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If you haven’t heard of Uber yet, get out a pen and paper and prepare to take notes. Or just get out your phone and prepare to visit the App store, because you’ll want to hit download shortly.

The first time I heard of Uber, I was trying to hail a cab, which was proving extremely difficult since not a single one had driven by in 10 minutes. My friend then exclaimed, “Let’s Uber!” To which I responded, “Ok lady, I know we’ve been drinking, but I don’t think chanting German words will help us right now.” Then she hit a few buttons on her phone, and in the short time it took her to explain the magic of uber to me, a fancy schmancy town car suddenly appeared, ready to take us to our destination of choice.

Uber is described an “on-demand private driver.” That statement probably strikes fear into the hearts of all of us who attempting to stick to a budget. Private driver = $$$. On-demand? Even more $$$. But no, Uber breaks down all of their costs for you, so you know exactly what kind of deal you are getting. You can expect a $7 base charge and $3.25 per mile (if you’re under 11 mph, you’ll pay $.75 per minute), with a $15 minimum total charge. Is it more expensive than a taxi ($3.00 minimum and $2.16 per mile)? Yes. Is it exponentially better than a taxi? Yes. Is it a lifesaver when you can’t get a taxi? Hell yes.

So how do you Uber? Take a trip to the App store on your iPhone or Android device and download the Uber app. Enter in the requested info, including your desired credit card. Next time you need to hitch a ride, go ahead and open your Uber app, set your pickup location and then Uber dispatches a driver to you. You’ll receive a text with an estimated arrival time and your driver’s profile. You can check to see how close the driver is on the map and they’ll have your number so they can call you in case they have any trouble reaching you. The best part, you don’t have to have cash because your credit card on file is automatically charged and tip is included, so don’t worry about giving your driver anything extra. Be sure to rate your driver post-ride – and be nice, it helps them out, too! Uber chooses their drivers based on their ratings and if a driver falls below a certain rating, Uber will not work with them anymore.

As of today, Uber now offers the choice of an SUV only option. This is significantly more expensive, but it makes complete sense if you and your friends are rolling deep (i.e. more than 4).

So, what have we learned?:

  1. Download Uber. Now.
  2. Use Uber whenever you are in a bind if you are on a budget.
  3. Use Uber all the time if you are not on a budget.
  4. If you’re not going far, try to use a cab. remember, there is a $15 minimum charge.
  5. Use Uber if you are out with a 5 or more friends so you can share one vehicle instead of trying to convince a cab driver that yes, the six of you really can squeeze in the backseat.

Another tip, you can use Uber in other cities too. When I was in San Francisco last week, we couldn’t find a taxi so I just opened my Uber app and 5 minutes later, we were off in an Uber vehicle!

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