The definitive guide to Uber

A guide featuring Uber news and tips for new riders and driver-partners

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Uber is an app that lets you order a taxi, food delivery or a parcel collection.

This guide will take you through how Uber works, including how you can become an Uber driver to earn a living; where Uber is legal in Australia; how much Uber costs; a short history of the ride-sharing platform; how surge pricing works; whether Uber is safe and the other services Uber offers.

You can also find out the latest news in ride-sharing 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 ride-sharing work?

Using Uber is extremely straightforward:

Uber guide: How Uber works

First-time riders may be eligible for "new user" credit or a promotional sign-up offer. Make sure you check whether any Uber sign-up promo codes are available before you do. You'll then be prompted to sign up and download the app which is available on iOS or Android. You are required to provide your debit or credit card information so Uber can charge you for rides.

When you want to order an Uber, open the app and make sure your pick-up location is correct, then enter your drop-off point in the "Where to?" box. You'll then be shown your Uber options. Uber also gives you price estimates.

UberX is the most affordable option, while Uber Comfort, Exec, XL, Access and Assist will likely cost more.

Once you've entered your ride request, and an Uber driver accepts the trip, you'll be shown the name and licence plate of your driver as well as their location. The driver might call you if they need to check your pick-up. Uber sends you notifications when they are nearby.

You can track your ride when you're in the car and share your trip status with anyone you need to. The driver will be given a route to take, but you can ask 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 5 stars.

How to get a 5-star Uber rider rating

Uber drivers also rate their passengers. If your score dips too low, drivers might not accept your ride request. Here's how to make sure you maintain a good rating.

  • Respect the Uber driver. Some people taking Ubers will have consumed alcohol. Even so, you should be respectful of your Uber driver. Treat them like you'd want to be treated. An Uber driver told me they don't accept riders after a certain time, because they tend to get drunk people who make a lot of mess. Judge whether they want to chat. I'd say 8/10 drivers will chat, but some just want to complete the journey and get home! Also, when you get in, at least acknowledge the driver and offer them a simple greeting. Want to strike up a conversation? Ask how they find working with Uber. Or, how do they like their car?
  • Don't make them wait. Uber drivers told me the number one most annoying thing for them was when they were left waiting for someone to meet them. So, be punctual. Using the app, it's possible to only leave your building right at the last minute, so you can jump in the Uber as they pull up. The driver doesn't start earning until you get in.
  • Respect their property. An Uber driver's car could be their own personal vehicle. So respect it. Don't slam the doors and be careful not to scratch the paint getting in. Also, ask the driver if they mind you eating – they can charge a cleaning fee if necessary. If you get out and leave a load of rubbish behind that the driver has to tidy up, that's going to irritate them. Also, don't mess with the stereo or in-car heating controls without permission.
  • Leave a tip. Leaving the driver a tip might go a long way to getting a good rating from them.
  • Follow the rules. Another commonly cited annoyance of Uber drivers is parents trying to get in an Uber with their children without a proper car seat. It's the responsibility of the rider to provide a correct and safe car seat. Uber Australia also says that open containers of alcohol are not allowed in Uber vehicles. Another courtesy is to allow them to drive, rather than being a backseat driver, and be reasonable about where you want to be dropped off.

How do you become an Uber driver?

Minimum requirements for Uber driver (currently called a driver-partner) sign-up:

  • You must be older than 21 years of age (Uber Eats says the minimum age is 18 years old).
  • You need a full and valid driver's licence for your state or territory, and to have held the licence for at least a year in any Australian state or territory.
  • You'll need to present all the correct documents for your state/territory.
  • You'll need to be insured for the vehicle you want to use as an Uber.
  • Vehicle must meet Uber's standards (see below).
  • You'll need to pass a background check.
  • You'll need Australian citizenship, residency or a suitable visa.

What documents will Uber ask to see?

  • Your passport or a birth certificate
  • A valid driver's licence
  • A front-facing driver profile photo, similar to a passport licence photograph

Which cars meet Uber's requirements?

According to the brand's website, the requirements vary from city to city. For example, in Sydney, the conditions are:

  • Your car must have a 5-star ANCAP rating (unless it is on the Uber exemption list)
  • The vehicle needs to have 4 doors
  • Needs CTP and rego
  • The vehicle needs to be in excellent mechanical condition
  • Including the driver's seat, it needs to have up to 8 seats
  • Should pass a pink slip inspection
  • Damage free (no hail damage, scratches, etc.)
  • No external wraps or graphics

Uber vehicle eligibility list for Sydney

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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.
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/Levies
New South Walesyes17 December 2015$250 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 $1 levy applies to taxi and ride-booking services in Victoria.
Queenslandyes5 September 2016The government had previously issued a cease-and-desist notice to Uber.
Northern Territoryyes1 February 2018The Government legalised Uber in 2017 but due to regulatory difficulties, the company was 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 2015Ride-sharing services must operate with a Charter Vehicle Licence.

A short history of the world's largest ride-sharing platform

In 2008, a Canadian and American wanted to get a taxi in a wintery Paris, apparently they found no taxis due to the snowy conditions. This gave them the idea to launch UberCab in San Francisco – a smartphone app that let you hail a taxi with the press of a button. The first Uber ride took place on 5 July 2010, a cross-San Francisco trip.

In December 2011, Uber went international, launching in Paris where the idea for ride-sharing was first envisaged. In July 2012, US Uber users could order ice cream (but only in 7 cities). In the same month, UberX was announced, which aimed to use hybrid vehicles. In October 2012, Uber arrived in Sydney.

Uber has continued to expand internationally ever since. Uber now operates across 37 Australian towns and cities, from Adelaide to Wollongong.

How much will an Uber journey cost?

It depends on where you live, how far you are going and what time of the day it is (how busy the Uber network is).

You're charged a base fare, as well as a minimum fare. There are also additional fees depending on where you live.

In August 2021, to travel from Haymarket, NSW 2000 to Bella Vista, NSW 2153, the price is estimated as follows:

An UberX at 23:00 costs an estimated $84.40. Change that to later in the evening, then there may be things like surge pricing in play and the trip could cost more.

The Uber website has a fare price estimate calculator.

How does surge pricing work?

Uber's pricing model is dynamic, meaning it adapts to supply and demand.

Uber uses surge pricing to encourage more drivers to migrate into an area, as the location is experiencing a demand (or surge). They add multipliers to the price to attract the drivers and this cost is passed on to the rider. This can happen in a matter of minutes, it helps to keep things balanced as best as possible.

It's a great incentive for Uber drivers. It encourages them to be available during peak times and can really boost their earnings. For riders, it's not as popular, as you might be landed with a 1.2 or 1.5x surge price. Some drivers have reported earning as much as 7.5x surge prices in Melbourne.

To save money, Uber suggests waiting a few minutes if you're noticing surge pricing. That allows more Uber drivers to get online and make their way to the area, which should normalise the fares.


Is Uber safe?

Uber has put in place safeguards to protect both riders and drivers.

The app provides a lot of the safety features. It includes an emergency assistance button. You can also press a button to discretely report non-emergency issues during the trip to Uber, which aims to follow this up within 24 hours. There's also a function that shares your trip with one of your contacts. Phone numbers are censored through the app, protecting your details. If a trip has an unexpected stop for a length of time, Uber will check to see what's happening.

When you accept a ride, you'll see the registration plate information of the Uber driver's vehicle, as well as a profile photo they've supplied. You can view past reviews they've received, their rating and how long they've been an Uber driver-partner.

The drivers are required to pass background checks, including criminal screening, before they sign up. There are also limits on the hours they can drive, speed limits built into the app and yearly vehicle inspections.

Granted, there are incidents and Uber last published safety statistics in 2019. The company said at that time that between 2017 and 2018, 2.3 billion Uber trips were made in the US. They found that 99.9% of the rides were incident-free. Of the 0.1% that weren't, 0.0003% of the rides had a "critical safety incident".

There were 19 fatal physical assaults. 7 of those deaths were drivers, 4 were third parties and 8 were Uber riders. There were 107 fatalities in crashes that were categorised as Uber-related, or around 1 in 20 million rides.

There were incidences of sexual assault, which varied depending on the crime committed. It should be noted that riders accounted for 45% of the accused parties across all categories of sexual assault.

Uber says that as of 2019, 40,000 drivers had been removed due to continuous screening. When investigating sexual assaults, Uber states:

When we receive a report of sexual assault, a trained safety support agent begins by identifying the accused party and their associated Uber account. We immediately remove the accused party's access to the Uber app so that they cannot take trips while we complete a review. If the accused party is a guest rider, we attempt to identify whether they have their own Uber account and, if they do, we restrict it. If the guest rider cannot be identified, or if they do not have an Uber account, we may restrict the account holder's access to the Uber app since they are responsible for their guest riders' actions while on a trip.


What other services does Uber offer?

Uber has branched out from ride-shares to offer several other services:

  • Uber Eats. Uber Eats is an app produced by Uber that lets you order food. You can have the food delivered, collect it or dine in. Uber Eats not only offers meals from your favourite restaurant, but you can also order groceries and even alcohol. Like ordering a normal Uber, you can watch your food make its way to you, plus you can leave helpful delivery notes and requests via the app. Uber Eats allows you to tip your delivery driver too.
  • Uber Pool. Uber Pool is currently suspended temporarily, due to COVID-19. When available, Uber Pool allows you to share a ride with other Uber users, so you can split the bill. Because of the way the service works, you might have to walk a little to meet up with an Uber already underway. Uber Pool might not be an option at quieter times, though.
  • Uber Connect. Formerly Uber Rush, Uber Connect provides a way for customers to send packages through the Uber network, with same-day delivery taking only as long as the time it takes to drive to the recipient. It's on-demand and convenient. You just properly prepare your delivery, whether it's business contracts or a gift for a friend, and then request a delivery through Uber Connect in the app. There are restrictions on what can be shipped (under 20kgs and no more than $100 value, for a start), but your driver will then meet with the recipient and hand over the parcel directly to them.
  • Uber Rent. Uber Australia also allows users to rent a vehicle. Currently (August 2021), they are running a 10% cashback offer and a $10 contribution to the Uber trip on the way to pick up your rental car.
  • Uber for Business. This service allows you to manage your employee's bookings for rides, meals and deliveries around the world. Organisations using Uber for Business includes the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
  • Gift Cards. You can gift someone a digital or physical card for Uber trips or Uber Eats deliveries.
  • Around the world, Uber also operates Uber Freight and Uber Health, but these are yet to come to Australia.

What is the Uber Marketplace?

Uber's Marketplace connects Uber drivers with vehicle lease deals, including short-term rentals and rent-to-own plans. The marketplace lists offers from businesses like Splend. Helpfully, it shows a lot of the costs upfront.

What are the benefits and features of the Marketplace?

Some of the benefits and features included with the Uber Marketplace include:

  • You immediately have access to a variety of providers. There are many providers to choose from that are partnered with Uber, including Hertz, Splend and Thrifty, plus more. These appear to have Uber-specific packages available which include roadside assistance, registration and comprehensive insurance covered in the fee you pay, and you also have access to scheduled maintenance.
  • Immediately see the costs. Once you choose the option that you want, you can find lenders immediately and see their prices. This can help you to select a vehicle that matches your budget.
  • Learn about the terms available. You also have immediate access to the terms of the lender and what the joining fees and exit fees are. Some lenders have minimum terms of 5 days for short-term contracts. However, this varies from provider to provider.
  • Learn what cars are on offer. The lenders will also show what kind of vehicles are on offer, such as new or almost new models, or a specific kind of car that is available, such as a late-model Camry hybrid or Corolla.

What's the difference between using Uber's Marketplace and using a vehicle rental?

By using Uber Marketplace, you have access to a variety of trusted lenders who offer Uber-accepted vehicles. This means that with some lenders, roadside assistance is available as well as replacement cars and unlimited kilometres, in order to keep you on the road and earning with Uber trips. This is not often the case when using a vehicle rental service, as some lenders might offer a replacement car, but it might not meet Uber's requirements.

What else do I need to know about the Marketplace?

Using Uber Marketplace immediately puts you in touch with ride-sharing and Uber-recognised rental vendors.

It's vital to consider your budget and your earning potential with Uber before making any decisions. There are also eligibility requirements you need to meet in order to get a vehicle with these lenders, and fees on top. It's also important to remember that you are responsible for running costs associated with the vehicle, such as fuel, unscheduled maintenance and tyres. Some lenders might include scheduled maintenance, and handle the registration fees and insurance costs.

Getting a vehicle through the Uber Marketplace is something to consider if you're wanting to get on the road quickly and want a vehicle that is accepted by the company. Make sure that you get advice from a qualified person before committing to any agreements.

Latest Uber news

You can now earn Qantas Points for every Uber trip, but there’s a catch

You can now earn Qantas Points for every Uber trip, but there’s a catch

Uber Rewards will convert to Qantas Points, but earn rates for trips are being cut.

Read more…
Uber launching rewards points program for ordering rides and food

Uber launching rewards points program for ordering rides and food

Uber Rewards will be open to the public at scale from early 2020.

Read more…
Battle of the rideshares: Uber vs Ola vs DiDi vs Bolt

Battle of the rideshares: Uber vs Ola vs DiDi vs Bolt

Which rideshare option is cheaper?

Read more…
Owning a car vs Uber vs GoGet 2019

Owning a car vs Uber vs GoGet 2019

Which transport option is cheaper? It depends on how often you drive.

Read more…
Uber integrates blockchain application Solve.Care into Uber Health

Uber integrates blockchain application Solve.Care into Uber Health

Transport, healthcare and blockchain are a good combination.

Read more…
Visa, Mastercard, Uber revealed as Facebook cryptocurrency backers

Visa, Mastercard, Uber revealed as Facebook cryptocurrency backers

Facebook's backers are reportedly just as curious about Libra as everyone else.

Read more…

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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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