Top 5 Car Sharing Apps

NEW YORK TheStreet--If you've ever tried to hail a cab on a rainy Saturday night, you know how hard it can be to get a ride. Fortunately, there's no longer a need to shiver on a corner, eagerly awaiting an available car. There's a new array of options for hitching a ride. The hardest part is deciding which app to choose from.

You can order a limo and arrive at the party with style, or find a pre-screened local driver for some modern-day hitchhiking. Whatever revs your engine, there are a variety of car service options in Apple's ( AAPL) App Store.

Originally, the e-hail apps were allowed in New York City. Then they weren't. After a series of obstacles with the Taxi & Limousine Commission, it looks like they're in the clear for now. Los Angeles transportation officials recently sent the apps a cease-and-desist, because they threaten the city's existing taxi services. The apps are allowed in San Francisco, which came in handy in the BART strike last week.

Taxi apps have had a rough go of it lately, but don't fret. Most major metropolitan areas permit these services.

TheStreet took a look through the app stores. Here are some car service apps worth checking out.

Uber

Uber is perhaps the most well-known car service app. The app makes it easy to order a taxi, a black car or an SUV. Recently, the company unveiled UberChopper for that getaway to the Hamptons, but that will cost you a pretty penny.

Users can see a map of available cars and request a car to come to them. The app predicts how many minutes it will take you and gives you a fare quote. Select a car and you're good to go.

Uber recently disputed reports that it was raising financing at valuation of $1 billion. However, Uber previously raised $57 million in venture capital. Investors include Goldman Sachs, Amazon's Jeff Bezos, Universal Music Group and Lady Gaga's manager, Troy Carter. Traditional venture capital firms include First Round Capital and Menlo Ventures.

The free app is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad, and requires iOS 5.0 or later. It is also available for Google's ( GOOG) Android.

Sidecar

Like Uber, Sidecar lets you hail a car. However, it's not a professional chauffeur that shows up at your door. Sidecar lets you match with a "regular everyday driver" to hitch a ride with people nearby. You still have to pay them, but only "what you think is fair."

Sidecar is essentially modern-day hitchhiking. However, it does background checks and lets riders and drivers rate each other. Users can link the app to their Facebook ( FB) for extra verification information. If you're lucky, you'll not only get to where you need to go, you'll make a new friend.

Sidecar has raised $10 million in venture capital so far. Notable investors include SV Angel, Google Ventures and Lerer Ventures. Former Zynga CEO Mark Pincus is also an investor.

This free app is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad, but requires iOS 5.0 or later. It is also available for Android.

Lyft

Lyft is similar to Sidecar in that it allows users to find local drivers and hitch a ride. The app is currently available in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Chicago and Boston. Lyft drivers are not only background checked, but they are also "personality screened." Hopefully they'll pick you up in a car with personality.

There are three steps to "prepare for Lyft off." Log onto Facebook, which allows Lyft to verify who you are. Then set your pickup location and request a ride. Once you're done with the ordeal, make a "donation." It should be more than the cost of gas, be nice.

Lyft has raised $82.5 million in venture financing. Investors include VC giant Andreessen Horowitz, which provided $60 million of capital in May. Founders Fund, K9 Ventures, Floodgate and Mayfield Fund participated in previous rounds.

This free app is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad, but requires iOS 5.0 or later. It's also available on Android.

Taxi Magic

Taxi Magic claims to be the "world's #1 taxi app." The company might be biased, but it's certainly available throughout the world. Taxi Magic is in small and mid-sized cities throughout the United States. It also works in Canada, the United Kingdom, and Mexico.

Users can use the location-based app to find the nearest taxi. It then shows your location on a map, and where the nearest taxi is. Pay first, including the tip. But be sure to give them a little extra cash if they work their "magic."

Taxi Magic is owned by Alexandria, VA.-based RideCharge, which has raised $8.6 million in venture funding to date. Travel management software provider, Concur Technologies ( CNQR) is a leading investor. RideCharge also owns Sedan Magic, a service that provides transportation for corporate travelers.

This free app is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad, but requires iOS 5.0 or later, and is also available for Android.

GroundLink

GroundLink is a good car service app for the planners. Request a car for now or one in 2 weeks, and you can have one waiting for you when you land at the airport. With GroundLink, you'll no longer need to look for someone greeting you with a sign.

The app also provides discounts. Should you need a car at the last minute, GroundLink lets you track your ride.

The app claims to be available in every U.S. city. It is also available in 110 countries. GroundLink has received $20 million in venture funding from Emigrant Capital.

This free app is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad, but requires iOS 5.0 or later. It is also available for Android.

--Written by Katie Roof in New York--