Winter is a hectic time to be on the road. Dangerous weather and increased holiday traffic can make an ordinary commute seem like the seventh level of hell at times.
It’s no wonder so many people choose to take a Lyft or Uber during this time of year.
Unfortunately, the increased rider demand around the holidays often leads to more frequent and costly surge pricing.
Don’t worry though — we’ve got the inside scoop on how to ride like a pro and keep a little dough in your pocket for those holiday gifts.
Avoiding Surge Pricing on Uber and Lyft
Mention surge pricing in conversations among rideshare passengers and you’ll likely be met with a stream of expletives, or at least a roll of the eyes. Unfortunately, the concept isn’t going away and may show up at your favorite restaurant next year.
Lyft and Uber don’t necessarily impose surge pricing to be evil – they’re just responding to the reality that ride requests often outnumber the number of drivers available and must offer some incentives to keep drivers driving.
That said, we’ve got a few tricks up our sleeves for avoiding surge pricing with Uber and Lyft during the holidays.
1. Sign up for both Lyft and Uber
In many cases, one platform may have surge pricing, while the other is charging the standard fare for rides. Comparing fares can help you avoid paying a premium for your rides.
Walk a couple blocks — It’s hard to know when or where surge pricing might begin, but if you’re in a particularly congested shopping area, consider walking a couple of blocks to a less busy place to avoid surge pricing.
2. Wait About Ten Minutes
Sometimes, avoiding surge pricing is just a matter of being patient. If you can wait 15-30 minutes, you may find that rates return to normal for your next ride. Go have a drink or a meal and see how things play out.
3. Know The Regular Surge Pricing Times
Again this isn’t always foolproof, but if you can plan your rides outside of normal commute times, you can save time, headaches, and money. Additionally, if you keep up to date on special events like concerts or sporting events, you can avoid those times likely to be subject to surge pricing.
4. Give UberPool Or Lyft Line A Try
If you’re down to meet new people, consider sharing your ride with others. You never know — you could meet the next Mr. or Mrs. Right!
Avoiding surge pricing is just one way to make your holiday rideshare experience a 5-star affair. Keep reading for additional tips.
Consider A Lyft Or Uber Subscription Plan
Both Uber and Lyft offer subscription plans in certain cities, designed to reduce rates and encourage rider loyalty.
If you think you may be taking a few more Lyft or Uber rides this December, this might be a good option.
Lyft Subscription Plans
There are currently two Lyft All-Access Plans. The first one costs $169 per month for 30 rides (up to $8 per ride). The more expensive Lyft plan costs $299 per month for 30 rides (up to $15 per ride).
Overall, Lyft’s subscription plan works out to around a 30% discount on rides, if you take 30 rides in a month, and they’re under the $8 or $15 limit.
For rides over $8 or $15, the rider pays the additional amount.
Uber Cash & Ride Pass
If $299 or $169 are a bit steep, the Uber Ride Pass might be a better option.
Purchasing a pass ($14.99 – $24.99 per month) locks in reduced Uber rates for one month. It’s only available in certain cities, and even in those cities, in limited quantities.
You can sign up through the app. The option will appear in your Uber rider app when passes are available. When the passes for that month are sold out, the option disappears.
Uber Ride Pass
- Monthly fee to lock in reduced rates in the service area
- $14.99 to $24.99 (varies by city), plus the flat rate of each trip
- Automatically renews
Uber Cash allows you to purchase Uber ride credits at a discount. You can add Uber Cash to your account from the Uber rider app.
- 5% discount when you add $100
- 3% discount when you add $50
- 2% discount when you add $25
Also, be sure to check out Uber’s Holiday Tips that outline various app features that may come in handy this holiday season.
Be Realistic About Your Car Size Requirements
Everyone wants to save money during the holidays, so it may seem like a good idea to order the smallest, least expensive Uber or Lyft vehicle you can.
However, if you’ve got a Santa-worthy stash of gifts or six roller-bags for your family of four, don’t expect your driver to fit everything in their Prius. Instead, opt for the XL, Plus, or Lux options and enjoy some space.
Communicate With Your Driver
Your Uber or Lyft driver will have enough to contend with during the holidays, so do everyone a favor by:
- Communicating your location to your driver in advance — try to use recognizable landmarks that a driver is likely to see from the road.
- Let your driver know what you’re wearing so they can easily identify you.
- Avoid the most crowded pick-up/drop-off areas for faster, easier access.
Not only will this keep everyone in a better mood, but it can also save you money by avoiding extra fees and cancellations if your driver can’t find you.
Schedule Your Ride in Advance
Both Uber and Lyft offer ride scheduling, so if you know when you’ll need to be picked up, like 20 minutes after your plane lands, schedule that ride in advance. This will ensure a driver is available for you and help you avoid the long holiday rideshare lines at the airport.
One caveat — if you do schedule a ride in advance, be sure to be at your agreed pick-up location at the agreed time. If something changes, communicate with your driver.
Be Kind, Ride Safe & Tip
Remember, drivers can rate their passengers, so try to be on your best behavior during the holiday rush. Drivers are people too, and can make mistakes just like the rest of us.
Plus, holidays are more prone to drunk driving incidents (though hopefully not on the part of your driver), so be sure to wear your seatbelt.
Also, be sure to tip your driver. Tips on Uber or Lyft are not included, but always appreciated.
If your driver made you feel particularly safe and welcome, don’t be afraid to spread the holiday cheer and give them a 15 to 20 percent tip and 5-star review at the end of your ride.
If you haven’t sign up with either Lyft or Uber, and want to receive ride credits up to $20 (in most cities, you get $5), click one of the buttons below.