Certainly by now everyone has heard of Uber, and most people have heard of Lyft. These are ride-hailing apps, and there are other like them, like the all-woman See Jane Go and the kid-friendly HopSkipDrive. Basically, anyone with a new-ish car in decent shape and a smart phone can start making money driving people around town. But how do you actually use it?
Download the App
Whether you’re riding or driving, you have to download the app. It’s as easy as downloading any other app; just go to the App Store on iTunes if you’ve got an iPhone or hit up Google Play on a phone running Android. Search for Uber (or Lyft or any of the others) and the app will show up. Click install, wait a minute, and voila. It’s right there on your phone.
Let’s assume that if you’re searching for a how-to guide like this one, your first priority is hailing a ride using one of these apps rather than trying to make some money as a driver. Once the app is downloaded and installed, open it up and register. You’ll need a name, a password (yet another one, right?), and credit card information.
Hail a Ride
With the app open, you’ll be able to see how many cars are nearby on the map. Uber, for instance, has a half dozen levels of service from cheap rides in cheap cars to expensive rides in expensive cars. Click on each service at the bottom of the screen to see how many of those are in your area.
Enter your pickup location and you’ll see how quickly a driver can get to you. Enter your destination to tell the driver where you’re going and to get the price of the trip.
Prices vary depending on distance, traffic, and sometimes surge pricing. When there’s high demand, like after an NBA game, or shitty weather, like during a snowstorm, the service will hike prices. It’s up to you whether that’s okay.
Ride hailing services all use stickers that drivers put in obvious places in their windows for easy verification that this is indeed your ride. You’ll also get the driver’s name, a picture of them, they make and model of their car, and their license plate. The driver gets basic info about you, too, so they usually can drive right up to where you’re waiting and call you by name.
Riding and Rating
You rate the drivers, and the drivers rate you. Be nice and other drivers in the future won’t avoid you when you show up on their app as needing a ride. Many drivers have taken this opportunity to offer water, snacks, and reading material in hopes that you’ll rate them better. I give my drivers high ratings for getting me where I need to go without driving through out-of-the-way neighborhoods and without a lot of chit-chat. Your preferences certainly vary.
This is, in my opinion, the best part. Because you’ve already set up a credit card in the app, you don’t have to have change or fumble with the credit card machine attached to the headrest. As soon as the ride is done, the app pays the driver. Bam. Done. Uber even lets you set up a business profile so that you can expense your rides more easily. If you’re using a kid-friendly service like HopSkipDrive, you don’t don’t have to trust your kid’s fledgling math skills.