While Uber is a convenient way to get around, it isn't always the cheapest. To add insult to injury, surge pricing can make Uber almost too expensive to use. When you need a lift home, having to pay extra fees can be frustrating. You can usually expect surge pricing during rush hour, severe rainstorms, or if you're near a concert or event.
Luckily, there are ways you can get around it.
Avoiding Uber surge pricing takes a little bit of patience and preparation. Continue reading to learn exactly how to avoid surge pricing, so you don't need to win the lottery just to get home.
Why does Uber have surge pricing?
Uber surge pricing happens when a lot of people want a ride and there aren't many drivers available. In short, when demand for drivers is high and supply is short, riders are the ones that need to pay the premium. Uber uses surge pricing to incentivize more drivers to service the busy area to flatten the curve.
Since Uber is getting more expensive, riders are always looking for ways to avoid paying more money during peak surge hours. As such, they avoid areas and situations that are likely to have surge pricing, such as:
- Concert venues
- After a major event
- Large office areas
- During bad weather
- During holidays
7 ways to avoid Uber surge pricing
1) Book your ride at the right time
If you know when Uber ride prices are likely to be surging, you can wait out the busy time to try and avoid surging. Scheduling your ride ahead of time can also ensure that you have a ride available before demand gets too high.
Even if you wait 5 minutes, you might see a drastic decrease in the price of your Uber. The worst times to book an Uber are usually during rush hour (7-10 am, 4-6 pm) since everyone is leaving work trying to get home.
Do your best to try to book your ride in advance to see if you can avoid surge pricing.
2) Try booking another type of car
Uber has several different types of cars you can choose from, and each comes with its own kind of surge pricing. Most people riding alone will go with UberX, which provides a four-door car suitable for three riders.
However, passengers can book an UberXL, which gets them an SUV suitable for larger groups. There's also an Uber SUV which books a large vehicle for additional comfort. Then there’s Uber Black and Uber LUX, the luxury rideshare services that are the most expensive.
You can check out all the types of cars to see if one is cheaper during surge pricing.
3) Book from another location
Since surge pricing is common in high-demand areas during prime time, finding another pickup location is a smart way to avoid it. You'd be surprised at the difference walking a few blocks can make. Moving out of the busy area could save you a good chunk of cash, and you'll probably get your ride a lot faster.
For example, let's say you just finished a concert. Everyone will be trying to book an Uber to get picked up at the main exit. You may well save yourself from the price surge if you can walk about half a mile away from the venue.
4) Consider using Uber Pool
Uber Pool is another excellent way to avoid price hikes during peak times. If two or more riders are going in the same direction, Uber essentially lets them split the fare. Moreover, Uber Pool offers regular pricing during surge hours in most major cities.
You can typically get an Uber Pool ride for about $7. What's more, taking an Uber Pool is a great way to meet people. You can have a group conversation to kill time as you wait to get to your destination.
If you want a more surefire way to avoid Uber surge pricing, then hopping in an Uber Pool is the way to go.
5) Wait it out
Perhaps the easiest way to avoid surge pricing is to wait it out. Once more drivers get to the busy area, the surge will gradually decrease. If you're not in a rush, you can try waiting 10–15 minutes to see if there's a price drop.
You can get a cheaper ride and have a less frustrating experience simply by waiting a little while longer. The surge pricing could last a bit, depending on the situation. Holidays and bad weather could mean you'd have to wait longer for a price drop.
6) Try another ride-sharing app
If Uber truly isn't working out, you can always opt to use one of the alternative options. Lyft is by far the closest competitor, and they are generally in lower demand than Uber drivers. You can normally find a cheaper ride to the same destination during surge pricing by using Lyft.
Also, wait times for Lyft rides are relatively short compared to other driver apps. You can usually get a driver within 10–15 minutes, even during rush hour.
While it's tough to say whether or not Lyft is better than Uber, it could be the better option during surge pricing.
7) Try public transportation
Although it's not as popular, public transportation is still a viable option to get around. You can usually save a good amount of money by taking the bus, train, or another form of public transit over Uber.
Furthermore, there are various public transit apps that help you check schedules and book tickets. Most major cities have extensive public transportation routes that can get you where you need to go.
Uber surge pricing can be daunting, especially considering that the ride-sharing app is already quite pricey. Luckily, there are several ways you can avoid Uber surge pricing. The easiest ways are to book your ride at the right time, move to another location, or wait it out.
When in doubt, you can always use Lyft or public transportation.
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