Uber Prices: How Much Does Uber Cost?
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 Uber Calculates Prices
- How Ride Types Affect Uber Prices
- Get an Uber Fare Estimate for Your City
- Uber Prices FAQ
How Uber Calculates Prices
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:
- 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).
- Ride distance — The farther you travel, the more you pay.
- Ride time — Uber also takes the ride time into account. This way, your driver gets compensated if they have to drive you a short distance in rush hour traffic, for instance.
- Booking fee — This flat fee covers Uber’s administrative costs (background checks, driver onboarding, etc.).
- Surge multiplier — When demand for rides is greater than the number of available drivers, Uber will implement surge pricing. This will increase the ride cost using a multiplier that can vary from as low as 1.1x to as high as 4x (common during busy times such as New Year’s Eve).
- Tips — If you choose to tip your driver when your ride ends, Uber will add this to your total ride cost.
- Other fees — This category includes tolls, cleaning fees, airport fees, and any fees or taxes that the city or state charges. These get added to your ride cost at the end.
Taking this all together, here’s the formula that Uber uses to calculate ride costs:[(Base fare + Distance rate + Time rate) * Surge multiplier] + Tolls and other fees
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.
Get an Uber Fare Estimate for Your City
Now that you understand the basics of how Uber calculates prices and how the ride type you choose can affect the price, let’s look at some real-world prices. To do this, we’ll use the handy Uber fare estimator tool that the folks over at Ridester.com created. This tool uses the Uber API to get real-time price information and generate an accurate fare estimate for any itinerary you can come up with.
Let’s see this tool in action by calculating some fare estimates for three major U.S. cities: Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City.
1. Chicago Uber Prices
What will a typical Uber ride run you in the Windy City? For our example, we’re going to calculate the cost of a ride between two iconic Chicago landmarks: the Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower) and Millennium Park.
To start, we’ll enter the Pickup Point and Drop Off Point into the fare estimate tool:
From there, all we have to do is click “Estimate Uber Fare”:
Doing this will show estimated fares for a variety of Uber ride types:
At a distance of just over a mile, this isn’t an expensive ride. Still, you can see how much the ride type you choose affects the price.
2. Los Angeles Uber Prices
The City of Angels isn’t known for having great public transit or being very walkable, so getting an Uber is one of the best ways to get around if you don’t want to drive in the LA traffic. But what will this ride cost you? To get an idea, here’s the estimated cost of a ride between the Chinese Theatre and the Hollywood Sign, both of which are iconic LA landmarks.
To start, we’ll enter the Pickup Point and Drop Off Point:
Then, we’ll click “Estimate Uber Fare”:
And here’s the result:
You can see how much the cost of this ride will vary based on the ride type you pick. You may also notice that LA has a much wider variety of ride options than Chicago (which makes sense given that LA is such a car-centric city).
3. New York City Uber Prices
We’ll conclude our fare estimate journey in NYC. The Big Apple is known for being a city that’s easy to get around without a car due to its robust public transit and walkable grid of streets.
Still, it can be handy to grab an Uber if you need to get somewhere that public transit doesn’t go or just want the comfort and privacy of your own ride. But what will it cost for this privacy and convenience?
To find out, we’re going to estimate the cost of an Uber ride between the One World Trade Center and the Empire State Building.
First, we’ll enter our Pickup Point and Drop Off Point into the fare estimator:
Next, we’ll click “Estimate Uber Fare”:
This is the result:
As you can see, Uber is quite pricey in Manhattan. There are a few things that can explain this. To start, it’s a very dense area with lots of traffic. This drives up the average ride time, which means higher fares.
Also, NYC is unique in that the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) licenses and regulates all rideshare activities. This extra oversight means more paperwork and hassle for Uber, in turn increasing prices.
This shows how the fare estimator tool can also be useful for deciding when you should not take Uber and instead choose an alternative method of transport.
Want to get your own fare estimate? Just type your Pickup and Drop Off Point into the widget below:
Uber Prices FAQ
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.
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.