CoffeeCakesAndRunning Flexible Car Rental with ekar and U drive

Flexible Car Rental with ekar and U drive

Pay by the minute car rental

I’ve been without a car now for about six months and have so far been managing by using the Metro, Taxi, Bus and lifts from friends. Whilst not idea, it’s worked out fairly well, albeit public transport often takes much more time than hopping in the car and driving somewhere.

With the exception of doing the weekly grocery shop, or running chores, which can be difficult to do using public transport this has mainly worked quite well even in the heat of summer.  Weekly shops and chores are not only difficult but often comparatively expensive. For instance, a short trip to my local bargain supermarket (Viva in Barsha) costs almost as much in taxi fees (circa 50-60/AED) as it does in shopping. Particularly if I’m not doing a big shop and want to pick up some bargain essentials or store cupboard items.

Thankfully, there is a different solution which I’ve used a few times now. Two companies (ekar and Udrive) offer a ‘pay by the minute’ type service for the hire of a car which you drive.  The price includes fuel and parking with the cost. The cheapest charge is 36/AED per hour for a base level car (both companies) and this rises up to 42/AED per hour for a more premium car.


Four simple steps for both companies.

  1. Register via their app or online and submit electronic copies of your documents and credit/debit card information.
  2. Wait to be approved and receive an Activation email and PIN – typically less than 24 hours.
  3. Locate and reserve an available car – online or via the app using GPS which shows you the nearest car to your location.
  4. Unlock and drive! You can return the car to where you first picked It up from or leave it anywhere within the same city as you started your trip.

Hire Duration

Cars can be hired by the minute (minimum is 15 minutes) or by the day (see rates below). Cars come with a reasonable allowance for mileage, and both have excess rates if you exceed the limits. Both companies also do extended rentals but I’m not covering that here, details are on the respective websites.


This is done after your trip and the amount due is deducted straight from your registered credit or debit card. Other charges such as salic are also applied on an ‘as used basis’. You will also be liable for any fines incurred during your trip, but this will probably pop up on your bill later.

My Experience

I live in Barsha Heights (formerly Tecom) and generally just use a car for an hour or two for chores and grocery shopping. Generally I use cars from U drive as they tend to have more cars in the area closest to my apartment, however both companies seem to have more cars available in The Greens which is a short walk away for me.

Once you identify a car, you reserve it using your app (or online) and then unlock the car using the app on your phone when you are close to it. A quick visual inspection is important to check all is ok both inside and outside the car (you are responsible for it whilst in your care so make sure you note any issues at the time). You are asked to fill in this information on the app before starting the car. The keys are in the glove compartment and are released using your unique PIN no which you enter into the keypad. Once you have the key, simply start the car and drive. Generally the cars are fueled, but if levels are low, you can refuel for free at gas stations approved by the hire company. Once you’ve finished, you return the key to the glove compartment and lock it into the key holder. Shut the car door and end your booking on your app.

Support is just a call away if you get  stuck! I had to call to figure out how to lock the car at the end of hire and help was quick, friendly and efficient. I can generally do a quick grocery shop and one ‘on the way back’ chore in sixty minutes so it’s cost efficient.

Psst for pet lovers … ekar allows the transport of pets (in carriers). U drive do not.


Sounds great! and it is! It’s easy, relatively flexible, inexpensive and a clever way to have the freedom of an  “on demand car” without all of the associated costs and hassle.  However …… Buyer Beware – Like with any transaction,  do read the small print regarding terms and conditions of use and make sure you are happy to accept the terms. I’ve highlighted some of the key ones below which could prove extremely expensive in the event of something going wrong.

Happy driving!

CoffeeCakesAndRunning Flexible Car Rental with ekar and U drive

Summary of rates – per day and per minute

U drive Flexible – pay per minute

Category 1 – 144/AED per day – 4 hours or more
60 Fils per minute (36/AED per hour)

Nissan Tilda, Kia Picanto

Category 2 – 168 AED per day – 4 hours of more
70 Fils per minute (42/AED per hour)

Nissan Kicks, Ford EcoSport, Chevrolet Aveo Sedan, Toyota Yaris Hatchback, Nissan Sunny, Peugeot 208

Excess Mileage

  • Category 1 & 2 cars. Allowance of 200km per 24 hours.
  • Excess km charged at 1/AED per km

U Drive DAILY FLEET – If you hire by the day the rates are as follows:

Category 1 – Nissan Micra – 119/AED – per day

Category 2 – Nissan Tiida, Nissan Sunny, Chevrolet Aveo Hatchback, Chevrolet Spark, Ford Figo, Toyota Yaris Hatchback, Toyota Yaris Sedan – 139/AED – per day

Category 3 – Ford EcoSport, Toyota Corolla, Nissan Sentra, Ford Focus – 159/AED per day

* Prices updated as at 19th December 2018

U-Drive – “We reduced our daily prices …from 19th of December 2018 onwards free driving after 4 hours paid usage on our Flexible Fleet and … daily rental options on our Daily Fleet!”


Economy – 150/AED per day
E Kar – 60 Fils per minute 

Nissan Tilda, Nissan Sentra

Premium – 200/AED per day
65 Fils per min (39/AED per hr)


Business – 360/AED per day
70 Fils per min (42/AED per hr)

Mini & Infiniti Q50

Excess Mileage

  • Allowance : 30 km per hour – all categories (300 km per 24 hours for Economy & Premium. 175 km for Business.
  • Excess km charged at 1.5/AED per km

A Quick Price & Time Comparison

Barsha Heights – Silicon Oasis (Office) – one way trip

  • RTA (Metro + Bus + Walking) – cost 7.50/AED (15/AED Gold) : Time at least 90 minutes
  • RTA (Metro + Bus + Taxi) – cost 33/AED : Time at least 88 minutes
  • UBER : 92/AED – 21 minutes (off peak travel)
  • Careem : 82/AED – 21 minutes (off peak travel)
  • RTA Taxi : 59/AEd – 21 minutes (off peak travel)
  • ekar and U drive could cost as little as 18/AED (booked for 30 minutes one way trip)

Barsha Heights – Dubai Mall – one way trip

  • RTA (Metro + Walking) – cost 5.0/AED (10/AED Gold) : Time at least 40 minutes
  • RTA (Metro + Taxi) – cost 30/AED : Time at least 26 minutes
  • UBER : 83/AED – 21 minutes (off peak travel)
  • Careem : 58/AED – 21 minutes (off peak travel)
  • RTA Taxi : 42/AEd – 16 minutes (off peak travel)
  • ekar and U drive could cost as little as 18/AED (booked for 30 minutes one way trip)

Source for prices & times :  S’hail app.

The Small Print

Like hire cars, both companies have terms and conditions in the small print which you should read and be aware of as the penalties/service fees can be quite expensive to you.

You’ll find details on the respective websites here for Udrive and here for ekar

Here’s a quick summary of some of the main points:

  • Excess for loss of use of car: (eg delayed Police report, impounded vehicle – 100/AED per day – both companies.
  • Payment rejected: 50/AED U drive and 30/AED ekar
  • Not refueling car below certain limits: below 1/4 tank – ekar (100/AED) and below 15% – 75/AED for U drive
  • Not providing police report within one week or smoking inside car:  500/AED both companies
  • Lost keys:  2000/AED – ekar, 950/AED uDrive
  • Parking/Speeding fine – ekar: Fine less than 200/AED – Ticket cost + 55/AED. Fine more than 200/AED –  Ticket cost + 100/AED.
  • Parking/Speeding fine – U drive:  Admin fee – 200/AED for fines over 1,000/AED  100/AED for fines under 1000/AED.
  • Excess cleaning fee:  145/AED ekar and 350/AED U drive
  • Unsecured vehicle fee: -145/AED ekar and 125/AED U drive
  • Drained battery: -200/AED for both companies
  • Loss of Use – impounded vehicle – impound fee + 250/AED ekar – 400/AED admin fee U drive
  • Accident Admin fee:* – 2500/ekar and 3000 for U drive. Irrespective of size of damage.
  • *Drivers without UAE license or UAE license less than six months – additional 20% of total claim (ekar)
  • Drivers aged 21-24 – additional 20% of total claim (ekar)
  • Drivers under 23 or unauthorized driver + additional 20% of total claim amount (U drive)
  • Towing/Recovery of car – 250/AED – Udrive

There are a few other rules mainly related to parking cars in the wrong place.

Please ensure you read the rules/terms of use fully which you can find on the company websites as I accept no liability for incorrect information. You can find the information here for Udrive and here for ekar.

Terms and conditions, rates and fees correct at time of posting: 2nd December 2018. 

[Image from Pixabay – I’m afraid I don’t look this glam when driving :)]