Five Smart Uber Budget Tips to Follow


Bronze Wordsmith
May 17, 2018
Uber has become a reliable way to get around if you don’t have your car or refuse to take public transport. This ride-hailing and sharing app have become famous all over the world for offering convenience and savings to commuters everywhere. And why not? It’s less vexing than waiting for a cab and haggling with a driver about the correct fare. And based on experience (as well as that of my friends’), Uber drivers are typically more meticulous about how their vehicles look and smell because it’s usually theirs. It’s safe to say that Uber is now a must on anyone’s mobile device, especially in today’s everyday traffic-riddled scenario.

But what most Uber clients don’t seem to realize is that there are certainly best practices when it comes to using this particular service. Sure, the click of a button can immediately (but not always – more on this in a bit) summon an Uber near you, but there’s a bit more Uber trip planning involved than that. What that planning involves, I will reveal in today’s post. These are based on my personal experiences as an Uber user, so I hope they help you in turn!

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Cancellation Fees Can Ruin Your Uber Budget

If you take an Uber regularly, you will more or less have an idea of how much money to allocate for the fare to get to certain areas. But there will be days when either you or your driver will need to cancel a ride you’ve already hailed. I know I’ve scrapped some trips when I felt that no driver was going to pick up my request or if they’re coming from quite a distance, and I need to get going ASAP.

If you cancel all the time, however, you will incur a penalty (the fee depends on your service area) for generally wasting a driver’s time and effort to get to you. A cancellation done within a reasonable timeframe (preferably within five minutes of hailing a ride) and if the driver hasn’t responded that they are on their way, is fine. Doing it beyond these reasons can also earn you a reputation for being a bad passenger.

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There Are “Tier” Uber Rides

The first time I tried out Uber, it was because no cabs were in sight and I desperately needed to deliver some stuff ordered by a client. I had to meet the deadline and was worried the deal might fall through, so I downloaded the Uber app and didn’t bother reading the terms and conditions (will not recommend this – always read the fine print!).

I thought the term “Uber Black” sounded mysterious and right up my alley – and was a bit shocked when the price estimate was more than what I expected. Once my ride drove up to me (a swanky and luxurious SUV!) I felt that I had bitten off more than I could chew with this ride-sharing app! However, the overall first experience with Uber turned out to pleasant and accommodating (plus points for my client’s facial expression when he saw me drive up in that stylish vehicle). Today though, I normally just choose UberX as my default Uber trip planning for economical reasons. It pays to really read the tier services and the kind of transaction involved in each. Which brings us to…

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Sometimes, It’s Better to UberPOOL It

I try to do carpooling whenever I can to save on gas and parking fees. This was doable back in the day when I was doing corporate work, and a number of my workmates lived in the same area. However, when I started freelancing, it was just not worth the time and effort to try to coordinate with people who might be headed for the same location at more or less the same time you are.

Then I discovered UberPOOL. Normally, I would get the heebie-jeebies about sharing a ride in close proximity to total strangers. But this particular Uber service changed my mind. Using a “guaranteed fare” system, UberPOOL basically matches four passengers who are headed in the same drop-off destination. It really saves me time, money, and frustration. I try to UberPOOL it when traffic is especially toxic, and if it’s worth the ride and the fare (AKA lengthier and covering more mileage), and for me to share the same breathing space as three other passengers.

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Know When To Accept Surge Pricing (And When Not To)

Part of a smart Uber trip planning is knowing when to hail a ride, and when not to. Even Uber isn’t impervious to heavy traffic and the demands of passengers – especially during the holidays. To keep Uber drivers motivated to keep picking up passengers, surge pricing is a must. It’s a way to incentivize both partners and passengers to keep using the app, while making sure drivers are paid fairly for it.

I have heard of horror stories of extreme surges where fares have quadrupled beyond their normal price range, but I personally have yet to experience this. I think it largely depends on your area and the degree of traffic involved in your destination. What I do when I think the pricing is unfair and I’m not in any real hurry to get somewhere, is to give it some time for traffic to go back to normal or for Uber demands to abate. I would sit somewhere and have some coffee or read a book before checking to see if the fare has become reasonable before hailing a ride.

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Always Rate Your Uber Driver Fairly

It might seem trite and petty, but rating your Uber riding experience will keep drivers honest, efficient, and courteous. It also helps weed out dishonest and generally rude drivers (I’ve had my fair share of those and I made sure to rate and give feedback accordingly). I normally get drivers with four to five-star ratings, and I would like to believe that it’s because the drivers have also rated me satisfactorily as a passenger in turn. So take advantage of the Uber rating system, and always rate fairly.

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The Verdict?

Ride-sharing apps have become part and parcel of our daily lives. Even ride-sharing apps need to be budgeted! Having an Uber budget can definitely help you have a relatively hassle-free ride anywhere you may be headed. Experience will teach you the kind of good practices that can make these sharing economy platforms even more pleasant and convenient for everyone. If you have more of them to share, we’d be glad to hear all about them in the comments section.
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