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How To Save Money On Uber And Lyft: A Complete Guide

Justine Nelson
October 16, 2019

What did we ever do without rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft? When these apps disrupted the taxi industry, hailing a ride got a whole lot easier. If you love the convenience of these apps, you may be wondering how to save money on Uber and Lyft.

As millennials, Uber and Lyft have become the preferred choice for reliable and safe transportation. Whether you like one platform over the other, there are ways to save money on Uber and Lyft.

Uber and Lyft have very similar, if almost identical, features. If you are wondering if one app is cheaper than the other for rides, the differences are minimal. A quick fare estimate in both apps to the same destination proved that Lyft was slightly more expensive than Uber. But that’s not always the case. Peak times and destination locale can affect the total cost.

 

 

That being said there ways to save money on Uber and Lyft rides. Take a look below to discover multiple ways to save money on Uber and Lyft.

Table of Contents

How To Save Money With Shared Rides

Using Rideshare For Work

Apps That Will Save Money On Uber And Lyft

Save Using Uber Subscriptions

Save Using Lyft Subscriptions

Credit Cards For Uber And Lyft

Uber And Lyft Referral Programs

Adding Stops To Uber Or Lyft

Split Fares In Uber Or Lyft

Save Money On Uber And Lyft With Shared Rides

One of the easiest ways to save money on Uber is by utilizing UberPool. UberPool finds riders that are headed in the same direction, so everyone can share the ride and the cost. Many times, the cost of an UberPool is 30% less than riding in a car by yourself.

Lyft Shared works similarly, connecting you with other riders. Everyone pays a discount rate. Keep in mind, you can only share a ride for one or two riders. In other words, you and two other friends won’t be able to use Lyft Shared at the same time.

While you will save money with UberPool and Lyft Shared, the biggest con of this feature is the time spent in the car. Your driver may have to do a pickup and dropoff in between dropping you off. If you aren’t in a rush to get to your destination, put in some headphones and listen to a podcast. If you need to get to a meeting or to the airport on time, your best bet is to take the standard UberX or Lyft ride.

There is one way to hack the system, though. You can request a shared ride with either app and if your driver doesn’t pick up another rider you still get the discount. This could work well for off-peak times, so it might be worth taking a chance.

Using Rideshare For Work, And Save Money

Another option to save money on Uber and Lyft is to add a business card to the apps and get a tax deduction on your rides. If you frequently take business meetings that require you take a car, why not expense it directly through the app?

Your business-related trips can be listed as a travel expense, and that could help you save money on your tax return if you run your own business. Both Lyft and Uber have done the legwork to make work rides easy for you to track.

In fact, you can create a business profile and include notes about each ride. For example, you could include a note that you met with a client at Starbucks. Then you can send business ride receipts to your work email. Both Lyft and Uber give you the option to link your expense provider to keep things seamless.

There are some small differences between the apps when it comes to using them for business. A really cool feature inside of Lyft is that you can connect your calendar to your Lyft Business profile so that your events will automatically show up when you request a ride.

You can also receive $5 in credit if you take five business rides with Lyft. Currently, there are no expiration dates to use the credit. It’s a handy feature you should take advantage of if you use Lyft for work. Uber doesn’t offer any credits for booking business-related rides, so you’re better off using Lyft if you want to save money.

Apps That Will Save Money On Uber And Lyft


Various apps offer ways to get cash back on Uber and Lyft. One to download is Drop. Getting started is easy – sign up here – link your debit and credit cards, and then spend as you normally would including on Uber and Lyft rides. From there you’ll start earning cash rewards and points that can be redeemed for gift cards. The best part, is that you can layer using Drop with other rewards programs, so it’s worth using if you are an avid or Lyft user.

Can You Save Money With The Uber Rewards Program?

Uber recently rolled out a tiered rewards program that helps you earn perks. It’s kind of like an airline or hotel loyalty program. You earn points the more you ride. You can even earn points by ordering from Uber Eats.

Those points stack up to help you earn benefits like fee-less cancellations, priority support, and occasional cashback opportunities. Bikes and scooter rides aren’t eligible yet, and it’s not available in all areas. You’ll know if you have it if “Uber Rewards” is listed in your app menu.

There are four tiers to the free program, so your placement really depends on how much you ride. If you ride enough, you could see some savings using the Uber rewards program.

Blue tier

The Blue tier is the entry-level tier that helps you earn points on eligible Uber rides or Uber Eats order. There’s really no additional benefit here until you get to Gold.

Gold tier

Once you hit 500 points, you gain access to priority support and flexible cancellations through the Gold tier. If you cancel a ride and rebook within 15 minutes your cancellation fee will be waived. You can’t do this with Uber Pool, though, so keep that in mind.

Platinum tier

Platinum tier gets you everything in Blue and Gold, plus price protection between your two favorite places and priority pickups at airports. This could be advantageous if you frequently use Uber to travel back and forth to work or if you fly a lot.

Diamond tier

This is the mack daddy of tiers in that you get everything in Blue, Gold, and Platinum plus premium support, highly rated drivers, complimentary upgrades, and free delivery on three Uber Eats orders every six months. Consider yourself a micro-celebrity when you get to this level. It’s everything a D-list star could ask for.

Traveling abroad? You can also earn points when you ride abroad. For example, if you take an Uber while you’re in France you can earn points. Those points can then be redeemed once you return to your home country.

Want to move up in tiers faster? You will need to ride more and pick the more spendy options.

  • 1 point for every $1 dollar spent on Pool / Express Pool trips and Uber Eats orders.
  • 2 points for every $1 dollar spent on UberX, XL, WAV/Assist, Comfort, and Select trips.
  • 3 points for every $1 dollar spent on Black and Black SUV trips.

The program could help you save money on cancellation fees and help you earn Uber Cash which you can spend on future rides or Uber Eats orders. If you choose to go all-in with Uber, be sure you sign up for this free rewards program. It’s a no brainer.

Lyft Rewards Program And Partners Could Save You Money

While Lyft doesn’t have a robust rewards program like Uber, they do have a business incentive program that could save you money on future work-related rides. Take five qualifying rides and receive $5 off your next Lyft ride.

Here’s what you do: On the Lyft menu, select Promos. Enter promo code BIZREWARDSOPTIN at the top of the screen. Make sure you create a business profile by adding your business credit card. Take five rides using your business profile to earn the $5 credit. The best part is there is no expiration on when you need to use the credit.

Subscriptions

Aside from the rewards programs to help you save money on Uber and Lyft, there are subscription plans that provide price protection. Uber has Ride Pass and Lyft has Smart Savings.

Uber Ride Pass

The Ride Pass is a monthly subscription that helps you save up to 15% off and get price protection on all UberX and Express Pool routes. The subscription currently costs $24.99 per month. If you ride with Uber a lot, the 15% savings could make up for your subscription cost.

If you’re a Dallas inhabitant, lucky you. For a limited time, Uber is offering free JUMP bike and scooter rides up to 30 minutes if you purchase a Ride Pass in the Dallas area.

Lyft Pass

Of course, one app can’t out-do the other, so Lyft has its own version of a Ride Pass. The Lyft Pass seems more seasonal with lots of grey areas. The Uber Ride Pass is more straightforward. According to Lyft, the pass is a promotion available to select passengers. 

The pass gives those passengers access to special pricing, but it’s unclear what constitutes “special pricing.” Lyft gives the example that a rider could receive $5 off 10 rides or $8 flat fare on 10 rides up to a $20 max ride charge. If you are one of the chosen ones, Lyft Pass could be a good option for you to save money.

Lyft Smart Savings Plan

Lyft has its own subscription program that starts with the Lyft Smart Savings Plan. In this plan, you can expect to receive 10% off unlimited rides when you pay $14.99 upfront every month. The savings isn’t as much as Uber’s Ride Pass, but the monthly subscription price is easier to stomach than what Uber offers.

Who are Uber and Lyft subscriptions good for?

If you are an avid rider that rides multiple times per month, you might consider an Uber or Lyft subscription to help you save money. A good way to determine if a subscription is right for you is to look up the average spend of your ride.

For example, if you typically ride with Uber, take a look at how much you spend in a month. I’ll dig into my own Uber expenses just for grins. Here is how much I spent in Uber rides without a Ride Pass in the last three months:

Month 1 – $88.90

Month 2 – $102.29

Month 3 – $96.40

Potential costs with Ride Pass based on my past monthly Uber expenses:

$24.99 + Month 1 – ($88.90 x 15%) = $100.56

$24.99 + Month 2 – ($102.29 x 15%) = $111.74

$24.99 + Month 3 – ($96.40 x 15%) = $106.94

In order to at least break even, I would need to spend at least $166.60 per month on Uber rides. Those who solely rely on Uber for transportation could save some money using the Ride Pass. All others should probably skip this option. 

Let’s take a look at the same example and apply it to the Lyft Smart Savings Plan. The potential costs could look like this:

$14.99 + Month 1 – ($88.90 x 10%) = $95

$14.99 + Month 2 – ($102.29 x 10%) = $107.05

$14.99 + Month 3 – ($96.40 x 10%) = $101.75

The Lyft Smart Savings Plan doesn’t make sense here unless I spent more than $149.90 per month on Lyft. If you want to save money on Uber, and Lyft for that matter, make sure you do some quick algebra before signing up for a pass. 

Use The Right Credit Card

Pair up the right plastic with Uber and Lyft and you could save more bucks. Major credit card companies including Visa, American Express, and Mastercard all have partnerships with the rideshare apps.

Uber Visa Card

The Uber Visa Card is essentially a cashback card. There are surprisingly a number of benefits and cashback categories that could help you save money. The rewards include:

  • 4% cash back on dining, including restaurants, takeout, bars, and Uber Eats
  • 3% cash back on hotel and airfare, including vacation home rentals
  • 2% cash back Uber, online shopping, video, and music streaming subscriptions
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases

Redeem rewards for Uber credits, cash back or gift cards. Plus, you could reap the benefits of the sign up bonus. Spend $500 in the first three months and earn $100. There’s no annual fee either which makes this a great entry-level card and an excellent way to save money on all Uber rides.

The Platinum Card from American Express with Uber

Uber has also partnered up with the Platinum Card from American Express. Cardholders receive $15 each month in Uber Cash, plus a $20 bonus in December. There’s a big downfall to this: the Platinum Card has an annual fee of $550 so don’t sign up for it just for the savings in Uber. You’ll lose money that way. If you already have this card though, you could see some extra savings by using it every time you book a ride with Uber.

Lyft World Elite Mastercard

This may only apply to a small percentage of folks, but if you have the World Elite Mastercard you could save some coin with Lyft. Take five rides and get $10 in credit when you set your World Elite Mastercard as the default method of payment.

Lyft and Uber referral programs

Of course, it’s a given that most of the U.S. population has Uber or Lyft. But in case you come across a friend or family member that doesn’t have rideshare installed (say, your dad) you can send a referral code and save money on Uber and Lyft.

Uber’s referral program gives you $5 off your next ride when someone uses your referral link and takes their first ride. Your dad will receive $2 off each of his next three rides. Not a bad deal on both ends.

Lyft’s referral program can also help you earn $5 in ride credit when you refer a friend. Lyft takes this one step further by offering $150 in ride credit when you refer a driver. This could work to your benefit if you have friends and family who want to start a side hustle driving for Lyft. After they give 140 rides in 30 days, they receive $1,100.

Add A Stop, Save Money

Easily add a stop on the way to your destination to save money on Uber and Lyft by taking one ride instead of two. Heading home from the airport but in need of sustenance? Order food online and have your driver stop at the restaurant on your way home.

In order to add a stop in both Uber and Lyft, select the plus sign at the top of your screen.

 

As a courtesy to your driver, keep your stop to a maximum of three minutes. Otherwise, your fare will increase. Adding a stop works well if you need to pick up friends on your way to your destination. Use it to pick up your dry cleaning on the way home from work. You’ll save money this way by hitting up two stops with one ride.

Split Fares, Save Money

Ridesharing with friends? A great way to keep things fair and equal is to use the split payment feature in the app. This feature is available in Uber only, not Lyft. In order to split the fare, you’ll need to have the latest version of the app. Request your ride like normal then once the ride is requested, swipe up for the payment method and select Split Fare. Then you can enter the names or phone numbers of other riders.

Bottom Line On How To Save Money On Uber And Lyft

If you live in a populated area where Ubers and Lyfts are roaming every street, you have plenty of options to save money on Uber and Lyft. However, Uber rises to the top of the list with the addition of its hefty rewards program and the Uber Visa Card. If you primarily use rideshare for business related trips, Lyft has more features that could save you more money than Uber.

Justine Nelson is the founder of Debt Free Millennials, an online community to help millennials get out of debt. Justine enjoys writing and speaking about all things personal finance. This Midwest millennial paid off $35k in student loan debt and now resides in San Diego with her husband living the DINK life (Dual Income, No Kids).

Feature Illustration: Laura Caseley For The Money Manual