Uber | Save Money on Cabs, Get First Ride for FREE

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Uber First Ride Free

This week, I had some traveling to do. I flew into Charlotte for a conference and needed to find the most inexpensive way to get to my hotel. After checking with a car service ($75) and a cab company (estimate $50-$65), I was left wondering if there wasn’t a better way.

That’s when my friend Sarah reminded me about Uber: The ride-sharing app that started a few years ago out in San Francisco. Uber is a smartphone app that connects passengers with drivers of vehicles for hire.

Today, uber is everywhere (or very nearly everywhere) and it operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

Here’s how uber works:

First things first, you need to download the Uber app to your smartphone.

When you sign up with this link you’ll get $20 off your first ride! If it asks you for a code, use maras71. (I signed up with my friend’s link, which made my ride from the Charlotte airport totally FREE!)

While downloading the app, you will be prompted to enter either your credit card or paypal information. This is how you will pay for any future rides you take — no cash exchanges hands ever!

As soon as you find yourself needing a ride, open the app on your phone.

Uber Screen Shot

You will see this screen with a black “Set Pickup Location” bar. Click that to to order your uber, then click on the “REQUEST uberX” button at the bottom of the next screen.

You’ll immediately get a message on your phone with the name of your driver, the type of car he or she is driving, and the estimated pick-up time.

In Charlotte, my driver called me right away to find out at which airport exit I was standing. He got me to my hotel in no time and thanks to the $20 credit, the whole ride was free!

After that positive experience, I decided to use uber again when I flew back into Cleveland. That time, I called my driver (there is a “contact your driver” button right on the app) and let him know exactly where I was standing.

Once your driver picks you up, you need to let him know where you’re going — or you can plug that into the app when you order the ride.

Throughout the ride, keep your app open — you will be able to see exactly where you’re going thru the app’s GPS. (Your driver also has the app onen, so uber can track them constantly.)

Your fare is calculated based on the distance you traveled, plus the amount of time you are in the car. You can request a quick fare estimate when you order your uber.

For my 24-mile ride from the Cleveland airport, I paid $29.10. My husband took a cab from the airport two weeks earlier and paid $55 plus tip. With uber, you don’t leave a tip, so my ride worked out to be about $30 less than my husband’s.

If you plan to order a ride from the airport or other well-trafficked location, your uber should be to you within 5 minutes. If you’re ordering a ride from a residential location, you may have to wait a bit longer. I just checked my home at 9 in the morning, and the wait was 8-11 minutes. Still probably less than if I had to order a cab!

The uber Experience

I know uber has been around for a while, but I’m usually pretty cautious when trying out new things. I’m glad I did, though, because I was very pleased with the experience.

The price was definitely right – and I loved not having to wait for a cab, especially in the pouring rain when I landed back in Cleveland. I also loved that the payment was integrated into the app, so no cash needed to exchange hands.

Both cars that I rode in were immaculate and the drivers were personable. All the drivers have ratings (the app prompts you to rate them at the end of your journey) and I gave both of mine a 5 out of 5.

Uber has numerous safety mechanisms in place, including background checks on all their drivers. Although the whole experience felt on the up and up, I’m a bit of a worrier — so both times, I texted someone at my destination with my driver’s name, the car make & model, and my ETA. Just a little added insurance!

Have you used uber yet? What was your experience like?

Check to see if Uber is available in your city HERE. And don’t forget to download the app using this link, to get $20 off your first ride!



  1. I’m a big fan of Uber. Super reliable and efficient. You do tip with Uber, but it’s rolled into your transaction. You can increase or decrease the tip amount in your app settings but it’s applied for all go-forward rides. It’s not something you can change on a per-ride basis. I was pleased when Uber came to KC!

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