Guide on taking Uber & Grab in Malaysia

Update: Grab just introduced feature similar to Uber Surge Pricing so now you can’t escape from the capitalistic model of both services.

Recently I noticed more and more people are trying out Uber and Grab for their commute. As a regular user, and previously driven for Uber, I can share some guide that might help you get an efficient ride.

How can I start hailing these mysterious cars?

If you prefer green, download Grab from Google Play or App Store. But if you prefer plain old black, get Uber from Google Play or App Store. One might be advantageous over another so it’s better if you just download both. And oh, forget about hailing them, simply wave your smartphone in the air… just kidding, open the app and register to use.

How do I choose between them?

I’m glad you asked (wait, I actually asked myself). Both company has different pricing structure. So this is where you need to pay attention.

Grab (GrabCar) start with RM1.40 base, with RM0.58 per KM and RM0.24 per minutes. However they have RM7 minimum fare no matter how short your trip is.

Uber (UberX) start with RM0.95 base, with RM0.60 per KM and RM0.25 per minutes. They however do not have any minimum fare.

So generally if you need to go somewhere less than 5km, your best bet is UberX. If you need to go a little more than that, use GrabCar.

From my experience however, Uber sometimes cost less, since they charge an exact amount from your trip’s distance + time.

More on pricing

Grab rounds up the price to a pricing tier according to the distance when you input your pick-up & drop-off location, so you know the fare before you begin your trip.

Uber do a more thorough calculations, so you need to complete a trip to know the exact fare, however you can always request for fare estimate beforehand. What I like more about Uber is they have plethora of info on completed trips, and they have more accurate fare calculations down to the cents.

On peak hours, Uber and Grab sometimes jack up the price (Uber call it Surge Pricing) when demand is more than supply. It could go up to 2-5X rate especially in city centre area. So check both app for prices, when you’re requesting during these times.

Location, location, location

This is another important technique riders need to be good at to have a smooth experience. Same like hailing a taxi, you should always find a place that’s easy for cars to pick you up, like:

  • Bus/taxi stand
  • Building lobby
  • Guardhouse or gate entrance
  • 7-Eleven, Starbucks, OldTown White Coffee
  • Well-known landmarks like shopping malls

Input the name of establishment, and choose place that have clear name and exact location. Don’t depend too much on your phone GPS to provide the pick-up location, as it often fails to suggest name of the place. In the driver app, drivers usually depend on name of the place, not so much on your map location.

Even for a regular like me, there’s always miscommunications, wrong map locations, and worse, getting a beginner ride-sharing drivers. Patience needed especially on heavy traffic area.

Another thing to note, if there’s a high presence of taxis on certain pick-up/drop-off points, it’s best to walk away a bit more to avoid any risk. It’s a hassle, yes, but with all the news going around with taxi industry, last thing you want is to scratch their wounds.

Front seat or back seat?

Common sense when you’re a passenger in your friends car is that you should always take the front seat when it is available. The same is true for ride-sharing cars. It is more polite if you sit in front, but definitely no harm to opt for back seat. However due to recent crackdown on ride-sharing cars, you might be asked to sit in front, especially during heavy law enforcement presence.

During the ride

Some drivers, especially Uber will try to be friendly and start small talks, so they will be rated higher. So if you’re not a chatty person riding with a chatty driver, well good luck …no I mean just be polite and decline, they will understand.

How do you pay?

Since the beginning, Grab always accept cash payments. They’re introducing card payment now to keep up with the time. Uber recently just introduced cash payment as option, where previously you can only use credit/debit card, so there’s no better time to start using them.

For me I don’t always carry my cash suitcases around, so I prefer to use debit card.


That’s all the tips I have for now, I will try to update this article from time to time to reflect any changes they have. Next time you want to go somewhere but too lazy to drive yourself, try Uber & Grab for a change.

I believe while the world is changing for the better, these company help bridge the transition between taxi to self-driving pod of the future. While taxis used to replace rickshaws on the road, similar changes are happening now.

I’m a product builder at ViFi Studio. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram.

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