For years, driving was the only way to get around in most major cities.
Then Uber and Lyft became popular and everyone’s vision for the future of transportation changed.
And now, there’s a new scooter in town.
Bird Scooters came onto the scene with gusto earlier in 2018 when they dropped off their dockless electric scooters in cities all over the nation.
Like its competitor, Lime, Bird scooters are changing the way people commute.
But as with any transportation service, the Bird Scooter service isn’t free.
You’ll need to pay every time you rent one of their handy electric scooters.
The price of using Bird Scooters can vary depending on your location and whether you have a paid membership.
So, how does pricing for Bird scooters work?
How does it compare to other transportation apps like Lime or Uber?
More importantly, is Bird worth it?
In this article, we’re going to look at Bird cost, and analyze the pricing structure to see if it’s worth it.
We’ll also discuss the various extra fees you could be charged and how pricing compares with other transportation options.
Let’s take a closer look.
Table Of Contents
How Does Bird Pricing Work?
Before you download the app and hop on that electric scooter, you’ll want to understand how Bird’s pricing works.
Bird Scooter Pricing Structure
The pricing structure for Bird is fairly simple.
You will need to pay a small price for every minute the scooter is in your possession.
Because of this, you will want to keep track of how long you’ve been using the scooter to avoid going out of your budget.
We will discuss more on this per-minute rate in a later section, as it can vary from city to city.
Bird Scooter Fees
Before you can use a Bird scooter, you will need to pay the “unlocking fee.”
In almost every city, this fee doesn’t go above one dollar.
So while the per-minute rate can vary, you can usually expect the unlocking fee to remain static.
Other Bird Scooter Fees
The base fee and the per-minute fee are the only costs that most scooter riders need to worry about.
But if you break the rules outlined in the Bird User Agreement, you could find yourself facing additional fines.
The first fee is if your rental becomes lost or stolen.
Bird considers any scooter that’s not returned within 48 hours to be lost or stolen, if this happens, the rider “may be charged up to $500 and a police report may be filed.”
If you don’t return a scooter after 24 hours and the scooter is not considered lost and stolen, you could be charged $25.
The lost and stolen fee protects Bird’s assets; it’s also a great way to remind people to properly park and stop your ride using the app when you’re done.
The last fee that you should be aware of is the pickup fee.
The pickup fee is assessed if you finish your ride on private property, making it impossible for a charger or fellow rider to locate the scooter.
If this happens and a Bird employee has to be dispatched to retrieve the scooter, you will be charged up to $120.
All of these fees are put in place to encourage Bird users to follow the rules, which are pretty simple: don’t steal or damage a scooter and don’t park scooters in unreachable areas.
How Much Do Bird Scooters Cost?
Now that you know how the pricing works, here are the more specific costs of using a Bird scooter.
Average Bird Scooter Trip Cost
The average person uses a Bird scooter for around 15 minutes per trip.
Once you factor in the unlocking fee, this trip will usually end up costing 3 dollars and 25 cents.
Average Bird Scooter Cost Per Minute
The average cost of riding a Bird scooter per minute is 15 cents.
Remember, this may not reflect the price of Bird scooters in your area.
In some major cities, it can be more than twice that amount, and in others, it can be a little cheaper.
How Much Do Bird Scooters Cost Per Hour?
If you were to use a Bird scooter at the average 15 cent rate for one hour, and you factor in the unlocking fee, it would end up costing you ten dollars.
Bird Scooter Pricing by City
Since writing this article, Bird has increased their per minute fee in some cities.
Check out this image below.
Please let us know in the comments what prices are per minute in your city!
Example Bird Scooter Prices
To get a better understanding of how Bird pricing works, here are a few examples of per-minute prices in some larger U.S. cities.
While the average tends to stay at 15 cents per minute in most areas, residents of bigger cities can expect some fluctuation here and there.
A Hypothetical Example of Bird Cost
Renters that need to travel four miles start their rental charge out at $1.
At ten mph, it will take about 24 minutes to cover those miles.
That comes out to $3.60 when you multiply 24 minutes by the 15 cents per minute rate.
After you add in the base fare, your total trip comes to $4.60, which is less than the minimum Uber fare in most cities.
To give you a better idea of the pricing, here are some more examples:
- 10 Minutes: $1.50 + $1.00 start fee = $2.50 total
- 30 Minutes $4.50 + $1.00 start fee = $5.50 total
- 1 Hour: $9.00 + $1.00 start fee = $10 total
Los Angeles, California Bird Scooter Price Example
In a big city like this, one can only expect that these scooter services are more popular and more accessible.
Unfortunately, that has resulted in a higher per-minute rate.
For every minute you ride a Bird scooter in Los Angeles, California, you will need to pay 25 cents!
That will add up to 4 dollars and 75 cents for a 15 minute ride, or 16 dollars per hour.
Compared to other forms of public transportation, though, that still isn’t too bad.
Denver, Colorado Bird Scooter Price Example
If you’re going to use Bird for a ride in Denver, Colorado, it has a cost fairly lower than Los Angeles.
Despite being a big city, the price of riding a Bird scooter in Denver usually stays at 15 cents per minute.
This will add up to 3 dollars and 25 cents for a 15 minute ride, or 10 dollars per hour.
Bird Scooters Cost Comparison
Bird isn’t the only e-scooter app out there.
How does it compare to other ride services regarding affordability and availability?
Let’s look at the other options and find out.
Is Bird Cheaper Than Lime?
In most areas, the price of a Lime scooter is not much different from that of a Bird scooter.
Both services average at around 15 cents per minute.
However, the price of Bird scooters has gone up in bigger cities in the past couple years.
This difference is pretty small, and depending on where you live, it’s most likely not there at all.
But it can quickly add up over time, so it is something to keep in mind.
Is Bird Cheaper Than Spin Scooters?
Just like Lime scooters, the pricing method for Spin scooters is roughly the same as Bird’s pricing.
If you live in a big city, there’s a bigger chance that your Bird scooter will be a bit more expensive than the Spin scooter option.
But overall, that difference is rare and insignificant when it does come up.
Is Bird Cheaper Than Uber Ride Sharing?
The price per minute when compared to Uber Ride Sharing is roughly the same.
It’s worthy of note, however, that an Uber can get you further in a shorter period of time than a Bird scooter will.
Uber rides can also come with a minimum fee of 4.85 regardless of how short the trip is.
With Bird scooters, you only need to pay the 1 dollar unlocking fee and however many minutes you use.
So in a way, the price of an Uber can be cheaper over time.
But these two methods of transportation have their respective benefits, so that doesn’t mean you should always choose an Uber over a Bird.
What is Cheaper, Bird or UberX?
The best way to compare UberX and Bird is to look at the payment breakdown for UberX.
Currently, UberX passengers are charged a base fee, a per mile fee and a per minute fee.
If your total ride cost on Uber does not meet a minimum amount, you will be up-charged to match the minimum.
The amount Uber charges for the base fare, per mile fee and per minute fee varies by city.
So for the sake of an example, let’s look at the fees for the city of Chicago using the Uber Fare Calculator.
When you enter in Chicago in the city based prices, you’ll get these numbers:
- SEAT CAPACITY: 4
- BASE FARE: USD 1.79
- PRICE PER MINUTE: USD 0.21
- PRICE PER MILE: USD 1.00
- CANCELLATION FEE: USD 5.00
- MINIMUM COST: USD 4.85
Now that we have these numbers, let’s go back to the 4-mile trip example we used above.
Let’s also assume that a 4-mile Uber trip takes about 20 minutes (there’s a lot of traffic in Chi-town). Using these numbers, out broken out total will look like this:
- Base Fare: $1.79
- Price Per Minute: $0.21 x 20 minutes = $4.20
- Price Per Mile: $1.00 x 4 miles = $4.00
- Total: $9.99
Remember that our scooter ride only cost $4.60 to cover the same distance?
That means that taking a scooter would save you over $5 in this example.
There are other factors that you need to consider which can make Uber more affordable than a scooter.
Namely, the seating capacity. An UberX can fit up to 4 passengers, meaning this same ride would be $2.50 per person if split evenly.
So if you have a group of people, it makes more financial sense to split an Uber.
How do Bird Scooter Payments Work?
Just like Uber and Lyft, all payments are handled through the Bird app.
When you sign up for an account, you’ll need to enter your credit card information.
After you complete a ride, that amount is withdrawn from your account.
Price Increases For Bird Scooters
When the Bird app was initially launched, their cost per minute was originally 15 cents regardless of location.
As of recently, however, Bird has begun to increase the cost of their rentals.
This has mainly affected big cities like Austin, Texas or San Diego where scooter rentals are most popular.
Rides in these cities can reach up to 33 cents per minute, nearly twice as much as the initial Bird scooter cost.
The reason behind these increases lies in two main factors; manufacturing costs and city fees.
Bird has been working to improve the models of the scooters to be much more durable and have a higher battery life.
Many cities have also raised the fees of hosting their scooters in their towns.
As a result, Bird has needed to raise their prices to compensate.
While the one dollar unlocking fee is usually static, there is one exception.
The city council of Raleigh, North Carolina enacted an ordinance that charges Bird more for the scooters they host in that town.
As a result, you will have to pay two additional dollars upon renting a scooter in Raleigh.
This rise in Bird’s prices does not affect most cities, though.
Smaller cities are more likely to have the expected 15 cent per minute fee.
And even in cities with higher rates, the price of a Bird scooter can still be worth it.
Are Bird Scooters Worth The Cost?
Whether or not Bird scooters are worth the cost varies on your budget, the area you live in, whether you have a ride pass, and the other scooter apps available in your location, if any.
One benefit Bird has over other scooter sharing services is availability.
The Bird app is far more widespread than its competitors like Lime or Spin Scooters.
So even if the other two options are more affordable, you may have an easier time finding Bird scooters in your location.
If you have a ride pass, this can make a Bird scooter ride all the more worth it.
Even if your area has above-average rates, these passes can give you rides for free or at a reduced price.
Bird scooters also have unique benefits over Uber Rideshares.
They give you more control over your travels than an Uber would, and they also negate any anxiety you may have about climbing into a stranger’s car.
Most of all, riding a Bird scooter is simply more enjoyable than public transportation or bicycles.
Nothing compares to the fun of freely riding a scooter through the city streets.
Overall, if you live in an area where Bird scooters are more readily available, it doesn’t hurt to give it a try.
But if other services such as Lime are equally available and are cheaper in your location, it might be best to go with that instead.
Alternative: Buy A Bird Scooter
Do you enjoy the freedom of a Bird scooter, but don’t want to deal with the hassle of locating them or making constant payments?
Good news — there’s an alternative.
Does Bird Sell Their Scooters?
If you’re a big fan of Bird scooters, you can purchase one of your own.
That way, you can have the convenience of these e-scooters no matter where you are or having to deal with the per-minute rates.
To purchase a Bird scooter, you can check out the shop on their website.
They offer a wide selection of sizes, models, and colors.
You can buy a scooter for yourself, or even one for your kids!
How Much Do Bird Scooters Cost To Buy?
The price of Bird scooters varies depending on the model you purchase.
Their most expensive model is the Bird One scooter, which can reach over a thousand dollars.
On the other hand, their cheapest model is the Birdie — the model for kids — at a little over 100 dollars.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are a few common questions people may have regarding Bird scooters.
Is Bird Scooter Profitable?
The answer to that is a bit complicated.
At the start of 2019, the Bird scooter rental service was struggling quite a bit.
They lost around 100 million dollars in revenue.
Because of this, they actually ended up laying off hundreds of their employees.
This is one of the many factors that led to its increase in ride prices.
But with the Covid-19 pandemic, the scooter rental industry in general began to rise in popularity.
This is because a scooter, unlike other modes of transportation, is relatively safe compared to crowded buses or subways.
As of recently, Bird’s profits have begun to improve.
So right now, many investors will agree that the Bird scooter is profitable, and is likely to become even more so over time.
How Much Does a Bird Scooter Cost to Make?
While there is no exact amount available, the cost of producing a Bird scooter has increased in the past year.
This is because Bird has been working on improving the quality of their scooters.
With the rise of popularity in their scooters, more accidents have been occurring on city sidewalks.
Because of this, Bird is working to meet and exceed safety regulations.
With higher durability materials and models, it is safe to assume that the cost of manufacturing Bird e-scooters will continue to go up.
We could compare Bird scooters with other modes of transportation until the cows come home, but one thing is clear: the scooters are a pretty good deal.
The prices of Bird scooters are generally not that much different from that of other e-scooter companies.
But as of recently, there have been some price fluctuations in bigger cities.
Whether or not renting a Bird scooter will be worth your money can vary depending on your location, budget, and how much you enjoy riding scooters.
A scooter can be a fun and convenient way to get around town, but overall, you won’t want to rely on it as your main source of public transportation.
To get the most of your Bird scooter experience, you can purchase monthly plans to get a slightly better deal on your rides.
And of course, try out and compare other scooter rentals in your area if they are available.
This way, you can decide for yourself whether Bird scooters are the right option for you!
What do you think? Are scooters a viable mode of transportation in your area?