Ridesharing Vs. Renting a Car

Traveling for work or vacation can be stressful when it comes to transportation. If you’re not driving your own car to a destination, you face the choice of walking, using public transportation, ridesharing, or renting a car. Of these options, rideshare and car rental companies seem to compete for your money the most.

When deciding between renting a car or relying on rideshare services, it really comes down to cost. Which is cheaper? To find out, consider the location, driving distances, length of your stay, parking availability, and trip timing.


Ever-increasing in popularity, rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft provide potentially quick, convenient, and cheap rides to and from destinations. If you’re on a business trip, your company may even partner with them to track and limit your rides, as well as receive direct expense reports. Plus, when you opt for rideshare, you don’t need to worry about getting lost in an unfamiliar area — local drivers will take you where you want to go. Ridesharing services may be the cheapest form of transportation, but consider these 5 factors:

1. Location: Rideshare companies have been operating in more and more cities around the globe. If you’re in a big, bustling city, ridesharing might be the way to go, especially if most of your rides would be less than 20 minutes. However, if you’re visiting rural areas, Uber drivers and Lyft rides may be hard to come by — or unavailable when you need them most.

2. Driving Distance: Rideshare services typically charge on a mile and minute basis; the combined total equates to the cost of your fare. Depending on the location, one might cost more than the other. Rides over 30 minutes, especially numerous ones, tend to add up in total cost. Rideshare saves you the most money on short, quick rides.

3. Length of Stay: The length of your trip can also dictate the affordability of rideshare. For trips of 4 days or less, and short driving distances, ridesharing can be the best option. Longer trips tend to require longer rides to sightseeing destinations farther from hotels.

4. Parking: With rideshare, you never have to worry about parking — the driver takes care of all that for you.

5. Trip Timing: Many, though not all, rideshare services are subject to surge pricing: an increase in cost based on high-demand. If you’re in town for a big event or holiday or end up traveling at busy times of day, this may affect the price of your ride.

Rental Car

Rental cars offer reliable services with set prices that leave you in charge of when and where you go, and who takes you there. Your company may even cover the cost of your rental car if you’re traveling for business. You will need to be of age to rent a car and will want insurance to cover any unanticipated incidents — coverage being available through a variety of services. Additionally, rental cars come with flat, daily rates for easy cost-calculation Depending on the following, renting a car may be the best money-saving option for your vacation:

1. Location: If visiting a rural area, renting a car may prove more reliable than rideshare. A small, rural town may have a few rideshare drivers, but it will be more difficult to locate one you won’t have to wait a long time for. Rideshare may not even service your location, depending on how removed it is. A rental car will get you from place to place within your location with no wait time.

2. Driving Distance: While rideshare prices increase based on distance and time, your rental car rate stays the same. You only need to pay for gas while using it. If you intend to drive long distances, a rental car becomes more cost-effective.

3. Length of Stay: Long stays necessitate more driving, and often hour-plus drives to scenic locations are in the agenda. Constantly relying on a shared ride can grow tiresome, especially if on an extended vacation. A rental car gives you more freedom to drive when and where you like.

4. Parking: Depending on where you’re staying, parking can hugely affect the overall cost of your trip. Some hotels will provide free parking, but others may charge a decent sum for overnight parking. This will need to be considered when choosing to rent a car.

5. Trip Timing: Rental cars aren’t subject to surge pricing. Should your trip occurs during a festival or major holiday, the rental car’s daily price stays the same.

Determine the Cost

Both Uber and Lyft feature trip calculators on their websites to estimate the cost of any trip. Don’t underestimate how many rides you’ll need when using these forecasters, and take all factors into consideration. Rental car agencies will typically post their daily prices on company websites, or behind counters, if renting at an airport. Think about where you’ll be, how long you’ll be there, and who you want behind the wheel of the car in an unfamiliar place. Ridesharing and rental cars have their pros and cons, but it comes down to the individual factors behind each trip to determine which is more cost-effective.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

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