Uber is a car booking service that works via a smartphone app. It was started in San Francisco back in 2009, but has only just entered the Shanghai market. You need to scan your credit card to sign up and after that, all payments are handled automatically – there’s no need to pay the driver, you simply get picked up and dropped off and then you get a receipt sent to your email account together with a nice map of your route.
It’s certainly more expensive than a regular Shanghai taxi by a long way, but it can be useful for those special occasions or when it’s hard to find a regular taxi. It’s also quite addictive, so be warned!
There are of course Chinese apps that have been around for a while already, but they generally require some degree of Chinese language ability, so it can be hard for expats to take advantage of them. You may have noticed that more and more taxis are not stopping to pick up passengers on the street because they are waiting for app users who often add a “tip” of between 5 rmb and 20 rmb to attract drivers during busy periods. It will be interesting to see if the authorities eventually crack down on these apps, since charging a premium is technically illegal for regular taxis.
If you fancy giving Uber a try, you’ll get 100 RMB credit instantly if you enter my promo code when you sign up “f9nok”. I will also get a 100 RMB credit once you take your first ride, so everybody wins!