While we once had to hail or call a taxi to hitch a ride, a new wave of technology has made getting around easier than ever. Apps like Uber and Lyft let you set up a ride with nothing but your smartphone, and they can be less expensive than traditional taxis.
If you’re someone who rides with Uber or Lyft frequently, you already know how convenient and affordable ride-hailing can be. Chances are, you’re also keenly aware that both Uber and Lyft offer promo codes that can help you save on individual rides.
Still, there are several ways to take your savings even further. If you’re an Uber or Lyft enthusiast, consider these money-saving hacks.
1. Use Uber & Lyft
Don't stay loyal to either of the main ride-hailing brands. By downloading both apps to your phone, you can check prices on Uber and Lyft before you set a pickup.
Pricing may be comparable most of the time, but you never know when one service might be significantly cheaper. When one of the apps is in heavy demand, for example, surge pricing can make the other seem like a bargain.
2. Avoid surge pricing
Speaking of surge pricing, avoiding this more expensive pricing scheme is the next money-saving hack you need to know. Both Uber and Lyft raise their prices during peak travel times, or when too many riders are trying to set a pickup time at once.
Surge pricing with Uber or “Prime Time” with Lyft can cost two to three times the normal rate, so you should avoid traveling during these surges.
While you may not be able to anticipate peak travel times, you can usually get out of surge pricing if you wait 20 or 30 minutes and keep checking both apps.
3. Get a rewards credit card
Signing up for a rewards credit card is another way to potentially save on rides — or get money back for each dollar you spend. The Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card is a smart option for Uber or Lyft because you earn three points for each dollar you spend on travel (including ride-hailing services). Meanwhile, a flexible travel credit card like the Barclaycard Arrival Plus can also be ideal since you earn two points for each dollar you spend.
While the Reserve card will let you redeem points for travel, statement credits, gift cards or merchandise, the Barclaycard lets you wipe travel expenses off your bill in increments of 10,000 points ($100) or more.
There are other cash back cards to consider, including the Citi Double Cash card. This card offers a flat 2% cash back on each dollar you spend – 1% when you make a purchase and another 1% when you pay it off.
4. Consider the Uber Visa card, too
In 2017, Uber partnered with Barclaycard to offer the new Uber Visa card. This card can be lucrative for ride-hailing enthusiasts, but it can help you earn cash back on other expenses, too.
You’ll earn a $100 signup bonus after you sign up for the card and use it for $500 in purchases within the first 90 days. You’ll also earn 4% cash back on dining, 3% cash back on hotels and airfare, 2% cash back on online purchases including Uber rides, and 1% back on everything else.
You can redeem your points for cash back, Uber credits or gift cards. Best of all, this rewards card comes with no annual fee.
5. Sign up for Shop Your Way
Shop Your Way is a savings incentive program that lets you earn cash back on certain online purchases. When you sign up for Shop Your Way and connect your Uber account, you’ll score $2 in cash back per ride, depending on where you live.
Signing up is free and there is nothing else you need to do to cash in. You can redeem your cash back for points good at stores like Sears, Kmart, LandsEnd and Sears Auto Centers. You can find out more about redeeming points on the Shop Your Way FAQ page.
6. Split your rides with friends
If you’re someone who is constantly ride hailing with friends, try not to get into the habit of covering the costs for everyone. Lyft will let you “split” the ride with multiple riders.
If your friends don’t have the app, implore them to sign up so they don’t take advantage. At the very least, they could pay you cash for their share of each ride.
7. Don’t splurge for luxury
Last but not least, it’s important to note that all Uber and Lyft rides aren’t created equal. Both ride-hailing apps offer their lowest level rides – Uber Pool and Lyft Line – inexpensively. However, you can ride in nicer or larger vehicles if you want to pay more for Uber XL or Select or Lyft Plus, Premier, Lux or Lux SUV.
Prices vary for the higher tiers, but they can cost two to three times as much as a basic ride. The bottom line: Choose the lowest level ride you can, and you’ll save a ton of cash and get where you need to go.