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Uber’s pricing structure can be a bit difficult to understand if you haven’t taken the time to study it. Most riders haven’t, and we can’t blame you. After all, you don’t really care about the precise formula Uber uses to come up with its fares. All you care about is whether or not you’re getting a fair price compared to what the taxi industry or another rideshare company charges.
One question that can come up, however, is whether or not Uber charges per person. If you’re taking a ride with a group of people, does Uber calculate the ride fare based on each person, or does it not matter?
The answer, in general, is that Uber does not charge per person. However, there are some ride types where the number of people does have an effect on the price, which we’ll explore a bit later in this article.
- How Does Uber Pricing Work?
- When the Number of Passengers Affects the Price
- How to Know the Price Before You Ride
Even after hearing us tell you that Uber does not charge per person, you might still be skeptical. We understand. It’s better to explain how Uber does calculate ride fares so that you can see how the number of passengers in a ride has nothing to do with it.
When calculating the fare for a ride, Uber takes the following basic factors into account:
- Base fare: A flat fee that covers the pickup price. The base rate varies based on your city. The minimum fare also comes into play here (which is to say that there’s a minimum amount you have to pay for any Uber ride, no matter the distance).
- Time in the vehicle: The amount of time spent in the vehicle from the time the driver picks you up to the time they drop you off.
- Distance traveled: The distance the vehicle traveled during the trip.
- Booking fee: A flat fee that helps offset Uber’s operating costs (i.e. background checks, overhead, etc.).
- Surge pricing: If demand for rides outweighs driver supply, a price multiplier kicks in. This can be as little as 1.25x or as high as 3x or 4x in extreme cases (think Times Square on New Year’s Eve). This dynamic pricing system can be annoying, but it helps to balance the supply of Uber drivers and riders.
- Tipping: You have the option of leaving your driver a tip, which will be added to your total fare.
- Applicable taxes and fees: Uber fees can get complex, but you’ll generally only pay them if you do something undesirable (like leaving a mess in your driver’s car).
Okay, so maybe that was already way more than you wanted to know about how Uber calculates the price of a ride, but the important thing to notice is that the number of passengers in a ride doesn’t affect the price. This is true when you’re taking any of the following ride types:
- UberX: This is the most basic type of Uber ride. You can expect a pretty simple car, though it will be clean and comfortable. UberX rides are also the cheapest (with the exception of UberPOOL, which we’ll discuss later).
- UberSELECT: These rides will be a bit fancier than UberX. You may not get a luxury car, but it will be a cut above the vehicles that UberX drivers use.
- UberBLACK: This is Uber’s high-end black car service. All vehicles have a black exterior and black leather interior, and they will be quite luxurious. Drivers for this service are also professionals who understand how to deal with powerful, high-end clientele.
In a few cases, however, the number of passengers can have an effect on the price of the ride. Let’s examine those cases more closely.
If you’re taking any of the following Uber ride types, then the number of passengers does affect the price:
- UberXL: This is like UberX, except you’ll get a van or SUV capable of holding up to six passengers.
- UberSUV: UberSUV is the high-capacity version of UberBLACK. You’ll get a black, luxury SUV with space for up to six riders.
- UberPOOL: UberPOOL lets you get a discount on your fare by sharing your ride with other passengers (and accepting the possibility of a longer ride time).
Even in these cases, however, it’s not as simple as Uber charging per passenger. In the case of UberXL and UberSUV rides, you’re paying more for the larger capacity vehicles. Both these ride types can hold up to six Uber passengers, whereas all other types of Uber rides can hold a maximum of four passengers.
But if you’re taking an Uber ride with a higher capacity, you’ll see this reflected in the ride cost upfront. It doesn’t matter whether you have five or six passengers (or even three passengers with lots of luggage). Uber just bases the price on the ride type you pick, since the larger vehicles cost more to operate (and therefore merit higher fares).
The case of UberPOOL is different. In fact, it’s the only ride type where you can say that Uber charges per passenger. To understand why, you need to consider how UberPOOL works. UberPOOL offers riders a discounted fare in exchange for sharing their ride with other passengers. However, this means that space in the vehicle is more limited than with a regular UberX ride.
Therefore, Uber will charge you extra for having more than one person in your group when you request an UberPOOL ride. Additionally, they limit the number of UberPOOL passengers to two per party. This way, there’s never a situation where an UberPOOL driver runs out of passenger capacity.
The precise amount they charge for extra passengers varies, but it’s usually just a couple dollars extra. You’ll have to compare the savings to the price of taking an UberX ride to decide if it’s worth it.
Uber made a big deal not too long ago about how they had implemented upfront pricing. This was designed to avoid issues where passengers felt cheated upon seeing a high price after taking a ride. Whether or not the system has been successful is a question we’ve addressed in other posts, but the point is that you can be reasonably sure of a ride’s cost before you take it.
The best way to do this for a specific ride is to use the Uber app. Just type in your destination to see estimates of prices for a variety of ride types. If you’re booking an UberPOOL ride for more than one person, the app will let you know beforehand what the extra charge for the additional passenger will be. You can see this before you even book the ride, and you have the option to pick a different ride type if you prefer.
If you want a more general estimate of what your ride will cost, you can use our Uber fare estimator. While it can’t account for things like current traffic conditions and the level of local demand for rides, it can give you a fare estimate using your pickup location, drop off location, and desired ride type.
Uber Does Not Charge Per Person
We hope you now understand a little bit more about the Uber pricing system. While a lot of different variables go into determining your final ride cost, per passenger pricing isn’t one of them. If you are looking to spend less on your Uber ride (no matter how many people you have), check out our guide to Uber promo codes.
Curious how Lyft, the other main rideshare competitor, calculates its prices? Have a look at our guide to Lyft rates.
Brett Helling is the owner of Ridester.com. He has been a rideshare driver since early 2012, having completed hundreds of trips for companies including Uber, Lyft, and Postmates. In 2014 he acquired Ridester.com to share his experiences with other drivers. His insights are regularly quoted by publications such as Forbes, Vice, CNBC, and more. He is currently working on a book about working in the Gig Economy, expanding his skill set beyond the rideshare niche. Read more about Brett here.