UberBLACK is the premium Uber black car service.
UberBLACK vs UberX: Functionally, Uber BLACK is very similar to the basic car-service option (UberX) — however, it is a major step up in terms of luxury and exclusivity.
UberBLACK gives Uber customers access to professional private-car services — a high-end chauffeur experience for a fraction of the cost. If you request an Uber BLACK car, you’ll be guaranteed a chauffeur who’s driving a black sedan, or a black SUV.
Here’s the basics:
- Allows a maximum of 4 passengers (or 6 with UberSUV).
- Customers are picked up in new, luxury black sedans or SUVs (post 2008 or newer).
- Uber car Chauffeurs must dress professionally (usually in uniform or formal suits — comparable to what you’d expect from a high-end private driver).
- UberBLACK is a luxury service — the exterior and interior of all cars MUST be black (including a black leather interior).
How does UberBLACK work?
When you request an Uber car through the Uber App (installed on either an Android or iPhone smartphone), you’ll be automatically matched with a nearby UberBLACK driver. The closest car is immediately sent to your location, usually in ten minutes or less.
Upon confirmation of your car request, you’ll receive the name of your driver, their picture, their telephone number, and the model of their car. In turn, the car’s driver receives your information — name and telephone number, as well as your location.
You’ll be able to watch in real-time (via the Uber app) as the driver approaches your location. You’ll be given an estimated time until pick-up.
At the end of your trip, your credit card will be billed automatically (no cash involved). ‘Tips are not technically allowed (though some customers add a voluntary gratuity). Cash tips are always appreciated by your driver.
Who are the drivers?
UberBLACK drivers are sometimes self-employed, or otherwise drive as employees of an affiliate UberBLACK partner.
Partners are usually current private-car and limo companies (either independent owners or fleets) who are interested in filling their cars’ downtime with additional routes and fares.
In order to qualify (either as a driver or partner) with UberBLACK, you should possess all relevant state and city limo licensing documentation, in addition to all necessary commercial insurance.
UberBLACK car list
If you request an UberBLACK car, you typically can expect to be picked up in a black, high-end luxury sedan (or SUV).
Some typical cars include:
- 2008 or newer Range Rover, Porsche, Maybach, Bentley, or Rolls Royce
- 2008 or newer Mercedes S-Class, Lexus LS460, BMW 7 Series
- 2008 or newer Chevy Suburban, Cadillac Escalade, GMC Yukon Denali, Lincoln Navigator
- 2012 or newer Lincoln MKX or MKT
The UberBLACK rates are a bit different than the rates for UberX or the other services.
Because BLACK is a premium service looking to replace traditional private-car services, it occupies a special ‘luxury-style’ section of the transportation market, and thereby commands a higher pricing system.
The fare-scheme is constructed via a simple pricing equation: Base Fare + Per-Minute Fare + Per-Mile Fare + ‘Safe Ride Fee’
For instance, in New York City, an UberBLACK ride has a minimum fare of $15.00, a base fare of $7.00, a per-minute rate of $1.00, and a per-mile fee of $4.55. There is also a higher cancellation toll than a typical UberX ride: $10.00.
If you’re interested in getting an estimate of UberBLACK rates (or Lyft rates), it is possible to get a rough sense via an online rate calculator.
Otherwise, Uber’s smartphone app has an in-built fare estimate option, which will be able to give a close estimate of your ride.
Should I become an UberBLACK driver or an UberX driver?
Although UberBLACK charges higher fares (due to its ‘luxury/premium’ niche), UberX drivers report much higher volume and ‘rider turnover’.
Simply put, there are near-constant fares for Uber’s basic services, but much more limited (although more lucrative) fares for UberBLACK drivers.
What does this mean for potential drivers? Which is more profitable?
The earnings for both services are similar enough that the better question may actually be: “Are you more suited to drive for UberBLACK or UberX?”. Successful UberX drivers display a mix of efficiency, good communication skills, and casual friendliness, in addition to a readiness to take on a large volume of trips. UberX customers are generally more casual and relaxed — most riders are essentially looking for a basic, cheap trip between two locations. On the other hand, becoming an UberBLACK driver means operating in a more professional capacity — BLACK is a higher-end service, and, as a result, drivers must pay greater attention to detail than they would when driving for a basic service like UberX.
UberBLACK drivers must be highly accommodating; and attend to a customer’s needs as if they were driving for a V.I.P client.
So — if you consider yourself a ‘service-oriented’ professional (i.e. happy to exit your vehicle; regularly open doors; re-stock your vehicle with bottled water, etc) then the BLACK might be a good fit. Some upsides which come from driving with the premium rideshare service include:
- More downtime
- Less hectic work-pace
- Higher direct-earning potential than UberX.
In the end — many Uber drivers actually choose to do both — drive for UberBLACK as a regular job, and then operate as an UberX driver to fill in the gaps.
Our advice: Experiment with your schedule; your timing; your workload; and your routine, and gradually see which option is best for you.
As with all things Uber…the choice is yours.