Uber made headlines last week with new changes to its ride-sharing app.
The company introduced a tipping feature that is expected to roll out to all its U.S. markets by the end of July.
But do you know how much to tip? Whether you can request a ride for another? Or whether you can request your own music on the radio? Or eat in the back seat?
Whether you’re using Uber, or rival Lyft, here are some do’s and don’ts for first-time riders, gathered from the companies and drivers themselves.
Call me ready
Using your smartphone app, request the driver when you are absolutely ready. “Don’t make the driver wait once they’ve arrived,” said Uber driver Virginia Davis, of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. “Text or call the driver if the location is hard to find, like a hard-to-see house number or street.”
You can spot the car by the lighted emblems on the front windows.
Uber also recently announced it will be charging passengers by the minute for making a driver wait more than two minutes, beginning in August. And it will charge riders $5 if they cancel a ride two minutes after they requested it.
As a courtesy, so that you’ll become a repeat customer, your first ride with Uber and Lyft is free (up to $15 on Uber and $20 for Lyft). You can also get free rides by referring new passengers using a coupon code. The promo codes can be found on each of the apps and websites.
Depending on the driver, he or she may open the door for you and load your luggage.
“Some passengers don’t give you enough time to open the door,” said Alex Figueroa, a Lyft driver from Miami. “I always suggest to drivers that if you have extra time, open the door. The passenger will feel very welcomed.”
Most passengers hop into the rear seats and often sit diagonal from the driver. But if you prefer to ride in the front seat, check with your driver if that’s cool.
No, right turn
Drivers use GPS in their app to ferry drivers to their destinations. “If you’d like a different route than the Uber app, please do tell,” said Davis.
To tip or not to tip
Uber has been known for being a cashless experience. Some drivers welcome cash tips, but it’s completely voluntary. A new feature on the app will allow passengers to tip its U.S. drivers by the end of July. Riders can tip after they’ve rated their driver. Passengers will have up to 30 days after their trip to tip the driver. Don’t know how much to tip? Uber will have a “set tip” option once the feature is available.
In the meantime, if you’re in an Uber and you enjoyed the experience, ask the driver whether he or she would like to accept a cash tip.
Passengers using Lyft can leave a cash tip, or add a tip using the app. The tip will be charged to the credit card on file. Lyft customers have up to 72 hours to leave a tip after a ride.
Yes, you can order a ride for another
Another new feature out last week in an app update is primarily designed for Uber users who want a simple way to arrange rides for parents, grandparents and other loved ones unable to drive themselves. Previously, Uber users ordering on behalf of another passenger had to call the driver to explain the situation.
When you ask to be picked up at somewhere besides your current location, the app will give you the option to designate the ride for someone else. The passenger won’t need the Uber app; they’ll get a text identifying the driver, car make and other information. Uber will charge the you, the person who ordered the ride.
If you want to tip in a different way, give the driver a good rating on the app. The driver will also rate you as a passenger, so behave!
Speaking of good behavior, the drivers mostly use their own cars (typically a Toyota Camry or a hybrid). If you need to munch on a snack, don’t leave things behind (wrappers, water bottles, trash). “As soon as you’re dropping off that passenger and are ready to pick up someone else, you don’t have time to clean up your car,” said Figueroa. Also, no smoking.
What’s your jam?
Some drivers let riders play their own music in the vehicle. Or they may have power cords available for passengers to charge their phones.
“It’s up to the driver to offer things like that,” Figueroa said. “Ask (the passengers) if they want to play their own music. It makes (the drive) fun and easy.”
USA Today contributed to this report