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How to save money with Uber and Lyft

How to save money with Uber and Lyft


Which of these shared travel giants will save you more money?

Angela Lang / CNET

The Uber and Lyft applications forshared trips they have seemingly inscrutable ways of calculating how much gastars on each trip and, although convenient, their costs add up. When it comes to saving money with these applications, is one of them better than the other? The answer is yes, but not as you imagine.

Uber's pricing system, much less transparent, makes it harder to see how much it costs on certain routes compared to Lyft. And much of the final price determination is reduced to where you are at a certain date and time and how many Uber or Lyft drivers are nearby. This type of calculation makes it easier to understand which services will save you more money.

However, there are some good general rules that can help you get the best possible rate, especially if you are a frequent passenger. It is also useful to know how the services work, so that you can be well informed when you choose a vehicle. Next, we tell you everything you need to know about Lyft and Uber's ability to save you money. (If you want to see the result broken down, go directly to the end of this note).

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Lyft and Uber face for your preference.


How prices work in Uber and Lyft

Both Lyft and Uber break down travel costs according to base fare, distance, trip duration and a fixed service or reservation fee. Prices for both services may change depending on demand and traffic, which makes it difficult to determine which is cheaper and at what time. For example, if there are fewer drivers on the road during a congested schedule, either of the two applications can be more expensive, and charge up to 1.5 times the normal price during peak hours.

Our advice: Download both Uber and Lyft in your phone and compare their prices at the time you want to travel. It only takes a few extra seconds that can save you several dollars. The further you go, the more you can save by comparing them at the same time.

For example, Uber estimates that an 8-minute, 2.9-mile trip in Louisville, Kentucky (where I live), on a Thursday at 2 p.m., will cost a minimum of US $ 7.20. It is important to know that the minimum cost for any Uber trip is a flat rate per reservation that is added to each trip.

To do a field test of prices, I took an Uber to go to lunch and a Lyft to return to the office an hour and a half later. The traffic was equivalent and so was the duration of my trip. This is by no means a completely accurate comparison, but I wanted to see if there was a big difference in prices:

Uber versus Lyft: Field Test


Base rate



Reservation Fee


$ 1

$ 1

US $ 2.97

US $ 2.92

US $ 1.08

US $ 1.30

US $ 2.75

US $ 2.75

US $ 7.80

US $ 7.97

For my trip, both the base rate of Lyft and that of Uber was US $ 1. Uber's cost per minute was 22 cents higher than Lyft's, but Lyft's cost per mile was five cents less than Uber's. Also, give both drivers a $ 2 tip. On any other day, these prices can be easily reversed depending on the demand of the users and the availability of drivers at a specific time and place.

The only concrete conclusion of this is that from the moment you call an Uber or a Lyft, you will be paying between US $ 7.50 and US $ 10, even if you only travel three blocks.

Shared trips will save you money, but there is an inconvenience

Both Uber and Lyft offer shared trips, which match you with another passenger with similar pick-up and destination locations. You can request a shared trip with a maximum of two people, and in essence you will be dividing the cost of the trip, but also based on complex algorithms that include the time of day and all the other factors that we already indicated.

In some cases, a shared trip costs half the price of a trip in a private car; on other occasions there is little difference between one and the other.

Tip: Smart travelers ask for shared trips when they're not in a hurry. If the driver does not pick up an additional passenger, you will have a solo trip for the price of a shared trip.

Shared trips can last longer, and the time can be increased if the driver picks up a passenger while you are on the road, especially on long trips. You also have no control over your arrival destination priority, so reserve enough time if, for example, you are heading to the airport.

For my field test, UberPool was not available when I went to lunch for the second time specifically to try these services for myself. Google Maps calculated that a trip from Union Square in San Francisco, California, to San Francisco International Airport will be approximately 12.7 miles and take 21 minutes on Wednesday at 2:30 p.m.

Although in theory a shared trip with Uber can be a little cheaper or less complicated, you should still compare both services simultaneously to choose which cost you less that day and at that time.

Tips: Uber gains flexibility

Both Uber and Lyft encourage delivering tips to drivers and suggest amounts in cash (for example, US $ 1, US $ 3) or a percentage (for example, 15 percent, 18 percent), depending on the final price of the trip.

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How to leave a tip in Lyft (left) and Uber (right).

Shelby Brown / CNET

But Uber gives you much more flexibility about the extra amount you want to pay. While Lyft only allows you to add tips in increments of whole dollars, Uber allows you to pay the amount you want, from a tip of a penny (which we do not recommend) to a specific figure such as US $ 5.15, or, more likely, US $ 5.50.