Uber Continues to be Amazing for Family Trips

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There is no form of travel that is perfect.  However, when working correctly, Uber can get darn close.  I’ve shared my love for this service before both when they came out with uberFAMILY that provided car seats in certain vehicles in select cities (which, has since expanded – I just read that uberFAMILY in Philly includes 1 IMMI Go car seat AND 2 BubbleBum boosters in every uberFAMILY car) and again after when they “rescued” our traveling family of 5 on hot July days in DC.  Literally it turned what could have been a pouty, sweaty, Griswold-kind-of-fun experience into a pleasant experience.

This week I was in Boston with my parents, my sister, my aunt, and my daughter.  That is a diverse herd that ranges in age from 4 – 65, and moving all of us around town at one time could have been a logistical challenge.  Walking miles and miles all day wasn’t practical.  Solely relying on the tourist trolleys, or even public transportation, wasn’t realistic if you wanted off to make the best use of your time.  Renting a car and dealing with Boston streets and parking would have been an even worse idea than walking.  Cabs could have worked, but we would have needed more than one, and they weren’t always in abundance at some of the spots we visited.

Family of six in Uber SUV in Boston

Family of six in Uber SUV in Boston

However, using the Uber SUV option allowed all six of us to get from spot to spot in one vehicle with ease.  No one got too worn out from excessive walking (though walking the Freedom Trail was great!), we made great time, and we were kept together.  There is no way we would have seen as much as we did in a short period of time without Uber.

I know lots of you have already used Uber and know exactly what I am talking about, but I don’t know if my parents or aunt would have ever used Uber were it not for me, so I am writing about Uber (again) to try and encourage folks who may be hesitant with summoning a car via a smart phone to take a breath and make it happen.  It is especially valuable on trips like this where we had to move a large number of people, and were in areas that weren’t always flush with cabs.

Save the walking for the Freedom Trail!

Save the walking for the Freedom Trail

Uber is kind of like the “Fast Pass” option at Disney World in that it literally gave us the chance to make better use of our vacation time, which is priceless.  However, “priceless” doesn’t always fit into family budgets, so now I want to talk about two ways to save on upcoming Uber trips.

  • First ride free (up to $30 promo – my link).  If you are new to Uber, you can try it out for free on a ride up to $30 (if the cost is higher, the difference will be billed to your linked credit card).  This is a great way to see why I am a huge fan without having to pony up some cash.
  • New and existing Uber customers save $10 on a ride via Amex Sync.  Just sync an American Express credit card that you attach to your Uber account using #AmexUber and get a one-time $10 statement credit by using your connected card to spend a total of $10 or more on Uber by 12/31/14.  You can get more information on this offer here.  To maximize earning points while using Uber note that Membership Rewards pays out 2x on Uber rides, and of course it is coded as an eligible 2x travel charge on the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

Before I wrap up this Uber love note, I want to share three more reasons why I love Uber for those who have not yet tried it.

  1. No cash or credit cards are involved.  You link a credit card to your Uber account, and when it comes time to actually ride no cash or credit cards change hands.  It is simple, seamless, and stress-free.  You don’t even need to tip additional over what is automatically billed to your card.
  2. You can track your driver and know what type of vehicle to look for thanks to the app.  It was very helpful to know where the driver was, what type of car, and what license plate to look for.  This isn’t just convenient, but it makes me feel a tad safer to know that info is being tracked.
  3. Many drivers are just so helpful.  This will be luck of the draw, but I had some great Uber drivers in Boston who went above and beyond to really help us out, even carrying luggage into the hotel for us when my arms were full of our sleeping four-year-old.  They didn’t have to do that, but I was so thankful they did.  You can bet they got big five star ratings (and I wish there was a 5+)!  Which, is really my third point.  The drivers (and passengers) are rated, so a truly bad driver won’t last long in the Uber system.

Make yourself learn how to use Uber before your next urban family trip.  Try it out and see what you think, then let me know.  It may not be perfect 100% of the time, but it can get darn close.  I don’t use Uber in my daily life, but I’m a big fan of it on urban family trips to maximize time and minimize stress.

Comments

  1. I’ve used Uber couple times myself and found it very useful and really cheaper than getting a regular cab. However, I am still not sure if it would be the best option (financially) when the trip involves my family. For example, I know if I request a mini van from the local taxi company that serves our local airport to take my family of 4 (plus lots of luggage) from my home to the airport it will cost me around $60 for the ride. When I try to estimate the price of a Uber SUV for the same itinerary it gets close to $100. That is a huge difference. Thus, maybe I have to try it once to see the final cost but I find that other than the regular car Uber can be very expensive.

  2. It’s worth mentioning that in many cities, Lyft is switching to a more Uber-esque business model, and offers a similar product with similar free sign-up bonuses (and possibly much better if you’re in a “pioneer” city: 5-10 free rides!). As the rollouts and products seem to be city-specific for both options, it’s worth checking into both. In Boston, for instance (where I live), I have switched from Uber to Lyft recently due to better availability in my neighborhood and a seeming increase in driver “defections” from Uber to Lyft. The word from the front seat is that, at least in Boston, many drivers are switching (the pay structure is apparently better). They also usually have a smaller “primetime” rate increase than Uber.

    The bottom line: At a minimum, you can get a free ride if you find yourself in a Lyft city. And depending where you are, it may be an as-good-or-better option than Uber.

    If you want to check it out, here is my referral code that gives us both a free ride: BENJAMIN555507.

    • JW, I don’t know if they have Uber XL in Austin yet, but look for that option. Prices more similar to UberX but still get a larger vehicle.

  3. Amy, you are most welcome. I haven’t seen an expiration date yet for that particular offer. It has been around since the summer and while I’m sure it won’t last forever, it has had a good shelf life thus far.
    Ssantastico, to/from airports the advantages over cabs diminish somewhat I think, but getting around an urban area I think is where they strongly outshine cabs, especially when you need a larger vehicle due to availability, tracking, etc. There is also Uber XL that is not black SUVs that is cheaper than the SUV option but still guarantees a larger vehicle.
    Ben, the Lyft vs Uber thing is so interesting and I admit to not having much Lyft experience at all simply because Uber has worked so well for me, but good to know about both options and use what works better in your area for sure.

  4. My husband and I just used Uber for the first time this week in San Francisco. It was great. The driver was friendly and the car was large and clean. I really hate cabs. We plan to use it in the morning again to get us back to the airport. The credit I had on my acct for signing up initially plus the free ride credit that I received for referring him should more than pay for our ride tomorrow. I have a question– does Barclays consider Uber a travel expense for redeeming points?

  5. A couple of times, I have given my Uber driver (usually the UberX guys) a $5 or $10 cash tip above the fare due to their true desire to make our experience better.

    There are really some great drivers, with really nice cars.

    Does anybody else add a tip above the fare?

    I hope Uber does not screw this up – they have been squeezing their drivers more and more (reduced prices, increased commissions to Uber, and additional charges to the drivers).

    Without compensating these drivers appropriately, the quality of person driving will deteriorate which will make their great service less desirable to me.

    • Lark, I am a tipper by nature, but I have not tipped an Uber driver extra because I think one of the true benefits of the service is that it is cashless and tip is “included”. Though I would have for the one who carried my bags in the hotel while my kid was asleep in my arms if I had a free hand to dig into my purse. I hope they continue to pay drives at a rate that will keep great drivers, but the last thing we need is another area that is tip-driven in travel (no pun intended).

      I would only tip on a rare exception such as the situation above (if I had a hand) or if we did something bad like spill goldfish crackers or something in the car (we don’t eat in Uber cars, but just giving an example). I really don’t want to see Uber become tip focused, though I am sure the drivers appreciate your effort for sure.

  6. Our balance after credits was more than $25 so I will use my Barclays rewards to pay for the balance. The ride from SFO to our hotel (grand hyatt union square) was a little longer than I expected and the airport was so busy Sunday night. Uber came within 5 minutes. I was very impressed.

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