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Have you 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! The questions we get asked most frequently have to do with Uber rates and what it costs to take a ride. Read on to learn everything about how much Uber costs.
Uber Rates: The Definitive Guide
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.
Here’s what you’ll learn. Click or tap to jump straight to that section:
- Pricing variables: The costs that go into an Uber fare
- Uber rates: The different types of pricing you can expect when taking a ride
- Upfront pricing: What it is and why it matters to riders
- Uber estimate: Uber calculator and price estimator
- Sample Uber fare: We’ll break down an Uber fare using the information above
- Bonus: We’ll give you a few tips on how to save money when using Uber
Let’s get started.
Uber Rates and Pricing Variables
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:
- Base fare: A flat fee that covers the pickup price.
- Time: The amount of time spent in the car.
- Distance: The distance the vehicle traveled during the trip (doesn’t include the distance traveled to pick you up).
- Booking fee: A flat fee that helps offset Uber’s administrative costs (i.e. background checks, overhead, etc.).
- Surge variable: If demand outweighs driver supply, a price multiplier kicks in.
- Tipping: If you elect to leave the driver a tip, this will be added to the total cost of the ride.
Once you combine all these factors together, a ride fare for Uber can be calculated. According to their website, a ride fare is calculated by combining the factors as follows:
“((base fare + time rate + distance rate) * 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.
The takeaway: The Uber base fare will depend on the service you’re using, and the city you’re in.
Before we get too far into pricing, however, we need to explain the Safe Rides Fee. There has been plenty of media coverage around this topic, so you should understand what it is, why it is in effect, and more.
What is the Uber Safe Ride fee?
The ‘safety’ fee was added in April 2014. Uber’s website explained that the charge was a way for riders to confirm the validity of their driver. Namely, riders were charged $1.00 for a background check and status update to be run on the Uber driver. This small fee was charged each time a rider needed to be transported somewhere. The proposed idea behind the fee was to give riders a sense of comfort when using the rideshare service.
Despite this, man riders inquired as to why the fee was necessary. After all, shouldn’t Uber be validating the credentials of a driver before they are allowed to drive? Furthermore, isn’t this process considered a mandatory expense for Uber doing business?
To settle the matter once and for all, a class-action lawsuit was initiated in December of 2014.
Uber’s Safe Rides Fee Class-Action Lawsuit
Matthew Philliben and Bryon McKnight brought forward the original lawsuit. The pair began by addressing Uber’s claim of having “industry-leading” background checks. The rideshare company advertised that inquiries into each driver’s personal history consisted of thorough local and federal searches that ensured the safety of riders.
The plaintiffs claimed, however, that the vetting process that is required to start driving for Uber was completely insufficient. The bare minimum an Uber driver would need to start driving is their contact information, name, social security and driver’s license number. Other valuable information, such as a fingerprint check or in-person interviews, were not included in the hiring process. Such data is commonly collected and used in other businesses that employ independent contractors like Uber.
Philliben later dropped out of the lawsuit for an unknown reason. However, other class-action lawsuits have been brought against Uber for false advertising. Plaintiffs that have come forward since the initial lawsuit have agreed to band together in one joint claim. Previous individual attempts to sue were dismissed by the court.
Nevertheless, combining the class-action lawsuits has proven fruitful. The collective claim gained approval in August 2016. As of September 2017, the total settlement was estimated to be $32.5 million.
In addition to the monetary amount, other stipulations are set in place in regards to how Uber conducts business. New regulations as to how Uber advertises its background checks will be required. Certain descriptions, such as ‘industry-leading’, ‘best available’, and ‘safest ride on the road’ will no longer be legal if a settlement is reached.
With third-party sources claiming that Uber gained an extra $500 million in revenue for the Safe Rides Fee, it is easy to understand why the lawsuit is currently underway. Nevertheless, a final fairness hearing is set to be held February of 2018.
How Will the Uber Settlement Impact Me?
After the final hearing, a portion of the settlement will be administered to qualifying riders. Participants include those who used Uber’s App or website to use the service between January 1st, 2013 and January 31st, 2016. Class action lawsuit members that meet this criteria and live in either the United States or any of its territories may be entitled to a payment.
If you qualify for a portion of the settlement and have an active Uber account, the settlement will be issued to you as a credit on your account. Riders may request that funds be redirected to a Paypal or bank via an electronic check instead. To do so, be sure to file a Payment Election form online as soon as possible.
During the online claim process, you will be asked for your Class Member Identification Number. This information can be found in the email you were sent in regards to the lawsuit. The identification number is a marker that verifies the amount of money you paid for the service, when it was paid, and the amount you are owed. Without the ID number, you will be required to provide receipts for each ride. Keep in mind that you will not be able to save your progress while filing the claim.
Riders can anticipate a refund of $0.25 for the first instance of paying the Safe Rides Fee. For each time the fee was paid afterward, riders will be issued a payment of $0.05. Although the final refund per rider will vary based on the final number of participants involved in the lawsuit, the refund is expected to be about $1.07 on average.
To opt out of the settlement, class action lawsuit members will need to address the issue in writing. To do so, mail or email the Settlement Administrator by no later than 11:59 PM PST on January 8th, 2018.
Removing the Safe Rides Fee
Since it was administered, Uber has raised the price of the ‘Safe Rides Fee’ from $1.00 to $2.50 in some areas. With the Class Action Lawsuit in place, however, things appear to be changing in a positive direction. Uber has agreed to discontinue the ‘Safe Rides Fee’. The decision may improve driver salaries in the long run and attract new rideshare users.
The type of Uber car service you select within the app plays a large role in what the price of your ride will be. An Uber trip in an UberXL costs more than Uber Pool, for example.
Uber vehicle prices also depend on which city a rider is located in. They vary across the board, and there’s no standard pricing for every city.
If you’d like to find the vehicle prices for your city, there’s a cool tool we found that taps Uber’s direct data and gives city-based pricing for each city.
1. Head over to the fare calculator app then type your city into the search box. For this example, I used my favorite city, Denver:
2. Select the type of Uber vehicle option you’d like to ride in:
Once you select the vehicle you want to take, data for each vehicle will be generated. All of this data is what goes into Uber rates for that city you request a ride in.
How much does Uber cost compared to a taxi?
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.
For example, according to recent data from Certify, the prices for Uber, Lyft, and a taxi are as follows:
- Average Uber cost: $25.73
- Average Lyft cost: $19.20
- Average taxi cost: $29.52
As you can see, the average cost of an Uber ride is much less than the average cost of a taxi ride.
How much does Lyft cost compared to Uber?
The cost of an average Uber and Lyft trip is about the same. On average, the cost per mile is $2, with trips starting at $1 base rates and ranging between $1 and $2 per mile.
How do you pay for an Uber?
Paying for an Uber ride is a very streamlined process, and is done automatically through the app. According to the Uber website, setting up a credit card payment can be done in three steps:
- Select “Payment” from your app menu.
- Tap “Add Payment.”
- Add a payment method by scanning a card, manually entering card info, or adding an alternative payment type.
What type of payment does Uber take?
Uber accepts most large forms of payment:
- Most major credit cards
- Apple Pay
- American Express points
- Gift cards and vouchers
Is Uber profitable?
Uber may or may not be profitable to a driver, depending on which service they drive for and what city they drive in. For example, an UberBLACK driver in New York City will obviously make much more than an UberX driver in Iowa.
To an extent, driving is profitable. The rates may not be the best at all times, so drivers are turning to the sign-up bonuses, claiming the bonus, then quitting after pocketing the cash. That’s an issue of its own, so you can read more about that in our separate post.
Tip: Uber has nice incentives for drivers, but so does Lyft. As the two battle for their share of both drivers and riders, they are continually outdoing each other with promotions. If you’re looking for some extra love for your paycheck, don’t miss claiming your onboarding bonus for new Lyft drivers.
For a full breakdown, check out our latest Uber driver income breakdown, in which we’ve outlined the income and expenses for an Uber driver in much greater detail.
How much does Uber pay their drivers?
On average, Uber pays their drivers 75% of whatever the total fare is for a given ride, after deducting a “rider fee.” Uber takes 25% of everything a driver makes.
As a note, a driver keeps 75% of their total ride fares, net. This means before expenses. In reality, drivers can earn much less than they think after they pay expenses such as car washes, gas, insurance, and more.
Now that you understand the factors that go into pricing an Uber ride, it’s important to take a look at how that data is used to calculate a fare.
Last summer, Uber rolled out a new form of pricing called upfront pricing that was supposed to be a game changer for drivers. However, it led to a lot of pushback from drivers and has turned out to actually overcharge riders by a lot.
QZ.com describes the pricing as “the total upfront fares paid by riders were that much higher than the fares used to calculate driver pay. The company lost money overall on UberPool, its carpooling service, but more than made it up by overcharging customers who booked trips on UberX and its other private ride options.”
We won’t talk much about the pushback Uber received from drivers when this pricing was introduced — we covered it in a detailed article that you can check out here.
In short, the upfront pricing model allows Uber riders to see their ride costs before they request the ride, and it ensures that riders aren’t grossly overcharged once the ride is complete.
Basically, what you see is what you get.
There are a few downsides to this model, though.
First, it’s a little more difficult to see when surge is in effect, and you might pay more for your ride without fully realizing it. Unlike the big bold notification that used to pop up, this pricing system doesn’t give much warning that the price is surging.
Second, drivers make less than expected. Budget-friendly riders will simply wait till surge is over, leading to frustrated drivers who may quit or lower their quality of service as a result.
Uber Upfront Pricing Lawsuit
While Uber’s upfront pricing is great for some riders, it has been entangled in a large web of controversy. This escalated to a high-profile lawsuit against the company.
The center of the lawsuit basically revolves around the fact that Uber allegedly calculates two prices for a given fare: One charged to the passenger, and one paid to the driver.
If there is a difference, the lawsuit accuses Uber of being able to pocket the difference.
I personally can see both sides of the argument, so for the sake of this post, I won’t get into any more details. If you’d like to learn more you can certainly look it up.
Lyft Upfront Pricing
Like Uber, Lyft also provides passengers with an upfront pricing option to simplify the cost of a ride before it’s even taken.
Once a pickup location and destination have been entered, the app will show a total ride cost that you’ll be charged.
The Lyft upfront pricing total includes all expenses:
- Prime Time
- Any applicable promotions
Uber Price Estimate
There’s definitely a lot that goes into calculating an Uber rate, but luckily for riders, there are tools that do the heavy lifting.
There are two ways to get an Uber cost estimate: use the Uber app or use a third-party Uber calculator.
Uber App Price Estimate
If you want to estimate an Uber fare using the Uber app, there are a few steps involved.
- Open the Uber app
- Input the destination you’d like to end up at
- Verify your pickup location on the map
- Once entered and verified, you’ll see a list of vehicle options populate
- Tap the one you want an estimate for, and a price estimate will pop up
This estimate is a good breakdown of the rates themselves, but it’s not as simple as it used to be. That’s where third-party calculators come in.
Uber Calculator Estimate
Using a third-party Uber estimator that taps the official API is probably one of the easiest ways to get a ride estimate before you request a ride.
We created a calculator for Uber fare prices, and we’re sure you’re going to love it.
The tool below not only gives ride estimates, but also has tons of other features like city-based information and data, popular destinations, and links to the estimated fares.
Sample Uber Fares
Taking everything we’ve learned so far, let’s use our Uber fare estimator figure out a few sample Uber fares.
How much does Uber cost in Denver?
In this case, we’ll use Denver and get two Uber fare estimates: an UberX fare and an UberSUV fare. In both, we’ll be going from Coors Field to Mile High Wine Tours in Denver, a distance of 2.61 miles.
Sample UberX Fare
Using the city-based pricing tool above, we get the following data for an UberX fare:
Sample UberBLACK Fare
Likewise, UberBLACK costs a little more:
Now let’s take that data and plug it into the Uber calculator widget.
As you can see, the cost of an UberX ride barely makes it past the minimum rate, while the cost of an UberSUV is much more. You’ll also notice the estimated time of arrival is longer for the SUV.
You can expect this type of difference regardless of which city you request a ride in. There are fewer high-end vehicles on the road, and they cost more to buy and operate, hence the difference between the two.
How much does Uber cost in Chicago?
Taking an UberX in Chicago is special for one reason; the rates are the cheapest for this service nationwide.
Sample Chicago UberX costs:
Bonus: Uber Promo Codes
If you’re a new rider who hasn’t tried Uber, you can offset the cost of an Uber ride by downloading the app and claiming one of the great promotions the company has going.
Currently, Uber is giving new riders who haven’t tried the app $15 in free ride credit, just for signing up.
To claim the credit, simply download the app and enter a special promo code. Once entered, you’ll see the free ride credit amount reflected in the “Payment” portion of the rider app.
Wrapping Up: What Did You Think?
We would love to hear your feedback on this guide.
Have a question about something you read? Want more information about one of the topics we covered?
Let us know by leaving a comment below!
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.