Getting around without a vehicle can be a hassle, unless you’re in a city with a thriving public transportation system. That’s why many people decide to rent a car when they travel for pleasure or business. But for those who want to save money, is it possible to cut some expenses by relying on rideshare services like Uber or Lyft instead of renting a car?
Travel of any kind can be stressful, and finding the best deal is one of the most taxing parts of the process. Even if you’re trying to find a car to run errands in the city you call home, you’ll need to weigh the costs of using rideshare versus renting a car to get around. Let’s compare the two and also look at alternatives to renting a car, including car sharing.
Uber vs. car rental: Which is cheaper?
Comparing the prices of Uber and car rental isn’t as cut and dry as it might sound because there are a lot of different factors that impact what you pay for both, including:
- The length of your trip
- How much flexibility you need
- Pricing differences
- The age of the renter/driver
- Number of drivers using the rental car
- Your personal driving preferences
Let’s dive deeper into the six factors to consider when comparing the cost of Uber vs. car rental.
Length of trip
The primary motivator for most people to rent a car, aside from the distance between origin and destination, is the length of time they’ll be visiting a city. If you’ll be in town for several days, having a car to get around might be handy. If your trip lasts a day (or a few hours), you might be better off paying for the Uber to get from Point A to Point B.
Will you be moving around town often, or do you plan to stay in one central location? If you only need transportation from the airport to your hotel or resort, then renting a car probably doesn’t make sense. If you’ll be visiting several destinations throughout the day or week, the costs of relying on rideshares can quickly add up. That’s because of…
Most rental car companies charge you a daily or weekly price to rent a car. Rideshare companies like Uber charge you per trip. Each option offers various experiences, from luxury vehicles to economy sedans.
Renting a car and riding in an Uber are also both accompanied by various fees, depending on your circumstances. Car rental might be more expensive if you’re a younger driver under the age of 25. You might also have to pay more to add drivers to your reservation.
Ubers, meanwhile, are often subject to surge pricing in periods of high demand. And much like renting a luxury car, you’ll pay more to ride in a nicer vehicle and for a more premium experience.
Age of driver
As it turns out, renting a car as a younger driver dramatically impacts the price. Younger drivers pay more for car rentals because of implied risk. Statistically, younger drivers may be more likely to get into car accidents, and rental companies have to account for the costs of repairing those cars. They typically do this by charging younger customers an additional daily fee for renting a car.
Potential safety issues
It’s not a monetary cost, but Uber users often have to weigh the pros and cons of rideshare from a safety perspective. Uber does its best to vet drivers who are on the service, but a risk is inherent in every situation when you get into a stranger’s car.
But rental cars aren’t entirely off the hook, either. Because of the number of people using a rental car, you may be unaware of a mechanical issue that could impact your experience or lead to problems.
Personal driving preferences
Your time and level of comfort are also part of the cost when you’re planning a trip and considering renting versus Uber. If you like spending time behind the wheel, renting can be a good option. If the thought of driving an unfamiliar car around an unfamiliar city makes you cringe, then letting someone else handle that stress could be more beneficial and cost-effective for you.
Benefits of choosing a rental car
Renting a car offers plenty of benefits, especially when looking for alternatives to Uber or Lyft. The flexibility of renting a car means you don’t have to wait on public transit or rideshare. You can get in your rental car and go. Whether you’re taking a weeklong vacation or a weekend road trip, rental cars offer a lot of freedom.
Of course, traditional car rental isn’t the only way to experience that flexibility. Car sharing with Avail is another option. Car sharing is similar to traditional car rental in that you reserve a vehicle for a specific timeframe, either through an app or on a website. You pick up the car from a designated location, use it and then return it to the same location.
Avail offers extra benefits over traditional car rental companies. For starters, prices for car sharing can be significantly lower, especially since Avail doesn’t charge extra for young drivers or to add a second driver to the booking. The cost of Avail’s insurance offerings compares favorably with the competition and we cover the cost to repair damage done to the Avail vehicle over $3,000. You can even waive the insurance fee with valid proof of your personal auto policy. If you’re not comfortable with paying up to $3,000, you can select an alternative protection plan for an additional charge and limit your potential out-of-pocket cost to either $1,000 or $500. This protection is not insurance and only covers damage done to the Avail car. Plus, there’s no need to deal with a line at the rental counter since all Avail locations are entirely self-service.
Benefits of Uber
Even if you prefer driving yourself, Uber does have its place, too. It’s an excellent way to avoid many headaches that accompany sporting events, concerts or any big occasion downtown. You don’t have to worry about finding or paying for parking or driving in an unfamiliar part of town when you use Uber or other rideshare services. And if being behind the wheel in heavy traffic sets you on edge, Uber lets you sit back and relax as your driver handles the maneuvering.
Making the decision of Uber vs. renting a car
Because everyone’s situation is different, there’s no definitive answer as to whether you should Uber or rent a car. If you like flexibility and the ability to get behind the wheel and head to your destination at your leisure, maybe renting a car makes sense. If you just need a quick trip from one location to another, order an Uber.
Borrow a car with Avail
If renting a car makes the most sense for your trip, remember that Avail offers plenty of benefits to make it worthwhile. With a wide selection of vehicles at neighborhood locations throughout the city, you won’t have to trek very far to find the perfect ride for your trip. You can borrow a car in Chicago or one in Denver for great prices! If that sounds good, download the app and reserve your vehicle at one of our many convenient locations today.
Frequently asked questions about renting a car vs. Uber
Is it cheaper to use Uber or rent a car?
Whether it’s cheaper to use Uber or rent a car through car sharing or a traditional rental agency largely depends on your specific circumstances, like how much you plan to drive and where you’re going. If you want to do a lot of driving, especially in a suburban or rural area, the cost per mile for Uber can quickly add up. That makes renting or borrowing a car a better value.
If your trip takes you to urban areas, then using Uber can be more cost-effective. You won’t have to pay for expensive parking or navigate unfamiliar streets. In these cases, saving on parking and some of the additional fees that rentals typically charge, like young driver surcharges, might outweigh the per-mile cost of an Uber ride.
Which option is more convenient: Uber or renting a car?
Uber is more convenient for short trips, especially within city centers. You don’t need to worry about parking or paying for gas.
But for long-distance travel, car rental can often make more sense. You have the added flexibility of setting your schedule and can make spontaneous detours if you find interesting attractions. It may feel more expensive, but car rental can often save you money when you’re traveling for several days.
How does the cost of Uber compare to renting a car?
Uber fares depend on your trip’s distance, current demand and the type of service you choose. Longer trips during busy periods in fancier cars will typically cost more. Uber is a great option for short trips, especially when parking costs are high.
While car rental costs can increase based on the type of vehicle you rent, the daily expenses of renting a car are typically fixed, regardless of how much you use it. However, those costs don’t factor in paying for gas or parking.