Some of my most popular posts on Josh Trips are my reviews of using Uber overseas. Since you, my awesome readers, are generally interested in Uber, I wanted to share a promotion that Uber is using right now called Visa Local Offers. Note that this is not available to all Uber users, so you will need to check your app to see if it’s been offered to you.
When you log into Uber, click the bottom (below your most recently used address), and scroll down until you find Visa Local Offers. The screen you have to click looks like this (at the very bottom):
The only thing you’ll have to do once you find Visa Local Offers is to read the terms and click Accept, and you’ll be automatically enrolled in the program.
Many restaurants and retailers are enrolled, so you should begin earning money right away. Two of my favorite stores included in the offer are Walgreens and Whole Foods — getting 10% in Uber credits for my prescriptions, essentials, and groceries is a great deal. Below is a sample of some other offers in San Francisco:
The coolest part about this is that the Uber credits are instantly put into your account for immediate use.
If you don’t have Uber yet, use this link to sign up!
When I first visited Medellín in June 2016, I fell in love with the city. It’s so beautiful, the people are amazing, and it’s so cheap.
Back then, Uber not only existed in Medellín, but it was thriving. They had a product called UberEnglish, where you could pay more to be matched with a driver who spoke English, helping foreigners like myself explore this incredible city.
Before coming to Medellín this time around, I realized something had changed. Before my trip started, I got a message from a friend who had recently returned from Medellín telling me explicitly not to use Uber, because it was now illegal.
My Spanish is pretty awful, so I was concerned with this. One of my favorite parts of using Uber abroad is putting in the destination where I’m going, as it’s hard to explain directions in a foreign language.
When I got to Medellín, I asked a few people if Uber was legal and got varied responses. Basically, the one I found to be true, is that it both is legal… and it isn’t.
Though I am no expert in Colombian law, it seems that UberBLACK is legal whereas UberX is not. With an UberBLACK, you get a car that basically looks like a more fancy taxi, with the license plate number displayed clearly on the side of the car. Important note: it’s only the case that UberBLACK is legal if you get a car that has the credentials printed on the side of the car, which you can’t predict in advance (though for 4 out of 5 of my rides, I did get one of these). On my way from El Poblado to the airport, I got an UberBLACK that did not have one of these license plat numbers on the side, and the driver specifically told me that if the police stopped us, we would need to tell them we were “friends.”
The good news is that UberBlack is incredibly cheap here. Most of my UberBLACK rides came in at around $2 USD – meaning that if there wasn’t a legality issue, I would have stilled have used UberBLACK anyway.
Though I can’t point to any laws here to backup the proposition that only UberX is illegal here, on a tour I took with a friend, the tour guide offered to give my friend a ride to the airport the next day. My friend liked the guy and agreed, though on the way to the airport by police officers, checking to ensure he was not in an Uber ride.
If you’re coming to Medellín and want to use Uber, I would recommend using UberBLACK to be safe.
When travelling abroad, I’ll often check to see if Uber is operating in the city I’m visiting. Part of it is curiosity – as a San Francisco resident, I like to see just how much Silicon Valley has infiltrated other towns. But there are also many practical reasons for using Uber, such as knowing how much you’re going to be charged in advance (thus, avoiding possibly being scammed) and being able to enter my destination at the outset, instead of having to give location using a language I barely know.
So, I was very happy when I was in Santiago, Chile and I discovered that Uber was thriving in the city. For the most part during my trip, I used their excellent public transportation system, and the weather was nice enough for a lot of walking. I also used a van service at the airport to take me to my Airbnb in Provedencia.
But when it was time to leave Chile and head back to San Francisco, I decided to try taking an Uber.
Because my location was directly above a metro stop, I decided to walk to a quiet street corner to hail my ride. One thing I wanted to avoid was having a driver call me asking for directions in Spanish, since my speaking skills are no bueno. This worked out well for me, as the driver was able to easily find me.
My driver ended up speaking perfect English, which was especially refreshing because I had gone a few days with barely speaking to anyone in person. He was an environmental engineering student at a university in Santiago, and we spoke a lot about the waste in the city (when you go to a grocery store, you get like 5 plastic bags per items you buy!), and how much I enjoyed the country.
The ride from Provedencia to the international airport was easy, and came in at around $18 for a 25-minute ride in afternoon traffic (I was picked up around 4:30pm on a Thursday).
Interestingly, at the airport, the driver dropped me off around guest parking. Apparently, Uber is not allowed to operate at Santiago’s airport, and my driver let me know if he was caught, they would confiscate his car. The drop off point he selected was fine though, and a 3-minute walk to inside of the terminal.
Wingz, a ride-sharing service similar to Uber and Lyft, but which focuses on pre-arranged rides to airports, announced today that it would be offering free rides to those directly affected by America’s new travel ban.
In a statement e-mailed to customers, Wingz said,
“You’ve certainly heard about the recent closure of our borders to the incoming flow of travelers from seven different, predominantly Muslim, countries. One of the fundamental missions at Wingz has always been to create and foster lasting relationships between our riders and drivers, regardless of their faith, values, or nationalities. We at Wingz support the tenants of inclusivity that America was founded upon and want to assist those adversely affected in these precarious times.
That’s why throughout the month of February, we’re offering free rides from airports to those who were directly affected by the travel ban and are now able to re-enter the country (in any market where we offer service). Please contact us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will help you—or someone you know who is impacted—set up a ride home.”
I’ve used Wingz a number of times, and usually get one-way trips to SFO from the city for between $20-31. Though sometimes more expensive than other ride-sharing apps, it’s convenient to set up a pick-up in advance, and I’ve always had excellent experiences. Wingz is available at airports around the country, including Austin, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Houston, Dallas, and Seattle.
This may have been political and in response to the #DeleteUber trend; but, regardless of their reasons, I think this is ultimately a great gesture.
Maybe it’s because I’m based in San Francisco, but Uber is my default for finding rides, even when abroad.
Generally, I have had amazing experiences with Uber outside of the U.S. In Medellín, Colombia, for example, I took advantage of their Uber English service where I could get a driver who spoke English (although one driver I had barely spoke English, she did end up helping me with my Spanish).
While visiting The Hague, I summoned an Uber and was greeted outside of Madurodam – which is basically a museum of miniature Dutch buildings largely geared towards children – by a man in a suit holding open the door of a brand new Mercedes, making me feel a bit like royalty.
Even recently, I used Uber in Hong Kong to check out the island’s southern beaches.
Despite these positive experiences, I was hesitant about using Uber in Greece because I had heard of Greek drivers receiving death threats for using the service. My hesitation went away, though, when my hotel in Athens said it would cost €40 for a private ride to the airport, and I saw I could get one on Uber for €29.
As I was sitting alone in reception waiting for my Uber to arrive (it was around 5am), the receptionist asked me if I needed a ride. I told her that I was waiting for my Uber, and this turned out to be a mistake. The receptionist, in a way that almost felt like a scolding, said that I should have taken the hotel’s private transfer, and didn’t seem to sympathize when I let her know the price difference. When I told my Uber drive in Athens about this, he confirmed it was a bad idea to tell my hotel’s reception about using Uber, as the service is still controversial in Athens.
It only took about 5 minutes for my Uber to arrive, and I decided to sit in the front passenger seat to avoid it looking like I was paying for the ride. The driver asked if I was heading to the airport, and when I told him I was he whipped out a clipboard and wrote down my information. I had to put my passport number and signature on the document for the driver to take me to the airport, with him explaining that it was the government’s requirement for all rides to ATH.
Looking back, perhaps I should have hesitated to give out this information, but it was just past 5:15am and I wanted to get to Santorini so badly. So, I filled out the form and we were on our way.
The drive took a little over 38 minutes and was fairly uneventful. My driver, Χρήστος, spoke a bit of English and was very eager to talk about how much he loved driving for Uber.
Although it was ultimately a pleasant experience, I enjoyed taking the train from ATH to the city slightly more. But for early morning or late night flights, I definitely would use Uber again in Athens.
New to Uber? Use this link to sign up and receive up to $15 USD towards your first ride.