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Uber Cost: Fare Pricing, Rates, and Cost Estimates

Last updated: September 3, 2021
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vector graphic illustrating different elements of how much does Uber cost

With Uber being the largest ridesharing company in the whole world, it feels as though the question of “how much does Uber cost?” should be a thing of the past.

However, most people don’t know that Uber has many pricing components and variables that go into calculating the final cost.

If you’ve ever wondered…

  • “How much does Uber cost?”
  • “How much does Uber cost per mile?”
  • “Is there an Uber calculator I can use to estimate a fare?”

Then you’re not alone!

These components, including the base, Surge prices, and booking fees (among others), can make it hard for riders to determine the exact cost of their ride.

If you are curious about how Uber prices are calculated, you have come to the right place.

Since it’s such a hot topic, we put together a complete guide to Uber pricing so you have a better understanding of what it costs and the calculations behind the rides you take.

Read on to find all about the Uber fare pricing system, rates, and cost estimates.

Uber Cost & Cost Overview: A Primer

As mentioned before, many factors determine the final cost of an individual Uber ride.

In this section, we will take a look at some general principles that are key to understanding Uber costs.

vector graphic showing how does uber work

1. Upfront Pricing

Upfront pricing is a new way that Uber introduced to calculate the price of a trip.

In upfront pricing, Uber gives the rider the exact price the trip will cost before requesting a ride.

For example, let us say that a rider wants to travel from point A to B.

While the old pricing system will give the cost of the ride as a range, the upfront pricing will provide an exact price.

Upfront fares are calculated by totaling the base fare, expected time, distance rates, traffic patterns, surges, and any expected tolls that might affect the journey.

The resulting value then appears as the upfront fare.

Uber riders get price estimates for their rides before they request them. While this can sometimes change, these estimates are usually accurate.

Can Uber charge more than the estimate?

With the upfront rates, Uber seemingly assures riders that the prices displayed at the beginning of the journey are exactly what they will pay at the end of it.

However, this is not always the case.

When the journey changes unexpectedly, Uber might charge the rider more than the estimated upfront price.

For example, if the journey takes longer than expected due to a roadblock or if the rider suddenly changes the drop-off point, Uber will be forced to adjust their prices according to the given situation.

2. Does Uber Charge by Mile or Time?

Among other pricing components, Uber charges a ride depending on the amount of time the rider has spent in the car and the distance covered during the journey.

During the cost calculation, the time is charged per minute while the distance is charged per mile.

These rates depend on the default rates of the Uber City where the rider is traveling.

Uber charges a ride depending on the amount of time the rider has spent in the car and the distance covered during the journey. These rates differ by city and service level requested.

3. Does Uber Charge per Person?

When calculating the final cost of the trip, Uber does not consider the number of passengers in the vehicle, nor does it charge the price per person.

However, this is not to say that the number of passengers does not affect the price.

When the rider requests a vehicle – like the UberSUV – that holds more passengers or a carpool in an UberPool, the price may fluctuate from the default costs.

4. What Percentage of a Ride Does Uber Take?

For every trip a driver makes, Uber takes 25% of the total fee and gives the driver 75%.

This 25% fee covers maintaining the Uber software, distributing the client invoices, collecting and transferring the fares, and paying the credit card commission.

2021 Update: COVID-19’s Impact on Uber Prices

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit in March 2020, people worldwide decided to stay home.

For ridesharing companies like Uber, this meant that fewer people demanded their services even though there was plenty of supply (drivers).

Due to the lower demand for the service, most Uber drivers quit their jobs.

Uber had to surge their prices to compensate for its few passengers.

However, with the pandemic receding at the beginning of 2021, this is no longer the case.

More people are going out now, meaning Uber is once again experiencing high demand.

In an ideal world, this would have meant that Uber would reduce their Surge Pricing.

But we do not live in an ideal world.

According to the Wall Street Journal, instead of Uber decreasing its fares, the company has increased the fare prices month-to-month from February through July.

How Are Uber Fares Calculated?

Now that we have gotten most of the background information out of the way, it is time for the juicy part of this article – learning how Uber fares are calculated.

Let us start by first discussing the Uber pricing components that affect the final price.

Fare Pricing Components:

Estimating an Uber fare is pretty straightforward with a few simple tools, but before we do that, you should understand what actually goes into an Uber fare.

Every time Uber calculates a ride fare, there are a few factors that come into play:

  • Type of Ride – The final fare price greatly depends on the type of Uber car service you choose, whether UberX, UberXL, Uber Select, or Uber Black.
  • Base Fare – This rate refers to the flat fee for every ride. It includes the pickup price and is calculated based on the distance and duration of the ride.
  • Distance of Ride – The app charges per mile, from the pickup point to the dropping-off point, and the rates vary from one Uber city to another.
  • Time of Ride – The duration of the whole journey is charged per minute.
  • Uber Fees – Uber takes a 25% fee to cover administrative costs and gives the drivers 75%.
  • Surge Pricing (if applicable) – This price refers to the multiplier included when the demand is much more than the supply. Surge Pricing usually occurs when there is heavy traffic or on weekend nights many people use Uber.
  • Suggested: Tip – A rider might voluntarily give the driver a tip, which Uber suggests be at least 15%.

Once you combine all these factors together, a ride fare for Uber can be calculated.

Ride Fare Equation

Once all the pricing components mentioned above are determined, the final charge for any ride is calculated using the following equation:

Final Uber Fare = ((base fare + rate of total time taken + rate of total distance covered) * surge multiplier) + tolls and other fees.

These fares will differ depending on which Uber vehicle option you select.

For example, an UberBLACK will cost much more than a simple UberX.

How is an Uber base fare calculated?

According to an answer on Quora, “Uber fares are primarily calculated based on distance and duration. There is a ‘Base Fare’ that is charged for every ride (essentially a fee to jump in the car).”

The Base Fare and the variable portion based on distance and duration both vary from city to city.

You will need to check your city at Uber’s City Listings.

Do the Pricing Components Above Vary by City?

Yes, the pricing components vary from one Uber city to another.

Because of this, the location also affects the final Uber rates.

The takeaway: The Uber base fare will depend on the service you’re using, and the city you’re in.

Uber Rates: How Much Does Uber Cost?

In this section, we will dive a little deeper and look at the global average cost of Uber per mile and minute.

We will also look at the breakdown of average prices in three popular cities – Chicago, Dallas, and Phoenix – and how they vary.

Uber Cost Per Mile

The estimated average Uber cost per mile is $1 or $2 per mile.

Popular City Pricing Per Mile

  • Chicago – about $0.90 per mile
  • Dallas – about $1.75 per mile
  • Phoenix – about $0.90 per mile

Uber Cost Per Minute

The estimated average Uber cost per minute is $0.40 per minute.

Popular City Pricing Per Mile

  • Chicago – about $0.20 per minute
  • Dallas – about $0.35 per minute
  • Phoenix – about $0.09 per minute

Average Uber Ride Fare

  • Average Uber Fare in Large City: $18.40
  • Average Uber Fare in Suburbs: $14.00

When Are Uber Prices Lowest?

Uber prices are usually the lowest when there is less demand for Uber.

Generally, this happens during weekdays between 9:00 am – 12:00 pm, 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm, and after 6:00 pm (except on Fridays).

When Are Uber Prices Highest?

Uber fares are at their highest when there is a high demand for Uber or when the demand outweighs the supply causing a surge in the prices.

Generally, the most expensive times to ride an Uber are on weekdays before 9:00 am, between 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm, and after 6:00 pm on Fridays only.

The prices might also hike during holidays or if there is heavy traffic on the road, regardless of the day or time.

If you’re an Uber driver, these are the best time to drive for Uber.

Sample Uber Fare

In this section, we will use the Uber fare estimator to derive a sample of Uber fares for the three popular cities mentioned above – Chicago, Dallas, and Phoenix.

vector graphic showing a hand holding a phone running the uber app and the screen displaying an uber estimate

A Sample Uber Fare for Chicago

Let us assume we are in the Old Town Animal Care Centre in Chicago, and we want to go to the Veterinary Emergency Group using UberX.

Here is the sample fare for the journey:

Seat Capacity4
Base Fare$1.87
Booking Fee$1.85
Per-Minute$0.30
Per-mile$0.85
Cancellation Fee$5.25
Minimum fare$4.98
Average fare$9.29

A Sample Uber Fare for Dallas

Let us assume you are in Dallas at the Renaissance Dallas Addison Hotel, and you want to go to MATRIX Resources using Uber Black.

The table below shows the sample fare for the journey:

Seat Capacity4
Base Fare$7.00
Booking Fee$0.00
Per-Minute$1.00
Per-mile$2.20
Cancellation Fee$10.00
Minimum fare$15.00
Average fare$15.22

A sample Uber fare for Phoenix

Let us assume you are in the Phoenix Airport Centre and you want to go to Tempe using Uber Comfort.

Here is the sample fare of the journey:

Seat Capacity4
Base Fare$0.60
Booking Fee$3.90
Per-Minute$0.27
Per-mile$0.93
Cancellation Fee$5.00
Minimum fare$10.00
Average fare$10.00

How to Get an Uber Estimate

Using Uber has an advantage over other ridesharing companies in that with Uber, you can check the estimated cost of your ride in advance.

The estimated cost will give you a general sense of what the trip will cost and help you plan your budget.

There are plenty of tools that you can use to get an Uber estimate cost.

Some of these tools are the in-build estimator tool in the Uber app, the Uber Online Fare Estimator, and the manual calculation of the estimate.

1. Manual Estimate

One way of getting the cost estimate of your Uber ride is by calculating it manually using the Ride Fare Equation we discussed above.

Here is the equation we are talking about in case you forgot:

Final Uber Fare = ((base fare + rate of total time taken + rate of total distance covered) * surge multiplier) + tolls and other fees

While the equation will give you the correct estimate, this method is tiring, time-consuming, and prone to human error.

Because of this, many prefer other methods.

2. In the Uber App

As mentioned above, the Uber App comes with an in-build cost estimator tool that allows passengers to get the estimated cost of their trip in advance.

The Comprehensive Guide: How Much Does Uber Cost? UberX

Here are steps that you should follow to get the estimated cost of your trip using your Uber app:

  • Login to your Uber personal account using either your email address or phone number. If you don’t have an account, click on “sign up” and create one.
  • Fill in the name of the place you want to go to in the “Where To” button and click Enter.
  • Use the map provided to input your pickup point in the “Current Location” button.
  • Swipe the screen to view the list of available Uber vehicles.
  • Pick the ride of your choice.

3. Online

However, it is essential to remember that the estimated cost provided by the three methods is just that – an estimate.

Sometimes, due to surges in prices, the final fare may differ from the estimate.

Uber Cost Vs. Others

If you are budgeting transportation costs, it’s crucial to understand how Uber compares to other popular transportation methods.

Uber Cost vs. Taxi Cost

vector graphic showing uber vs taxi

Similar to Uber charges, taxi fares also vary greatly depending on the location.

Moreover, Uber provides an option to pick among different levels of service depending on your preferences.

Different levels also have varied pricing, with Uber X, Uber XL, and Uber Select as the lowest and UberBLACK and Black SUV as the highest.

The overall cost of your commute depends on numerous factors, including the distance traveled, traffic conditions, and time.

Although almost all rates are identical in layout and quantity, the most significant distinction is that taxis charge per mile when driving but per minute when stationary.

With a few exceptions, Uber costs per mile and per minute, irrespective of whether the car is in motion or stationary.

Uber is generally cheaper than taxis for longer journeys traveling at quicker speeds, while taxis are the superior option for shorter rides in crowded locations like New York City.

When using the basic Uber X, the ridesharing service comes out on top and is more cost-effective in numerous situations.

A study conducted by GoBankingRates determined that Uber was the more cost-effective choice in 16 out of 20 major U.S. cities.

Taking a ride in a taxi will almost always be higher than riding in an Uber, depending on which service level you decide to take.

Suggested: Check out our Uber vs Taxi guide for more differences.

Uber Cost vs. Lyft Cost

header graphic for uber vs lyft header image

Both Uber and Lyft are giants in the ridesharing industry and have rapidly become household names.

Within the United States and Canada, the two companies offer similar services.

Even though it is possible to have variations between different cities, the rates for both Lyft and Uber are comparable within the same towns due to the fierce competition.

Depending on the type of service chosen for either Uber or Lyft, the prices vary.

Moreover, both companies charge base fares, services fees and charge for distance covered.

The stiff competition between the two makes it extremely difficult to determine the cheaper option since their prices are almost identical in every aspect.

In addition, most Uber drivers double up as Lyft drivers as well.

However, for the busy days when demand for cabs overweighs their availability, Lyft Prime Time is slightly more economical than Uber Surge Pricing.

The cost of an average Uber and Lyft trip is about the same. Check out our Uber vs Lyft guide for more differences.

Uber Cost vs. Public Transportation

In recent times, rideshare services have disrupted urban mobility and provided convenient alternatives to traditional modes of transport.

However, for daily commuters – especially in congested cities such as New York – public transit is more economical than Uber rides.

Even with Uber Pool, which allows ridesharing with other individuals going in the same direction, public transportation is the cheaper option.

The advantage that Uber holds over public transit is an assurance of more comfort during the ride.

Additionally, Uber is faster, especially without traffic congestion.

Opting for an Uber can save you a couple of minutes, and time is money!

Payment Methods Uber Accepts

Ensure you are prepared for your next Uber trip by exploring the various types of payment.

vector graphic of woman handing man a tip to illustrate does uber take cash

Payment Methods Accepted

Uber has made payment for rides very easy.

It’s a very straightforward process that you can do automatically through the Uber app.

Most common forms of payment are accepted by Uber, including but not limited to:

It is even possible to integrate the payment methods such as credit cards into the app.

Setting up credit card payment, according to the Uber website, can be done in three simple steps:

  • After opening the Uber app, tap “Payment” on the app menu
  • Select the “Add Payment” option
  • Key in the card details or scan the card. It is even possible to add different payment types.

Can you Split Uber Cost?

Splitting costs with friends and family has been made easier through the Uber app, thus saving the hassle of swapping cash.

The split fare feature is available on the latest version of the Uber app.

The bill can be calculated automatically by the app and split among the passengers in a few easy steps.

When prompted to select the payment method, select split fare.

Then enter the names or phone numbers of the other riders.

The app will automatically send an invitation to the other users and split equally amongst all passengers who accept.

How to Save on Uber Rides

Transportation can get expensive, so here are some tips on how to save money while riding comfortably.

vector graphic of a man and woman using an uber promo code on their smartphones to save money on the service

1. Use a Promo Code

If you are a new rider, who has never used the Uber app, there is some really exciting news for you.

By downloading the app and claiming an Uber promo code, it is possible to offset the cost of Uber rides and get discounts on your first ride.

New riders are eligible to receive $15 in free ride credit once they sign up.

The free ride amount will reflect in the “Payment” section of the app.

2. Uber Monthly Pass

Uber Pass is a monthly membership that allows customers to save on the Uber and Uber Eats apps.

Presently, Uber Pass is available in a few participating cities.

If your area accepts the Uber Pass, it will be in your app menu.

Once paid, the pass is valid for one month and automatically renews for $6.99, with the option to cancel at any time.

3. Uber Rewards

Signing up for Uber Rewards is another great way for riders to save money.

The customer rewards program by Uber offers benefits and ride credits to their clients as they earn points.

By taking rides or ordering food using Uber Eats, customers can earn points through the promotions.

For every 500 points collected, customers can receive rewards in Uber cash to use for rides or an upgrade to the next reward tier.

When promoted to higher reward tiers, customers get flexible cancellations, free ride upgrades, and improved customer support such as an Uber phone number.

4. Refer Friends with Uber’s Referral Program

Another fantastic feature that allows you to save on Uber rides is the “Invite Friends” feature.

This option lets you receive rewards when new riders sign up using your invite code and take their first ride.

This feature is available on the Free Rides section in the app menu, where you can find your unique invite code.

You can share it with friends and family and, in turn, get rewards for successful referrals.

Please note that the person you invite sometimes doesn’t use your code when signing up or hasn’t taken their first ride.

Because of this, you might not receive payment for the referral.

You can remind and encourage them for you to receive your rewards.

Suggested: Read more about the Uber promo codes for existing users program.

Frequently Asked Questions

Understanding ridesharing prices can be complex – we get it.

Here are our answers to the most common questions about Uber cost!

Vector graphic showing a confused Uber rider speaking with Uber customer service on the phone

Are There Ways to Avoid Surge Pricing?

The best option for times when you do not need an on-demand ride is usually to schedule an Uber ride at least an hour in advance.

This is proven to be one of the best ways to avoid Surge Pricing.

By programming your ride in advance, your final cost will not be influenced by the sudden high demand for rides.

The app will calculate the price based on the time of scheduling.

The ride scheduling option is available for all Uber levels except Uber Pool.

Alternatively, you can wait for a couple of minutes to see if the price of the ride goes down if it seems higher than usual.

If you are in a safe area, you can walk a couple of blocks and try again and check if the price will be lower.

Surge prices usually depend on your present location and the current demand at that time, meaning the multiplier can change every couple of minutes.

Another effective hack to avoid Surge Pricing is to avoid busy times of the day and busy areas.

On average, during weekdays, Surge Pricing is usually highest during rush hour – between 7:00 am-9:00 pm and 4:00 pm-6:00 pm.

Demand can also shift rapidly if there is an event near you, especially during the event’s start or end.

Therefore, the best option is to request rides in less densely populated areas and out of rush hour times.

How Much Will Uber Cost on New Year’s Eve?

One of the most expensive times to hail an Uber is during New Year’s Eve.

The Surge Pricing algorithm usually goes up to five or six times the standard cost depending on your location and how high the demand is.

Surge Pricing during major holidays is very unpredictable, and there have even been cases of riders protesting the exorbitant prices, especially when they are unaware of how Surge Pricing works.

Paying close attention to the fare estimates on the app before confirming the order could save you some headaches.

Does Uber Run 24/7?

Technically, Uber runs their services 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

However, the availability of rides around the clock greatly depends on if drivers want to work at that specific hour or not.

The most crucial factor is usually location since there is no guarantee that drivers will be available in your area.

Within cities and urban areas, it is possible to get Uber rides during all hours.

In less populated and rural areas, it is more challenging to get 24/7 Uber services.

Some prior research of the town would help you determine whether services will be available in the wee hours.

Can You Uber One Hour Away?

The distance that an Uber driver may drive you is unrestricted.

However, there is a set time limit.

Currently, Uber rides are limited to eight hours for any single trip.

It’s crucial to let the driver know about the long journey ahead of time and make sure they’re comfortable with it.

Can You Uber for 2 Hours?

As stated earlier, Uber rides are limited to eight hours for a single trip.

The most important thing is after connecting with your driver, contact them and make sure that they are okay with a long trip.

Long trips may sometimes not be profitable for drivers since they pay for gas and maintenance of vehicles from their own pockets.

Also, drivers may not accept long one-way trips unless they have a guaranteed return trip.

Can I Use Uber to Pick up a Package?

Uber recently launched the Uber Connect feature, which allows package pickup and delivery on demand.

You must securely prepare the package, mark the recipient’s name, and include any special delivery instructions.

You can get more information on the terms and conditions for Uber Connect on their website.

Wrapping It up

Now you can appropriately calculate Uber prices!

Whether you want to plan your next trip or would like to budget your transportation costs, you can now understand Uber pricing and prepare accordingly.

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