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5 Ways to Boost Your Uber Passenger Rating

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Were you unpleasantly surprised when you checked your Uber rider rating last week? Former 4.95 Uber driver, current 5.0 Uber rider and current TPG Contributor JT Genter shares his tips for boosting your Uber rating on future rides.

Last week, we posted instructions on checking your Uber passenger rating. A few readers expressed concern that their rating seemed “too low.”

While the readers concerned about 4.5 to 4.8 ratings have nothing to worry about, riders with much lower ratings are at risk of having drivers decline their ride request. This can leave you with longer wait times, and — if your rating drops too low — there’s the risk of being booted from Uber completely.

As a former Uber driver, I wanted to share my thoughts on what causes lower Uber passenger ratings and some ways that you can boost your Uber rating going forward.

1. Be ready at the pickup location.

Also, it helps if you pick a pickup location that doesn't require driving onto a college football field.
It also helps if you choose a pickup location that doesn’t require the driver to drive onto a college football field. Image — unfortunately — by the author.

I know that this one was one of my biggest pet peeves while driving: The passenger that knows the driver will arrive in 10 minutes, gets an alert that the driver is arriving but still isn’t at the pickup location until 10 minutes after the driver arrives.

Drivers are people too, and they know that problems come up. Maybe you figured you could cash out at the bar before the driver arrives, yet you couldn’t close out in time. Just remember that the driver doesn’t start getting paid until you’re in the car and the trip officially starts!

So, if it took the driver 10 minutes to get to your pickup location and you make the driver wait the maximum 10-minute “free waiting period,” the driver hasn’t made any money for 20 minutes. While you’re completely entitled to this waiting period, using much of it isn’t likely to bode well for your rating.

One way to mitigate this: If you’re running late, text the driver that he/she can start the ride once they get to the pickup location. It won’t cost you much. For UberX in Dallas, it’ll cost you just $0.10/minute. In LA and Austin, the rate is $0.18/minute. The highest UberX rate I could find was $0.40/minute in NYC.

2. Don’t act drunk.

Uber has arrived to Las Vegas, Nevada
The following advice might be particularly relevant in Vegas.

Some of my lowest-rated riders were certainly my drunkest ones. But, Uber is perfect for when you’ve had too much to drink and can’t drive. So, what’s a drunk rider to do?

Don’t act drunk.

Rolling down the windows and cat-calling strangers, turning up the volume on the car radio too high, chanting/singing loudly with your “crew,” packing more people in the car than the car you requested allows — all of these will likely earn you a low rating. Plus, multiple driver complaints can lead to a rider being banned from the system.

Speaking of drunk riders, remember that if you have a “reversal of fortune” in the driver’s car, Uber can charge you a cleaning fee up to $200 — or even higher for severe damage. While you might not be banned the first time this happens, you’re sure to get a low rating and you’ll be on thin ice with Uber going forward.

3. Treat your driver like he/she is your friend.

Treating your Uber driver like you’d treat a friend can create a better ride for everyone.

Yes, I realize that your driver is a complete stranger to you and that you’re paying for the ride. But, one way to get a good rating is to treat your Uber driver like he/she is your friend.

Harry from The Rideshare Guy says it best: “You probably wouldn’t ask your friend to break the law or be short with them for things like traffic that are out of their control. And remember, most of us didn’t grow up thinking one day we’d become an Uber driver. So if we make a mistake, know that we’re trying to do our best!”

You’d probably greet your friend warmly when he/she picks you up — even if you need to spend most of your ride working on your cell phone. You’d probably wish your friend a pleasant day/evening/night when you get to your destination. Having this “friend” mentality should guide you in the right direction.

Also, believe it or not, “human kindness” is actually a requirement under Uber’s Code Of Conduct.

4. Be mindful of the small things.

While you’re in the app requesting the ride, go ahead and enter your destination. It might get you a better rating.

Harry’s rider rating system is a bit harsher than mine and may help explain better why your rider rating is “only” a 4.8 when you feel that you’ve been a 5.0 rider. He lists some items that might get you docked a star or two with drivers like him:

  • Not entering a destination in the app
  • Riding a very short distance
  • Slamming the door when getting in or out of the car
  • Giving turn-by-turn directions (when the driver already has directions)
  • Causing a stink with alcohol, food or tobacco

Another one that I’d add: Check your shoes before getting in the car. I once had to go offline for a couple of hours to clean my carpets after a group of riders got into my car with muddy shoes.

Even if you don’t make as much of a mess as they did, if your Uber driver sees that you dirtied his/her car, you aren’t likely to get a very good rating. And, you might end up with a cleaning fee charged to your account — like my muddy-shoe riders did.

5. “Five for five”

Give five and you might receive five. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.
Give five and you might receive five. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Unlike Lyft, Uber doesn’t allow riders to tip drivers directly through the app. While Uber’s official policy is “there’s no need to tip,” many Uber drivers don’t make much money after factoring in wait times between rides, vehicle wear and tear, gas (although it’s currently cheap) and taxes. This is the reason that I’m an inactive Uber driver; after crunching the numbers, it just isn’t worth my time — especially after Uber dropped the rates in Austin and 47 other cities earlier this year.

While I could easily leave behind driving for Uber, your Uber driver might be struggling trying to make a full-time living driving. So, if you’re kind enough to tip him/her a few dollars, it’ll very likely earn you a better rating — especially if you weren’t a perfect rider.

Around Austin, some of the other drivers I talked with used the phrase “five for five”: if the rider gives a $5 tip, they’ll get a five-star rating. While I’m not sure this mentality is universal, a $5 tip surely can’t hurt your case.

Again, tipping isn’t required. But, if you’re looking to boost your rating, tipping should certainly help!

Maximize Your Uber Rides

Uber Cap One featured
Don’t forget about Uber’s partnership with Capital One! Save 20% with your Quicksilver card.

While you’re working on increasing your Uber rating, make sure that you’re also maximizing the earnings from your Uber rides. Through April 30, 2016, you can still get a 20% discount on all Uber rides when you pay with your Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card.

If you haven’t signed up for Uber yet, make sure to sign up here to get your first ride of up to $15 free.