Uber is a terrific way to save money when trying to get around town. Whether you are trying to get from the airport, downtown, or somewhere else, Uber can save you tons compared to traditional taxis. But there are several methods for taking your savings on Uber to the next level. In this article, I’ll talk about several different ways that you can save money with Uber.
Tip: Use the free app WalletFlo to help you travel the world for free by finding the best travel credit cards and promotions!
Table of Contents
1. Relocate from airports to hotels
At some airports, the rates for rides originating from airports can be higher due to airports fees. The work-a-round for this issue is to hop on a hotel shuttle bus and make your way to a nearby hotel (preferably in the direction you need to travel) . A lot of these shuttle buses are free and once you arrive at the hotel you can request an Uber from there which will be cheaper.
Don’t be tempted to drop your pin outside of the airport zone and then assume that a driver will be able to pick you up at the terminal. There are some regulations that prevent the Uber drivers from picking you up in such a way and so some drivers will simply cancel your order.
Also, be aware that some airports may only offer more expensive fares (like Uber Black). This may not happen as often as it used to but this is something that has happened to me in the past.
Before even deciding to use Uber, you can check the website known as Ride.guru. This will automatically compare prices between different rideshare companies and transport companies so that you can make a smart financial decision when booking your ride.
I’m a big fan of the layout of the website and it’s very easy to use. You simply input your location and destination and within a few seconds you’ll have a breakdown of all of the different prices.
3. 5X on Uber gift cards
A great way to save on Uber Is to purchase Uber gift cards. One what you can do this is by purchasing discounted gift cards at websites like Raise (although some times this discount is very small, such as 1%).
Another way that you can capture savings is by purchasing Uber gift cards with the bonus on certain credit cards. For example, you can use a card that earns 5X on Office Supply Stores and find Uber gift cards there or perhaps find them at grocery stores where you can earn 5X with cards like the Chase Freedom.
4. Platinum Card $15 & $35 credits
Another easy way to save with credit cards is to utilize the credits that come with the American Express Platinum Card. With this card you will be issued a $15 monthly credit that you can use on Uber or Uber Eats. When December rolls around you will actually be issued a $35 credit so that the total annual credits come out to $200.
The Platinum Card also comes with a host of other benefits, including:
- Priority Pass access for you and two guests
- Centurion lounges access for you and two guests
- Delta SkyClub access when flying with Delta
- Hilton Honors Gold elite status
- Marriott Gold elite status
- $200 annual Uber credit
- $200 annual airline credit
- 5X on airfare and 5X on hotels booked through the Amex Travel portal
- TSA Pre-Check/Global Entry $100 credit
5. Uber sign-up promo codes 2019
Whenever you first join Uber, be sure to be on the look out for those special sign-up promotions. You can virtually always save a decent amount of money (up to $25) on your first ride. These will often change, but here are some of the promo codes that were offered as of April 2019:
- NEWRIDER15 $5 off each of your first 3 trips
- NEWRIDER16 $4 off each of your first 4 trips
- NEWRIDER18 $3 off each of your first 6 trips
- NEWRIDER25 $2.50 off each of your first 10 trips
6. Use Uber referrals
Uber has a nice referral program where you can get free rides by referring others to sign-up. The referral of terms can differ but here is an example of how it will work. You log into your app and then click on “Free Rides.”
Then once you do that you should see a code that you can then send out to other people and if they use that code to sign up they will get a benefit and so will you.
In my case, it shows that a new Uber user will get two dollars off each of their first three rides and after they take their first ride I can automatically get $5 off my next ride. These offers tend to change as well so always keep an eye out for the latest referral terms.
7. Jump on ongoing promotions
And even if you have been using Uber for a long time you can still take advantage of the ongoing promotions. These can come in various types of different forms so you’ll just always have to be on the lookout for them at certain times of the year (such as during holidays).
Many times these promotional codes are only available for a couple of days so you have to use them pretty quickly. Also, sometimes they are restricted to certain geographic regions.
8. Protect your Uber rating
You might be aware that drivers are rated but are you aware that passengers are also rated? You can view your Uber rating by simply logging into the Uber app.
Your rating won’t affect how much you have to pay but it can indirectly affect your Uber Experience. That is because some drivers could choose to not pick you up based on your lower rating. This means that you could be waiting a longer time for your ride to arrive.
So here are some tips to protect your rating:
- Be on time whenever they are there to pick you up
- Be helpful if they call you for more information
- Be willing to strike up good conversation (avoid offensive topics)
- Try to avoid spilling anything or making a mess in their vehicle
- Avoid looking and sounding sketchy
- Promptly leave a tip (or don’t tip)
Tip: Some Uber drivers prefer not to pick up passengers that have a 5.0 rating. That’s because those passengers could be brand-new and potentially sketchy. If you have a rating like a 4.9 or or perhaps a 4.8 you look like a more seasoned passenger and someone that they might be able to trust more.
9. Avoid bad drivers
Some report that if you give the driver a rating of three stars or below you will not be matched with them again. I’m not sure how true this is but I do think that it makes sense that if you give a driver a bad rating that Uber will try to not match you with the driver again.
10. Use Uber Pool
Uber Pool is probably the best way to save money, sometimes 25% to 50%. You can reserve a vehicle with up to two people but no more and your pick-up and drop-off spot might not be exactly where you’d like it (especially if you are doing ExpressPool).
While you will be able to save money, there are a few more drawbacks. First, it’s not available in every location so it might not be an option for you. Second, you might be sharing the vehicle with others (but not always).
This means that you might be waiting for your driver to pick up other passengers and sometimes they can also get dropped off before you (even if they were picked up before you). So this is not the option that you want to go with if you are in a rush.
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11. Pick the right class
Uber Pool is just one of the different types of classes that you can choose when booking an Uber. Typically, you’ll want to choose Uber X if you’re interested in the cheapest type of fare. But in other situations, you might want to go with other types of fares.
Below is a breakdown of all of the different types of classes. Just keep in mind that all of these won’t be available in every location.
- Cheapest fare. Seats 1–4 people and is curb to curb service.
- Second cheapest. Seats 1–6 people and is curb to curb service.
- Seats 1–4, but you can only fill a max of 2 seats. The pickup spot may be assigned and you may have to walk a bit to it. The drop-off is the same.
- Seats 1–4 people with curb to curb service. These are premium rides in higher end cars BMW, Lexus, Mercedes etc. You may get a little more personalized service.
- Seats 1–4 people with curb to curb service. These are rides in higher end cars BMW, Lexus, Mercedes etc. with Professional Drivers.
- Seats 1–6 people with curb to curb service. The SUV can be a Suburban, Escalade etc. Great for looking important:). With Professional Drivers.
- Seats 1–4 and is normally an Uber X vehicle. The offers door to door service. This is intended for for older people who may need help getting to and from the car. Also, for people with disabilities. Each driver goes through special training.
- Seats 1–4 people typically an Uber X car with curb to curb service. These drivers all speak fluent Spanish
- This should be the same price as Uber X and offer Seats for 1–4 people and it will offer a Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle with curb to curb service.
12. Avoid surge pricing
By now, you are probably aware of what is known as surge pricing. This is when prices increase during peak times, such as when the bars close or before or after a game or concert. But there are a few things that you should know about surge pricing.
The first is that the price surges can be very temporary. An October 2015 study revealed that surge pricing often only lasts a few minutes, so you can simply just wait a few minutes to book your ride in some cases.
Other times you can simply walk over to another area and try to get out of the surge area. In some cases, you may have to walk pretty far (like a mile) but in other cases you may just have to walk over a couple of blocks to get out of the search radius.
Some people will simply drop their pin outside of the surge zone but that comes at the risk of confusing or perhaps annoying your Uber driver, since they won’t know exactly where to pick you up from (and they will likely know what you are up to).
There are some apps out there you can try that should be able to show you when and where a surge is occurring but many of them have mixed reviews.
13. Schedule a ride in advance
Uber will allow you to schedule rides in advance, sometimes up to a few weeks in advance. But note that this feature is not available everywhere and it does not protect you from surge pricing. However, you will be notified if surge pricing is in effect before you ride and be given an option to cancel without a cancellation fee.
14. Uber Ride Pass
Uber customers can pay a monthly fee of $14.99 (or now $24.99) for discounted rates for all UberX, Uber Pool and Uber Express Pool rides in a given month. In addition to up to a 15% discount, rates will be locked in so you won’t be subject to dynamic prices that can be affected by high demand, bad weather, and traffic conditions.
This is a great way to save and avoid surge pricing but it’s not available everywhere. Here is a full list of all of the locations which include:
- New York City
- San Diego
- San Antonio, Texas
- Las Vegas
- Orange County, California
- New Orleans
- Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina
- Jacksonville, Florida
- St. Louis, Missouri
- Memphis, Tennessee
- Seattle, Washington
15. Facebook Messenger
In the past, you could sign up for Uber through the Facebook Messenger app and receive a special discount. I’m not sure if this discount is going to return or not as it appears to not be going on. But this is something to be on the lookout for.
16. Split the fare
Uber gives you the option to split the fare when making your payment. This is something that makes sharing rides very easy but it might be better to have someone give you cash so you can earn more points on a solid travel rewards credit card. Of course, you can also just pay cash for your Uber rides if you wish.
17. Use Uber support
If you ever have any issues with the driver or the experience you can always contact Uber Support. Honestly, I have had a lot of negative experiences with Uber Support but others have had better times and been able to get somewhere. If you ever have a driver that doesn’t have regard for your safety, traffic laws, etc., you might be able to get something out of it.
There are a lots of ways to save money with Uber but these methods should help you get more value out of the program.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned travel expert covering destinations along with TSA, airline, and hotel policies. Since 2014, his content has been featured in publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, and CNBC. Read my bio.