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The Definitive Guide to Uber Black for Riders in 2020

When you’re sharing a ride with someone you want to impress or when you want to experience luxury en route to your destination, the standard rideshare service won’t do. If you want to up your game from pick-up to drop-off, Uber Black is the vehicle option for you.

For the majority of Uber riders who have only used the UberX, UberPOOL, or perhaps UberXL service, Uber is just a convenient way to get to the airport or head home after a night at the bar. It’s not a luxury option.

Uber may be known best for its economical UberX service today, but before the app was connecting you to rides in everyday sedans, it was a black car service called UberCab. Today, this service has been revamped and re-branded as Uber Black. The luxury experience it provides is top-of-the-line, while the convenience of requesting it is on par with other on-demand ride services.

Keep reading for a complete guide to the Uber Black car service, including its unique benefits, how much it costs, and how to request your first Black ride.


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What Is Uber Black?

Uber Black is an on-demand black car service. It allows you to request a ride in a luxury vehicle with a professional driver behind the wheel. And, it’s the perfect option for impressing clients ahead of business meetings or impressing your partner on the way to an anniversary dinner.

While Uber has evolved into an affordable transportation option for the average person, it didn’t start out that way. Originally, Uber founders Garrett Camp and Travis Kalanick conceived the Uber service as a more affordable alternative to private black car services. When they first launched the service in San Francisco in 2011, the Uber app only allowed riders to hail black luxury cars at an average price of 1.5 times higher than a taxi.

Starting in 2012, Uber launched UberX, which is now the standard Uber service that most riders use. UberBLACK continues to exist, however, offering a luxury option to riders with higher incomes, access to corporate expense accounts, or just the desire to splurge on a special occasion.

This ride type provides more than just the sleek look of a black exterior and black leather interior. All Uber Black vehicles are in excellent condition and never more than five years old. Plus, you’ll get matched with high-end car models like:

  • Audi A8
  • BMW 7 Series
  • Cadillac CT6
  • Lexus GS
  • Lincoln Continental
  • Maserati Quattroporte
  • Mercedes-Benz S-Class
  • Tesla Model S
  • Volvo S90

Though only four seats are guaranteed, some lucky riders may even be matched with roomy SUVs like the GMC Yukon Denali, Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class, Cadillac Escalade, and Ford Expedition Platinum.

Uber Black drivers must provide consistent, outstanding service to maintain their minimum 4.85-star rating. Most are also committed drivers who know their way around the city well because they must put in some extra effort to receive a commercial driver’s license (CDL), like taxi drivers.

Unlike your standard Uber driver, these professionals also usually dress up for the occasion in at least a nice dress shirt and slacks (instead of going for a casual look) to provide an all-around luxury experience.

Benefits of Uber Black

Beyond the impressive experience that your Uber Black vehicle and driver can provide, the black car service comes with many unique benefits. Here are six perks you can experience when requesting Uber Black:

1. Ride Preferences

Asking your driver to cater to your needs can feel awkward, even when the air’s just a little too cold for you. In 2019, Uber launched a new feature for Uber Black riders that allows you to set your preferences before you get in your ride. For example, you can make selections for the following:

  • Level of conversation: Quiet mode is actually possible with Uber Black. Alternatively, you can select “Happy to chat” or “No preference.”
  • Temperature: Whether you like it warmer or cooler, you can let your driver know ahead of time.

Baggage help: If you’re carrying luggage or a few bags, you can ask your Uber Black driver to help you put your haul in the trunk.

2. Enhanced Safety

When you choose Uber Black, your driver will always have a CDL, which means they pass a more extensive background check than most Uber drivers. The commercial licensing process — which varies by city — usually requires fingerprinting on top of a typical criminal background check and driving record check, and sometimes includes a health screening and educational courses.

Once a driver has their CDL, they must display their unique Transportation Charter Permit (TCP) numbers on their windshields for easy identification and must be covered by commercial insurance.

Beyond these extensive driver requirements, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that your vehicle is newer, which usually means better safety standards and a better-maintained ride.

3. Better Airport Access

Because Uber Black drivers have official TCP numbers and CDLs, they are typically eligible to drive wherever taxi drivers can go. This often means that, even at airports where most Uber drivers are banned from performing pick-ups or drop-offs, your Uber Black ride may still be able to drop you off at or pick you up from your terminal.

For example, at the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), you can still get curbside pick-ups by requesting Uber Black, even when all other pick-ups must occur at the LAX-it taxi stand, which is a shuttle ride away.

4. Premium Support

If something goes wrong with your Uber Black ride, you can actually contact support by phone and get priority access to a customer service representative in real-time. You’ll get a live conversation going with a real person on Uber’s support team.

This is unique to the luxury service, as Uber phone support is otherwise only available to drivers.

5. Longer Pick-Up Periods

Whether your business meetings run long or your time at baggage claim takes longer than expected, Uber Black can help you avoid cancellation fees. While most Uber drivers can cancel, causing you to accrue a no-show fee, after just five minutes, Uber Black drivers are required to wait at least 15 minutes before they head out.

You still might accrue a small waiting fee after the first five minutes, but it’s better than having to pay for cancellation and lose your ride.

6. Scheduled Rides

Uber Black is one of the few Uber services that allow you to make a reservation ahead of time. Not only does this help you ensure a car is available during the exact time frame you request, it also enables you to lock in prices ahead of time, so you’re not subject to surge pricing, which drives up fares when demand is high.

Plus, in the rare case that your driver doesn’t show up in your scheduled time frame, you may be eligible for a $10 ride credit.

How Much Does Uber Black Cost?

It’s hard to pinpoint an exact cost for Uber Black, because Uber rates and fees vary a lot between cities. However, you can always expect Uber Black to be more expensive than economy services like UberX, UberPool, and even Uber Comfort.

To see Uber rates in your area, head to this price estimate tool and enter any pick-up and drop-off destination in your city. Then, scroll down and tap the info icon next to “Black” (you may need to tap “View all options” to see the listing). This will pull up your local base fare, booking fee, minimum fare, per-minute rate, per-mile rate, and cancellation fees for the black car service.

If the “Black” listing doesn’t appear, the service likely isn’t available in your area.

When considering the cost of Uber Black in your city, don’t forget to account for a tip. While Uber tipping isn’t mandatory, providing at least 15% gratuity is expected. Oftentimes, Uber Black riders will even plan to leave 20% or more because of the excellent service that professional drivers provide.

How To Request an Uber Black Ride

There’s no need to go through a separate signup process if you want to request an Uber Black ride. If you’re already an Uber user, you are already eligible to request this luxury car service as long as it’s available in your city.

If you aren’t a current user, you can easily sign up by downloading the Uber app from the App Store or Google Play store and following the simple prompts to sign up. Alternatively, you can head to this rider sign-up page and input your full name, email, phone number, and preferred password to get started.

Once your account is all set up, add a payment method by tapping your app’s menu icon, selecting the “Wallet” tab, and tapping “Add Payment Method.” You’ll be able to connect a credit card, debit card, Venmo account, PayPal account, Google Pay account, gift card, and even eligible commuter benefits cards.

Then, follow these simple steps to request an Uber Black ride:

  1. Tap the “Where to?” bar to enter your pick-up and drop-off locations.
  2. Scroll through your ride options until you reach the “Premium” section and select “Black.”
  3. Review your ride price, estimated drop-off time, and payment method, then tap “Confirm Black” to request  a car on demand or tap the schedule icon to schedule a future ride.

This is pretty much identical to the process you’d use to request any other ride type. The only difference is the vehicle option you select.

Frequently Asked Questions

Uber Black offers a convenient way to request a luxury ride experience, from pick-up to drop-off. If you’re interested in more luxury options, read these frequently asked questions:

Are there any special qualifications to use UberBLACK?

No, there are not. As long as you’re eligible to use the Uber app and can pay the fare using the payment method you have on file, you can use UberBLACK.

Does Uber offer shared UberBLACK rides?

No, they do not. While UberPOOL offers riders the opportunity to save on the cost of a ride by sharing it with other passengers the driver picks up on the way, there is no equivalent service for UberBLACK. If you’re concerned about cost, then UberX is probably a better service for you to use.

What’s the difference between UberBLACK, UberSELECT, and UberLUX?

When browsing the “Premium” ride options in the Uber app, you may notice UberSELECT and UberLUX are also available.

UberSELECT is a service that aims to be midway between UberX and UberBLACK. The Uber website describes UberSELECT as “a low-cost ride with an added touch of luxury.” You’ll only get the highest-rated drivers, and the cars will be a bit nicer than average. But you won’t see the black cars, luxury interiors, or professional drivers of UberBLACK.

UberLUX, on the other hand, is an even higher-end service than UberBLACK. The main difference you’ll see is in the type of vehicles. UberBLACK cars are very nice, but not all of them are true “luxury” vehicles. With UberLUX, you’ll always have a luxury ride with the professional driver to match. Think of it this way: Whereas the typical UberBLACK ride might be in a Lincoln Town Car, the typical UberLUX ride will be in a Rolls Royce.

Should I tip my UberBLACK driver?

As with all Uber services, tipping is completely optional. However, we think you should tip your UberBLACK driver if they provided you with excellent service. This is a luxury ride option, so if you can afford to take the ride to begin with, do the classy thing and give your driver a tip.

After all, you wouldn’t go to a fancy restaurant and not tip your server. We think you should treat Uber the same way, as ultimately your driver is still an independent contractor without a salary or benefits from Uber.

Is UberBLACK safe?

Yes, it is. Uber requires all drivers to undergo a background check, DMV check, and vehicle inspection to ensure that they can safely transport passengers. UberBLACK drivers must meet even more rigorous standards, maintaining a driver rating of at least 4.8 as well as possessing commercial insurance and any local licenses or certifications necessary to be a professional driver.

If you ever do feel unsafe for any reason, you can also contact Uber customer support for assistance (unless it’s an emergency situation, in which case you should call 911).

Is UberBLACK accessible to passengers with disabilities?

This depends on the specific disability in question. Uber does require all drivers to accommodate passengers with disabilities to the greatest reasonable extent possible. Your UberBLACK driver will be happy to help you with loading your assistive equipment into the vehicle or making sure that your service animal has a place to sit.

That being said, UberBLACK drivers are not professionally trained in assisting persons with disabilities. If you want to guarantee that your driver does have the necessary training (as well as a vehicle that is wheelchair accessible), then we recommend looking into UberWAV.

Does Uber offer any black car services beyond the standard Uber Black?

Yes. If you want an upgrade, the rideshare app also offers Uber Black SUV, which comes with all the perks of Uber Black, just with guaranteed seating for up to six passengers.

If you want an ultra high-end experience, some cities even offer Uber Lux, which connects you to professional drivers with car makes like Rolls Royce, Bently, and Maybach or top-tier models like the Lexus LX and Land Rover Range Rover. The only downside is, Lux is not available for scheduling in most markets where it’s offered.

Does Lyft offer a service like Uber Black?

Yes. The Lyft equivalent of Uber Black is Lux Black, a service that similarly connects you to premium black cars driven by highly rated drivers. Unlike Uber Black, Lyft’s Lux Black does not require drivers to be professional, commercially insured drivers.

Does Uber offer a luxury car service that isn’t a black car service?

In many cities, yes. Uber Select is a widely available service that connects you to rides in mid-tier luxury sedans. If a sleek black interior and exterior look and a professional driver aren’t necessary for you, this option will still get you a stylish ride in a vehicle with vinyl or leather upholstery that’s usually no more than 10 years old.

Get the Experience You’re Looking For

Whether you’re requesting a ride for yourself, you and a guest, or a VIP, Uber Black will be sure to impress. This on-demand black car service comes with an extensive line of perks, if a beautiful vehicle and a professional driver aren’t enough. All it takes to access Uber Black is a few taps on your smartphone.

If you’re more interested in driving than riding, see how this luxury car service can make your rideshare earnings soar by reading our ultimate guide to driving for Uber Black.

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