airport transfer or have a family member or client coming into town that you want to be extra kind to? "Many people may be surprised to know that Uber offers the option for people to schedule their ride in advance," Jones says. "This comes in handy especially before an early morning flight, an important meeting, or even a doctor's appointment." Currently, this type-A, plan-ahead feature, which lets you schedule a car anywhere from 30 minutes to 30 days in advance, is available in more than 300 cities in the world.
In some cities, you can get food delivered
What's better than not worrying about commuting between point A and point B? Not having to give a second thought to what you'll have for lunch. That's where UberEATS comes in. It's currently available in 58 cities and features 45 types of cuisines. "You can tap a button and get a meal for you or family, whether you are at home, at the office, or even in the park," Jones says. "It's simple to use, and you pay with the credit card that's already on file, so there's no need to worry about cash. And just like Uber, you can track your order right from the app."
Take an airport shuttle to a local hotel for a better fare
If shelling out a few 20s isn't in your budget, you might have to take the long way home from the airport when you travel. Or do you? Travel blogger and frequent Uber user Jeremy Camosse says an easy solution to saving money when you arrive to your destination is to take an (often free!) airport shuttle to a nearby hotel. Not only will it make it easier for your driver to get to you, but it'll cost less, too.
The golden rule goes a long way
Being a prized passenger has a lot of perks. For starters, your ride request will likely always be approved by whoever is nearby, waiting to sign on to a job. Take it from Oakland, California-based Uber driver, Miho Armacost, and follow the golden rule. "I rate passengers more or less on the overall impression; if they have common courtesy and respect the space while they're riding with me, they get five stars! Only rarely do I give three stars or less unless they do something dangerous like opening the door and getting out of the car in the middle of the trip (which has happened!) Tips for a higher rating is just common courteousness, showing appreciation and friendly interaction," he explains. Kimsey also suggests keeping one super-simple, but vital fact in mind: You're not in your own car, so act how you would if you were riding with a new pal or business partner. "Be pleasant, ask if you need the AC or heat adjusted, or you would like different music. Drivers want your ride to be comfortable, so just let them know what you need," she says. "Let the driver know you appreciate the ride and that you'll be rating them 5 stars. And if you want to give a tip, drivers appreciate the thoughtfulness."
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