If you ask someone to imagine “luxury transportation,” they probably think of a limo service or a chauffeur. What doesn’t come to most people’s minds is Uber.
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.
However, there’s a whole other side of Uber rides out there. These rides feature high-end cars with black leather interiors and professional drivers who are experts at providing customer service and ensuring passenger comfort.
This is UberBLACK, and it’s what we’ll explore in this article.
We’ll take a look at what the UberBLACK service is, how it differs from other Uber services, and what kind of experience you can expect when you take an UberBLACK.
- UberBLACK: The Original Uber Service
- UberBLACK: The Basics
- Where is UberBLACK Available?
- How Much Does UberBLACK Cost?
- Which Vehicles Does UberBLACK Use?
- UberBLACK FAQ
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.
What are the defining characteristics of an UberBLACK ride? You can think of UberBLACK as much the same as the UberX service, except a lot nicer.
To start, you won’t just be riding in someone’s budget sedan or minivan. Uber has much stricter requirements for the cars that drivers can use for UberBLACK, allowing only black luxury vehicles with black leather interiors. So if you want the epitome of luxury and comfort, UberBLACK is the choice for you.
But it’s about more than just the vehicle. You’ll also notice a difference in the service you receive. This isn’t to say that the service for UberX is bad, but it can be inconsistent.
You won’t find this with UberBLACK. All UberBLACK drivers are professionals, generally with the corresponding license and commercial insurance from the city in which they operate. They’ll tend to dress nicer and behave more like a chauffeur or limo driver. This could be an essential detail if you’re taking an UberBLACK to an important business event or to a fancy party.
For more information on how UberBLACK differs from the standard Uber service, check out our post on UberX vs. UberBLACK.
UberBLACK is one of Uber’s more widespread services, so you should be able to find it in any major metropolitan area.
To find out if UberBLACK is available in your area, just open up the Uber app and take a look at the ride options.
You’ll likely need to swipe left to see the “Premium” rides section, which includes UberBLACK and other services like UberSELECT or UberBLACK SUV (where available):
Note that since UberBLACK has stricter driver and vehicle requirements, there will be fewer drivers available at a given time. This could lead to longer wait times in some cases. That being said, the overall demand for UberBLACK is also lower, so this tends to balance out the limited supply.
UberBLACK is a premium service, and you should therefore expect to pay premium prices. While this is the case, it’s still much cheaper than hiring a private car through a traditional limo service.
To give you an idea of what UberBLACK costs, we used our Uber fare estimate tool to calculate the price of UberBLACK rides in three major U.S. cities: Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City.
Starting with Chicago, we looked at the price of a ride between Millennium Park and Wrigley Field. We’ve highlighted the UberBLACK fare in pink:
Next, in Los Angeles, we estimated the cost of a ride from the Chinese Theatre to the Los Angeles International Airport. We’ve highlighted the UberBLACK fare with a pink box:
Finally, let’s look at New York City. Here’s the estimated cost for an Uber ride between the New York Stock Exchange and Central Park West. We’ve highlighted the UberBLACK fare with a pink box:
As you can see, UberBLACK is around twice the price of UberX on average. You’ll have to decide for yourself if the extra expense is worth it, but you can always get an estimate of the fare beforehand by using our tool or typing in your destination in the Uber app.
We’ve already briefly covered how UberBLACK has much nicer vehicles than you’ll find in the UberX service. But just how nice are these vehicles? What kind of cars can you expect when you request an UberBLACK?
To give you a better picture of the cars you’ll find in this service, we took a look at the list of allowed vehicles for UberBLACK drivers in New York City. You’ll notice the list is comprised only of high-end luxury sedans. The specific vehicles will vary based on your market.
- Audi A6, A8
- BMW 5-series, 7-series
- Cadillac CT6, XTS
- Lexus LS
- Lincoln Continental, MKT
- Mercedes-Benz E-Class, S-Class
- Porsche Panamera
- Tesla Model S
- Volvo S90
The list of Black SUVs is even shorter:
- Cadillac Escalade, Escalade ESV
- Chevrolet Suburban
- GMC Yukon XL, Yukon XL Denali
- Infiniti QX56, QX80
- Lexus LX
- Lincoln Navigator
All vehicles must be black with a black interior.
We hope seeing this list of vehicles helps you understand why UberBLACK costs more than UberX. The cost of maintaining, servicing, financing, and insuring the vehicles on this list is greater than the Honda Civics or Toyota Priuses that the average UberX driver uses.
To finish this exploration of UberBLACK, here are answers to some common questions riders have about the UberBLACK service:
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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).
6. 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.
7. How many people can fit in an UberBLACK ride?
Like with UberX, the maximum capacity of an UberBLACK ride is four passengers. That being said, the maximum capacity can be a bit tight.
If you want a luxury ride with space for more people (or even your luggage), then we recommend requesting an UberSUV. This will give you a ride in a luxury SUV that can hold up to six passengers or fewer passengers with cargo.
8. Will my employer pay for UberBLACK?
It’s possible. Uber does offer business solutions for larger organizations, which can include rides for employees. Generally, rides in UberBLACK cars would be reserved for upper management or executives, but you never know. To learn more, visit the Uber for Business page.
If you’re an independent contractor or own your own business, you might be able to write off the cost of taking UberBLACK if you’re using it to meet with a client or attend a business event. You’ll need careful documentation and should always consult with an accountant before doing this, but it’s something to consider if it fits your situation.
9. How can I get started driving for UberBLACK?
If you’re a current or prospective Uber driver who wants to drive for UberBLACK, we recommend checking out our Ultimate Guide to Driving for UberBLACK. There, you’ll find answers to common questions new drivers have about how to make the most of driving for the UberBLACK service.
Ride in Style With UberBLACK
We hope this guide has shown you everything you need to know about the UberBLACK service, including its cost, benefits, and available vehicles. If you’ve never taken an Uber ride before and want to do so, then check out our guide to Uber promotions to learn how to get a discount on your first ride.
Want to take a luxury ride but prefer to use Lyft? Check out Lyft Lux.