GOBankingRates

Uber, Lyft or Sidecar: Here’s Which Rideshare Service Is Cheapest in Your City

Competition is cutthroat in the sharing economy, and that’s good news for consumers. Ridesharing apps such as Uber, Lyft and Sidecar are at the forefront of the peer-to-peer service model, making headlines regularly in their efforts to offer premier service at the most competitive prices. With the added convenience of cashless technology and on-demand app access, the only real challenge for rideshare users is choice overload.

The morning rush across town or late-night ride home aren’t ideal times to sit down and calculate cost comparisons, so GOBankingRates broke down the pricing of the three top ridesharing services in the 20 most populous U.S. cities to find out which companies offer the best values for low-traffic rides and rush-hour rides. All three companies charge a base fare along with per-mile and per-minute rates. Additional fees, such as “safe ride” and city fees, are applied in some cities. Click through to find out whether Uber, Lyft or Sidecar offers the cheapest fares in your area.

Related: 101 Ways to Save Money This Summer

New York: Uber and Lyft (Tie)

Uber

  • Regular ride: $32.50
  • Rush-hour ride: $48.50

Lyft

  • Regular ride: $32.50
  • Rush-hour ride: $48.50

Pricing models for Uber and Lyft are identical in the Big Apple. Sidecar doesn’t serve NYC, and Uber and Lyft tie for the top value, though New York prices are far higher than any of their big-city counterparts.

Make Your Money Work for You

Los Angeles: Uber

Uber

  • Regular ride: $14.60
  • Rush-hour ride: $21.80

Lyft

  • Regular ride: $17.55
  • Rush-hour ride: $25.95

Sidecar

  • Regular ride: $15.76
  • Rush-hour ride: $24.56

Uber reigns supreme in Los Angeles, and prices are less than half of those in New York. The LA City Council just approved a policy to allow Uber and Lyft to apply for permits to provide pick-up services at LAX, making the city the largest in the nation to allow rideshare companies to operate alongside taxis at its airport, according to The Los Angeles Times.

Chicago: Sidecar

Uber

  • Regular ride: $16
  • Rush-hour ride: $24

Lyft

  • Regular ride: $16.96
  • Rush-hour ride: $25.76

Sidecar

  • Regular ride: $13.65
  • Rush-hour ride: $20.85

Sidecar offers top value in the Windy City, providing residents with affordable respite from the humid summer weather and chilly streets in winter. Rideshare companies are currently not allowed to provide services at Chicago-area airports.

Philadelphia: Uber

Uber

  • Regular ride: $16.85
  • Rush-hour ride: $24.05

Lyft

  • Regular ride: $17.28
  • Rush-hour ride: $24.48

Uber barely nudges out Lyft for the cheapest prices in the City of Brotherly Love. The difference is less than a dollar, so users can feel confident in whichever option they favor.

Make Your Money Work for You

Phoenix: Lyft

Uber

  • Regular ride: $16.60
  • Rush-hour ride: $23.80 

Lyft

  • Regular ride: $15.95
  • Rush-hour ride: $22.75

The price differences between Lyft and Uber are minimal in Phoenix, offering customers value regardless of which service they choose. In April, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed a bill that exempts rideshare services from traditional insurance regulations imposed on taxi companies in an effort to not stifle job creation, according to KTAR News in Phoenix.

San Diego: Uber

Uber

  • Regular ride: $17.85
  • Rush-hour ride: $25.85

Lyft

  • Regular ride: $20.15
  • Rush-hour ride: $28.15

Sidecar

  • Regular ride: $18.51
  • Rush-hour ride: $25.71

In addition to regular rideshare services, San Diego approved a pilot program for Lyft and Uber to begin airport pickups earlier this month, giving local taxis and other forms of ground transit some competition and consumers more cost-effective options.

Dallas: Uber

Uber

  • Regular ride: $12.50
  • Rush-hour ride: $16.50

Lyft

  • Regular ride: $13.55
  • Rush-hour ride: $19.55

Both Uber and Lyft offer extremely affordable rates in Dallas compared with other large cities, but Uber wins out by a hair. Uber hit a snag earlier this year though, according to The Guardian U.S., when a driver with a criminal background was mistakenly granted approval to drive and later was arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting a passenger.

Make Your Money Work for You

Austin, Texas: Uber

Uber

  • Regular ride: $16.60
  • Rush-hour ride: $23.80

Lyft

  • Regular ride: $19.35
  • Rush-hour ride: $26.55

Uber proves to be the cheapest choice in Austin, but both rideshare services are embroiled in controversy with city officials as calls for increased oversight and regulation continue to be the topic of city committee discussions and proposed state legislation, according to the Austin Monitor.

Jacksonville, Fla.: Uber

Uber

  • Regular ride: $12.10
  • Rush-hour ride: $17.30 

Lyft

  • Regular ride: $17.15
  • Rush-hour ride: $24.35

Of the most populous U.S. cities, Jacksonville is where you can find the lowest rideshare fare for a low-traffic trip. Like other cities, Jacksonville is exploring ways to protect citizens by ensuring that all transportation service providers follow rules for background checks and vehicle inspections, reported News4Jax.com. 

San Francisco: Sidecar

Uber

  • Regular ride: $21.40
  • Rush-hour ride: $31.80

Lyft

  • Regular ride: $22.70
  • Rush-hour ride: $33.50

Sidecar

  • Regular ride: $18.90
  • Rush-hour ride: $28.10

All three of these top rideshare companies are headquartered in San Francisco, but only one offers the cheapest prices in town: Sidecar. As the home base of the ridesharing industry, San Francisco also enjoys the privilege of experiencing the latest offerings and innovations first, such as Sidecar’s delivery service and Uber’s UberEats.

Related: Make Money on the Way to Work

Make Your Money Work for You

Indianapolis: Uber

Uber

  • Regular ride: $15.35
  • Rush-hour ride: $22.55

 Lyft

  • Regular ride: $18.71
  • Rush-hour ride: $27.91

Uber comes out on top in Indianapolis. Earlier this month, the company added its higher-end UberLUX option to the local lineup. According to the Indianapolis Business Journal, a ride in a luxury vehicle “from Broad Ripple to downtown using UberLUX will run you nearly $40.”

Fort Worth, Texas: Uber

Uber

  • Regular ride: $12.50
  • Rush-hour ride: $16.50

Lyft

  • Regular ride: $13.55
  • Rush-hour ride: $19.55

Rates in Fort Worth match those of Dallas, keeping Uber in the lead. In August, both companies were approved to start making pickups at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport.

Charlotte, N.C.: Lyft

Uber

  • Regular ride: $15.30
  • Rush-hour ride: $21.70

Lyft

  • Regular ride: $13.25
  • Rush-hour ride: $19.65

Sidecar

  • Regular ride: $18.17
  • Rush-hour ride: $27.37

Lyft beats out both Uber and Sidecar in Charlotte. Like other areas, the city is in the process of debating whether rideshare companies should be subject to traditional city regulations like taxi companies, according to The Charlotte Observer.

Detroit: Uber

Uber

  • Regular ride: $12.50
  • Rush-hour ride: $18.50

Lyft

  • Regular ride: $17.28
  • Rush-hour ride: $24.48

Uber offers the best rideshare rates in Detroit by an impressive margin. Uber’s fare during a low-traffic time is nearly $5 cheaper than Lyft’s. The Metro Detroit Cab Drivers Association is working on creating a single app for all of Detroit’s cab companies to compete with rideshare services, according to The Detroit News.

Make Your Money Work for You

Seattle: Uber

Uber

  • Regular ride: $20.85
  • Rush-hour ride: $30.45

Lyft

  • Regular ride: $21.60
  • Rush-hour ride: $31.20

Sidecar

  • Regular ride: $25.50
  • Rush-hour ride: $37.50

Cost competition is stiff in Seattle, but Uber beats Lyft by less than a buck. Rideshare companies are currently not allowed to make pickups at Sea-Tac Airport.

Denver: Uber

Uber

  • Regular ride: $16.20
  • Rush-hour ride: $22.60

Lyft

  • Regular ride: $16.60
  • Rush-hour ride: $22.60

Uber edges out Lyft by 40 cents on a low-traffic trip fare in Denver but is even with the competition when traffic picks up during rush hour. To expand services in Colorado, Uber plans to recruit 1,000 new drivers — primarily military veterans and women — this summer, according to The Denver Post.

Read More: How to Become an Uber Driver

Washington: Uber

Uber

  • Regular ride: $17.20
  • Rush-hour ride: $25.20 

Lyft

  • Regular ride: $21.59
  • Rush-hour ride: $32.10

Sidecar

  • Regular ride: $17.98
  • Rush-hour ride: $26.78

Uber boasts the best fares in Washington. The District passed the Vehicle-for-Hire Innovation Amendment Act of 2014 to address many of the concerns surrounding ridesharing that other cities continue to grapple with. The bill requires criminal background checks, annual safety inspections and $1 million in liability insurance for rideshare drivers.

Make Your Money Work for You

Memphis, Tenn.: Uber

Uber

  • Regular ride: $14.70
  • Rush-hour ride: $20.70

Lyft

  • Regular ride: $16.25
  • Rush-hour ride: $22.25

Uber might have the lowest prices in Memphis, but both rideshare companies are struggling to maintain good relations with city officials who have started sending out cease-and-desist notices requiring rideshare businesses to get permits, according to The Daily News in Memphis.

Boston: Sidecar

Uber

  • Regular ride: $18.60
  • Rush-hour ride: $25

Lyft

  • Regular ride: $22.05
  • Rush-hour ride: $32.05

Sidecar

  • Regular ride: $17.54
  • Rush-hour ride: $25.94

Ridesharing is becoming increasingly popular in Boston, and Sidecar is offering the best value. The Boston Globe reported a 22 percent drop in taxi ridership in the first half of 2015, presumably due to people choosing these popular rideshare alternatives.

Nashville, Tenn.: Uber

Uber

  • Regular ride: $15.70
  • Rush-hour ride: $22.10

Lyft

  • Regular ride: $16.05
  • Rush-hour ride: $22.05

Uber and Lyft trade off for the title of cheapest rideshare service in Nashville depending on the length of the trip, but the best average cost of the two trip types makes Uber the winner here. 

Comparing the Costs of Ridesharing Services

The answer to which rideshare service offers the best value depends on where you are, the length of your trip, and even what day it is, as rideshare pricing models and policies are frequently in flux.

Harry Campbell, rideshare expert and founder of TheRideshareGuy.com, tracks the evolving pricing of the rideshare industry. He recommended paying special attention to differences in high-demand models at peak times.

“Uber is famous for its surge pricing, which increases the cost of a ride during peak times like Saturday evenings,” Campbell said. “Lyft, on the other hand, has its own version of surge pricing called Prime Time. But since Lyft is less popular than Uber, it’s often way cheaper during peak demand times. Additionally, Lyft caps their Prime Time pricing.”

Uber — Lyft — Sidecar: The Most Affordable Rideshare Service by City

CITY UBER LYFT SIDECAR WINNER
Regular Ride Rush Hour Regular Ride Rush Hour Regular Ride Rush Hour
NEW YORK $32.50 $48.50 $32.50 $48.50 N/A N/A  TIE
LOS ANGELES* $14.60 $21.80 $17.55 $25.95 $15.76 $24.56  UBER
CHICAGO* $16.00 $24.00 $16.96 $25.76 $13.65 $20.85  SIDECAR
PHILADELPHIA $16.85 $24.05 $17.28 $24.48 N/A N/A  UBER
PHOENIX $16.60 $23.80 $15.95 $22.75 N/A N/A  LYFT
SAN DIEGO* $17.85 $25.85 $20.15 $28.15 $18.51 $25.71  UBER
DALLAS $12.50 $16.50 $13.55 $19.55 N/A N/A  UBER
AUSTIN, TEXAS $16.60 $23.80 $19.35 $26.55 N/A N/A  UBER
JACKSONVILLE, FLA. $12.10 $17.30 $17.15 $24.35 N/A N/A  UBER
SAN FRANCISCO* $21.40 $31.80 $22.70 $33.50 $18.90 $28.10  SIDECAR
INDIANAPOLIS $15.35 $22.55 $18.71 $27.91 N/A N/A  UBER
FORT WORTH, TEXAS $12.50 $16.50 $13.55 $19.55 N/A N/A  UBER
CHARLOTTE, N.C.* $15.30 $21.70 $13.25 $19.65 $18.17 $27.37  LYFT
DETROIT $12.50 $18.50 $17.28 $24.48 N/A N/A  UBER
SEATTLE* $20.85 $30.45 $21.60 $31.20 $25.50 $37.50  UBER
DENVER $16.20 $22.60 $16.60 $22.60 N/A N/A  UBER
WASHINGTON $17.20 $25.20 $21.59 $32.10 $17.98 $26.78  UBER
MEMPHIS, TENN. $14.70 $20.70 $16.25 $22.25 N/A N/A  UBER
BOSTON $18.60 $25.00 $22.05 $32.05 $17.54 $25.94  SIDECAR
NASHVILLE, TENN. $15.70 $22.10 $16.05 $22.05 N/A N/A  UBER

* Fees included.

Methodology: Using the published pricing models of Uber, Lyft and Sidecar on their respective websites, the cost of a low-traffic trip — defined as a 10-mile, 20-minute ride — and the cost of a high-traffic trip — defined as a 10-mile 60-minute ride — were calculated and compared in each of the 20 most populous cities in the U.S. with two or more of the specified rideshare services in operation. Cities with only one of the qualifying rideshare services in operation were excluded and replaced with the next most-populous U.S. city. Trip fares were calculated using general pricing rates, including all applicable fees, such as safety fees and city fees, but without surge or prime-time pricing. Variable fees such as tolls, airport fees, cancellation penalties and other trip-specific additions were not included in this analysis. Prices are accurate as of Aug. 21, 2015, and are subject to change at the discretion of the individual rideshare organizations.

Keep Reading: 4 Tips to Cut Your Monthly Car Costs