The definitive guide to Uber

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Find out everything you need to know about being an Uber driver or passenger.

Uber is a global platform that allows you to order a ride from your smartphone. You can also sign up as an UberX driver. It's referred to as "ridesharing" because of these two sides to the platform: drivers and riders. Anyone can sign up to use Uber and almost anyone can be a driver, using their own car or a rented vehicle. Uber is a two-way street – both drivers and riders can rate each other and share the benefits of the service.

This guide will take you through how Uber works, including how you can become an Uber driver; where Uber is legal in Australia; how much Uber costs; a short history of the ridesharing platform; how surcharging works; if Uber is safe and the other services Uber offers (including helicopters!). You can also find out the latest news in ridesharing and check out our tools, including a calculator to see how much you can make as an Uber driver.

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Essential Uber guides

How does Uber work?

First riders are eligible for "new user" credit, which you can obtain by using this promo code. You'll then be prompted to sign up and download the app which is available for iOS and Android. You are required to provide your debit or credit card information so you can be charged through the app. When you want to order an Uber, open the app and make sure your location is correct, then choose what type of Uber you want.

An UberX is the cheapest option, while UberBLACK and UberLUX are the premium options, and an UberTAXI is just a regular taxi you can order through the app. Once you've ordered you can input your destination to assist the driver. You'll be shown the name and number plate of your driver as well as how far away they are. You might find the driver calls you if they need to check your location.

You can track your ride when you're in the car and send your trip status to anyone you need to. The driver will be shown an automatic route to go but you can ask for them to take a different way. At the end of the trip you don't need to physically pay as all payments are handled by the app. The last step is rating your driver out of five stars.

How do you become an Uber driver?

  • Check you meet the eligibility criteria. You must be over the age of 21 and have held a non-restricted licence (no P-platers) for at least 12 months. Your car needs to be less than 10 years old and pass the vehicle inspection. If you don't have a car or yours doesn't meet the criteria, consider renting an Uber-ready vehicle.
  • Make an online account. You can create a partner (driver) account on the Uber website. You need to use a different email address than the one you use to ride with Uber.
  • Visit an Uber centre. You'll be sent an email with details on the visitor centre you need to visit. Bring your licence, passport, RMS driving history (there's a fee to get this but Uber will reimburse you if you sign up as a driver), your car insurance details and the car you plan to use.

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  • 100% free consultation with an expert, with no obligation to sign up
  • Your regular car insurance policy won't cover you for ridesharing
  • Many policies won't cover you if you work more than 20 hours. This means you can't work full time!
  • Rideshare insurance gives you your choice of repairer and handle the claims process on your behalf

Want to drive with Uber? Compare your vehicle options below

Name Product Price Per Week (from) Insurance Included? Membership Fee Excess Distance Cost
Splend Car Rentals
$269
Yes
$275 (26 week rental period)
$0.10 per km
Get access to fuel discounts, referral bonuses and member only benefits when you rent a rideshare car with Splend. Rent-to-Drive and Rent-to-Buy options available.
DriveMyCar Uber Rentals
$160
Yes
$0
$0.10 per km
Get insurance, maintenance and 24-hour roadside assistance in the all-inclusive price. Discounts available for longer rental periods.
Europcar Uber Rental
$195
Yes
$0
$0.25 per km
Benefit from 24/7 roadside assistance, a wide range of vehicles and no signup fee to start driving with Uber. A minimum four-week rental period applies.
Splend Rent-to-Own
$269
Yes
$275 (26 week rental period)
$0.10 per km
Rent a car and pay it off as you go with no lock-in contract, membership benefits and flexible rental options
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Compare up to 4 providers


Where is Uber legal in Australia?

StateIs it legal?Date legalisedDetails
New South Walesyes17 December 2015$200 million of compensation was promised to taxi and car-hire plate owners and operators.
Australian Capital Territoryyes30 October 2015Drivers need to meet criteria and may need to pay additional licensing fees to drive with Uber.
Victoriayes25 August 2016A $2 levy applies to taxi and ride-booking services in Victoria.
Queenslandyes5 December 2016The government had previously issued a cease-and-desist notice to Uber.
Northern TerritoryyesMay 2017The Government legalised Uber in 2017 but due to regulatory difficulties, Uber is not set to launch in Darwin until August 2018.
South Australiayes1 July 2016Taxi drivers will be compensated and a $1 metropolitan ride levy applies.
Tasmaniayes8 November 2016Initially only legalised until 2018.
Western AustraliayesDecember 18 2015Ridesharing services must operate with a Charter Vehicle Licence.

A short history of the world's largest ridesharing platform

The idea for Uber came about in 2008 when entrepreneurs Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp were stuck in the snow in Paris and unable to hail a cab. The original offering was an app that let you order premium vehicles and was available in the US. These vehicles ended up costing about 1.5 times more than a cab.

While car services were common in the US, the convenience of ordering through your phone made UberCab, as it was originally called, a success soon after its San Francisco launch in 2010. As UberCab grew it completed funding round after funding round, one of its most notable being its $11 million Series A funding in 2011, as well as organisational changes. Ryan Graves, who had become CEO following a Twitter exchange with Kalanick, soon stood down to COO with Kalanick replacing him. The two described it as an amicable move.

Uber's first cease-and-desist-order came in late 2010 for acting as a cab service without the licence, prompting a name change to Uber. Uber continued to expand to other major US cities, as well as Paris, throughout 2011. The company announced UberX in July 2012 and used on-demand ice-cream trucks to promote its new service. This was off the back of a successful Series B funding of $37 million in December 2011.

Uber launched in its first Australian city, Sydney, in 2012. Having operated in the US market for 3 years, Uber, as well as other ridesharing platforms, were legalised for the first time in California in September 2013. ACT was the first state to legalise Uber in 2015.

How much does Uber cost?

This will differ depending on the city you live in. However, you will be charged a base fare, a fare per minute and a fare per kilometre travelled. This will result in your total. You can get a fare estimate on Uber's website.

How does surge pricing work?

Uber's pricing model is based on the levels of supply and demand at the time. The fewer drivers available and the higher the demand for cars, the higher the surge will be. The surge price increases in increments and is updated very regularly: you can often find the surge price disappear, or sometimes increase within a few minutes. Surge pricing is expressed as a calculation of your standard fare.

For example, you may find a 1.2 X surcharge when you go to book an Uber. Surge pricing is one of the least popular aspects of Uber's service. Uber says it encourages more riders to come on the platform when there is a high demand, for example late at night or during events such as New Year's Eve. However, Uber has been criticised for its surge pricing during these periods as well as times of emergency, the most notable Australian example being the exorbitant surge pricing being charged to get people out of the Sydney CBD during the Lindt Cafe Siege.


Is Uber safe?

While Uber has seen a considerable global uptake in its services, there still may be some hesitation from those using the platform for the first time. For starters, you have to enter your card details into the app so you can be charged. It's important to note these card details are kept secure and cannot be seen by your driver.

You will be able to see your driver's photo and number plate before they pick you up and the driver will be able to see your phone number in case they need to confirm your location. If anything does happen, for example, if your driver was driving recklessly, you lost an item or there are any other concerns you have, you can submit feedback and get help through the app. This feature is especially useful if you've lost something.

However, the most important safety feature is that you and your driver both rate each other. Uber drivers rely on high scores to keep them on the road, so if they do anything wrong they are risking their job.


What other services does Uber offer?

Uber is constantly expanding and adding new services to its platform. Here are the other services you can take advantage of:

  • Uber Eats. This service lets you order food from a range of restaurants and have it delivered to your door. The service is currently available in Sydney and Melbourne as well as other major cities across the globe.
  • UberPOOL. Uber has also launched UberPOOL in select locations to allow riders to share their ride (and the cost) with another Uber passenger. It's currently available in Sydney in Australia. It's also available in cities across the US, India, France, China and more.
  • UberRUSH. This is an on-demand delivery service for businesses. By signing up, businesses can request an UberRUSH vehicle, similar to ordering an UberX, to deliver products to customers. This service is currently only available in New York, San Francisco and Chicago.
  • UberBOAT. The name is largely self-explanatory, but UberBOAT is a service that lets you order a boat or a water taxi to get to a certain destination. The service was available for one day in Sydney and for the Cannes Film Festival in France, but it looks to be a permanent offering in Istanbul.
  • UberCHOPPER. As it stands, this has been more of a promotional offering rather than part of Uber's standard service. In various cities, Uber riders were able to order a helicopter to take them for a scenic tour of their city. While it's not a permanent service currently, Uber has said to be experimenting with the service.

Latest Uber news

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63 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    EddieDecember 16, 2019

    hi, I just got back from Hong Kong where I had opened an Uber account. Instead of opening a new account in Australia, can I transfer the account over or make the account world wide?

      Default Gravatar
      NikkiDecember 18, 2019

      Hi Eddie,

      Hope this email finds you well.

      You are able to use your Uber account anywhere in the world regardless of the country you opened it.

      Happy Uber-ing!

      Best,
      Nikki

    Default Gravatar
    becOctober 15, 2019

    can my 17 year old ride alone in an uber in australia?

      Default Gravatar
      NikkiOctober 15, 2019

      Hi Bec,

      Thanks for getting in touch! Uber Requests from underage riders are not allowed and a rider must be at least 18 years of age to have an Uber account and request rides. Anyone under 18 must be accompanied by someone 18 years of age or older on any ride.

      Hope this helps and feel free to reach out to us again for further assistance.

      Cheers,
      Nikki

    Default Gravatar
    YosiSeptember 20, 2019

    The Uber app doesn’t save the CVV which means that I can’t use Uber. It used to work but I’ve changed my phone few months ago and since then the problem hasn’t solved. Any idea why it does it and how it can be fixed?

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JeniSeptember 22, 2019Staff

      Hi Yosi,

      Thank you for getting in touch with Finder.

      Since you may choose other payment methods on Uber such as cash or a PayPal account, you may add a Paypal account then delete your credit card details then add it again and hopefully it would help to resolve this issue.

      I hope this helps.

      Thank you and have a wonderful day!

      Cheers,
      Jeni

    Default Gravatar
    SamSeptember 4, 2019

    Hi, I’m an Uber driver who currently works in Perth but am planning to drive to Melbourne and stay there for a few months before coming back home to Perth.

    I was wondering if i could just sign onto the driver app and work or will i need to re-register in Melbourne?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

      Default Gravatar
      NikkiSeptember 5, 2019

      Hi Sam,

      Thanks for your message. If you’re looking to drive Melbourne other than Perth (and any other AU city) visit the Signing Up section of the Help Center in the Uber website to learn about the specific local requirements for any city where Uber is available. Here’s how:

      1. Sign in to help.uber.com and navigate to the partner Signing Up help section
      2. In the top right corner of the page, select the city you’d like to drive in.
      3. Navigate to the Requirements section in the help menu to review driving requirements for the city you’d like to drive in

      Note also that there are certain local city requirements of Uber when driving in Melbourne such your age shoud be least 21 years old, you have held an Open licence for 6 months or more, have a citizenship, residency or visa status that allows you the right to work in Australia and if you can provide supporting documents as required by Uber. As for your car, it has to be at least 4 doors, car model year of 2009 or newer and is in good driving condition with no cosmetic damage.

      Hope this helps and best to contact Uber for more information,

      Cheers and happy Uber-ing!

      Best,
      Nikki

    Default Gravatar
    GrahamJune 13, 2019

    Can the New Zealand ap be used in Australia?
    .

      Default Gravatar
      NikkiJune 13, 2019

      Hi Graham,

      Thanks for your inquiry!

      Yes, you can use the UBER app in Australia regardless of where it was downloaded.

      Hope this clarifies!

      Best,
      Nikki

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