Uber is a technological marvel. It combines the smartphones that almost everyone has in their pockets with innovations in logistics and the growing gig worker economy. Of course, as a consumer, you probably don’t care about all of that. What you care about is that Uber is a convenient way to get a ride without having to hail a taxi, wait for the bus, or drive yourself.
But what exactly will this convenience cost you? If you’ve taken a couple of Uber trips, you may have noticed that the price can vary from ride to ride. Why is this? How much does Uber tend to cost, and is there any way to predict it for your next trip?
In this guide, we’ll provide the answers to these questions and more. We’ll examine the way Uber calculates prices, how the ride type you choose affects the price, and how you can get an accurate estimate of the cost of your next Uber ride.
- How Much Does Uber Cost?
- Uber Price Estimator
- How to Pay for Your Ride
- What Does Uber Cost in Different Cities?
- Frequently Asked Questions
How Much Does Uber Cost?
While the way that Uber calculates their prices can seem like something you’d need a PhD in mathematics to understand, it’s actually fairly simple. The price you pay for your Uber comes down to seven variables:
- The Base Fare: This is a flat fee that you pay regardless of the distance that your Uber ride travels. The base fare varies depending on the ride type you choose (more on this below).
- Time in the vehicle: The amount of time you’re actually in the vehicle charged by the minute. This way, your driver gets compensated if they have to drive you a short distance in rush hour traffic, for instance.
- Distance traveled: How far the vehicle traveled during your trip charged by the mile
- Booking fee: A flat fee which helps cover administrative costs (not charged for UberBLACK or UberSUV)
- Any applicable surge fees: If driver supply is less than demand for rides, a price multiplier goes into effect
- Tipping (optional): If you choose to leave the driver a tip, this is added to the cost of the ride
All of these factors combined result in the fare you pay for your Uber ride. Uber calculates the cost of your Uber ride using the following formula:
((Base fare + time rate + distance rate) * surge multiplier) + tolls and other fees = your Uber cost
The type of Uber vehicle you choose will also impact your fare. For example, a standard UberX will cost less than an UberBLACK or UberSELECT, which are two of the companies more high-end services. If you’re price sensitive, UberPOOL generally has the lowest of all Uber rates.
How Is the Base Fare Calculated?
Akin to most of the charges, the Base Fare varies from city to city. What one person pays for an UberPOOL in Chicago will most likely be different for someone in Los Angeles. To get a better idea of how much the Base Fare is in your local area, be sure to check out this informative link.
What Is the Uber Safe Ride Fee?
Introduced in 2014, the Safe Ride Fee helps offset the cost of driver background checks, vehicle inspections, and insurance premiums. Behind the scenes, there are a lot of potential drivers that are applying to work for Uber.
Each time someone applies, the rideshare company foots the bill. Over time, the number of applicants has made this expense quite large.
There are designated locations where drivers can take their vehicle for an inspection. Paying these mechanics racks up a hefty charge, hence the Safe Ride Fee. Although this charge is low, starting at $1 per ride, some areas have actually seen the fee as high as $2.50.
How Much Is the Booking Fee for Uber and What Is It?
At one point, the Booking Fee acted in the same manner as the Safe Ride Fee. This separate fee of $1 was added to each ride for similar purposes as the Safe Ride Fee. Once Uber implemented the Safe Ride Fee, they removed the Booking Fee as well.
Uber Tolls and Fees
There are additional tolls and fees you should know about when you’re requesting an Uber ride. Many riders are surprised to learn that they are responsible for the cost of any tolls but will not be expected to have appropriate cash or coins handy.
If your driver takes a toll road, the cost of that toll will be automatically added to your total cost. You’ll be able to see these toll costs in your price breakdown. Tolls can vary based on your car type so it’s possible to pay a higher toll for an Uber trip in an UberXL than in a standard Uber.
The most important Uber fee that sometimes catches new riders by surprise is the cancellation fee.
This is a fee which is automatically charged to your account if you cancel an Uber ride more than two minutes after requesting it or when you take five minutes or longer to get into the Uber car.
The cancellation fee for regular Uber rides on average costs $5, while for UberBlack and UberSUV, it’s about $10.
Now that we have reviewed the factors that go into the fare pricing, let’s take a look at how that data is used to calculate a fare. Recently, the company rolled out a new form of pricing called Upfront Pricing.
This new feature was supposed to be a game changer for drivers. Unfortunately, Upfront Pricing led to a lot of pushback from drivers. Riders were being overcharged, which resulted in fewer people using it.
According to QZ.com, “the total upfront fares paid by riders were that much higher than the fares used to calculate driver pay. The company lost money on UberPool, its carpooling service, but more than made it up by overcharging customers who booked trips on UberX and its other private ride options.”
With this pricing model, the price you see is what you will pay. Besides this overcharging, there are other downsides to the model, too. For starters, the rideshare company has made it a bit more challenging to see when surge is in effect.
Now, instead of big bold notifications that would alert you of the multiplier, Uber gives limited warning. This may be attributed to passengers being charged more money than normal.
To add insult to injury, Upfront Pricing has not increased drivers’ cut of the profit. Instead, drivers are actually making less than expected. Budget-friendly riders will wait until surge is over to assure they can avoid it or use other tricks.
Uber Upfront Pricing Lawsuit
Although some riders are feeling pretty good about the Upfront Pricing, it has resulted in a lot of controversies. Many have suggested that Uber is playing favoritism or charging certain riders more based on their pick up and drop off locations.
This has slowly escalated to a high-profile lawsuit against the company. The main focus of the lawsuit revolves around whether Uber calculates two different prices for any given fare.
Examples include what the rider or driver sees as the total and the fare for frequent versus infrequent users.
How Ride Types Affect Uber Prices
We alluded to this above, but the type of Uber ride you choose has a big impact on your final ride cost. Uber has a variety of ride options to suit different budgets and occasions.
While the precise ride options will vary based on your city, here are the five most common ride types (and how each one affects the price you pay):
This is Uber’s most basic ride service. You’ll get a four-door vehicle (usually a sedan or hatchback) that can hold at least four passengers. Since UberX is the most basic ride type, it’s also one of the cheapest.
Up next, we have UberPOOL. This is Uber’s shared ride service. It uses the same vehicles as UberX, except you can get a discount on your fare in exchange for sharing your ride with other passengers headed in the same direction. Expect fares for UberPOOL to be anywhere from 2/3 to 1/2 of those for UberX.
UberXL is Uber’s basic high-capacity ride service. It’s like UberX, except the vehicles it uses can hold up to six passengers. Typically, this means you’ll get either a minivan or a large SUV. Because UberXL vehicles are larger, you’ll pay more for the service (around 1.5x more on average).
This is Uber’s flagship luxury ride service. UberBLACK vehicles are typically luxury sedans with black leather interiors (think Audi, Lincoln, and even Tesla). They can hold up to four passengers, and they do so in style.
Drivers for this service also have to meet strict requirements in terms of professionalism and driving ability. With all these extra bells and whistles, UberBLACK rides will cost a good bit more than UberX (usually around 2x more, though it can be higher at times).
You can think of UberSUV as either the high-capacity version of UberBLACK or the luxury version of UberXL. Like UberBLACK, all UberSUV vehicles must be high-end and have black leather interiors. And like UberXL, these vehicles can hold up to six passengers. Given that this is both a luxury AND high-capacity service, it’s among the most expensive ride types that Uber offers. Expect to pay around 3x what you’d pay for an UberX ride.
The above aren’t the only types of Uber rides available, but they are the most common. Your city may have its own specialized ride types that we haven’t mentioned here. In general, you should expect to pay more if your ride includes anything special or extra. For instance, in regions where skiing is popular, you’ll sometimes see Uber Ski Rack vehicles. Naturally, you’ll pay extra for this convenience, as it’s not something that comes standard with most vehicles.
Uber Price Estimator
Fortunately for every Uber rider, you don’t have to do these calculations yourself. Uber provides an Uber Price Estimator tool in the Uber app so you can see the cost of your ride prior to confirming it.
You can check the estimated cost of an Uber ride using the Uber Price Estimator on uber.com or in the Uber Apple app or the Android app.
Uber pricing for various ride options can be significantly different based on the number of available drivers and the current demand for a specific level of Uber service.
To check the Uber Price Estimate for your Uber trip on the Uber website, you should:
- Open uber.com/cities and choose your city
- Select “Get a Price Estimate”
- Enter your pick-up location and your drop-off location, and click “Request a ride”
- Click on the small question mark (?) next to each price estimate in order to see a breakdown of the rate for that Uber service
In the Uber App
In order to see the Uber Price Estimate for your Uber ride in the Uber app, you’ll need to:
- Open the Uber app
- Enter your drop-off location in the “Where to?” box
- Verify your pick-up location is the current location
- If your ride has a starting point other than your current location, update the pick-up location
- Check the price estimates quoted for the different Uber services available for your ride
- You can tap on an Uber fare estimate to see a breakdown of the total cost
How to Pay for Your Uber Ride
Uber accepts most of the common forms of payment. These include:
- Most major credit cards and debit cards
- Apple Pay
- Google Pay
- American Express Points
- Gift cards and vouchers
- Uber Cash
If your trip is eligible for an active Uber promotion on your account, the discount will be automatically applied to the Uber estimate. If you have a separate promo code, you’ll need to apply it prior to booking or during your trip.
To apply the promo code, follow these simple steps:
- Select “Payment” from the app menu
- Scroll down to the Promotions menu
- Tap “Add Promo Code/Gift Code”
- Enter the code and tap “Add”
Once your Uber trip has been completed, the price which will be charged to your credit card or other payment method. Promo codes cannot be applied to rides which have already been completed.
How to Tip Your Uber Driver
If you’d like to tip your Uber driver, you can do electronically through the Uber app or in cash.
To tip your Uber driver in the app:
- Wait for your ride to end
- Rate your driver through the rating feature at the bottom of the home screen
- Once your rating is submitted, you can choose from a suggested tip amount or enter a custom tip amount
You can also always slip your driver a cash tip. Whether you choose to tip through the app or in cash, your Uber driver will receive 100% of the tip.
Booking Without an Uber Cost Estimate
It’s possible to book an Uber ride without checking the Uber fare estimate in the Uber Price Estimator. If you’re in a hurry, you can just enter your pick-up location and destination address and book a car immediately.
What Does Uber Cost in Different Cities?
We think it is pretty fun to use this tool to look around the world and see how Uber fare prices vary from city to city, depending on where you live. There are a lot of different factors that go into the price structure, and they vary throughout the entire world.
We’ve used the widget for pricing research many times before, and it is hands down our favorite use for this. So, if you’re curious, here are the cheapest and most expensive cities for Uber, according to data from our fare estimate tool. These rankings all assume you’re taking an UberX, as it’s the most widely available Uber service. Obviously, taking a service like UberBLACK will make things even more expensive.
Cheapest Uber Cities
Here are the cities around the globe that have the cheapest Uber prices. Many of these cities are in countries where economies are still developing and there’s a large need to move people to and from wherever they happen to be going. These cities likely have a lot of drivers available, bringing the prices down substantially from other cities where drivers are in high demand.
- Kuala Lumpur
- Johor Bahru
Most Expensive Uber Cities
On the contrary, while prices are very low in areas with heavy driver supply and lesser passenger demand, there are many cities that fall on the other side of the scale, where drivers are sparse and riders demand is high. This pushes the price sky high and occurs in the following cities:
- The Hamptons
- New Jersey (Shore)
- Florida Keys
- New York City
Frequently Asked Questions
To conclude this guide, here are some answers to common questions about Uber prices:
1. How do Uber prices compare to taxi prices?
Comparing the cost of Uber to the cost of taking a taxi is an interesting proposition. In general, Uber tends to be cheaper simply because Uber drivers cover most of their own expenses (gas, vehicle maintenance, car payments, etc.). With taxis, on the other hand, the taxi company tends to cover most of these expenses, and the price you pay reflects that.
Furthermore, Uber rides use upfront pricing, meaning you can see how much the ride will cost before you call it. This isn’t the case with a taxi, where you only know the price after you finish the ride.
The only situation where taxis can be cheaper than Uber is during times when surge pricing is in effect. Taxis don’t use any kind of surge pricing or other dynamic pricing.
High demand for taxis may make it more difficult to get a ride, but it won’t affect the price you pay. Therefore, if you open the Uber app and see that prices are much higher than normal due to high demand, hailing or calling a taxi could be a more economical option.
2. How do Uber prices compare to Lyft prices?
Comparing Uber and Lyft prices is in some ways more straightforward than comparing Uber and taxi prices. This is because we can use Ridester’s fare estimator tool to readily get estimated prices for both services.
As an example, let’s look at fare estimates for the LA ride we looked at in a previous section. Here are the fare estimates for an Uber ride: And here are the fare estimates for the same trip with Lyft:
In this example, the prices are around the same.
For reference, here are the equivalent Lyft ride types as compared to Uber:
- Shared = UberPOOL
- Lyft = UberX
- Lyft XL = UberXL
- Lux Black = UberBLACK
- Lux Black XL = UberSUV
Note that Uber has a wider presence than Lyft overall, which means that in some cities Uber can be cheaper by virtue of its greater availability. On the other hand, Lyft can be cheaper in some cities.
3. How can I get a discount on my next Uber ride?
If reading this guide has left you wishing there were a way to make Uber cheaper, then we have exciting news for you. You can get a serious discount on your first Uber ride when you use one of our promo codes. Check them out here. And if you’re already an existing Uber user, check out our guide to the little-known ways you can get a discount on your fare.
4. Do Price Estimates Change?
Estimated prices are calculated in real time and can change from minute to minute based on factors such as increased demand or an accident along your route causing more traffic.
It’s rare for estimated prices to change significantly in short periods of time and once you book your ride, your price is locked in no matter what external factors change.
If you’re getting a price estimate for a ride hours or pricing for a scheduled ride days in advance, it is very likely the estimate will change along with factors such as driver availability, rider demand, and traffic.
These changes can be dramatic when surge pricing comes into play. The Uber Price Estimator will give you the most accurate price estimate it can based on current information about the ride you want to know about, but as factors change, so will your Uber price.
5. Do Price Estimates Include a Tip?
No, the estimated price does not include a tip. As tipping is officially at the rider’s discretion, Uber will not include it in a price estimate.
You can leave as much or as little as you would like as a tip but many Uber drivers expect it as a sign of a job well done.
Stay Informed About Uber Prices
We hope this guide has helped you get a sense of just how much Uber costs, as well as the different factors that can affect the price you pay. Curious how much you’ll pay for a Lyft ride? Have a look at our detailed Uber vs. Lyft comparison to find out.