If you're planning to visit a new place or are traveling for work, you might be wondering how much an Uber ride will cost before you get there.
Can you get a fare estimate before you order an Uber? Will you need to tip your driver?
The last thing you want is to be caught off guard and end up overpaying for your ride.
To help you avoid the shock of an expensive ride, we looked carefully at the terms and fees on the official Uber website, as well as reports from real Uber passengers.
We found a lot of factors that go into the final price of an Uber ride, and we've compiled all of that information in this article.
Keep reading to find out how much Uber costs, how to save money on your Uber, and what the cheaper alternatives are so you can avoid wasting time and getting ripped off.
In this article
- How does Uber calculate your fare?
- Sample Uber Fare
- Sample UberX Fare Breakdown in 5 Popular US Cities
- Uber Cost Estimator: How to Check Your Uber Fare
- Can Uber charge more than the original fare?
- 6 Ways to Save on Uber Fares
- Uber Cost vs. Lyft & Other Ridesharing Apps
- Best Uber Alternatives for Travelers
How does Uber calculate your fare?
When it comes to Uber costs in the USA, there's a lot more to it than the price you see in the app.
There are several factors that can cause your fare to skyrocket—and fast:
The fare estimate for how much an Uber costs begins with the base rate. This is the starting fare of your ride.
Uber doesn't set this, instead it comes from the city in which you’re requesting a ride. That’s why the price of an Uber ride in NYC isn’t the same as a ride in Miami or Chicago, even if the distance and road conditions are the same.
Specifically, the base rate depends on local laws and regulations, plus the cost of doing business in each city.
For example, a city may impose a tax on all ridesharing companies to help fund public transit systems.
Or they may impose a congestion fee on drivers to encourage them to avoid driving in busy parts of town during peak hours.
Cost Per Mile and Per Minute
Like the base rate, the cost per mile and per minute varies depending on the city and state you're in.
This is how much your fare will be based on exactly how many miles you’re going to travel and how long it will take. This can also change depending on route-based pricing factors.
Dynamic pricing, also known as surge pricing, refers to increasing prices during peak times.
It happens during times when more passengers are requesting rides than there are available drivers.
It's also an incentive for drivers to pick up riders during rush hour when it's raining out, or after big events like concerts or sporting events have ended.
Tolls and Surcharges
Tolls and surcharges are non-negotiable costs that go into your final fare.
These include tolls for bridges and tunnels, as well as any fees that may be associated with travel to certain areas (such as airports).
The type of Uber you order also affects how much you pay for your trip:
|Usually, it’s the cheapest option because you're splitting the fare with other riders.|
|It’s the most basic Uber type and the cheapest option for single riders or small parties and can fit up to four passengers.|
|It allows you to request a licensed taxi driver, but it can be more expensive than a regular UberX.|
You'll have to pay for surcharges associated with taking a taxi (like tolls). It uses the standard mileage-based rate than taxis charge.
|It can seat up to six passengers, which makes it easy for groups of all kinds (including corporate events) to travel together.|
However, it’s more expensive than an UberX due to the size and type of car (usually newer models).
|It’s a more comfortable and roomier option than most of the other vehicles in the Uber fleet.|
It will comfortably accommodate larger groups or families but comes at a higher cost to help compensate for that extra space.
|It’s the luxury version of UberX that provides higher-rated drivers and black high-end cars. One of the most expensive types of Uber.|
|Uber Black SUV|
|As the name suggests, Uber Black SUV offers riders the comfort and safety of a luxury SUV.|
It’s one of the most expensive Uber types, but that’s because it provides riders with prestige, comfort, and safety.
|Uber WAV/Uber Assist|
|WAV stands for Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle. WAV partners are specially trained to assist riders with wheelchairs.|
Their vehicles have features that make it easier for riders to get in and out of the vehicle. Fares are the same as UberX.
|As a pilot program, Uber Green is available only in select locations like the San Francisco Bay Area at this time.|
It uses electric cars and is a little more expensive than a regular Uber.
|It’s the first Uber option designed for business travelers and costs about the same as Uber Black. Receipts automatically include expense coding.|
|Uber Car Seat|
|Uber Car Seat is for families with small children and charges a little extra (usually $10) on top of the standard UberX fare.|
|It’s your customizable Uber ride. For instance, you can request a longer pickup window, preferred driver gender, a quiet ride, etc.|
Things that happen along the route can also drive your fare up. For instance, if your Uber driver has to wait more than a few minutes for you to get in the car, your fare may include a delay fee.
If there's bad traffic and your driver has to spend more time on the road, your fare may also include a time cost.
Other elements are any extra stops you make along the way. All of these route-based adjustments can change your initial Uber price estimate.
Number of Passengers
The number of passengers doesn’t usually affect the cost of an Uber in the United States, except for Uber Pool, which splits the charge per mile among the passengers.
Instead of charging you per person or ride, it depends on how many seats the vehicle has. An SUV can seat six people, and you will be charged for that even if you’re alone during your ride.
Discounts and Promos
Uber often runs promotions throughout the year, where people can enjoy discounts on certain days or in certain places.
These discounts range from free rides to deep discounts during holidays, during Uber's anniversary, for new users, or for any other reason. You can usually find them in the app.
Using these promo codes can significantly bring down the cost of your Uber ride.
Tips are never computed into the cost of an Uber ride. They’re left up to the discretion of each passenger.
Sample Uber Fare
To illustrate how each element above factors into the cost of an Uber, let's look at this fare breakdown for an 11-mile ride from Central Park to the Brooklyn Museum in New York.
You can also see how much each type of Uber will cost, with the Black SUV Hourly as the most expensive option at $182.75.
Let’s say you booked an UberX for $67.26. Now, let’s break down how Uber computed your fare:
The minimum fare in NYC is $7.19. Added to that is the base rate, which is determined by the distance and time for the trip. It’s not specified in the fare estimate yet because the cost can vary based on current road conditions like traffic and peak hours.
The initial $67.26 can still go up based on other variables like the cancellation fee (seen above), any stops you make along the way, destination change, and other factors.
Sample UberX Fare Breakdown in 5 Popular US Cities
Now, let’s look at a quick comparison of base fare, cost per mile, cost per minute, and other fees like the booking fee for some of the most popular cities in the US:
|CITY||BASE FARE||COST PER MILE||COST PER MINUTE||BOOKING FEE||RIDER NO-SHOW FEE|
As you can see, the cancellation fee for Uber rides is nearly the same in different US cities. However, the base rate and cost per minute/per distance can vary greatly, so pay attention to those when booking your ride.
Uber Cost Estimator: How to Check Your Uber Fare
How can you check Uber prices before ordering one? You can use the Uber Price Estimator.
Simply type in your pickup location and your destination. To see the price quote breakdown, click the “i” next to the fare estimate.
On the same page, you can choose between requesting a ride now or later.
This is also available inside your Uber app.
Can Uber charge more than the original fare?
Yes, Uber can charge extra post-trip charges. A few reasons why this can happen are:
- You make unplanned stops along your route (e.g., picking up a friend or a package)
- Your ride had to pass through a toll that was not originally factored into your initial estimate
- You decide to change your destination mid-ride
- The driver had to pay the cash rate at a toll
- The trip takes much longer than originally estimated
Here are more details from Uber’s website.
6 Ways to Save on Uber Fares
As always, convenience comes at a price. That's true for Uber rides, which are generally more expensive than taking public transport like the bus or subway.
Luckily, you can save on Uber fares in several ways:
Subscribe to Uber Pass for member-exclusive savings
Uber Pass offers members exclusive savings on their everyday Uber rides, as well as other perks, like food delivery and scooter discounts.
Once you subscribe, you’ll start saving immediately on your next trip and every trip moving forward.
Use Uber promo codes
Uber promo codes and coupons are a great way to save money on your next ride. Here's how to apply Uber promo codes to your fare.
Always check Uber's upfront pricing for your trip
Uber offers upfront pricing — the exact cost of your trip before you even book it — in many cities now.
To see upfront prices, just enter your destination into the app and be sure you have “upfront pricing” enabled in your settings menu
Plan your ride during non-peak times
Surge pricing can easily double or triple your original Uber rate.
To avoid this, set up your ride so that it's not during rush hour or any other time when there may be a lot of people requesting rides at the same time.
Get free rides by referring friends
When Uber users refer new riders using their personal referral code and those new riders take their first trip, both the existing user and the new user get a discount on their next ride.
Use UberPool to split the fare
If you don't mind riding with strangers and are willing to be flexible with your route, UberPool can get you where you're going for far less than a standard UberX ride.
Uber Cost vs. Lyft & Other Ridesharing Apps
While Uber is still the most well-known ridesharing platform in the US, riders have other options, some of which are more affordable than getting an Uber:
Lyft is Uber's biggest competitor in the US, and prices are similar across both providers.
But unlike Uber, Lyft caps its surge price at 3X. You can also order Lyft Line, Lyft's carpooling option, to save more money during your trip.
Formerly known as GetTaxi, Gett has a smaller user base but is available in many cities in the US.
Unlike Uber, Gett doesn't have surge pricing, so rides are generally cheaper.
Another underdog in the ridesharing market, Curb is aggressively expanding its reach and now has a presence in 65+ US cities.
Like Gett, Curb doesn't charge more during peak hours, and you can schedule trips ahead.
Scoop is strictly a carpooling service and geared towards shared trips with your neighbors and co-workers.
You just have to input your daily commute schedule, and the app will automatically match you with available carpools.
Best Uber Alternatives for Travelers
Finally, there are cheaper and healthier options than Uber if you have time and don't mind putting in some effort:
If you're visiting a place with extensive and safe public transit options, it's the best way to get around.
You'll be able to travel with other locals and see the city through their eyes while also enjoying savings over taking an Uber or Lyft.
Don't forget to check the schedules and stops online or with your hotel's concierge service so you don't waste time waiting or miss your ride.
If you’re in a bike-friendly city or state (like Portland), you can usually find bike rentals at each end of the spectrum — from cheap public bikes to more expensive rental shops.
You can even rent electric bikes for faster travel over longer distances.
Aside from the carpooling apps we mentioned above, you can also arrange this yourself by looking for rideshares on Craigslist and setting up your own carpool system.
Just remember to use caution when offering rides and never give out any personal information until after you've met someone in person.
It may seem that taxis are obsolete in the age of ride-sharing apps, but they still have a place in urban areas where they're affordable.
Sometimes they can even be cheaper than Uber, especially if you take into consideration surge pricing.
Make sure to check standard taxi fares in your destination to avoid getting scammed or ripped off.
Beware of common taxi scams such as drivers taking longer routes or using tampered meters.
As a traveler or simply a local who needs to get around town, knowing your options is an excellent way to save money without sacrificing your comfort.
Remember that Uber is only one of the ways you can reach your destination. We recommend spending a little time researching the best ways to get around an area to get the perfect balance of speed, cost, and convenience.