The definitive guide to Uber

News, guides and hacks

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 ride-sharing 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.

Essential Uber Guides

How does Uber work?

If you want to use the Uber platform as a rider, you first need to download the app (available for iOS and Android) and create an account. 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.

Compare your Uber vehicle options below

Rates last updated February 22nd, 2018
Name Product From Price Per Week Insurance included Membership Fee Excess km cost Product Description
Splend Car Rentals
Rent an Uber-ready vehicle from Splend and get access to fuel discounts, referral bonuses and member only benefits. Rent-to-Drive and Rent-to-Buy options available.
DriveMyCar Uber Rentals
A peer-to-peer rideshare platform that offers insurance, maintenance and 24-hour roadside assistance in the all-inclusive price. You'll get access to discounts if you rent longer than six months.
Driverlend is a finance broker. Lease or buy a car with Driverlend and you could get up to 20% discount on dealership prices for a new vehicle.
Europcar Uber Rental
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.
Hertz Uber Rental
You can Rent a car from Hertz get access to 24/7 roadside assistance, no lock-in contracts and no joining fees. Limited areas.

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 care 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 applied to taxi and ride-booking services in Victoria.
Queenslandyes5 December 2016The government had previously issued a cease-and-desist notice to Uber.
Northern TerritoryNoProposedThe NT Labor Government, elected in late 2016, has promised to legalise Uber.
South Australiayes1 July 2016Taxi drivers will be compensated and a $1 metropolitan ride levy applies.
Tasmaniayes8 Nov 2016Initially only legalised until 2018.
Western AustraliayesDecember 18 2015Ridesharing services must operate with an omnibus 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 between himself and 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 three 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 km 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 driving 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:

  • UberEATS. 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.
  • 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.
  • UberPOOL. Uber has also launched UberPOOL in select locations to allow riders to share their ride, and the cost of it, with another Uber passenger. It's currently available in cities across the US, India, France, China and more.
  • 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 Cannes 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

Picture: Shutterstock

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40 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    GeannJanuary 30, 2018

    I need to be able to get my small dog to and from kennels on a regular basis and can’t drive because of arm injury. I would accompany dog. How do I find out if a driver will transport us?

    • Staff
      JhezelynFebruary 2, 2018Staff

      Hi Geann,

      Thank you for your comment.

      Yes, you can transport your dog with Uber. Most Uber drivers allow you bring small pet. All you need to do is to contact the driver who accepts your ride request. Just use your app to send a text message or call to let the driver know that you’d like to bring a pet.

      Just make sure to help keep the vehicle clean.


  2. Default Gravatar
    IanJanuary 28, 2018

    How do I cancel an account

    • Staff
      KathyJanuary 29, 2018Staff

      Hi Ian,

      Thank you for contacting finder – a financial comparison website and general information service designed to help consumers make better decisions.

      1. Go to Settings
      2. Tap “Privacy Settings”
      3. Tap “Delete Account” and follow the steps on the screen

      1. Sign in to account
      2. Submit a request
      3. You’ll receive an email confirming your account is deactivated

      If you change your mind, you can restore it within 30 days of deactivation by signing in to the app.

      Hope this helps!

  3. Default Gravatar
    LatoyaNovember 14, 2017

    Hello I was just wondering, if I live in one state e.g Adelaide and travelled to Melbourne, would I still be able to use the same uber app on my phone? Do I have to restart my phone? What is the procedure when travelling to different states in Australia when using Uber?

    • Default Gravatar
      JonathanNovember 14, 2017

      Hi Latoya,

      Thank you for your inquiry. Yes, you will be able to use the same uber app on your phone, and there is no need to restart it.

      While Uber doesn’t limit the distance you can travel on a trip, trips may automatically end after 4 hours. When this is about to happen, the driver is notified by the partner app.

      If you’d like to continue after a trip automatically ends, please request a new ride. Since your previous driver is nearby, they may receive this new trip request.

      Hope this helps.


  4. Default Gravatar
    pamelaNovember 12, 2017

    i have registered as a uber passenger – BUT every time i try to book a pick up my phone no is incorrect and does not match my email address. not sure what to do. i had a friend who registered for me the only thing i can think of is they have put in my wrong mobile no. not sure what to do to fix the problem

    • Staff
      LouNovember 12, 2017Staff

      Hi Pamela,

      Thanks for your question.

      If you want to change or edit your phone number on Uber app, you can follow the following procedure:

      1. Log in to your Uber and then choose “Account” from the menu.
      2. Tap EDIT (under your name) to view your current information.
      3. Click the pencil icon at the top right of the screen to edit.
      4. Enter your account password and then you can now update your phone number and other details such as address, or email.

      I hope this helps.


  5. Default Gravatar
    RuthOctober 24, 2017

    How do I get another email with a past uber ride receipt.

    • Staff
      HaroldOctober 24, 2017Staff

      Hi Ruth,

      Thank you for your inquiry.

      You may want to follow this procedure. Your Uber account includes a trip history of every ride you’ve taken. To review:
      1. Select “Your Trips” from the app menu.
      2. Select a past trip.
      3. You can review the trip’s route, pickup location and final destination.
      4 For a full breakdown of your fare, tap Receipt.

      I hope this information has helped.


  6. Default Gravatar
    peterSeptember 19, 2017

    hi have been in London using uber paying it on credit card account in pounds.have returned home to melbopurne and see there are uber rides still getting charged to me in uk pounds..and I think not all my rides either what can I do notify the bank and or uber and if uber how do I do that thanks Peter

    • Staff
      LouSeptember 19, 2017Staff

      Hi Peter,

      Thanks for your question.

      If you can prove that some of the UBER charges reflected on your credit card statement are not legitimate, you may request your bank to reverse the transaction. You can check this page for our guide how to do it.

      You may also lodge a complaint with UBER.


  7. Default Gravatar
    HDSeptember 15, 2017

    Hey there,

    I have a high range DUI conviction would i still be eligible to drive for UBER in sydney?

    • Staff
      JhezelynSeptember 15, 2017Staff

      Hi HD,

      Thanks for your comment.

      You may be eligible as long as you meet the Uber Driver Requirements. Please check below the minimum requirements to become an Uber driver:
      – Be at least 21 years old
      – Have access to an Uber-approved vehicle
      – Hold a full NSW driver’s licence: No Provisional (P) or Learners (L) licences are permitted
      – Have held a full driver’s licence in any state or territory for at least 12 months
      – Hold comprehensive or third party property insurance for the vehicle you’ll be driving. Your name, vehicle make and registration, policy expiration and type of cover must be visible on the document.
      – Hold a Private Hire Vehicle Authority issued by the Roads and Maritime Services (RMS). Uber helps all new drivers apply for their Driver Authority Card as part of the sign-up process.
      – Complete a free vehicle inspection at a registered Uber inspection site
      – Pass a background check

      Kindly refer to this page for Uber driver guider in Sydney.


  8. Default Gravatar
    TerrySeptember 15, 2017

    Who pays the GST on Uber rides? Does the driver have to pay GST on top of the 25%?
    Thank you

    • Staff
      LiezlSeptember 15, 2017Staff

      Hi Terry,

      Thanks for your question. Uber and all rideshare drivers must now register for GST from the day they start driving, regardless of their turnover or income. Moreover, the $75,000 GST registration threshold does not apply to ride-sourcing drivers. You might find our article here on sharing economy tax helpful. You can also visit ATO’s website for more information on ride-sourcing & tax.


  9. Default Gravatar
    LizSeptember 6, 2017

    Is there a designated pick-up area for incoming Domestic flights at Sydney Airport?

    • Staff
      JoelSeptember 6, 2017Staff

      Hi Liz,

      Thanks for your inquiry. Please note that we are not affiliated with Uber or any company we feature on our site and so we can only offer you general advice.
      At SYD, your pickup location depends on your terminal and ride option.

      At the domestic terminal, head to the priority pickup zone for your uberX ride. (Follow the green signs through the car park to the public pickup area. This is the priority pickup zone.) For all other ride options at the domestic terminal, head outside to the general passenger pickup area and wait curbside. Hope it helps.


  10. Default Gravatar
    PamelaAugust 22, 2017

    I am new to Uber and have not used the service previously.
    Is it possible to book a Uber ride for a pick up at a specific time?
    If so, how do you make the booking?

    • Staff
      LouAugust 22, 2017Staff

      Hi Pamela,

      Thanks for your question.

      Yes, it is now possible to schedule your ride with Uber in Australia.

      To do it, just log into your Uber app, select your ride and then tap on “Schedule a Ride.” You can then select you pick-up date as well as other related details such as the time, location and destination. You may also cancel your ride at anytime before it is on the way.

      Kindly note that this service is only available for selected locations in Australia.


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