Hail a nearby cab or try the UberX option, which gets you a private driver at roughly 30 per cent less than a regular cab. Beware 'surge pricing', though – at times of higher demand, Uber raises fees. Get $10 off your first ride.
Booking fee: $2 Credit card surcharge: 5% Available on: iPhone, Android
GoCatch sticks to taxi bookings and claims to have the most registered drivers of any app in the country. You can also see your cab approaching through the app; unlike Uber, you can opt to pay with cash or via a Paypal account.
Booking fee: $2.50 Credit card surcharge: 5% Available on: iPhone, Android, WindowsPhone
Another good option in a pinch, InGoGo allows for advance bookings (taxis only), shows the taxi approaching via the app and – at least every time we tried it out – appeared to have plenty of available drivers.
Booking fee: $1.80 Credit card surcharge: 4.9% Available on: iPhone, Android
UBER UberX produces mixed results for both cars and availability - we happily paid $16 Woolloomooloo to Bondi in an UberX (the journey back in a cab was $30 including Uber booking fees). On one occasion we were picked up by a BMW 7 series, the next time in a Toyota Yaris. There aren’t always UberX drivers nearby and they’re definitely not worth ordering when there is ‘surge’ pricing as they become more expensive than cabs (Uber raises prices at times of high demand). Some drivers are keen to make the experience by offering free water and chocolates - slightly surreal. Uber does have plenty of cabs and there’s always one nearby - like the other apps, Uber doesn’t always seem to choose the nearest one for the job but you can see the car approaching before you go outside. At $2 + 5% fee it’s cheaper than Cabcharge if the journey is over $20. Also be careful at peak periods when “Taxi + $5” is displayed in the app and an extra $5 is charged for your taxi booking.
Uber Black is the way to travel - a selection of Holden Caprices, BMWs and Audis await you and the price seems to be about 30% higher than a cab, worth it if you can’t wait for a cab or want to make an impression.
One word of warning, the ‘surge’ price can triple or even quadruple during very busy periods - we saw a minimum charge of $100 to get an Uber Black one rainy rush hour. If there’s a huge cab queue at the airport then order an Uber Black for almost immediate reply from an Uber Black - no taxis can be ordered from the airport through Uber. In all cases, a neat email arrives with your journey time and route map - you can rate your drivers (and they can rate you so be nice if you want a cab late at night in future.) No bookings in advance.
GoCatch GoCatch sticks to taxi bookings and claims to have the most registered drivers of any app across Australia - we had no problem booking one in various Sydney suburbs and you can see the taxi approaching through the app. You can also choose to pay by Paypal or cash as well as credit card at the end of a journey plus you can also rate your driver.
A nice feature is that you can offer drivers a tip (read “bribe”) to come and collect you at peak times.
InGoGo InGoGo battles it out with GoCatch: booking taxis only, allowing bookings in advance, showing the taxi approaching through the app and apparently having plenty of drivers whenever we tried them out.
So which should you use?
Download and register for all three, then you have a choice at peak times. We have noticed incentives from GoCatch if you don't use the app for a while - $20 off your next ride.
It’s a shame that they’ve all set their charges at 5% which is the new maximum for Cabcharge (down from the previous disgraceful charge of 11%). 5% is still too high and it's unfortunate that these apps have chosen to go along with the standard credit card surcharges rather than compete (the average Australian now pays some $800 per year in credit card surcharges).
UberX is best for cheapest fares when one is nearby and NOT on surge pricing (in which case order a cab).
Taxis: all three apps have good coverage, most taxi drivers we spoke to use more than one app. All three sometimes assign a cab that is way too far away, just cancel and try again or a different app. All three still rely on cab drivers at the end of the day.
Uber Black - Significantly more expensive but if you need to make an impression, just need a car now or want to jump Sydney Airport’s frustratingly huge taxi queue then Uber Black’s for you.