New Year’s Eve is upon us, and many people are wanting to celebrate the New Year with friends and cocktails. But if you’re drinking tonight, you definitely should not drive yourself home. That’s why car-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft are so popular. Unfortunately, the most popular rideshare apps also charge surge pricing during peak times on New Year’s Eve. That means that your normal ride might cost three to 10 times its regular price tonight, especially if you’re partying in a more crowded city or region. So what can you do to avoid this uptick in pricing? We have some tips below. (Note: If you came here looking for coupon codes, we have a story specifically about Uber and Lyft coupon codes, and other free ride options, right here.)
Here are a few steps for avoiding surge prices tonight.
Don’t Get an Uber or Lyft During Peak Hours
The easiest way to avoid surge prices is to simply not travel during peak times. This means that you might want to leave a little before midnight, if you don’t mind missing the exact moment that 2017 is ushered in. Peak Uber and Lyft times typically happen between 12:30 a.m. and 2:30 a.m. However, depending on your location, the surge might last until 3 or 3:30 a.m. If you can leave early or stick around a little later, you can avoid the extra cost.
Uber no longer surprises customers with surge prices, like last New Year’s. When you look into ordering an Uber ride, most cities will let users see the flat price for their trip before they request it, including the surge. You can use this to help determine when you want to leave.
Use an App To Help You Avoid Surge Pricing
Some apps are designed to help you avoid surge prices from Uber or Lyft.
The app Flare is advertising that it helps users avoid surges. The app lets you compare prices from multiple rideshare options, including the surge price. This is a newer app, so we don’t have many reviews to show just how well it works.
SurgeProtector is another app that lets you find close locations that don’t have Uber surges. It will tell you if a couple blocks away is free from surge pricing. If that’s the case, you might only need to walk a little bit with your friends to get a better price. The reviews for this app on Android are mixed.
Book Your Ride Ahead of Time
Some Lyft users have reported that if you schedule your Lyft ride in advance, you may be able to lock in current rates and avoid the surge. The app will tell you if you won’t be charged a surge price. This method doesn’t work everywhere, and at the moment it doesn’t appear that Uber offers the same feature.
Share a Ride and Split the Price
Another great idea is to find a group of friends who are traveling to the same location and split the price. You’ll still be dealing with a surge cost, but you’ll be able to split it, so one person won’t be shouldering everything.
UberPOOL is another alternative that works the same way. You can share your UberX car with other rides, and thus split the cost. To use it, select uberPOOL at the bottom of your screen. You’ll see a quoted fare in the app and you’ll be matched with other riders heading in the same direction. It’s not available everywhere though. Right now you can use uberPOOL in the U.S. in Atlanta, Denver, NYC, Philadelphia, San Diego, Seattle, Boston, Chicago, LA, Miami, San Francisco, DC, and New Jersey.
Use an Alternative App or Service
There are a few alternatives to Uber and Lyft (in addition to metro bus transportation and taxis.) These aren’t available everywhere, however. Here are some options:
- Wingz lets you book rides in advance, 24/7.
- Via is on iTunes here and Android here. It serves New York City, Chicago, and D.C.
- Flywheel is on Android here and iTunes here. It works in LA, Portland, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, and Seattle.
- ZTrip lets you book a private sedan without the surge. You can choose a VIP black car or a taxi. The downside is that the waits can be longer. It’s available at 70 airports, plus Austin, Baltimore, Boulder, Colorado Springs, Denver, Houston, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Minneapolis, Northern Colorado, Orlando, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, San Antonio, Tampa, and West Palm Beach.
Remember, if you have no other choice, the cost of a surge priced ride is still cheaper than the cost of a DUI, impounded car prices, lost wages from being in jail, the cost of hiring an attorney, etc.
To see other free ride options available to you tonight, along with coupon codes for Uber and Lyft, see our story below.