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A Guide To Uber New Year’s Eve Pricing For Riders And Drivers

It’s well known that New Year’s Eve is hands-down the most expensive night of the year to use Uber’s services. Demand peaks, with riders and hungry customers overwhelming the platforms with huge demand. With that demand, comes high prices.

Having been there all too many times myself, I decided to put together a guide for riders on how to save money on rides, and for drivers on how to maximize surge pricing to make the most money.

But first, we need to understand surge pricing – the key to avoiding, or making – money this NYE.

Understanding Surge Pricing

Surge pricing is a pricing model that Uber uses to balance supply and demand. Essentially, during times of high demand, such as New Year’s Eve, prices for rides increase. This can happen in busy areas or during popular times (like right after midnight).

The idea is to encourage more drivers to come onto the road to meet this increased demand for rides, but it also means higher costs for riders. I’ve seen surges as high as 10X the normal pricing, meaning that a standard $20 ride, when surging at 10X, would be $200.

On New Year’s Eve, you can expect surge pricing to be in effect, especially during peak celebration hours. If you’re planning to get a ride or order late-night food, I would think twice.

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Part 1: For Uber Rideshare Riders

Getting a ride after a night of celebrating is much easier said than done. What happens when you need a ride home and notice surge pricing in full effect?

Yes, surge prices will likely be that bad, and no, there will not be a ton of other options.

Lyft has its own model of surge pricing called “Prime Time” pricing. It is cheaper than Uber’s surge pricing, but the amount of Lyft drivers on the road will likely be far less than the amount driving for Uber.

The most effective way to manage this situation is avoid it altogether – or at least plan ahead to have a good idea of what you’ll do when you need a ride.

a vector image showing a woman holding a smartphone running the uber app and angry because uber surge pricing is active

First, Consider Safety and Budgeting

No matter which option you take, it is important to consider your safety first.

I’ve seen far too many riders put themselves in dangerous situations just to avoid surge pricing. Don’t fall into this same trap – your safety is the most important thing. As my dad has told me all my life, “I can always make more money. But I can’t buy another you”.

So carefully consider your options. While it’s tempting to choose the cheapest or most convenient option, safety should always be your top priority. This includes not driving drunk (or with a drunk friend), waiting for your ride in a safe, well-lit area, and ensuring you’re getting into the correct vehicle.

Along those same lines, look out for yourself and don’t pay for a ride that you might regret the next day.

New Year’s Eve can be expensive, and surge pricing can quickly eat into your budget. Plan ahead and set a spending limit for your rides. Remember, it might be worth paying a bit extra for a safer or more convenient ride.

Secondly, Plan to Avoid Surge Pricing

One of the easiest ways to avoid surge pricing is to simply plan to avoid it. While surge pricing oftentimes catches riders off guard, it is fairly easy to avoid with a little planning.

I have found that the most effective ways to avoid surge pricing include:

1. Timing Adjustments

One effective strategy to avoid surge pricing is timing your rides. For instance, leaving a bit earlier than the peak time can help you avoid the highest fares.

On NYE, surge pricing is hard to avoid altogether. While you likely won’t be able to get a ride without some type of surge, timing your rides can help you avoid the frustrating 8X, 9X and 10X surges that riders frequently complain about after the fact.

2. Location Hacks

Sometimes, walking a few blocks away from a high-demand area (like a crowded downtown celebration spot) can significantly lower your fare. High-demand zones are hotspots for surge pricing, so getting out of those is sometimes enough to drastically drop the fare price.

This is what an Uber map looks like to an Uber driver:

Uber Surge Pricing

As you can see, calling an Uber within a surging area is going to be more expensive than a non-surging area. These are almost always areas of incredibly demand, such as a bar district, concert that is just letting out, or something like that.

I like in a city that has fairly segmented areas of town. There are multiple bar districts with plenty of space between them.

Because of this, my trick has always been to call an Uber during surge pricing, and then have them take me to my office. I will then call another Uber, or possibly a Lyft, from there. When I call the second one, I am no longer paying surge or Prime Time pricing.

My office is about halfway between my favorite bar district and my house. Yes, I will pay a bit of surge pricing, but less than I would if they took me all the way home.

And the best part? Even if I have to wait a little bit, it is okay. I am in a heated/cooled building, that is safe, and filled with snacks. Even if the second ride takes a while to pick me up, I am still safe.

3. Share a Ride With a Friend

Consider sharing your ride with others. Apps often offer a ‘split fare’ feature, or you could coordinate with friends going to the same destination. Splitting the cost of a rideshare ride makes even surging fare prices relatively affordable.

I personally don’t like to plan to split an expensive ride, as I don’t believe it is a wise use of my finances. A better option might be to find a friend that is driving to wherever you are going, but not planning to drink.

However, in this situation, just make sure that they truly are planning not to drink. Otherwise, you might find yourself stuck somewhere thinking you’d get a ride with them, but instead having to pay the high price of an Uber ride because they decided that they actually wanted to drink instead of drive.

4. Alternate Transportation

If surge pricing is too high, consider other transportation options like public transit, which often have extended hours on New Year’s Eve. These options are usually incredibly reliable, and far cheaper than ridesharing.

Another somewhat underrated option is taking a taxi. I’ve head the Uber vs taxi debate countless times throughout owning this site, but I am still going to offer a taxi as a recommendation. I do understand they aren’t as convenient or nice as an Uber ride, but they are oftentimes easier to get a cheaper to take on New Year’s Eve.

If you do take one, make sure to tip your driver just as you’d tip an Uber driver. They’re still offering a service and they also have expenses to pay themselves. Don’t cheap out – reward them for getting you home safely.

Money-Saving NYE Ride Promotions

We’ve collected a long list of discounts on ridesharing, taxis, public transportation, and more to help you save money on your NYE rides:

See all New Year’s Eve ride promotions

Part 2: Uber On NYE For Rideshare Drivers

In the world of Uber driving, where there are high Uber prices, there comes an opportunity to make good money while driving. New Year’s Eve stands out as one of the most lucrative nights for rideshare drivers due to the high demand and surge pricing.

Taking advantage of this can potential lead to huge amounts of income, if done correctly. Here are some strategies to maximize your earnings:

1. Demand, Surge Pricing, and Strategic Driving

As an Uber driver, you can maximize your earnings by positioning yourself in areas with high demand, such as popular nightlife spots. However, it’s essential to balance the potential for higher earnings with the challenges of driving in congested areas.

Timing is also crucial – the hours leading up to midnight are often busy with people heading to parties, while early morning hours see a surge in rides home.

By strategically choosing your locations and times, you can increase your chances of benefiting from higher fares while managing the challenges of traffic and demand.

2. Passenger Diversity and Safety Considerations

On NYE, you’ll encounter a wide variety of passengers. While many might be inebriated, others could include families or individuals attending more subdued events. Flexibility and patience are key in handling different types of passengers, some of whom may require extra assistance.

Safety is another critical consideration, both in terms of navigating busy streets filled with potentially intoxicated pedestrians and drivers, and in dealing with passenger behavior.

Increased vigilance is necessary to ensure both your safety and that of your passengers. In situations involving unruly or aggressive passengers, having a safety plan in place, use your discretion and know when to end the ride if necessary.

3. Preparation for Messes and Financial Awareness

Given the likelihood of transporting intoxicated passengers, being prepared for potential messes is crucial.

Keeping your vehicle stocked with cleaning supplies, including paper towels, disinfectant wipes, trash bags, and especially puke bags, can save you significant time and effort.

Financially, it’s important to be aware of Uber’s commission structure and to keep an eye on your account for any post-holiday adjustments to fares. Some drivers have reported unexpected fare adjustments after high-earning days like NYE, so monitoring your earnings closely is advisable.

4. Promotions, Bonuses, and Work-Life Balance

Uber often offers special promotions or bonuses during high-demand periods like NYE, which can significantly increase your earnings. Staying informed about these opportunities through the Uber app and email is essential.

However, while NYE can be a lucrative time to drive, maintaining a balance between work and personal life is important. Some drivers choose to work only part of the evening, allowing them to spend time with family or friends and to avoid burnout from extended hours of driving.

Your health and well-being are important, and taking breaks when needed is crucial for safe driving.

5. Market Variability and Mental Preparedness

A driver’s earnings and experience with driving for Uber on NYE can vary greatly depending on your location. Some cities seeing high demand and surges, yet others experiencing an oversupply of drivers.

Understanding the specific characteristics of your local market can help in planning your strategy for the night.

Mental preparedness is also essential; NYE shifts can be physically and emotionally demanding. Keeping a positive attitude and being prepared to handle a range of passenger behaviors can make your driving experience more pleasant and less stressful.

General Tips for Both Services

While we’ve highlighted some individual tips above, the following are important while using the Uber app in general – whether rider or driver.

1. Communication

Clear and effective communication is vital for both Uber ridesharing and Uber Eats services, especially on a busy night like New Year’s Eve.

  • For Riders and Customers: Always double-check and provide accurate pickup and delivery locations. If there are any special instructions or changes, communicate them promptly through the app.
  • For Drivers and Delivery Partners: Keep your riders and customers informed about your ETA and any delays. Quick and courteous responses can significantly enhance their experience.

2. Feedback and Ratings

The feedback and ratings system is crucial in the Uber ecosystem. It helps maintain high service standards and trust within the community.

  • For Riders and Customers: Remember to leave fair and constructive feedback. Your ratings and comments can help drivers and delivery partners improve.
  • For Drivers and Delivery Partners: Strive for high-quality service to earn positive ratings, which can impact your future trip and delivery opportunities.

3. Policy Awareness

Familiarity with Uber’s policies is important for a smooth experience.

  • Stay Informed: Both service providers and users should be aware of Uber’s policies, especially those that apply to peak times like New Year’s Eve. This includes pricing, cancellations, and safety protocols.
  • Respect Guidelines: Adhering to these guidelines ensures a better experience for everyone involved.

Over to You

What do you think? Do you have tips for riders for avoiding surge pricing, or drivers for capitalizing on it? Let us know by dropping a comment below!

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