You’ve probably heard a lot about Uber and Lyft recently. With Uber looking to replace how people get to and from, competitors big and small are trying to compete to give you a ride. Whether you drive yourself, take a taxi, or need something less expensive, ridesharing can be a quick and easy way to get to a destination when you can’t get there yourself. Let’s look at how ridesharing apps work and whether they’re worth your time.

What Are Ridesharing Apps?

Ridesharing apps are mobile phone apps that once you download, install, and sign up for an account, you can call a ride to your location. For apps like Uber and Lyft, you input your credit card details ahead of time so you don’t have to worry about fumbling for cash on the go. Once you request a ride, you’re assigned a driver from the rideshare pool who meets you at your destination.

You’re given a picture of the driver, along with the make, model, and license plate of the car so you can identify it when it pulls up. You’re also shown on the app where the driver is at all times before and during your ride. Then, once you reach your destination, your credit card is automatically charged. From there, you can then rate the driver on the level of service. Rideshare apps use those ratings to determine who can and can’t drive through the app, ensuring the level of service on the network is tip top.

Pro Tip: Uber doesn’t allow the option for tips via the app. Make sure to show your driver the love by providing a cash tip whenever possible, just like you would tip a taxi driver.

Is Ridesharing Safe?

No doubt you’ve heard dozens of stories about the pros and cons of ridesharing. While most rideshare companies run background checks on drivers, not everything gets caught. Assaults, kidnappings, and other mishaps happen. The key thing to remember is that these also happen in cabs and other forms of transportation, unfortunately. It’s important to be aware of your surroundings, if you feel uncomfortable don’t get into a car, and make sure to report any and all issues to the rideshare company.

Do You Need Ridesharing?

Depending on your transportation preferences, ridesharing may or may not work for you. When it comes down to it, apps like Uber and Lyft are often cheaper than taking a cab or car service. They aren’t always available like a cab is. If there’s a shortage of drivers on the road, you might be surprised to see surge pricing and then it’ll cost you an arm and a leg to get to where you need to go. For others, the reliability of taxis and car services provides a more stable way to hit the road.

If you’re not sure if ridesharing is right for you, I recommend giving it a try. You never know whether ridesharing apps will work for you until you see what they’re all about firsthand.