Ridesharing apps such as Uber and Lyft have disrupted the transportation industry. Millions of Americans have the Uber app on their smartphones. And Uber completes 15 million rides every day in the United States.
However, if you rely on the service often, you can end up spending a ton of money each year. Depending on the city you live in, you want to make sure you ask, “How much does Uber cost?” It can vary by city, and based on this information, you can then look at various ways to save money.
Know Where You’ll Spend More
Uber has expanded to numerous cities around the country. According to one study, an average Uber ride in urban locations lasts 15.11 minutes and costs an average of $13.15. Boston is one of the most expensive places for people who rely on ridesharing apps. Other major U.S. cities where you can expect to spend a lot on the app include:
- Los Angeles
- New York City
- Las Vegas
If you only plan on visiting one of these cities on vacation, you still need to be ready for higher prices. Fortunately, no matter where you live, you can take advantage of promotions to save on Uber. With a few simple tricks, you can save hundreds or even thousands of dollars annually on Uber costs.
Estimate Your Fare
Uber offers a free online Uber fare estimator. Simply go to the page and enter your pickup location and destination to get an instant estimate of what you’ll spend.
You can also get an estimate for your tip right in the app on your phone. Simply enter a destination to see an estimate. Scroll to see alternative services and costs as well.
Lyft offers a comparable Lyft fare estimator too.
Ways to Save on Uber Costs
Get the American Express Platinum Credit Card
You can become a true VIP with the American Express Platinum Card. It has lots of perks, and if you use Uber a lot, this card is pretty handy. Cardholders get up to $200 every year in Uber credits. That comes out to $15 for Uber rides every month and a $20 bonus credit in December. After you make $5,000 in purchases within the first three months, you get 60,000 Membership Rewards, which is a great perk. You also get $200 in yearly airline credit and statement credits every time you buy something at Saks Fifth Avenue. For the person who loves traveling in style, this credit card is a must-have.
Take Public Transit
In a study CityLab study done in 2018, in Chicago, public transit was always cheaper than UberX (where you have your own driver) and Lyft and significantly so—at an average fare cost of $2.69 compared to $17.90 for Uber and $18.13 for Lyft. Costs for Uber Pool and Lyft Line were $9.33 and $14.04 respectively—cheaper, but nowhere as cheap as public transit.
Check for Promotions Often
Uber frequently partners with other companies to save riders money. In many instances, these promotions are only available to new users. However, every once in a while, they’re available to everyone. If you follow certain brands on Facebook and Twitter, the brand’s page will give out the promo code you can use in the app. Even if you only end up saving a dollar or two, your savings add up over time.
Uber gives discounted rides if you refer friends to the service. On the app, you have a unique promotional code. When your friends sign up with that code, you receive credits. Your friends also receive discounts with your code. Everyone wins when you refer a friend.
See If Your City Offers a Flat-Rate Package
Many people are still unaware that Uber provides flat-rate packages for residents of certain cities. As of right now, this promotion is only available in major metropolitan areas, such as Los Angeles, Seattle, Washington D.C., Chicago, San Francisco and Boston. You do have to travel in the designated “Pass Zone.”
In some cities, you can buy a 20-pack of rides for only $10. If you’re someone who uses the app all of the time, you could save upwards of $100 a month with this package deal.
Wait Until Surge Prices Are Over
Surge pricing is the practice of charging more during peak times. And if you use Uber at certain times of the day in certain locations, you could spend a lot of money to go a few miles if you’re charged surge pricing.
Sometimes, surge pricing only lasts a few minutes, so try waiting before hailing your ride. You can also try scheduling your pick-up away from where you’re currently at. You will need to walk a little, but you could end up saving a bundle.
Choose the Lowest Level You Can
When you need an Uber for only you, there is no reason to splurge on Uber XL. Uber has various tiers, and the higher ones are more expensive. If you’re currently splurging on luxury, then you may want to take a step back. When you’re by yourself, you can opt for Uber Pool, which keeps costs down by pairing you with other riders. In the event you do have a lot of people to transport, you can move up the tiers.
Switch between Uber and Lyft
There’s no need to remain loyal to one app. You can have both Uber and Lyft on your phone. With this, you can check prices from both companies before hailing a ride. Most of the times, the prices are comparable. However, you never know when you’ll find a substantial discount on one. When demand is heavy on one app, it will switch over to surge pricing. Things may be cheaper on the other, and that’s how you can save.
Split Rides with Friends
It’s better for the environment and for your wallet to carpool with friends. If you always end up footing the Uber bill, then you should see if your friends would be willing to split the cost. Both Uber and Lyft allow you to split the fare between different accounts within the app. This lets you all get where you wanted to go without either one spending a lot of money. In the event this is too complicated, your friends can just reimburse you with cash at the end of the ride or offer to buy the appetizers later.
Hail an Uber on Facebook Messenger
Before you get your next ride, get onto Facebook Messenger. You’ll need a Facebook account to open the Messenger app. Open a new message and select the “More” option. From there, locate the Transportation tab to connect the app to your Uber account. You’ll get a credit applied to your account instantly. This typically only works for first-time users.
Ride Uber Smartly Today
Uber has made many people’s lives more convenient. Ultimately, it’s still an expense, and it’s one you need to manage properly if you use it often.